Doug Brown

  • 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.
  • Locker-rooms can be fun-filled, vicious places

    At its best, a professional locker-room is an insulated haven of brotherhood and camaraderie, free from the scrutiny, judgment, and prying eyes of the outside world. At its worst -- as many first came to learn from the unearthing of interactions between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin of the Miami Dolphins -- it can also be a vicious and vile place where careers can be broken and charges laid. With so many moving parts, so many different backgrounds, beliefs and sensitivities, these groupings of mainly Type A personality alpha males are literally an amusement park of study for social psychologists. There are examples of "herd mentalities," demonstrations of predatory behaviour, and "bystander effect" scenarios, to name but a few of the phenomena that run rampant behind closed doors.
  • NFL owes the Canadian game a word of thanks

    The Imitation Game is not just a hollywood blockbuster about deciphering the Nazi Enigma code, it is also a placard for how the NFL is copying schemes and signing players from the CFL that are dramatically affecting the outcomes of their grandest football games. While there has always been a presence and influence of CFL football talent and ideas down south, maybe none as pronounced as what we saw in the NFL in 2014-15, and as impactful as what happened in the post-season.
  • Seahawks, but this won't be a blowout like last year

    If one lesson is to be learned from the Super Bowl blowout of 2014, it is to never underestimate the ferocity of a blind poodle -- what I coined the Seattle Seahawks at the time, matched up against a Siberian tiger Denver Broncos -- in a 43-8 pasting. Not only did that three-legged toy poodle shave the fur off last year's paper tiger of hype, but it effectively neutered the offensive prowess of last year's NFL MVP, Peyton Manning, in the process.
  • Poking the Patriots inspires them

    For the sake of the Seattle Seahawks, and in the interests of having a competitive Super Bowl, let's hope "Ball-gate" is deflated quicker than the footballs that were allegedly mishandled in the AFC championship last Sunday. In case you haven't heard, the latest and not-so-greatest scandal to land on the doorstep of the New England Patriots is called Ball-gate. Allegedly, in order to improve the grip of the football on a cold and blustery day, the Patriots didn't properly inflate their footballs to NFL standards.
  • With Picard, Bombers solve two problems at once

    With a single signing last week, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers started solving two of the problems that plagued them in 2014. What most of us already know is Dominic Picard, a talented, veteran, Canadian offensive lineman, is now coming home to where it all began for him.
  • Colts will need more than Luck to eliminate Broncos

    There is always a central theme that sprouts from the earth during the NFL's wild-card weekend -- and this year that premise is logic. When you look at the games that were played over the weekend, the outcomes actually all made sense, which is a departure from how the NFL usually unfolds.
  • How the Big Blue can contend for Grey Cup

    New year's resolutions are aptly suited to the realm of professional sports for no reason other than the fact teams operate in an environment that is constantly changing and evolving. Whether they are still spotted from the champagne of a championship won, or near the bottom of a nine-team league, if your local squad doesn't have a list of measurable ways it can get better over the course of a new year, they have already been defeated. So in the spirit of self-improvement, here are some 2015 resolutions and suggestions for a football team with aspirations of becoming the next home team in the Grey Cup.
  • Tools fine, rational mechanic needed

    IN April of 2014, we took a peek through a door to the alternate universe of Gary Etcheverry, where he shared with Bombers employee Kim Babij-Gesell his first order of business was, “...telling these players, you’re going to have to forget everything you think you know about football. And if they are successful in doing that, I think we’ll be able to make real sweet music together.” We can’t be certain the resulting Barry Manilow LP playing in reverse was because the players actually did forget everything they knew about football, or because they didn’t wipe their memories completely clean like he wanted, but suffice to say, no matter who is hired in 2015 — sources say it will be Richie Hall or Mike Benevides — they better start resetting their football minds to the original default settings.
  • Brace for return of Bellefeuille, Etcheverry

    Like it or not -- with nary a peep from the Winnipeg Football Club as to the futures of their co-ordinators -- with each day that passes it becomes more probable they will continue their duties guiding the offence and defence in 2015. When termination is on the agenda, the P.C. way to do it is to make it as clean, quick and painless as possible. Since it's been 45 days since the team had a game to play, and the holiday shutdown is imminent, unless they are squeezing as much work out of these gentlemen as possible before they make things official, it's looking like fans better get used to the idea of Bellefeuille 3.0 and Etcheverry 2.0 for next season.
  • Grey Cup appearance starts on offensive line

    ‘YOU Belong Here,” is what the Winnipeg Football Club decreed as their slogan, four days ago, for the 103rd Grey Cup they will be hosting. While it’s always nice to hear rationale to support the decision thousands of us make to stick around for yet another inhospitable winter, most of us are hoping it’s an early message to the roster of 2015 as a goal to be in the championship game at Investors Group Field. As we all know though, just because you belong somewhere doesn't mean you are going to be there, so with just over six months until next season kicks off, the "belonging here" work should be happening in earnest.
  • Controversial call all about officials and discretion

    It was never a discussion about whether the infraction that cost the Hamilton Tiger-Cats the 102nd Grey Cup was actually a penalty or not -- though I do appreciate all the malcontents on social media who took it upon themselves to explain to me what was exactly so illegal about it. No, it was always a question of whether the officials should have been more judicious with their flag-throwing when the game was on the line with time expiring in the fourth quarter. As you should know, after being handled for the first 40 minutes of the Grey Cup, the Ticats relented and persisted to the point where they appeared to take the lead on a Brandon Banks TD punt return late in the final stanza. Not unlike in 2012, when the Saskatchewan Roughriders snatched defeat from the jaws of victory from the Montreal Alouettes, the jubilation on the Ticats sideline was short-lived because of a flag that loomed as large as a Red Dawn parachute on the field of play. An illegal block in the back was what was called, and then the Internet exploded along the lines of how it would have if Kim Kardashian posted another picture, this time facing the other way.
  • Stamps won't even have to work up a sweat

