Doug Brown

  • Trouble for Bombers before plays called

    When you aren’t confident or experienced at what you do, it doesn’t take much to throw you off your game. We’ve all been in work scenarios where the smallest of wrinkles can set off a butterfly-effect type catastrophe, simply because we didn’t have a solid base of information and/or tenure to work from. Case in point, when the minimally experienced and far-from-confident Winnipeg offence squared off against Ottawa last Saturday night, they were expecting man coverage in the secondary. They got zone coverage instead, and by the time they reacted and responded to it, the game was out of reach.
  • Signing Wild OK, but Blue ignoring elephant in room

    From the vantage point of this high-perched armchair, signing Ian Wild to your local neighbourhood football team is like buying a Louisville Slugger to fend off a marauding polar bear. It sounds heroic, it looks incredibly tough, and baseball bats are good for many things, but is it really going to help get you out of the situation you're in? Don't get me wrong, Wild is a dynamic football player who can probably play all three linebacking positions with a high degree of competency. He pursues the football relentlessly, his physical play can change the nature of a game, and from what I hear, he is the consummate teammate, who will even lead the occasional yoga class. Yet in my estimation, the two most fortified positions on this 4-8 football team are the defensive line and the linebacking corps.
  • Argos will help Blue douse junkyard tire fire

    Last week's suggestion in this space the Blue and Gold didn't yet have an identity was entirely incorrect. It was right in front of us the whole season, but we just couldn't see it; like one of those 3D stereograms where the picture doesn't look like much of anything until you stare at it the right way. No, the identity of this football club appears to be one of duality. It is a team that, seemingly on a week-by-week basis, alternates from being a supremely competent and promising squad, to a three-alarm tire fire billowing black smoke into the air, and back again. It alternates from one to the other, and each distinct personality seems to trigger the next upheaval and subsequent ascension or descent.
  • Blue lack identity, but so does every other CFL team

    It’s OK to not really know who you are yet, when everybody else in the room is unsure of themselves, too. The universal measurement of pro football is one is only as good as his last game. If this is standard for evaluation, it means with the way the Blue and Gold performed last week, they are now a top-tier CFL team. It also means, however, if you applied the same burden of proof to the previous week, you would have buried your face in the palms of your hands.
  • Offensive line allowing too much banging for the bucks

    At this juncture, the argument over which quarterback should be No. 2 for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers — as obvious as that is — is still a point we shouldn’t even be discussing. No, what we should be is proactive instead of reactive, and be concerned about the fact that the team invested over three quarters of a million dollars into preventing the scenario that we are seeing unfold for the second time in five weeks.
  • Individual improv on the football field often proves costly to the team

    The line between “Coaching up” an athlete too much and smothering their creativity and uniqueness as a player, or giving them too much discretion on the field, is a difficult act to balance. Coach them too stringently and they become robotic and don’t trust their instincts and abilities when an unscripted scenario presents itself.
  • Blue and gold must play bigger and better in coming weeks

    If we’re being honest with ourselves, the reason Friday’s victory over the Montreal Alouettes was so critical for the Bombers, is that almost nobody — except for the coaching staff and the players — expect the Blue and Gold to come out of the upcoming two-week road rumble with anything more than a single success, and more likely, a powdered doughnut in the win ledger for their efforts. In spite of the exponential improvement in many areas from Week 2 to Week 3, and the “whatever it takes” resourcefulness that was on display against the Als, after last season the pundits and the masses will no longer be premature with their optimism in 2015. After the snake oil show we saw in the first half of 2014, which had the team at 6-3 and in the thick of everything before plummeting to last place in the West, an already guarded and naturally pessimistic fan base will be even more wary of flawed victories going forward.
  • Blitzing is the blueprint to beating Bombers — and the word is out

    Early in the season, it’s never the fact that you lost a game that frustrates football fans, it’s the way you went about losing it. As we all know, even after a couple of contests, it is still too soon to write anything in wet cement about this football franchise. Depending upon which version shows up Friday against the Montreal Alouettes — the Week 1 or Week 2 edition — this squad could very well have twice as many wins as losses, or vice versa.
  • Looks like Beverly Hills Bombers spent wisely

