October 29, 2012
Bombers GM Joe Mack looks like a goner
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - Bombers president and CEO Garth Buchko won’t speak about football operations until after the season is over, which gives everyone plenty more time to speculate about what he will do with general manager Joe Mack.
There has already been lots of talk about the GM’s future, but there is officially more damning evidence on his resume now that the team has missed the playoffs for the second time in his three seasons at the helm.
Winnipeg is 19-34 with Mack at the controls, but the Blue and Gold made it to the Grey Cup last year after finishing first in the East Division for the first time in 10 years. The bottom line, though, is the Bombers on Saturday became just the ninth team since 1974 to follow a Grey Cup appearance by missing the playoffs the following season.
If you look at it that way, the future doesn’t look bright for Mr. Mack in this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world.In Mack’s defence, starting quarterback Buck Pierce missed 11 games. His No. 1 tailback, Chris Garrett, suffered a season-ending injury before the season. Thanks to the stadium debacle, the team had to play its first four games on the road. There were other key injuries as well, but every team has injuries.
Mack’s supporters will also point to the talent he has brought to the Manitoba capital with help from director of player personnel Ken Moll. Chris Matthews and Chad Simpson were great finds this year, but what does it matter when the team is 5-12?
It was evident in February that the Bombers were in trouble. A great deal of experienced talent went out the door — some of it was Mack’s doing and some of it wasn’t — but he didn’t feel the need to replace it.
The result was a locker-room full of players learning how to act like professional football players. Some veterans were visibly miffed that their season was going down the drain because some players didn’t get it.
Mack may have found a few good players, but he didn’t find enough team guys. The result was a 2-6 start to the season that didn’t get any better after he made head coach Paul LaPolice the scapegoat in late August.
“The overall feeling was that we weren’t necessarily going in the right direction and that this was the appropriate time to make a change,” Mack said two hours after firing LaPolice on Aug. 25. “… I do think we’re close, and I felt that maybe if we made a change there was a chance to still make a strong run into the playoffs.”
Well, the team is still headed in the wrong direction, and just like it wasn’t LaPolice’s fault then, it’s not Tim Burke’s fault now.
The players put in the locker-room collectively did not have what it takes.
“We have to do better,” linebacker Johnny Sears said after Saturday’s loss to Hamilton. “There’s so many things you could talk about and elaborate on, but the bottom line is everybody has to do their job. Everybody’s gotta come into work, put their hard hat on and do their job to the best of their abilities. And sometimes it didn’t seem like that.
“At some points in the season it didn’t seem like everybody was on the same page. It was off and on. We gotta be consistent. That’s the main thing coming back (next year), is being consistent.”
It’s now up to Buchko, in consultation with the board of directors, to determine if Mack will be one of those coming back.
The more they think about it, it’s tough to imagine them liking what they see.