Fans of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will likely have to wait another week before finally seeing their much vaunted new offense in action. Al Dannity looks ahead to their pre-season clash with the Hamilton Tiger Cats as the start of the 2012 CFL season edges closer.
The right fit?
Gary Crowton has been around. At 54, the veteran coach has held 14 different positions over a 30 year coaching career. Winnipeg however is his first stop in the CFL and it may be the perfect fit for his aggressive offensive schemes. Known for pushing the boat out, Crowton’s creative mind should fit in well to the pass-oriented CFL game.
Don’t expect to see much of Crowton’s master plan unveiled in pre-season against Hamilton. When Paul LaPolice said he would play his starters for half the game, it was natural to conclude that he wanted to give his new look offense a chance to get battle-tested before the games count. Crowton however insists the Bombers will be keeping their cards close to their chest until opening day. “You’ll see a little bit, not a lot. Enough to get 65 to 70 plays in. But not a lot of special things,” Crowton told the Winnipeg Sun. “There are going to be some things formationally, with tempo, ideas that come off a base play to try to get big plays. I won’t do any of those.”
The Bombers weren’t supposed to just get a new offensive coordinator in the off-season; they were supposed to get a new home as well. Construction delays at Investors Group Field mean the move to the University of Manitoba site won’t take place until last season. That means one more year at Canad Inns Stadium, a venue that appeared to receive the perfect send off in 2011. Chris Garrett’s touchdown on the final play of the East Final against Hamilton seemed like the perfect farewell to the stadium that hosted three Grey Cups.
The delayed move need not be a burden for Winnipeg. In 2011 the old venue rocked to eight straight sell-outs down the stretch, turning Winnipeg into the fiercest road environment in the CFL. Quarterback Buck Pierce is well aware of the benefits of one more year at Canad Inns Stadium. “We’ve had some success here as of late,” said Pierce. “We like playing here as players. We enjoy it. It was one of the best venues to play in all last year and I think it will be one of the top again this year.”
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