He has to know this will come up again at least a few more times, but veteran left tackle Glenn January wants you to know he's already made up his mind the 2014 Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 2-0 early in the CFL season, are nothing like the 3-15 version of a year ago.
"You always turn over a new page whenever the fresh season comes along," January said after Thursday's rally to beat the Ottawa Redblacks 36-28. "It's my sixth year in Winnipeg and when I think it over, we've probably made the playoffs once. You always go into the season with hope, but this year it feels like more of a team.
"Today, we're out there taking blows left and right from a very fired up new franchise that's got a lot of talented players on their team. We're able to come together and fight hard and inch our way back and at the end of the game, everything kind of fell into place.
"We stuck together. That's the most important thing. In the past, there was a 'Here-we-go-again' mentality and I think you saw that from the fans a little bit tonight. I can't completely blame them for that because I've seen it and they've seen enough of it, so I think we've completely gotten rid of that mentality. There's no pointing fingers. Nobody's getting frantic on the sideline and that comes from the time coach O'Shea has forced us to spend together."
January said the training camp schedule was designed to enhance meshing.
"There were holes in the days where it wasn't long enough to go home, so it forced us to stick together and play stupid card games and do stupid things and that's really how you bond," he said. "Everybody in this room has a similar character. That's extremely important. There are no bad apples in here, or at least none have shown their cards yet, so that's extremely important for a successful team. What he's done is take the model we had when I played with him in Toronto, that it's a locker-room where you have character guys that don't need rules, you give ownership to the team and it's on us to make sure everybody's doing the right thing and creating the same way and has the right mentality on the field."
That's going to be an asset in the coming weeks, January said.
"I won't say we won't fall on difficult times throughout the year," he said. "Everything wasn't perfect tonight and everything wasn't perfect last week. There are a lot of things that were pretty bad, if you boil it down, and need to get fixed, and that's just being a perfectionist, but that's the way you have to do it..."
-- -- --
One of the things that will need to be fixed quickly is penalties, a negative that hurt recent editions of the blue and gold.
Thursday, the Bombers were flagged 12 times for 120 yards.
Needing to make this point strongly and concisely, head coach Mike O'Shea used a question about how impressive the Bombers have been so far to address it.
"We took way too many penalties," he frowned. "That doesn't impress me."
-- -- --
Among the signs that will go on the plus side after Thursday's victory was the offensive line, which had to adjust mid-game to a leg injury to right guard Chris Greaves.
Rookie and second-overall draft pick Matthias Goosen came into the game and played in Greaves's spot the rest of the way.
"I was ready for it," said Goossen. "I went in there and Glenn (January), he was a really big help. When it comes down to it, it's just football and I had an amazing time of it."
-- with files from Paul Wiecek