Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/11/2011 (3126 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A win and Paul LaPolice goes from up-and-comer to established coach and slam dunk as CFL coach of the year. A loss and he's still a question mark, a guy who worked so hard to open the door and then fell on his face as he crossed the threshold.
LaPolice's reputation as a coach is on the hook for the success or failure of his team in the upcoming East final.
First-place teams that don't advance in the post-season get labelled, rightly or wrongly, as chokers.
Winnipeg's 10-8 overall mark may be tarnished by its 3-7 finish but it's still the best in the division. With success comes expectations and LaPolice is directly in the line of fire that comes with finishing first during the regular season.
LaPolice is a candidate for CFL coach of the year simply by transforming a 4-14 mess into a 10-8 contender. If the second-year boss can turn the trick and get a win on East final on Nov. 20 he will solidify his case to win the award and push aside arguments made for Wally Buono and Kavis Reed.
LaPolice has ably steered his team to this point but the next game will go a long way in determining how we remember the overall body of work.
The Bombers will have two weeks rest, home field and a decided edge in terms of head-to-head play no matter if the opposition comes in the form of the Montreal Alouettes or Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The Alouettes have gotten old before our very eyes this season and the Tiger-Cats have markedly regressed. Some may argue it's a low bar but the Bombers are the best of the East and likely need only put together 60 minutes of average football to claim that title.
The Bombers are no longer a cute comeback story but a team that has positioned itself to reach our national title game if it can cash in on the advantages earned by finishing first.
Failure, at this point, will be a major disappointment and blame would fall mostly at the feet of the coach.
LaPolice's responsibility is to use the next two weeks to build the right game plan, install it and get his players to execute it.
The coach has the luxury of time to mask his offensive looks and trends -- that's the advantage of finishing first and earning a bye. While Hamilton and Montreal sweat it out in a semifinal and worry about one another this week, LaPolice can tweak and camouflage his offence.
The Bombers defence under Tim Burke has done the same thing all year by rushing four lineman, never blitzing and using eight players in coverage. That ain't gonna change. It's been successful to this point and is brilliant in its simplicity. You don't have to hide a bulldozer, you just aim and destroy.
However, Winnipeg's offence, which is LaPolice's bailiwick, has been consistent only in it's inconsistency. What do the Bombers do well as an offence? Good question and when you have the answer let us know.
There's no arguing the Blue Bombers enter the post-season emitting a loud beep, beep, beep rather than the roar of screaming engines, but history does not record the sound a team makes, just its final destination.
email@example.com Twitter: @garylawless
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