General feelings around the CFL suggest the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have done a great job of improving their team this off-season.
Although they lost elite punter Jon Ryan to the NFL and leading receiver/kick returner Keith Stokes to the Toronto Argonauts, a new coaching staff and the signing of the best available free agent have gone a long way toward restoring the reputation of a team that sank to an almost unimaginable low in 2005.
The Bombers had the worst defence in CFL history last season, but three very positive things have happened to rectify that situation: They fired Jim Daley, who was personally responsible for the complete defensive collapse after co-ordinator Rod Rust left town, they hired Greg Marshall, whose record as a defensive guru speaks for itself, and they signed star middle linebacker Barrin Simpson.
Bombersâ€™ GM Brendan Taman has also thrown a boatload of money at Canadian safety Richard Karikari in an attempt to significantly improve a porous defensive backfield. Unfortunately, Karikari is leaning toward a return to Montreal and if Winnipeg canâ€™t land him it will be out of defensive free-agent options.
That possibility has some fans whispering concern. Just how much better can this defence possibly be with addition of one linebacker, Canadian safety Mike Crumb (obtained in a trade for QB Spergon Wynn) and some coaches? Some people are wondering just how many positions Barrin Simpson is going to play.
The defensive backs will essentially be the same and, while they should be improved with another year under their belt, that prospect is a bit scary.
The onus on Taman now shifts to his recruiting ability. He needs to find some players to challenge for spots on the defence, stat.
As he has acknowledged in the past, his job depends on it.