    Evaluating a player and a performance is never as simple as grading plays and watching the stats pile up on digital game tape. Age, injury history, expectations, competition, and cost are all variables that need to be taken into account — and when it comes to money spent, it should always be about paying for an anticipated future, and not what has been accomplished in the past. Suffice to say, when it came to Saturday evening’s performance against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers got out of this one — for the most part — exactly what they paid for.
  • Blue morphing into Prairie rivals

    If imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery, there should be no shortage of blushing brides on the sidelines of the Saskatchewan Roughriders this weekend as Winnipeg prepares to meet them in the regular season opener. Regardless of the player and coaching acquisitions this off-season from these Prairie brethren, you don't have to be a lucid John Madden to realize the Blue and Gold are starting the year against the team they are hoping to become. There will be schematic and play calling differences to be sure, but at their most fundamental and philosophical levels, it seems the Blue Bombers are being built and moulded in the image and framework of their fiercest rivals to the west. Some may say it's coincidental that the Bombers have simply been addressing their weaknesses this off-season.
  • CFL drug policy not perfect but best it’s ever been

    If the Canadian Football League was officially founded in 1958 — only the Grey Cup has been around some 103 years — it is safe to assume that its performance enhancing drug policy has been completely scrutiny free for 57 consecutive years, though that is mainly because it never even existed before 2010. In case you missed the breaking news last week, the CFL has decided that from now on it will be taking its urine elsewhere to be tested. Yes indeed, after only four years of actually having a policy, the league has now come under fire to the end that not only are their rules inadequate, but somehow also performance-enhancing-drug-enabling.
  • I'm living proof pre-season success means little

    A couple weeks ago, after signing with the Montreal Alouettes, aspiring defensive end Michael Sam told a throng of reporters "I have nothing to prove. The film doesn't lie." Unfortunately for Sam, a player who has yet to play in a regular season game in the CFL or NFL, and a number of other rookies that will undoubtedly "arrive" in exhibition games over the next two weeks, pre-season film does lie. In fact, it is commonly a pathological liar without rival or remorse. It is fair to say more coaches are fooled by pre-season tape than any other manipulation known to athletes.
  • Training camp: a chance to predict... nothing at all

    The only absolute determination that can be made from training camp, is there is no absolute confirmation of anything to be made in training camp. Training camp is much like the draft in many respects -- everyone says they got what they wanted to get out of it, everyone thinks they did something different and exceptional, and most leave it feeling like they are now better positioned than their rivals.
  • Bombers could surprise in 2015

    From the realm of agriculture comes the saying to, “make hay while the sun is still shining.” Apply this concept to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and they appear primed to take advantage of their last season before their quarterback potentially assumes a disproportionate amount of salary cap in 2016. Over the past year and a half, it is reasonable to say this organization has put together its most talented roster in recent years. With just under a week until the main training camp begins — regardless of what oddsmakers at Bodog might think — this will be the most competitive team the Blue and Gold have fielded since 2011. And rightfully so — with a golden carrot like the Grey Cup dangling in front of them in November, the only way the organization can sell it out and maximize their cash windfall is if they can convince the masses that the team will be more than just relevant. Or of course, if Saskatchewan wins the west.
  • If Willy's pay goes up, so must his performance

    If the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are going to employ a $400,000 quarterback in 2016, what should they expect as a precursor for 2015? Drew Willy is said to be making around $260,000 this year, which as a starting pivot, puts him above only Montreal Alouette Jonathan Crompton. Fast-forward to 2016, though, and as it stands, he would surpass Henry Burris, Bo Levi Mitchell and Zach Collaros in terms of total-dollar compensation.
  • What's deflating is that the NFL let it happen

    In the realm of "Deflategate" and Tom Brady's alleged involvement, if personalizing air pressure in game balls is such a decided advantage, then why did the NFL let it happen? This probably won't surprise you, but the first time I witnessed the rules being broken in the NFL was in one of the first games I ever played.
  • Blue brass succeed trading experience for exuberance

