The Winnipeg Blue Bombers took what they hope is a major step towards improving their offensive line in 2014 with Tuesday’s announcement that they have hired veteran offensive line coach Bob Wylie.
Wylie has a wealth of both NFL experience (he coached offensive line in Oakland in 2011 and Denver in 2010) and CFL experience (he coached Winnipeg’s offensive line in 2007 and 2008).
Wylie’s services were reportedly widely sought after this off-season and while there had been rumours for weeks that he was headed to Winnipeg, the Bombers officially landing him on Tuesday is widely considered a coup for the Bombers front office.
Bombers offensive lineman Patrick Neufeld hailed the hiring via his personal Twitter account. "Couldn’t be more excited to be coached by one of the greatest OL coaches in the game Bob Wylie, things just keep getting better in blue," Neufeld tweeted.
Wylie coached in 2009 in Saskatchewan as the Riders went to the Grey Cup that year. That 2007 Bombers team that Wylie coached also went to the Grey Cup.
Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea gushed about his newest hiring.
"Bob is a great teacher of the game. He has a long resume of coaching experience and we are thrilled to have him join our staff," O’Shea said in a statement. "His experience in all levels of football, on both sides of the border, is such a huge asset for us."
Under Wylie’s guidance in Oakland, the Raiders in 2011 went from one of the poorest offensive lines in the NFL to the top 5 in sacks given up.
In his two seasons with Winnipeg, the Bombers had all-stars at every offensive line position.
Also on Tuesday, the Bombers announced that they had signed import offensive lineman Randy Richards and import linebacker Cyhl (pronounced Kyle) Quarles.
Richards (OT - 6-3, 303, Missouri State) played all 22 games in two seasons at Missouri State and was named American Football Coaches Association All-American and Missouri State’s Offensive Lineman of the Year.
He was a late cut of the San Diego Chargers in 2013 and spent time on Tampa Bay's practice roster.
Quarles (LB - 6-3, 212, Wake Forest) attended the 2012 NFL Combine after a standout collegiate career. He went undrafted but signed a tryout contract with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012. He was released prior to the start of the 2012 season.