For better or for worse, Bombers stick with Berry

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

Another loss, another player gets singled out for criticism by the head coach, the team attempts to ship another star out of town.

See a trend, here?

At this rate, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers could be rid of all their division all-stars by the end of the regular season.

I actually liked yesterday's attempted trade -- defensive end Tom Canada for linebacker Zeke Moreno of Hamilton -- more than I do the one that sent Charles Roberts to the B.C. Lions.

In fact, this is the kind of move that should have been made three or four weeks into the season, when Team Underachievement first needed a shakeup.

Canada was one of those underperforming and, who knows, maybe the shock value of trading the guy would have injected some life into the rest of them.

Now? We may never know since the Canada deal fell through.

Like the Roberts deal before it, I'm not sure it addresses the core problem in that locker-room anyway.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe head coach Doug Berry still has the respect of most of his players.

After Sunday's devastating loss to Saskatchewan, though, he took another step in the wrong direction.

Once again, Berry singled out a player for criticism, in effect blaming safety Ian Logan for the team's fourth-quarter collapse.

There's no doubt Logan had a tough time, allowing Riders receivers to get behind him more than once. When you're the safety, the last man back, that's a cardinal sin.

But that doesn't mean the coach should hang him publicly, or hang the outcome on the poor guy.

Not when you've got a receiver who dropped critical passes, a quarterback who missed throws when the game was on the line and players who took penalties at terrible times.

Not to mention a kicker who's being asked to punt, even though the job is obviously not his forte.

Once again, there was plenty of blame to go around, from the coaching staff through the roster.

I remember the way Berry's old mentor, Don Matthews, reacted after one of his defensive backs got burned in the 2003 Grey Cup game.

Matthews simply said the coaches have to coach better, and as lousy a quote as it was, it was the right thing to say.

Behind closed doors I'm sure Matthews played all kinds of mind games. But before the cameras, he was the model of drab.

Berry tried to save a bit of face yesterday, saying the Bombers actually got pretty good play from Logan. But the damage had been done.

So should the Bombers fire their coach, the way the Hamilton Tiger-Cats did yesterday?

On the surface, there's not much difference between Charlie Taaffe's 2-8 record and Berry's 2-8 mark.

Two things, though, are saving Berry's job.

For starters, his team went to the Grey Cup a year ago, Taaffe's went 3-15. Big difference, you must admit.

There's also the not-so-small matter of Berry's contract.

To recap, the Bombers signed their coach to a new, three-year deal just before the season opener. But they wanted to wait until after their first game to announce it.

They lost, so they waited another week. And lost again. And again. Today, that contract's probably stuffed in a box in the basement, where the team shares space with the Ticats.

The bottom line: firing Berry would cost money, probably at least a full year's salary. That could be $200,000, or more.

It would also cost Bomber brass some pride. They'd have to admit they blew it.

Whether it's to save money or save face, it's clear GM Brendan Taman and president/CEO Lyle Bauer are not ready to point the finger of blame at their coach.

If the Roberts trade was the nail that pinned that notion to the wall, the attempted Canada deal hammered it home.

The Bombers are sticking with Doug Berry.

For better or worse.


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