Bombers news and notes : Jan 24th 2014

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The search for a new Bombers defensive co-ordinator is nearly two months old, and it looks like the list of potential replacements for Casey Creehan is growing.

According to a source, Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea is now looking at non-veteran CFL coaches for possible new candidates. Global TV's Joe Pascucci reported last week that Gary Etcheverry will be getting the job and other CFL sources told the Sun last week that Etcheverry is indeed the front-runner, but perhaps O'Shea is having a change of heart.

The hiring of Etcheverry would be risky in a way, because the 57-year-old runs a defence that has been described as "unorthodox" and he is one of the more eccentric coaches out there. On the other hand, he was Saskatchewan's defensive co-ordinator when it went to back-to-back Grey Cups in 2009 and 2010.

Greg Marshall, who was Winnipeg's defensive co-ordinator from 2006 too 2008, is also a candidate for the position.


The Bombers signed Canadian fullback Michel-Pierre Pontbriand to a new contract on Wednesday, leaving the team with 18 players who are set to become free agents on Feb. 15.

Pontbriand, who would have become a free agent next month, was expected to have more of an offensive role in 2013, but he made just six catches for 61 yards. He was used primarily in a blocking role on offence and collected eight special teams tackles.

The soon-to-be 31-year-old was out of football for a few years before joining the Bombers midway through the 2011 season.


The biggest name among Winnipeg's 18 potential free agents is middle linebacker Henoc Muamba, the East Division's most outstanding Canadian in 2013.

Muamba's agent, Johnathon Hardaway, offered a "no comment" when asked Thursday about the state of negotiations with the Bombers. Muamba is trying to land an NFL contract and has had contact with at least the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos, but at last report a CFL source said "there has been interest but no real offers" for the first overall pick in the 2011 CFL draft.


Receiver Chris Matthews is another Bomber whose contract expires next month, and his agent, Rodney Edwards, said Thursday "everything is still up in the air."

Matthews has had workouts with 10 NFL teams but no offer as of yet.

"With 10 workouts you would think somebody will sign him," Edwards said. "The workouts have gone very well. He's done very, very well for himself."

Edwards won't petition the Bombers to release Matthews early if he gets an offer from an NFL squad, noting there is nothing a player has to do before off-season workouts begin in March. That being said, Edwards said he wants to have his client's NFL future settled one way or another before the start of the league's scouting combine on Feb. 22.

Matthews played in only five games during the 2013 campaign due to back and foot injuries. He was the CFL's rookie of the year in 2012 after catching 81 balls for 1,192 receiving yards.

Hire Etch and be done with it, say I. Yes, he’s a bit of a wingnut, but that wingnut also puts together good defenses. The Riders didn’t reach the Grey Cup in back-to-back years by accident. He’d be a far better choice than Greg “The Recycled Mediocrity” Marshall. Has a Marshall defense ever even played in a Grey Cup game?

Was Marshall the bombers’ DC in the 2007 grey cup?

I do believe that he was

Ah, thanks for that. Yes, he was. But take away that one season and he's been Mr. Mediocre. And his last two coaching stints haven't gone well at all: fired halfway into being HC in SSK, fired from being DC in Edmonton last year, because his defense couldn't stop anybody.

....Seriously, I don't think Marshall will be a DC for anyone in 2014.. :lol: From what I'm hearing Etcheverry might not be in the picture anymore either?? Bombers could go outside the CFL and Tibesars name keeps popping up....I wish they'd cut the suspense and name the guy already...I guess you guys in Mont. and also Edm. are of the same mind....although the coaching handles vary...Would be nice to finalize things...?? :roll:

Don't worry, papa, the Bombers cannot possibly be as indecisive and slow-moving as my Als...:frowning:

.....Yes....we seem to be stuck in suspended animation....Lots of question marks but we have to get some answers soon one would hope... :roll:

