Rookie Blue mistakes

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:04 AM ET

Blame it on inexperience.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers finished the 2010 campaign in the CFL cellar with a woebegone 4-14 record.

But, with more experience by the coaching staff, quarterbacks and other areas, many of their CFL record of nine losses by four points or less could have been turned into victories and a better crack at making the playoffs, GM Joe Mack suggested Monday.

“Obviously, a 4-14 team is very disappointing and overall, it’s not acceptable,” Mack began. “Even though we made some strides in a number of different areas with the club, overall, we didn’t get to where we wanted to be, or need to be. Not making the playoffs in the CFL, in my opinion, is not acceptable.”

To become an elite team, the club needs to mature — starting with rookie head coach Paul LaPolice.

“I think Paul did a good job overall,” said Mack, who hired LaPolice to replace the embattled Mike Kelly. “We tried to re-define the culture. Obviously, it was a learning curve for Paul and I’m sure that he’ll be the first one to tell you that there are some things he wishes he could have had back and would do differently … He’s very open to opinions and different insights. I would like to think, with the amount of experience I have, I can give him maybe some guidance on how some things can go differently.”

LaPolice, who had never been a head mentor in the pros before, was criticized for a number of calls he made this year.

“Anybody can always second-guess if something doesn’t work,” Mack said. “If it works, you say it’s a great call. Paul is very honest about the things he could do differently. He and I would sit down after just about every game and we’d watch it together … and we would have a very frank discussion, like, ‘Why did you do this, and why did you do that?’ And Paul would say, ‘You know, what? I probably should have made that call.’”

Mack also pointed out that injuries forced LaPolice to use four different starting quarterbacks and that the rookie-laden lineup needs to learn to finish those close games.

“If you look at the fact that we had a rookie head coach with a brand new staff and the number of rookies coming in for the first time, not only to our team but to the CFL, I think we showed some positives moving forward,” said Mack, who listed the other areas where the Bombers need to improve:

“Our turnover ratio … I want us to have more sustained drives, get more first downs. I want us to be more efficient on second downs and to finish games. Obviously, we have to be better on special teams.”

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca

Twitter @bendersun


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