Bombers keeping new offence top secret

Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice gives instructions during training camp at Canad Inns Stadium in...

Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice gives instructions during training camp at Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg, Man., June 4, 2012. (JASON HALSTEAD/QMI Agency)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:32 PM ET

WINNIPEG - My first sense of it came during a Paul LaPolice media scrum earlier this week.

Asked about the new-look Blue Bomber offence, the head coach began to offer up some detail, then quickly backed off and began talking in code.

“Um, a lot of the same concepts are in,” LaPolice said. “And there may be, uh, a lot of the concepts will be new. I don’t want to, I guess (the fans) will have to look at them as they go along.”

Now, it’s one thing for coaches to be paranoid. These guys worry about what they might say in their sleep, that’s how much they protect their game plans.

But the top-secret approach surrounding the new Bomber attack has spread to the players, too.

Thursday, I asked quarterback Alex Brink if he could give me some specifics about it.

“No. I cannot,” Brink said quickly.

At the same time, a Bomber staffer listening nearby cut off the question.

It turns out they’ve actually been told not to spill the beans, to keep this baby under wraps until it makes its public debut.

“It’s new,” quarterback Buck Pierce said. “Everybody would feel that way. Obviously we have things we don’t want to put out there.”

Receiver Terrence Edwards’ response to a request for detail: “You’ll see.”

The intrigue is killing me.

Of course, last season it was the offence that all too often killed the Bombers.

Under pressure from GM Joe Mack, LaPolice agreed to give up the co-ordinator portfolio and bring in a hired gun.

Enter Gary Crowton, who apparently hands out his playbook one page at a time, tells his players to memorize it, then eat it.

Desperate times — last season moving the ball often seemed to be Mission Impossible — call for desperate measures.

“You want to have an advantage,” Brink said. “We’re going to keep our advantage close to the vest.”

The one tidbit we’ve been told about this privileged dossier: there are lots of screen packages, designed to get the ball into the receivers’ hands quicker. It’s all about doing things faster.

Apparently it’s also going to be unique to the CFL.

“I’ve been in professional sports for 10 years, so I’ve seen it all,” Edwards said. “He’s got some new stuff he’s bringing in that I don’t think the CFL has seen since I’ve been up here, so it’s going to be interesting to see.”

Edwards says the new offence is about a 50-50 split, old and new.

And it’s got him scrambling to keep up.

“The old veteran will have to learn a little bit of new stuff,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve picked up a playbook in a few years. I have to study.”

We also know it’s a pass-heavy approach, which has Edwards and every other receiver licking their fingers.

“There’s an element of U.S. four-down football to it,” Brink said. “Some of the things coach Crowton had done when he was at LSU, when he was at Oregon. They’re spread concepts, but they were done in the U.S., not so much up here.”

Brink compares the revamping of the Winnipeg attack to what Marc Trestman did in Montreal, to stellar reviews.

“So we hope it does the same here.”

One hoped-for offshoot of the new scheme is as old as the hills: to keep the quarterback out of second-and-long.

“You’re not going to be reinventing the wheel or anything,” Pierce said. “People aren’t going to come out and say, ‘What the heck are they doing?’ ”

Good. We had that in 2009, and don’t need an encore.

We better not see backup quarterbacks holding up white boards on the sidelines, either.

Anything else, we’re willing to be open-minded about.

At least, until we see it unveiled.

And when might that be?

“I don’t know,” Brink said.

It was hard to tell if he was chewing on gum or a piece of paper.


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