Bombers OC Crowton flying solo

Bombers offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton is now in full control of the offensive game plan after...

Bombers offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton is now in full control of the offensive game plan after the firing of Paul LaPolice. (Jason Halstead/QMI FILES)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:12 PM ET

Anyone who remembers the first time they rode a bike without training wheels will remember the exhilaration of going it alone.

The feeling of freedom, of being able to go anywhere in the world — and then you hit the ditch.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton lost his training wheels when head coach Paul LaPolice was tossed aside.

So Crowton, a three-down rookie who wasn’t exactly rolling smoothly down the CFL road, even with the help, will wobble his way down the Trans-Canada into Regina, flying solo, this weekend.

Feel free to cringe, Bomber fans.

“Sooner or later Paul was going to turn it all over to me, anyway,” Crowton told me. “It’s just happened the way it happened. There will be no discussion now.

“I feel good. Paul’s prepared me well for that. And I needed that preparation. Because it is a different game. I’m excited and looking forward to the challenge. I want to do him proud the rest of the year.”

Crowton is sometimes lauded as an offensive guru for his work down south, despite having as many misses as hits on his resume.

Although he doesn’t lack confidence, he hasn’t exactly blown the doors off up here.

Brought in under the insistence of GM Joe Mack when Coach LaPo’s offence kept shooting blanks, he’s only toyed with live fire himself.

As a play caller, he’s been every bit as second-guessable as his three-down mentor was.

Mad scientist, maybe. Genius? Hardly.

LaPolice called him both in training camp.

“There’s times I didn’t think I did very well,” Crowton said. “There’s other times I thought I made some good calls. I’m learning every game, and I’ve got now all those games under my belt. I’ve been calling plays for a lot of years, too. You always get better when you know your personnel better.”

After a flat-line start, the Bomber offence has shown signs of life in recent weeks.

With Crowton now in full control of the game plan, we presume any reins the head man had on him are off.

“It’s midway through the year, so there’s not a ton of things you’re going to change,” he said. “But there will be a few different philosophical things that will change... I don’t know if it’ll be huge change. I’m hoping the productivity will be huge.”

How huge could it be?

This is a team that’s been clearly overmatched where it counts most: up front and at quarterback.

“From this point on, I want to be one of the top three offences in this league,” a bold Crowton proclaimed. “Personnel-wise, we have what we have. So I’m not going to worry about that.”

Could it get much worse? Actually, it could.

While the Bombers are last in points scored and passing efficiency, they’re actually way ahead of Edmonton in total offence, and rank a surprising fourth in the CFL in passing yardage per game.

“Our offence since Week 1 is 20 times better than where it was,” quarterback Joey Elliott, the starter for at least one more week, said. “We’re moving the ball up and down the field. We understand our offensive philosophy we need to hang our hat on. And we’re getting our play makers the ball. We’re not relying on one guy to do it all.”

But one guy is in charge, now. Of the game plan and the play calls.

Interim head coach Tim Burke said the other day having one voice will help, a veiled suggestion there was one too many cooks in the offensive kitchen.

The teacher is gone, now.

Leaving the 55-year-old student to grab the handle bars and pedal to save his life. 


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