Tim Burke will never write speeches for a living but he does have a knack for distilling a situation into terse soundbites and Thursday he offered a most succinct and accurate summation on the plight of his football team.
"I asked the players why they thought the CEO and the GM were fired," shared Bombers head coach Burke, in his final press briefing prior to today's home game with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. "They answered by saying, 'because we're not winning enough games.' I told them, "exactly. Now let's get going.'"
Turmoil and excuses have been the default positions of the Blue Bombers for some time but this week it has all been about accountability. Whether it continues to unfold in that manner on the field is the question of the moment. It is time, and Burke agreed with this sentiment popping out an emphatic, "absolutely," for both coaches and players in Winnipeg colours to do their jobs correctly and completely.
The time for being half-milers, as the Imperial measure clich© used to go, is over.
"It's time for players to play. It all comes down to that," said veteran offensive lineman Glenn January. "It's time for us to just get it done. Nothing else matters or counts right now."
A number of players answered a similar line of questioning by saying they strive to do their jobs from the minute training camp begins. Fair enough. But that simply hasn't happened. So people got fired last week and a couple of players lost their jobs.
More losing and all involved can expect to undergo similar ramifications.
Maybe it's an oversimplification to say the leaders of this team must lead and the playmakers must make plays. But maybe simple is what this team needs to focus upon.
Coaches can't overreach and out-think themselves. This isn't the week to call a draw on second and long. Play the percentages. Don't coach scared but live within this team's abilities and confidence.
For the players, there's no room for mistakes. Dropped passes, offside penalties and missed tackles can all be controlled. Control them.
Physical mistakes are OK. Mental ones are not.
"If our players make plays we can win," said defensive tackle Bryant Turner. "They're going to try and stop us. That's what football is. But we can't help them. We can't make mistakes."
It was refreshing to hear quarterback Max Hall talk about the leash he will have tonight and going forward.
"This is professional football. We're paid to execute and produce," said Hall.
It's been easy to sit back and blame the plight of the Bombers on the board of directors and top executives. But at the end of the day, it's the players on the field and the coaches making the calls that determine the final outcome of games.
Sure, the Bombers aren't the most talented team but the Tiger-Cats have just one more win this season and this is as even a matchup as Winnipeg can expect to see this season.
The Bombers would not be delusional in believing they can win this game. Losing is not an inevitable outcome tonight as it has been on a number of instances this season.
But they clearly must do more than they have in their previous six games. If not, it will be simple for acting GM Kyle Walters to sharpen his scythe and continue cutting a human swath through his dressing room.
There are players hitting the streets every day as the NFL makes cuts. Maybe they don't have CFL experience but when a team is 1-6 there's no reason to hold on to many of its players. They may be experienced but they're also bad.
"We've been called out," said Turner. "You gotta answer that."
And the Bombers will supply an answer. One way or another.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @garylawless