Jobs on line if Bombers lose to Esks
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice (R). (QMI Agency)
The Bombers will be off to one of their worst starts in franchise history if they can’t figure out a way to beat Steven Jyles and the Edmonton Eskimos on Thursday night.
If Winnipeg drops its home-opener at Canad Inns Stadium, it will fall to 0-5 for just the third time since the CFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1952.
The Blue and Gold were 0-10 in 1998 under Jeff Reinebold, who was fired later that season, and they were 0-5 in 1955 under Allie Sherman, who not only survived the season but guided the Bombers to a 7-9 record and a berth in the West Division final.
So yes, historically speaking it is that bad right now. And when it gets that bad, jobs are all of a sudden on the line. It’s unlikely to be the coach or the GM, who have freshly signed three-year contracts in their pockets, but teams have been known to pinch a co-ordinator here and there when things get ugly.
And the Bombers are on the verge of ugly.
Injuries haven’t helped, but GM Joe Mack set the course in the off-season when he made the Bombers the youngest and most inexperienced squad in the CFL. The growing pains are a big reason for 0-4, no matter how much the lame excuse of travel is trotted out.
Edmonton has as many projected starters out with injury as Winnipeg, but it co-leads the West Division at 3-1, including a 42-10 throttling of the Bombers two weeks ago, after an impressive win in Vancouver last week against the defending Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions.
At least one Bomber veteran is well aware someone’s future in Winnipeg could be at stake if the losing continues.
“As a player you don’t really think about that, but it’s the nature of the business,” cornerback Jovon Johnson said. “You gotta take the good with the bad. Five or six losses … I don’t know whose jobs would be in jeopardy — whether it’d be players, coaches, staff or what may happen. I don’t look forward to it.
“I look forward to us going out and competing and winning some football games coming up. Playing four at home, it doesn’t get better than that.”
The Bombers sold out their last seven home games, but their record over that span was an average 4-3, so the fans didn’t make that much of a difference. Still, the Bombers need all the help they can get these days.
“Our whole team feeds off the crowd,” head coach Paul LaPolice said.
Alex Brink will make his second consecutive start in place of the injured Buck Pierce, and the man calling the plays, offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton, wants him to look at making higher percentage pass attempts. Brink was 9-for-34 last week in Toronto, and many of his incompletions were bombs.
“Some of the vertical (passes), he had his choice whether he went to the vertical or went to the underneath on either side,” Crowton said. “We spent a lot of time talking about that, because we want to make sure we’re throwing higher percentage passes and not as many home run shots. We want those in the game, but we want to make sure it’s a higher percentage passing game.”