    A year ago, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats lost the Grey Cup game to the Saskatchewan Roughriders by over three touchdowns. Judging from what we saw this past weekend, they will be fortunate if the same fate does not befall them again in Vancouver on Sunday. It's not that the Tiger-Cats are a bad team. They rebounded from a terrible first half of the regular season to represent the East in the Grey Cup. They've made strides and improved every facet of their football team and will easily boast the best return game in the championship with Brandon Banks at their disposal. They are a good team, just not exceptional in any one area.
  • Montreal's momentum too much to match

    It is fair to say, when it came to the Montreal Alouettes' performance against the B.C. Lions Sunday -- in the words of former NFL coach Dennis Green -- "they weren't who we thought they were."  
  • Go with iffy, but wily Glenn

    We've been calling this season the Year of the Defence in the CFL, but it's really just a polite way of saying quarterback play has fallen off due to a rash of injuries and infusion of youngsters in 2014. Only one pivot threw for more than 4,000 yards in the regular season -- Ricky Ray -- and he didn't make the playoffs.
  • Blue not wise to put all their eggs in Willy's basket

    Loyalty is an attribute highly prized in professional football. People admire players that are loyal to coaches and teams, and vice-versa. Yet, when loyalty is so strong and blinding it supersedes the end goal of winning games, it is time for even this characteristic to be reviewed during the off-season. Now that the 2014 season has ended for the Blue Bombers, we can say with conviction that Drew Willy is the best quarterbacking prospect Winnipeg has seen in some time, and his first season at the helm was as good as we have witnessed since Kevin Glenn peaked in 2007.
  • Battered Willy had no business playing B.C.

    During the post-game show of your football club's most recent heartbreaking loss, Bob "The Voice" Irving asserted that had I still been a player on this team, there was no way I would have wanted anyone starting the do-or-die playoff-elimination game other than Drew Willy -- the pivot who had started 16 of 17 games for the Bombers -- and he had a solid point. As good as Brian Brohm may have looked in two-and-a-half quarters against Calgary, he was out of commission with a hand injury incurred in that game, his first CFL start. That left Robert Marve -- the formerly third-string quarterback with even less professional experience -- and additionally, less regard from the coaching staff, as suggested by his position on the depth chart.
  • It's show-and-sell time for Bomber QBs

    With only two games remaining, and the post-season seemingly an impossibility, what can the Blue Bombers accomplish as they play out their regular-season schedule? They could try to develop and advertise a possible position of strength and depth, and use it to address a glaring weakness.
  • Ottawa loss shredded Blue psyche

    This football game was never going to be a contest about whether the Blue and Gold could go into Edmonton and keep their playoff hopes alive against the mighty Eskimos. To many of us, it was only a test of whether the Bombers could pick themselves up off the floor and present a spirited front after having it handed to them by the league's worst team last week. Every squad worth its salt likes to be told they can't do something and can't beat someone. Being told your opponent totally outclasses you and is out of your league is often all it takes to spur a superhuman effort from even the most lacklustre of teams. Yet having this gauntlet thrown down in front of them in Alberta, and coming face to face with a history of failure at Commonwealth Stadium, wouldn't have been what plagued the minds of these players going into this game.
  • Blue consistently awful at protecting QBs

    We have all been warned by our parents, at one time or another, if we did not take care of our toys and keep them in good condition, they would break and we wouldn't be able to play with them any longer. Apply this principle to professional football, and at the rate with which Drew Willy is being bludgeoned, it simply is not realistic for him to have a long and productive career as the quarterback of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
  • Fear not, loyal Blue Bombers fans

    Sometimes, to fully appreciate what you have, you need to take a moment to step back and see where and what you came from. While the city and team are understandably reeling from the angst of losing a critical game with first-and-goal on their opponent's three-yard line, the fact the Blue and Gold are trading blows with each and every opponent down the stretch is a magical promised land far, far and away from what we suffered through last year.
  • Bombers fighting momentum in a must-win game

    At this point of the season, it's not just about how many wins you have, it's where and when you got them. Even though head coach Mike O'Shea would probably tell you it doesn't matter, and the only important game is the next one, if the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had a choice, they would reverse the order of the first two-thirds of their football season without hesitation.
  • Bye week should be more flexible

    When your franchise quarterback is out for an undetermined amount of time, and your backup has started zero games in the CFL, it might be time to consider changing some bye-week vacation plans. When you have lost five of your last six games and you're sitting alone in the bottom of your division, it is worth discussing whether to shorten the bye-week schedule.
  • Riders were built to run, Blue did decent job on 'D'

    This may sound surprising after giving up nearly 200 yards on the ground on Sunday -- and 542 yards in three games against the Saskatchewan Roughriders -- but the Bombers can actually stop the run. They just can't stop it against the likes of the Roughriders. This is how the Roughriders are getting paid in 2014. They pound the football and play defence.
  • Kicking field goal on third and one the right move

    Since challenging and overturning rulings on the football field are what's in vogue in the CFL these days, it's time to throw a yellow flag and challenge the opinion that says kicking a field goal on third and one -- late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's Labour Day Classic -- was the wrong thing to do. Initially, I was a part of that consortium of second-guessers.


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