Winnipeg Blue Bombers: The Teflon Triumverate is making Miller time look an awful lot like Mack time

Wade Miller isn’t going anywhere because…well, just because.

Kyle Walters isn’t going anywhere because…well, because Wade Miller says so.

Mike O’Shea isn’t going anywhere because…well, because Wade Miller told Kyle Walters to say so.

But, hey, when a team sucks as badly today as it did two years ago (to the day) when Miller became the official grand poobah of all things Winnipeg Blue Bombers, somebody has to take the fall. Actually, you can make that somebodies. Plural.

For those of you keeping score at home, what ails the Winnipegs is Joe Mack’s fault. Gary Crowton’s fault. Tim Burke’s fault. Gary Etcheverry’s fault. Pat Tracey’s fault. Marcel Bellefeuille’s fault. There’s possibly some blame to lay at the feet of Buzz and Boomer, as well.

The nasty stuff, meanwhile, fails to stick to the Teflon Triumverate of Miller, Walters and O’Shea, who have taken a 3-15 outfit that failed to qualify for the Canadian Football League playoffs in 2013 and transformed it into a 5-13 outfit that, once again, is on the outside looking in as the Grey Cup tournament commences this weekend.

Nice work if you can get it.

The thing is, the Teflon Triumverate finds itself in the most enviable position of working for mostly non-football-savvy bosses who no longer harbor an appetite for paying people not to work. Thus, there shall be no blood-letting by the board of directors. Not at the moment.

Apparently, the only man willing to wield an axe is O’Shea, the off-with-their-heads head coach.

Once upon a time there was a shop in downtown Winnipeg called the Man with the Axe. It was a discount men’s clothing store. Now it’s where other CFL teams shop for discontinued coaches. I mean, if there is a defining measure (other than wins and losses) of O’Shea’s two-year sideline stewardship, it is his penchant for firing the men he has hired. He’s whacked three co-ordinators in less than a year. Etcheverry, responsible for the defensive dozen, was the first to go last December. Next on the chopping block was special teams CO Tracey, in September. Now offensive CO Bellefeuille is gone, just when I’d finally learned to spell his name without looking it up.

That isn’t a coaching staff O’Shea is operating. It’s a McDonald’s drive-thru.

But, hey, he learned at the knee of the whack master himself, chief executive officer Miller. On his first day on the job as “acting” CEO, Miller whacked much-maligned general manager Joe Mack. On his second day as permanent CEO, he whacked head coach Tim Burke.

Welcome to Whack-a-Mole, Blue Bombers version.

It’s fair, two years after the fact, to assess the workings of Miller as CEO of the once-proud Winnipeg Football Club, and I find myself asking this: Exactly what has he done?

Miller’s first order of business was to hire a general manager and a head coach. He promised an “exhaustive” search for a GM. He would leave no stone on the North American football landscape unturned. As if. All he did was walk down the hall to Walters’ office and say something like, “Yo! Kyle! It’s about that exhaustive search thing I promised our fans. I can’t really be bothered. Too much of a hassle. I know you don’t have any experience, but the job’s yours if you want it. By the way, I’m hungry. Could you whip over to the nearest McDonald’s and get me some burgers?”

Nothing Miller has done on the football side (we won’t talk about the Heritage Classic hockey or stadium fiascos) has worked. Not Walters. Not O’Shea. The Teflon Triumverate is 12-24 in two crusades. Thus, it’s perhaps appropriate to revisit something he said shortly after his anointment as CEO.

“I’m not afraid to prove myself and let my results speak for myself,” he said. “That’s my calling card…so we’re going to bring it.”

All he’s brought is more misery for Bombers Nation.

rooftop riting biz card back sidePatti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers: Now that was just stupid

You don’t want to hang all of this one on Brian Brohm. Or the hogs in front of him. Or the defence. Or the special teams.

This was an equal-opportunity screwup. Share and share alike.

But the main reason the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were given a 37-19 wedgie by the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday? Just blame it on stupid.

Stupid is Mike Willie running into punter Ray Early to breathe fresh life into a stalled Saskatchewan drive.

Stupid is an illegal contact penalty on Johnny Adams on the same drive.

Stupid is an unecessary roughness penalty on Johnny Adams on the very next play on the very same drive that ended in a touchdown for Gang Green.

Stupid is an unecessary roughness penalty on Lin-J Shell.

Stupid is an unecessary roughness penalty on Bruce Johnson.

Stupid is Lirim Hajrullahu hoofing the football out of bounds on a short kickoff attempt with one minute and 27 ticks remaining on the clock and the score 30-19 for the ‘Riders.

Stupid is a Marcel Bellefeuille game plan that did not include a pass attempt of more than 10 yards until the skirmish was 28 and a half minutes old. That’s almost an entire half without flinging the football far enough for a first down! And that’s the offensive scheme that we were told was much too complicated for newby quarterback Matt Nichols to master in three days? Five-yard sideline passes? Doesn’t say much for his smarts, does it.

Which brings me to one final stupid: Stupid is the Bombers filmaholic head coach, Mike O’Shea, not starting Nichols despite the fact he hadn’t been in town long enough to sample his first Salisbury House cheese nip.

Oh, yes, stupid ruled the day on many levels for the Blue and Gold, losers to a previously inept Roughriders outfit which, at 0-9 entering the fray, had been the free space on the 2015 Canadian Football League bingo card. The Green People gave the Bombers a proper paddywhacking before an SRO audience on a wind-swept afternoon in that ugly excuse of a ball yard on Piffles Taylor Way in Regina, and I doubt very much that Winnipeg’s filmaholic head coach needs to watch video evidence to confirm how ugly stupid his crew was and is.

I mean, what’s there to see, other than a pathetic parade of penalties and further evidence that Brohm is not a CFL-quality quarterback?

The best you could say about Brohm’s work on Sunday is this: He didn’t implode. There were no picks. Actually, there wasn’t much of anything. No touchdowns. No energy. No excitement. Just blah…and some garbage yards and a few garbage points once the debate had been decided in the ‘Riders’ favor.

Mind you, Brohm is working with an extreme handicap, and this time I’m not talking about his throwing arm. He has Bellefeuille for an offensive coordinator.

I’ve never had a peek inside Bellefeuille’s play book, but, judging by the play-calling, it can’t be any more complicated than an Archie or Jughead comic. And it’s certainly less entertaining. I swear, the Bombers would be better served if the QB simply crouched down in the huddle and designed plays in the dirt. You know, like the kids do in sandlot football. That way we might actually see a deep ball thrown on occasion.

Not with a Bellefeuille offence, though. He’s bold and brash like Donald Trump is mousey quiet. His idea of daring is running with a pair of scissors. Plastic scissors.

So, ya, anyone behind centre for the Bombers is playing with one arm tied behind his back.

Who that will be when the same two outfits do it all over again on Saturday at Football Follies Field in Fort Garry remains a mystery, but it’s my guess that Nichols will get the call he should have received on Sunday.

If not…well, that would just be stupid.

rooftop riting biz card back sidePatti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.