That is a good question about Pontbriand as a TE. The CFL is evolving into a league where teams will need a TE that can both block and be a receiver. Now whether Pointbriands lack of participation in the offense was a product of the disaray on offence or if he just is not a good receiver. Leaving them also with rookie Carl Fitzgerals who is a true TE played that position at Saint Mary's and just barely got his feet wet in the CFL last season. He was also mentioned in the offensive converstion when he did dress. He has the height and better build and more real experience as a TE but is he ready for the speed of the pro game in the CFL yet.
On this point the Bombers are not alone. Two teams that had such TE where both lifted by the REDBLACKS. Hamilton is rumored to be moving T.O. prim from MLB to TE as he has soome experience at that position.
But what we saw from Lavoi in Montreal in 2012 when he was healthy there is no doubt that having a TE that can also be a receiving threat is something that everyone will be looking to acquire or possibily look to a Canadian athletic LB that has been reserved to special teams begin to look to make the switch.
Darrly Stephanson looked very good as a reciving TE at the end of the 2012 season with Hamilton but got caught up in a numbers game in Saskatchewan that saw a similar rookie to Fitzgerald in Spencer Moore out of MAC. adding Neil Hughes back but not really a TE with his shorter height, McHennry also playing a more of an H-Back so it got kind of crowded.
If the Riders let Stephanson go in a numbers game he could be a great bargain pick up and really start a whole second career in the CFL as a TE who can block, catch, and run after the catch.

With Mathews also looking like he is not comng back to the Bombers and kholert looking to be a fairly hot commodity in free agency how do the Bombers receiver situation shake out.
Up front Corey Watson staying healthy is important. When he is he is a top receiver in the CFL. Edwards finding injury problems last season was just a year removed from a 1,000 season.
Once Beelifuelle took over as OC Denmark also took off so I would have to think he would be in the plans for sure.
AAron Kelly was a source of familiarity for Marcel but the injured Sims walker one game was incredible and would have to think in a lost season shut him down and would expect to see him at WR haelthy, strong and eager.
Canadian Receivers Etiene began to break out as the first round pick that he was but Kholert took over. Also the late addition of big Canadian Akeem Foster was a move for a fresh new 2014. Kito Poblah still in the mix as well. Now entering his 4th full season he will need to show signs that he can be a big contributer.

I think that covers everyone. Some will come down to free agency and whether Kholert comes back but much will do with Marcel's [lans on offence because there is a good bit of talent in that group.
Already a better offensive line was obtained during the course of last season and of course the QB who ever that may be, and the chemistry he has with the receivers may be something that will take that first 6 weeks of the season to figure out and then sharpen that up during games 7-12. Getting a few more wins this season during those first 12 games and the Bombers can turn that offense and team around for the playoffs following a similar blue print that Toronto took in 2012 and Hamilton in 2013

That entire Bomber offense needs to be rebuilt, you have to feel bad that they had to submit players for the expansion draft. I think fans will have to continue to be patient.

I would compare them tho the Aergo offense being rebuilt from 2011 to 2012. Ony thing is they will not get Ricly Ray as there QB.
They could however get the Oline in much better order and they started that during the beginning of Walters interim take over diring thw 2013 cqmpaign and sort through the yes and no' at Receiver

...We may not have Ray but we might have his protégé....With a rebuilt o line,things in Bomberland aren't as bleak as some people like to think... I look for a huge turnaround this year :wink:

Steve's analogy is pretty spot on. Shows it can be done.

The formula the Argos in 2012 and Cats in 2013 seemed to be an easy one good coaching and good talent.
Finding that good coaching and finding that good talent is the challenge.
Pretty well known if you are a CFL fan that organizations break down there season into thirds. games 1-6, 7-12, 13-18.
Both Toronto and Hamilton did almost a perfect job but they had the personal peaple and coaching in place to get it done.
Milanovich HC(oc) Jones DC (talent scout) Barker GM
Hamilton Austin HC & GM, Conwell OC (an extention of Austin) Stieneir DC

For Winnipeg the peices look very good so far. Walters GM has been fantastic already and started his signing of better talent last season for this year. O'Shea HC- All signs point towards him being a top one. OC is a question mark as Bellefuielle has the chance to remove any of his detractors. DC Unknown to this point will be key but O'shea has a defensive back ground as well as Special teams coach.
Having a CIS coach come into the special teams coach role could pay off as their will be some younger canadians that will neeed to be on the roster to gain expereince and their role will come in the form of special teams.
As the Bombers are putting the pieces together through games 1-6 then Iron them out through 7-12 having great special teams is a key to carry them to some wins. Especially a stifling coverage teams. Something that the Riders did in 2012 with a group of young hard nosed Canadian players, which there are an ambundance of. Getting them prepared to stop the best returners is all coaching.

IMHO the Bombers look to be similar to the Riders in 2012 and 2013 where they will turn it around in 2014 but could become dominate in 2015. Coincidentally the same year they should be hosting the Grey Cup