Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Three heads are better than none

One GM and two assistants give impression Bombers are back in the game

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GM Kyle Walters (left) has added assistant GMs Danny McManus (right) and Ted Goveia (centre) to his decision-making team.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

GM Kyle Walters (left) has added assistant GMs Danny McManus (right) and Ted Goveia (centre) to his decision-making team. Photo Store

For the first time in years, it looked like the Winnipeg Blue Bombers knew what they're doing when it comes to putting together a football team.

The people on the podium Tuesday -- Kyle Walters, Danny McManus and Ted Goveia -- gave an impression of confidence, football intellect and direction.

Most importantly, there was a deep and thorough understanding of what it takes to find and develop CFL players and ultimately field a winning team.

Wasting a bunch of words on the absence of this understanding during the Joe Mack regime is unnecessary. The record and a roster rife with issues speaks for itself.

Mack didn't get it. Walters does.

The Bombers are no longer a sleepy, yet arrogant organization. Overnight, they've become sharks. Expect them to work harder than the next guy. Expect young people who have been willing to pay their dues to get chances to fill big jobs and be driven to succeed.

They're not reinventing the wheel but they're putting fresh people on it and then pushing harder than this franchise has in some time. For the first time since Brendan Taman walked out the door, the Bombers have a hope.

It started with the appointment of Walters as GM and continued when he fleshed out his staff. This is no longer an out-of-date, one-man operation but a three-headed monster and one connected with the realities of today's CFL.

McManus has been working from the bottom up as a scout with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after winning Grey Cups in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Hamilton as an elite quarterback. Prior to coming to the CFL, McManus was an NCAA star, leading a Bobby Bowden-coached Florida State team to an 11-1 record and MVP honours at the Fiesta Bowl in his senior year.

Mention the name Danny McManus on either side of the border and football people know exactly who you're talking about.

Goveia played football in Canada, concluding with a CIS career at Mount Allison. He has worked at all levels before establishing himself as a scout and administrator with the Toronto Argonauts.

The Tiger-Cats just lost in the Grey Cup and Toronto won it last year. Now the two top scouts from those organizations have moved to the Bombers. In Winnipeg, they'll have bigger titles and more responsibility but will continue to do what they have shown to be adept at -- finding football players who can make it in this league.

Lots of scouts can go to a workout and pick out the athletes. Some scouts can watch film and determine whether a player has the ability to earn an NFL tryout. Then there are birddogs who can watch a player take part in both the four- and three-down games and correctly analyze his abilities and if they're a match for the CFL.

McManus and Goveia are proven commodities in this regard.

Next up is the coaching staff and with all three of these men having connections to Mike O'Shea, it appears more and more likely the Toronto Argonauts special-teams co-ordinator will be Winnipeg's head coach.

Also in the mix is Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive co-ordinator and quarterback guru George Cortez. Khari Jones had some steam early in this race but seems to have taken a step back after the first round of interviews.

Walters wouldn't say Tuesday what stage the interviews were at but Cortez was expected to get a second appointment this week.

O'Shea is a very strong personality with as deep an understanding of the CFL game from the defensive and special teams viewpoints. The argument can be made that Cortez is not only the best offensive co-ordinator in the league today but has been the dominant offensive mind in the league for the last two decades.

If Walters were to find a way to bring them both to Winnipeg, one as a head coach and the other as a co-ordinator and assistant head coach, he'd have hit a home run.

Money and lots of autonomy are likely keys to such a move and even then, it's a long shot to land both men. But such a combination would go a long way to putting the Bombers back on a level playing field with the rest of the league.

Someone has to lead the way and my choice would be O'Shea but giving him an experienced offensive hand to lean on like Cortez would largely increase a rookie head coach's chances for success.

So Walters has begun to prove himself as an astute planner and recruiter. Let's see what kind of a salesmen he can be.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 4, 2013 C1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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