WINNIPEG - Interim head coach Tim Burke won’t be riding in to revive the Winnipeg Blue Bombers anemic offence.
Burke says he’ll have little to do with the Bomber attack, leaving that side of the ball to rookie offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton, who’s been calling the plays this season.
“I’ll leave that all to Gary. My offensive prowess is minimal,” Burke, also the Bombers defensive co-ordinator, said Monday. “I’m not going to interfere with how he calls the game. I might say in a situation, ‘Hey Gary, let’s run the ball here.’ Or I might say, ‘Hey, don’t worry about playing conservative here — go after their butts.’ That would be the extent of my interference on offence.”
Offence was Paul LaPolice’s specialty. The former coach had a hand in drawing up game plans, and when they continued to fizzle he was gone.
Turning the offence around now falls on a coach in his first year of three-down football.
“The No. 1 thing we will have is a single voice,” Burke said. “Everybody now will be on the same page, for sure.”
Burke, presumably, will have the final say on whether or not Buck Pierce regains his position as the starting quarterback when he’s healthy.
Pierce will practise but not play this week, meaning Joey Elliott gets the call at the Labour Day Classic in Regina, often Winnipeg’s most heated game of the year.
“He’s still very good with the ball,” Burke said, suggesting Elliott did not take a step back in last week’s loss to B.C.. “He did throw the one interception... but we’re not turning the ball over. He’s finding his receivers, he makes quick decisions. So we’re pretty happy with where he’s going.”
Burke reiterated his plan to increase the tempo and competitiveness of practice — not to mention the volume.
“I’m going to be a horse’s behind in practice, because I want things done a certain way,” he said. “And you’re going to know when it’s not done the right way. So get ready for me yelling. That’s what I’m going to tell them.”
As for his promise to crack down on discipline, Burke says he’ll fine players who take objectionable conduct penalties and force them to undergo some form of “physical discomfort” if they go offside in practice.
LaPolice also handed out fines for certain penalties he deemed selfish.
Burke has never been a head coach at any level, and acknowledges game management will be one of his biggest challenges.
He says he’ll lean on special teams coach Kyle Walters and maybe veteran players for help.
“They’ve been really supportive. They know it’s a tough situation, because Paul is really well liked as a person. But they’ve all thrown their support behind me. And a lot have asked what they can do to help. So that’s great.”
The mood could change soon, though, as Burke cracks his no-nonsense whip.
“I’m probably more rigid,” he said. “That could be good and that could be bad.”
The Bombers (2-6) visit Saskatchewan (3-5) on Sunday.