August 30, 2015

Doug Brown


Yes, there is a fast fix: Fire Burke now

Blue must take lead from Esks, not waste time

It's time to unshackle 'acting' CEO Wade Miller (above) and 'acting' GM Kyle Walters if the Bombers expect any success in renewing season tickets for 2014, Brown argues.


It's time to unshackle 'acting' CEO Wade Miller (above) and 'acting' GM Kyle Walters if the Bombers expect any success in renewing season tickets for 2014, Brown argues.

Why are we waiting?

When you tie an all-time record for futility, it is not the time to stand pat.

When a game is so insignificant to the opposition they leave 10 starters at home and still win by 30, urgency should be the new mandate.


When you are dependent on a near-capacity crowd to meet the particulars of your business plan and debt repayment schedule, clarity and optics are key as season ticket holders contemplate renewing.

When the biggest opportunity the franchise has to solidify its quarterbacking quandary awaits at the end of the month, ambiguity about roles and responsibilities should already be an afterthought.

So in other words, the time for decisions on "acting" titles and determinations about coaching appointments are already three days overdue if you look at what hangs in the balance.

On that front, when it comes to the viability of any head coach, no matter who the candidate or how blemished the record, there are always arguments to be made, for and against.

In Tim Burke's corner, he has only been at the helm of the team for a year and a half.

At the most critical position on the field, he has been saddled with six different QBs, and only one of them showed well enough to be brought back next year to compete.

It is rumoured that Burke wanted Kevin Glenn brought here this season, but that was overruled by a GM that has already been fired -- which is also a key to his defence.

Now that Joe Mack is gone, and even if he wasn't, it is impossible to know which personnel moves they agreed upon and which they did not. There are no minutes of meetings to be reviewed, and therefore it is easy to say your hands were tied.

The argument for Burke to keep his job is, simply put, the hypothetical cliché of whether any other coach could have made chicken salad out of the chicken-bleep he was handed, and he is right, few probably could have.

Add to this deliberation the facts that most of his players seem to respect and like him, and the franchise is already paying a GM and a CEO not to be here, and this is not a slam-dunk case.

He is honest, forthcoming, and a class act, but there are no humanitarian votes in pro football.

So, while what went wrong may have been unavoidable, the question remains, did he show enough of the "right" to keep his job as a head coach?

I'm not convinced he did.

There are three tenets that lead me to believe his talents are best served as a defensive co-ordinator and not a head coach.

The first is while no one will argue a talent upgrade is required, his defence showed both moments of brilliance and ineptitude. If the talent is a constant, those discrepancies in performance have to be put on the coaches.

We saw on a couple of occasions what they were capable of, but it wasn't reproducible -- not even close.

Even the offence, which was consistently terrible all year, was erratic and confounding down the stretch.

Further to this end, when a head coach defers head-coaching decisions to his assistants, like Burke often did with QB selections, that tells me he was not comfortable with command.

Another indication that erodes confidence in his judgment, was his own admission that several players had checked out before the season had ended.

Even if their salaries were guaranteed for the rest of the year, the fact they were not immediately released -- to send a message to the rest of the room -- is another puzzling strike against his leadership.

Finally, in his most recent interview with the media, he said that this football team is not going to be a one-year fix.

This is a fundamentally incorrect assessment of an eight- and soon to be nine-team league. Everything in the CFL can be fixed in a single off-season.

Teams go from 4-14 in 2010 to 10-8 and a berth in the Grey Cup in a single year.

In fact, three days ago the Bombers were beaten for the fifth time this year by a Tiger-Cats team that they were tied for dead last with in 2012.

The truth of the matter is this has already been a two-year fix that has now hit rock bottom.

If you don't believe it can't be turned around immediately, in this environment, your expectations are simply too low and not correctly calibrated.

Pressing pause right now only muddies the water even further.

The Edmonton Eskimos understood this and reacted accordingly.

Why haven't we?


Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays and the days following game days in the Free Press.

Twitter: @DougBrown97

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 5, 2013 C4

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