    Part of what often makes first-year professional football players so annoying is the exuberance of their youth. They show up to training camp with unbridled enthusiasm and visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads. As much of a puppy-like nuisance as they may be to veteran players though, they often remind tenured incumbents of the many joys of the game that can be repressed by injuries and failures. This may be the phenomena that also explains the early success and momentum of the young gun trifecta in the Blue Bombers leadership ranks. While they are short on experience at their respective positions, they haven't been road-graded by the industry yet and simply don't know any better than to attack their problems with innovation, energy, and focus.
  • People in glass houses (Pavs) shouldn't throw stones

    To call out, or not to call out? That is no longer the question. The first thing that strikes you when listening to Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec's post-game interview after Game 2 in Anaheim, is he wasn't asked whether the Winnipeg Jets needed to be more disciplined late in the game. He volunteered it.
  • Be nice to me, I used to play football

    Today's column is brought to you from inside a jail in Boston, Mass. The jail, now called the Liberty Hotel, has long been decommissioned as a prison complex and refitted to swanky hotel standards, but it's hard to resist the irony of the NFLPA selecting this spot -- of all the hotels in Boston -- as an accommodation for many of its former players going through the "Brain and Body" program recently made available. Truth be told, Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriot currently fighting murder charges, is staying not too far from here while a jury deliberates his future, but that's another story.
  • Time to help charities kick off campaigns

    IT is common knowledge Manitoba is home to many of the most charitable people in Canada. Here, it is never about whether you are giving back or doing your part in the community, it’s always about how and in what way. Today’s column showcases three incredible annual events that have resonated with me during my time in Winnipeg and, hopefully, they will strike a chord with you as well.
  • Let Sam's skill set be deciding factor

    The narrative that once told us Michael Sam was not being given a serious shot in pro football because he was the first openly gay player in the NFL, is now being changed to whether his unique status is affording him more chances than his skills have warranted. After going through his second NFL testing combine in as many years -- this time at the "NFL veteran combine" on Sunday -- not only is he still generating unimpressive numbers, but it appears he may be getting slower as well.
  • Demski's blue-chip, but Blue better off drafting hog

    From this vantage point, the biggest mistake made when it comes to selecting players in the CFL draft is when teams get caught up in the potential of a player, and lose sight of the actual potential of the position. Most CFL football franchises don't just stockpile Canadians on the offensive line because it's a good place to hide them. They play them there because that is the position where their abilities are most closely matched to their American counterparts, and therefore their production is maximized. And before you start a chicken or egg debate over this, think about the most common position from which Canadians get opportunities to play in the NFL? Once again, it's on the offensive line.
  • When it comes to CTE, do players really want to know?

    Winnipeg Free Press reporter Tim Campbell first posed the question to Winnipeg Jets winger Anthony Peluso, and FP columnist Gary Lawless followed up with analysis of how the professional sporting environment could be dramatically altered by the existence of a chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) test. Now it appears I have an opportunity to decide whether I want to learn the extent of mental and physical damage 15 years of professional football can do to an individual, and possibly even share it in this space. With the news coming less than a month ago that researchers may soon be able to accurately test for CTE in athletes not yet deceased, the quandary that will soon be facing athletes in many sports -- both active and retired -- is whether or not you actually want to find out. That is if, in the future, they are even given a choice.
  • Football much safer than it was 10 years ago

    Unless you're starting your professional football career now -- with enhanced concussion protocols and protections in place to safeguard today's modern athlete -- the question that will no doubt present itself later in life to those of us who did not spend the majority of our careers in the "age of enlightenment," is whether it was all worth it. On the heels of the announcement by Curtis Rush in the Toronto Star that CFL football icon Angelo Mosca has been diagnosed with Alzeheimer's disease and extensive brain damage at the age of 78, two realizations are sure to dawn on many other retired players: One, these occurrences and announcements are surely not going to abate or go away anytime soon, and two, will we, one day ourselves, also be generating these same type of headlines?
  • Bombers loading up for Grey Cup bear

    With the signing of five notable players last week that improved the team in at least one of their most critical areas -- and six over the last month or so -- no one at the epicentre of off-season optimism could remember the last time the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had gone out and made such a splash in free agency. It has been a while, to be sure, but in actuality, the last time the brass of the Blue and Gold gobbled up this many high-profile free agents in the off-season was also the last time the team hosted the Grey Cup, in 2006.


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