Mack faced with QB question

New Blue Bombers vice president and general manager of football operations Joe Mack. (Brian...

New Blue Bombers vice president and general manager of football operations Joe Mack. (Brian Donogh/QMI Agency)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

Joe Mack says the Bombers will be better under his watch.

Sooner rather than later, too.

"I'm not going to say immediately, but I don't think it'll be a long time span before we're really competitive again," the team's new GM said Friday.

The Bombers are coming off a 7-11 campaign in which they missed the playoffs under fired head coach Mike Kelly, but Mack believes there are solid pieces in place.

"We have some good young talent, particularly on defence," he said. "We have some team speed and some athletes."

The biggest issue facing Mack's Bombers is at quarterback, where both Stefan LeFors and Michael Bishop struggled mightily in 2009. Mack said he will be working out a pivot at the Senior Bowl festivities in Mobile, Ala., next week.

"Michael Bishop did some good things. We have to talk to Michael and see how that goes," Mack said. "And then obviously we have some other young quarterbacks on the roster. I haven't seen them yet, so I need to evaluate them.

"And then there's a couple people on our neg list that I think are kind of interesting. With any league you have to be good at quarterback, and particularly in the CFL."

Even though Mack hasn't worked in the three-down loop for more than 22 years, the longtime NFL bird dog feels it won't take long for him to get a grasp of the talent in Winnipeg and throughout the eight-team league.

'Ripple out'

"Not to be overly confident, but when I get into the office -- I've had decades of evaluating film -- I believe within a week, with all due respect, that I'll know our team as well as anybody in the whole league," Mack said.

"And once I do that, I'll start to ripple out. I'll start to break down free agents, I'll start to break down other teams. Within 60 days I'll have a really good feel for the whole league and where it's at."

The only catch with that is free agency starts in 22 days. Mack also has to hire a head coach tout de suite and then figure out what to do with his football department.

Director of player personnel John Murphy is in Florida scouting the East-West Shrine Game this weekend, but he hasn't been contacted by either Mack or the Bomber board.

There's also director of football operations Ross Hodgkinson, who interviewed for the GM job that Mack got.

Mack said he will evaluate both of those positions but will likely keep someone who is familiar with the salary cap and the club's day-to-day business to help with the transition.

"I foresee somebody like that still staying on board," Mack said.

Hodgkinson is more likely to stay than Murphy, who had the final say when it came to personnel decisions last season.

Mack will have the final say who his head coach will be, but the man he hires will get to pick his assistants. All of Winnipeg's assistants from last season, save for Manny Matsakis, are under contract for 2010.

RUNNER-UP: Some are surprised that Calgary personnel man Jim Barker didn't get the nod over Mack, considering he's worked in the CFL every year except for one since 1996.

Barker took the high road when asked about ultimately placing second to someone who hasn't been in the CFL for more than two decades.

"I never look at things that way," Barker said. "I look at it that they hired the person they felt was best for the organization.

"I appreciate being part of the process and wish them the best of luck."

TITUS BIDS ADIEU: Receiver Titus Ryan on Friday became the fourth Bomber to sign an NFL contract this month when he inked a deal with the Dallas Cowboys.

Ryan, who was acquired from Calgary in September's Romby Bryant trade, had 285 receiving yards and three touchdowns in only a handful of starts.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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