Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bad + awful = Crowton fired

The numbers say it all for ex-Bomber co-ordinator

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We'll be live streaming the Blue Bombers press conference with Marcel Bellefeuille and Time Burke at 11:30 this morning.

The numbers just don't compute. That is why Gary Crowton lost his job as offensive co-ordinator of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday.

Last in several key offensive categories, the team announced the dismissal early in the day and said Marcel Bellefeuille, added to the staff less than a week ago, will take over that role for the rest of the season.

The Bombers, 1-6 after Friday's 37-18 beatdown by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, have seen plenty of change in the last 10 days.

They have fired their CEO and their GM, added Bellefeuille, the former head coach of the Ticats, cut loose three players and changed starting quarterbacks for a second time.

"No one in our organization is happy with the way we have performed so far this season," head coach Tim Burke said in the team's Sunday statement on Crowton. "Our offence has not played up to their standards and we need to make this change in order to give us a chance at remaining in the hunt for the post-season. I wish Gary all the best in his future endeavours."

After Friday's game, Burke was ominously non-committal about Crowton's job security.

"Well, I'm not going to get into that because there's no preconceived notion of what's going to happen or anything like that," Burke said. "Like I said last week, every facet of this organization is going to be looked at, so we'll go into this week and talk about everything that has to do with our offence, and defence and special teams."

The night yielded just 11 points from the offence and 312 total yards, just marginally better than the average of 285 per game coming into the contest.

But four turnovers and 15 first-down plays that produced three yards or less exemplified the continuing struggles of the unit, which has, admittedly, played with three different quarterbacks at the controls this season. Bellefeuille's promotion means the Bombers will be working with their third offensive co-ordinator in less than three years.

Crowton was hired less than 19 months ago to replace Jamie Baressi, who was not retained at the end of the 2011 season, when the Bombers lost the Grey Cup game. Crowton had previously never worked in Canada but was then hailed by since-fired head coach Paul LaPolice this way: "I was always impressed with him as a person and especially as an offensive innovator."

LaPolice was dismissed after a terrible start last season and at the end of the 6-12 season, the Bombers were the lowest-scoring team in the CFL.

Despite the ongoing struggles into 2013, the criticism of the team, the offence and him personally, Crowton, 55, refused to return any fire on Sunday after he was dismissed.

"It's tough; I really enjoyed working for the Blue Bombers," he told CJOB. "I think their fans are second to none in the CFL. They're supporting even though we were struggling. They've been wonderful.

"Tim Burke's a great coach. If they just give him a little bit of time, he'll get this thing working really well. And I really enjoyed all the staff."

Crowton acknowledged results are important.

"There wasn't a consistency we needed and I feel bad about that," he said. "I know how the business is; if you win they like you and if you don't, they want somebody else. I'm pulling for the Bombers the rest of the season."

Crowton came to the Bombers after one season at the University of Maryland. In the four seasons prior to that, he was the offensive co-ordinator at Louisiana State, including for the school's national championship season in 2007. The Tigers scored 40 points in seven games that season, a school record. Crowton had a wealth of college experience, including as head coach of Brigham Young for four years, and was also the offensive co-ordinator for the NFL's Chicago Bears in 1999 and 2000.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 19, 2013 0

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