In the final CFL Season Preview teleconference this afternoon; Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ management Wade Miller, President and CEO, Kyle Walters, General Manager, and Mike O’Shea, Head Coach, entertained questions from the media regarding the 2015 season. Here are the Hard-Hitting Facts from that call:
Mike O’Shea on heading into his second year as a head coach in the CFL.
- “Football is a game where you have to continually learn. There’s so much to learn, and I’m surrounded by many coaches to learn from.” – Mike O’Shea
- Coach O’Shea found the typical administrative duties of the off-season were less arduous this time around.
- The off-season is a little dry because the players aren’t around. Now that players are coming through, the coaches and management can see begin to see plans come to fruition.
- The grind disappears as the pre-season starts. O’Shea likened trainign camp to “The first day of school where you get to see all of your friends again, mixed with the first day of summer because this is where the fun begins.”
What makes a playoff team?
- The group needs to become a team.
- 3 main points that the Blue Bombers believe are important in building a team:
- Football IQ
- Becoming a team
- The more players play for each other, and the more players play for themselves, the more accountable they become.
- The team made good strides in 2014, but it takes more to be a champion.
How will defense change with new DC, and rule changes?
- Camp is going to come with a hands-off attitude to reinforce good practices.
- Referees will be at practices throwing flags, so that the team has a good picture of what the will be seen in-game.
- Effort from each member will still be a crucial requirement.
- There will be an ongoing process where Richie Hall will come with a game plan, and O’Shea will give his 2 cents.
QB Depth Chart
- Mike O’Shea and Kyle Walters reiterated their happiness with Drew Willy as their starter.
- As it stands from last year, the current depth chart looks as follows: Willy, Brohm, Marve, Portis, Yantz.
- All quarterbacks are coming in to camp to compete for a job.
- Paris Cotton is the incumbent as he knows the system and terminology.
- Thanks to ratio flexibility, there will be a few international running backs with differing physical sizes heading into camp.
- Khalil Bass was very interesting at preliminary camps because he can play Mack, or Will.
- Sam Hurl has to earn the job, but the expectation is that he will fit in quite nicely.
- Graig Newman will be competing at the weak side linebacker position.
- The plan in the off-season was to add flexibility in the ratio.
- Going in, management looked for competition at each spot.
- 3 national offensive linemen will start.
- 2 national receivers will likely start.
- Defensively, there is a ton of Canadian depth at all positions.
What intangibles does Kyle Walters look for in players?
- #1 thing is a love for football. To have a good career in the CFL, you have to love the game.
- Toughness and grit.
- Scouts find the numbers, coaches look for those intangibles.
- Character, passion, and love of the game are what Bombers coaches have been/are looking for.
This year’s Championship or futures-building?
- Plan is to win right now, without being short-sighted.
- Sustained success is always the plan.