Berry full of surprises

Winnipeg Blue Bombers coach Doug Berry. (SUN/John Woods)

Winnipeg Blue Bombers coach Doug Berry. (SUN/John Woods)

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

You have to wonder what Doug Berry was thinking.

The Blue Bombers head coach made a decision Monday night that'll have Winnipeggers scratching their heads today.

And, no, it didn't involve a quarterback.

"I sold my snowblower last night," Berry was saying yesterday, as the snow piled up outside his office window. "I had a huge snowblower. It was just too big for what I needed."

Too big? For a Winnipeg winter?

Apparently, our first real dumping of the year is child's play for a guy from Amherst, Mass., spending his first winter on the Canadian prairie.

Back home, Berry got used to dealing with a foot or two of heavy, wet stuff, not this cotton-ball fluff we've been covered with the last 24 hours.

Fine, but wait until we hit him with a minus-30 day-time high, and a wind-chill that feels like your face has been splashed with battery acid.

Of course, that's probably no worse than standing on the sidelines on the wrong end of a home-field blowout. Either way, your ears are burning.

If you take the temperature of this city's football fans, you'd have to conclude Berry came through his rookie season relatively unscathed.

A 9-9 record and an appearance, albeit brief, in the CFL playoffs -- the Bombers' first in three years -- has the populace feeling warmer and fuzzier than it has in a while.

And in order to keep the ship headed in the same direction, Berry has decided to invite his entire coaching staff back for 2007.

That includes offensive co-ordinator/line coach Mike Gibson, which, if Gibson accepts the offer, would mark the first time in a decade this team has had the same O-co-ordinator three years in a row.

"I have a whole year invested in this staff," Berry said.

"And I'm very happy with where we're at. About the last thing I want to have happen is for new coaches to come in here now."

Not all armchair quarterbacks will be thrilled with this decision.

We've done our share of critical analysis of Gibson in this space, too.

The Winnipeg offence was inconsistent all season, ranking sixth of eight teams in yardage, points scored, touchdowns and first downs.

Putrid

When starting quarterback Kevin Glenn was hurt, it was downright putrid.

But Berry points out it was everybody's first season, Gibson's included, with the head coach's system. Toss in the fact the offence was, at times, held together with bailer twine and duct tape, and Berry sees enough to stay the course.

"With Milt (Stegall) being injured, Kevin being injured, Kevin's development, the O-line injuries -- all of this reflects back on the offensive co-ordinator," Berry said. "The most important thing is for all of us to be on the same page. I told my whole staff this: there isn't a manual that says, 'Here's how to coach the way Doug Berry wants you to coach.' It's called on-the-job training.

"We should be able to hit the ground running next year, instead of everybody trying to feel their way. We've been through a lot now. We have one whole year of experience together."

So despite our speculation to the contrary, Berry doesn't plan to look for a new offensive boss this winter.

The one coach he inherited from Jim Daley's staff appears to be a good fit.

And if defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall doesn't find a head coaching gig that's right for him, Berry could have his two right-hand men back to face the football elements next season.

Until then, it's back to his first Winnipeg winter.

"I keep looking out the window, and it's still coming down," Berry said, chuckling.

About that snowblower ...


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