Great football minds

Mike Kelly named his Bombers' coaching staff yesterday. (Sun Media/Chris Procaylo)

Mike Kelly named his Bombers' coaching staff yesterday. (Sun Media/Chris Procaylo)

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

Mike Kelly picked his coaching staff based on three criteria: character, teaching abilities and respect.

It's all part of the new head coach's plan to snap the Winnipeg Blue Bombers out of their 18-year Grey Cup funk.

"I'd like to think that mathematically the odds are on our side," Kelly said yesterday after revealing his seven-member staff to the media. "Eight teams and 18 years? I gotta think that we're going to stumble into one here.

"But really and truly, I ask the fans to trust that we have a good football group here. We have good football minds. We have people that are very well-connected now ... In blending them all together we'll see a better product out on the field."

Kelly kept two coaches from the old regime (receivers coach Bob Dyce and defensive line boss Richard Harris), he promoted a part-time Bomber coach from 2008 (secondary assistant Don Burrell), and he hired four faces from his past in Mark Nelson, Ronnie Vinklarek, Andy Cox and Rick Campbell.

"I didn't hire yes men," Kelly said. "They'll tell me straight up what's going on, and I trust them."

Nelson, the new defensive co-ordinator, and Vinklarek, who will guide the offensive line, both worked with Kelly at Valdosta State University in the late 1990s. Vinklarek and Campbell, the new special teams and secondary coach, were also with Kelly in Edmonton last season.

Cox, the running backs and offensive quality control coach, was the Orlando Rage's special teams boss in 2001 when Kelly was its offensive co-ordinator. Burrell has history with Kelly, too, as they were Bomber assistants in 1995 and 1996.

Kelly, who will be the offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach as well, appointed David Siddall as the special assistant to the head coach.

Nelson will be relying on Campbell to help him find his CFL bearings again after 12 years in the NCAA.

"He'll be my right-hand man," Nelson said. "He's got to get me up to speed."

Nelson said he's an aggressive coach and expects his defence to score. Kelly, meanwhile, would not commit to the kind of defence the Bombers will run, saying it will depend on the players.

"You're going to see probably a multiple-front defence, similar to some of the things that you'll see with the New England Patriots as a point of reference," he said." You know, a little bit of 3-4, a little bit of 4-3. We'll mix it up. We want to be aggressive, but we want to be smart about our aggressiveness."

Nelson, Campbell, Cox and Vinklarek have all coached special teams, which is another trait Kelly was looking for in his assistants.

"That's going to be an area of the team that you're going to see vast improvement upon," he said.

LATE HITS: Despite reports to the contrary, defensive end Tom Canada is still a Bomber. That, of course, could change soon. Here's what Canada had to say in an e-mail to the Sun yesterday: "My guess would be that I have a big bonus due in the next couple weeks. But who knows. (I am) down in Costa Rica now building a hostel and my house. Surf is awesome, life is good. Bombers can do what they want. No stress here." ... Kelly said he will be bringing three kickers to training camp, including Alexis Serna ... Expect slotback Milt Stegall to make an announcement about his future later this month ... Kelly said Kevin Glenn trade talks are ongoing. "It's just conversation after conversation," he said. "We'll see what happens with it."


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