Topsy-turvy start to season

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Greg Marshall, the CFL’s maestro of defence the last 15-odd years, has a team that can’t stop a sink.

Paul LaPolice, an offensive brainiac who goes home and draws up plays on his laptop while sitting on his riverside deck, has a popgun for an attack.

Two weeks into the regular season and it’s hard to figure much of anything in the three-down game.

OK, so the Montreal Alouettes are the same old juggernaut they’ve been for years.

But hands up, both of you, who expected Edmonton and Winnipeg to be unstained by defeat at this point, with Saskatchewan yet to experience the sweet taste of victory after two tries at home.

The way the Green Riders are going about things, giving up points by the bushel, more than 40 a game, is particularly puzzling given Marshall, the rookie head coach, is at the controls.

I can remember the longtime defensive co-ordinator blowing a gasket when his unit gave up 20.

At this rate — his defence ranks dead-last in yards and points allowed after back-to-back humblings by Edmonton and Montreal — it won’t be long before Marshall is second-guessing his decision to take a promotion.

Then there’s our own Coach LaPo, hired partly because his specialty is finding ways to score touchdowns.

Through 120 minutes of football in his second season, with his No. 1 quarterback intact, unlike last year, his team has managed two.

Asked about it, Monday, the coach inadvertently reached into the bag marked “reasons” on one side, “excuses” on the other, and pulled out a bit of both.

“We’ve had a bunch of changes because of the injuries,” is how LaPolice began his two-game assessment. “But we still have to produce more. We have to overcome challenges.”

Sure, veteran Terrence Edwards has been nicked up, and towering, second-year man Greg Carr got hurt, along with promising rookie Kito Poblah.

But despite two victories, the Bomber offence has been the worst in the league, way behind everybody else, even Hamilton, when it comes to moving the ball.

I’m not big on stats, but when two teams (Montreal and Edmonton) have passing efficiency ratings more than double yours, you’ve got some issues.

Makes you wonder about people becoming a head coach at the expense of their areas of expertise.

LaPolice still calls all the plays for the Bombers, a duty most often reserved for co-ordinators.

Asked if the head man perhaps has too much on his plate, his right-hand man on that side of the ball countered with a nod toward Montreal.

“Look at Trestman,” Jamie Barresi, Bomber offensive co-ordinator, said.

“He’s the head coach and he’s calling everything. And they’re firing on all cylinders all the time. Mike McCarthy in Green Bay, he’s calling all the plays. There’s a lot of ways to look at it. It’s working just fine.”

Barresi was referring to the play-calling, not the offence, which he knows isn’t.

“We have to be a lot better than we are,” he said, pointing out offensive players made some 13 mental errors — time count violations, procedure, wrong routes — in the first half, alone, against Toronto, Friday.

“Little things that just slow you down. Detail things. I can sit here and make an excuse... our lineup has been different. But that’s no excuse. That’s gotta get corrected.”

Starting Thursday, when Calgary rides into town.

Because it’s one thing to sneak past the Tiger-Cats and Argos, who aren’t exactly the sharpest shooters in the East — another entirely to face one of the top attacks in the West.

In the CFL, you have to be able to win some track meets to be taken seriously.

Just ask Greg Marshall.


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