Philosophy: it shapes organizations. It dictates the direction a team wants to go. And the philosophy under new Winnipeg Blue Bombers acting general manager Kyle Walters appears to be a drastic shift in thinking from the former regime.
“The way we feel now, talking Wade (Miller), Kyle (Walters), and myself, we're going to bring guys in,” said head coach Tim Burke of the new acting CEO, GM, and himself. “In the future we're going to bring guys in, free agents, who might get cut by another team — there's good guys who get cut by teams.”
And it didn't take long for the new philosophy to set in as veteran kicker Sandro DeAngelis was shipped in and started immediately in place of Justin Palardy last week and five-year Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive back Bo Smith was inked to the practice roster early this week.
Not to mention the firing of Gary Crowton and promotion of Marcel Bellefeuille into the offensive coordinator role.
Everyone around Bombers camp has been careful with their words when speaking about the old philosophy compared to the way the new Miller-Walters-Burke trio will approach things, but they are definitely clear in the changes they want to make.
“We're going to build our team and not just rely on bringing our own guys in. If somebody else finds them and develops them, that's fine with us,” added the head coach. “We're constantly looking for other people. If we can do anything to upgrade our team, we will.”
Somewhat overshadowed by the change at OC and the perpetual carousel at quarterback, the Blue Bombers defence has also been troubled by the opposition - the air attack in particular. And while the roster appears experienced and talented on that side of the ball, the new philosophy is a welcome one to struggling coordinator Casey Creehan.
“When you get injuries in this league it's nice to have veteran players that can come and fill in. I mean, it's good to get young talent but it takes a while to learn this game. It's different than it is down south. Having to plug young kids in fast, early in the season like we've had to do a couple weeks, is tough.”
Creehan, Hamilton's DC last season, is beyond pleased that his roster depth can now be supplemented with players that have competed professionally, like Bo Smith who has 56 CFL games under his belt.
“Competition, in my opinion, is the best thing in the world. It makes us all better. It makes us better in any profession, so when there's a guy in here that's played at a high level, sure people are looking over their shoulders. And that's OK because it's a results-based business and all of us have to perform.”
Notes: Receiver Chris Matthews, who has battled a troublesome back since training camp, is out for 4-6 weeks after tearing ligaments in his foot. Doug Pierce will check in for him… Bellefeuille has swapped Clarence Denmark and Jade Etienne, with Etienne now lining up at wideout while Denmark moves back to the slot where he has found his most success over the past two seasons… Max Hall will make a consecutive start at quarterback as Bellefeuille continues to assess his options at pivot… Former Winnipeg head coach Paul LaPolice had some insightful comments on the CFL on TSN pregame show this week about the former general manager's philosophy: ““I could talk a week about this… I didn't have a lot of interviews with Joe Mack besides about five introductory conversations. You don't hit every conversation through there, but when something comes up you have to trust people in their jobs and allow them to do their jobs (with) what has to be done. At times I believed in building a roster a certain way, and if there is a disconnect, that's going to tear apart your team. There was certainly a couple of times that we wanted to sign a couple guys that ( Mack) didn't want to because (he) wanted to go younger…”