Berry not yet perfect

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:04 AM ET

It's always interesting to see how a coach reacts to his first real bout with adversity.

Some rant and rave. Others take the positive, encouraging approach. Some blame the media.

After Thursday's embarrassing 32-5 loss to the B.C. Lions, Blue Bomber boss Doug Berry is two out of three.

Right after the game, Berry served up a not-so-nice little rant for his players to digest along with their post-game meal. The speech included a threat to make changes, a word that'll send shudders through the most seasoned veteran.

Yesterday, in Berry's final address before the team's week-long break, the bad cop switched to good cop.

"I could have been in here today and had a major negative impact on them," Berry said. "But I wanted them to know we did a lot of things right. And that we're on the right track."

The right track?

The carnage on the field Thursday looked like the aftermath of a head-on collision between two locomotives hauling pig manure.

In the first 58 minutes, the Winnipeg offence, with second-string quarterback Mike Quinn fumbling at the controls like a drunken engineer, managed to move the ball beyond midfield exactly once. They did it once more at the end, just to prove it wasn't a fluke.

It brought back memories of T. J. Rubley. Or Tee Martin, even.

Berry can do all the sugar-coating he wants, the thing still has a rotten core.

So what's the guy doing, going all Jim Daley on us?

"That's the way I coach," Berry said. "I want our players to think they're good, and the only way they're ever going to think they're good is to keep reminding them of the things they're doing well. It's certainly easy to point out faults in everybody. People don't get complimented enough in life, in general."

Fair enough. But you can warm-and-fuzzy yourself all the way to last place if you're not careful.

I can't see Berry making that mistake.

In fact, from the very beginning, there's been this underlying edge to the guy.

And over the next week or so I think we're going to find out that on the other end of that edge is the handle of an axe.

Mess up in one game, you're on notice. Mess up twice, you might notice you're unemployed.

The Bombers picked up bad-boy receiver Robert Baker yesterday. He isn't coming to town to check out the local want ads. Baggage or not, he'll take someone's job.

Asked if he might release a player during the break, Berry said: "That's a possibility. One or two. (Maybe) three."

See what I mean?

Overall, he doesn't want to scream the group into submission. Individually, though, players will be held accountable.

It's called the fear factor, and without it, a team can perfect mediocrity (see the Saskatchewan Roughriders).

After all, if someone doesn't lose their job after a performance like that, what kind of message does that send?

In the seven quarters since quarterback Kevin Glenn went down, the Bomber offence has produced four measly points. That's no more than opposing teams have handed them through conceded safeties, for crying out loud.

Sounds more like a charity fund drive than an offence: you raise a dollar, we'll match it.

It's easy to see how bad the quarterbacking has been. But the receivers and offensive line haven't been much better.

Some of the coaching has been puzzling, too.

If your passing game is shorthanded, wouldn't you run Charles Roberts more than 10 times? And why ask Quinn to throw all those low-percentage deep balls?

Berry should have given Brad Banks a shot, too. Aren't the Bombers paying him $100,000?

Apparently, the first-year coach isn't perfect, after all.

At least he hasn't started blaming the media.


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