Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

GM for a day

OK, frustrated fan... you've got the job; here's an outline of what needs to be done... go fix your broken Bombers

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Be it Joe Mack or his replacement, the general manager of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers has some work to do.

The Blue Bombers football operations department needs a makeover, and the club's roster has some glaring deficiencies. That's why they're 5-12 and 19-34 during Mack's three years as GM.

"The team's record overall is just disappointing. And it's not acceptable, and we will review everything in the whole organization, including football operations," Bombers president and CEO Garth Buchko said Monday.

"The board and myself will meet, and we'll make a decision (on GM Joe Mack) very shortly. It'll be before the Grey Cup, for sure."

So Buchko will either give Mack a little more rope or cut it off right now. Buchko has also gone on the record saying he'll want a strategy outlined for the quarterback position going forward.

The same will go for a different GM, should Buchko decide to go that route. Here's our Top 10 priorities for the person sitting in that chair in the off-season.



Tim Burke is the interim head coach and I like the job he's done under trying circumstances. No QB and no defensive co-ordinator for starters put Burke in a bad spot. I say hire him. But give him a chance to succeed with a full budget for a full coaching staff. The half-miler approach the club used this year does no one any good.



Winnipeg's quarterbacking was woeful this season. Buck Pierce can't stay on the field and his understudies, Alex Brink and Joey Elliott, haven't proven they're ready for prime time. So go get either Montreal Alouettes backup Adrian McPherson or B.C. Lions No. 2 Mike Reilly in free agency. In fact, why not trade for them after the Grey Cup for the right to negotiate with them before Feb. 15? Offer a conditional draft pick -- sixth-rounder if they don't sign, maybe third round if they do. Worth the risk to have exclusivity in negotiating. Both are question marks, of course, but unless you are trading for Ricky Ray, every option is essentially a question mark.



Buck Pierce has a choice, take a cut and be the vet, No. 2 off the bench, or retire to become the quarterback coach. The team can no longer rely on him to be the No. 1 quarterback. Pierce has missed almost half of the Bombers' games since his arrival in 2010. He wins when he plays, but he just doesn't play enough. It is time to move on. No question.



The Bombers need a more thorough approach to non-imports. They need to hire a full-time director of Canadian scouting. Several teams in the CFL have moved in this direction and the Bombers, who according to Buchko, spend $300,000 per year less than any other CFL team on football operations, need to direct some of the budget to this inadequacy.



Winnipeg does not have a dominant offensive lineman. No Chris Walby for sure, and no Brendon LaBatte, for that matter. They need a stud on the line. Whether they find a Canadian in free agency or sign an import this off-season, an all-star offensive lineman is a must. Two would be really nice.



Leadership is a major issue with this club. They need some men who dictate the pace of everyday life in the dressing room. The best teams don't need motivation from the coaching staff. It comes from within the room. The Bombers aren't even close in this department. They've got a couple of guys who try, but no natural leaders. It's a huge void and until it's filled, this franchise is dead. No pulse.



The Bombers have a bunch of Canadians who grade out as middle-of-the-pack. They need a ratio-breaker or two. A Canadian who plays like an American. Those are hard to come by and while the Bombers have some prospects in the system, none appears ready to tear the lid off the league. Go get one. Get active in free agency and rather than let other teams steal your best Canucks, grab from their rosters.



The move into the new stadium is critical to helping change the image of the club as being chintzy. So don't undercut that by making players pay for pop in the dressing room. It will take a long time to change that perception because it is so deep-rooted. But it has to start now.



Must be proactive. Do something big before Christmas -- a signing, an extension or a trade. Anything to make it seem like something is being done to fix things. This club needs a morale boost and it all starts in the GM's office.



There was a time when this franchise was elite in every way. That can no longer be said. Who are these men? They're certainly not Blue Bombers. Not in any way, shape or form. They need to be reminded what this organization stands for and what it means to wear the jersey. This disconnect is as disturbing as the team's record. The GM must find a way to get that old Blue Bombers way back in action.

Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 31, 2012 C1


Updated on Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 9:24 AM CDT: Corrects URL

11:16 AM: Updates CIL box.

4:40 PM: ends live event, replay embedded

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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