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Fired for one simple reason

LaPolice was hired to juice up the attack -- it never happened

Paul LaPolice was hired in 2010 for one good reason -- the Winnipeg Blue Bombers offence sucked.

And LaPolice was fired on Saturday for one good reason -- the Winnipeg Blue Bombers offence still sucked.

Happier times: Paul LaPolice holds up the East Division trophy as Doug Brown looks on last November.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES

Happier times: Paul LaPolice holds up the East Division trophy as Doug Brown looks on last November. Photo Store

President and General Manager of Football Operations Joe Mack announces the firing of Blue Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice at press conference today at the Blue Bomber office. Aug  25,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

President and General Manager of Football Operations Joe Mack announces the firing of Blue Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice at press conference today at the Blue Bomber office. Aug 25, 2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice talks to the media at the airport in July of this season after returning from Toronto where the team lost 25-22 to the Argonauts.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice talks to the media at the airport in July of this season after returning from Toronto where the team lost 25-22 to the Argonauts. Photo Store

That, in a nutshell, sums up the brief and mostly forgettable years that will be the LaPolice reign in the Bombers history books.

Hired prior to the 2010 season based on his performance as the offensive co-ordinator in Saskatchewan, LaPolice was given one task -- to do for the sorry, sad-sack offence left behind by the Mike Kelly debacle what he had done in Saskatchewan for a club which at that point had been to the Grey Cup twice in three years.

That offensive renaissance never happened -- and LaPolice is unemployed today because of it.

"When I first interviewed and hired Paul," Bombers GM Joe Mack said Saturday, "I was explicit that I felt Winnipeg had not had a good offence for an extended period of time. And one of the main reasons he was getting hired was to revamp and reconstitute the offence.

"And I didn't really feel that had been accomplished."

Mack also alluded Saturday to a litany of other reasons for firing LaPolice -- his teams were undisciplined and took too many stupid penalties, including 13 in a loss to B.C. Friday night; he couldn't extract the best out of the talent that he did have; and his players simply no longer believed in what he was selling.

But all that's beside the larger point. The Bombers' offence remains as anemic today as it ever was and a review of the LaPo years reveals that the only success he ever had -- a 7-1 tear to begin the 2011 season -- had nothing to do with LaPolice's offence and everything to do with the defence masterminded by Tim Burke, the man who replaced him as Bombers field boss on Saturday.

That defence dragged the Bombers to the 2011 Grey Cup despite LaPolice's offence, not because of it. And LaPolice -- who no one's ever accused of being a fool -- wisely parlayed the run into a contract extension for himself during the off-season.

But when you take apart LaPolice's reign in Winnipeg, what emerges is that the 7-1 run was anomalous -- a brief moment in time that LaPolice wasn't able to replicate before or since. The 2010 Bombers under LaPolice were 4-14 -- and the Bombers under LaPolice since that 7-1 run have been a combined 6-14, including 1-1 in last year's playoffs.

The numbers don't lie and in a business that's all about the numbers, LaPolice's simply weren't good enough in the end.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

 

The LaPolice years

2010:

Regular Season Record: 4-14

Home: 4-5

Away: 0-9

Points For: 464 (6th)

Points Against: 485 (6th)

First Downs: 329 (7th)

Passing Yards: 4,487 (6th)

Average Yards Net Offence: 365.4 (5th)

 

2011:

Regular Season Record: 10-8

Home: 5-4

Away: 5-4

Points For: 432 (5th)

Points Against: 432 (3rd)

First Downs: 342 (7th)

Passing Yards: 4494 (7th)

Average Yards Net Offence: 341.6 (5th)

 

2012:

Regular Season Record: 2-6

Home: 2-2

Away: 0-4

Points For *: 159 (8th)

Points Against *: 224 (7th)

First Downs *: 143 (5th)

Passing Yards*: 1969 (5th)

Average Yards Net Offence* : 352.0 (7th)

*Does not include statistics from 20-17 loss to B.C. Lions on Friday

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 26, 2012 B3

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