WINNIPEG -- In the hours and days following the dismissal of former Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice, the Winnipeg faithful let their voices be heard in both a positive and negative tone.
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And you can bet that the team’s new head coach – Tim Burke – heard every single word of it.
“All I can do is focus on my job,” said Burke during his first public appearance since being named head coach on Saturday.
“I didn’t like the circumstances that propelled me into this position, and I really feel for Paul, he’s a good friend. I understand the community being disappointed because Paul is a really likeable guy, and he’s very good in the community, but all I can do is do my job and hopefully do it well,” he added.
With that, Burke ended his first meeting with the Winnipeg media and most likely went to work on trying to figure out a way to turn around a still salvageable 2012 season.
But it won’t be easy.
Since arriving in the CFL in 2005 with the Calgary Stampeders as their defensive backs coach, Burke has – for the most part – been an integral part of several successful football teams, with his two Grey Cup rings from his days in Montreal being a testament to his efforts.
Now, he takes over a club is in need of a revival.
The man he is taking over for, LaPolice was known as an outgoing, laid-back players coach. Burke, however, will be aiming to approach his new role with a lot more of a structured approach.
“Well it’s my nature to be more structured,” said Burke.
“I’m probably more rigid, but that can be good and that can be bad,” he admitted.
Unfortunately for Burke, he doesn’t have a lot of time to see what works and what does not.
The Bombers are entering an important back-to-back matchup with their rival Saskatchewan Roughriders, in what are arguably the most high-profiled two games of their season – the Labour Day Classic and the Banjo Bowl.
Overall, Burke believes that his level of comfort maintains pretty high for now, but also admits that there are aspects to being a head coach that he is anxious to experience.
“I’m pretty comfortable right now, but the game isn’t until Sunday,” Burke said.
“There will be two factors involved on game day for me. One is managing the game, which I’ve never had to do before, and number two is staying out of (linebacker coach Chip Garber’s) way while he’s calling the defences, so those will be my two biggest challenges,” he added.
One thing Burke does have a lot of is experience.
Now in his eighth CFL season, Burke has been fortunate enough to play under some head coaches that have played vital roles in his development as a coordinator, and now, a head coach.
“In Montreal, Marc Trestman would always look to Ben Cahoon for advice. He’d say ‘well, what do you think here, Ben?’ and I’ll probably do the same with a couple of veterans here,” noted Burke.
Last week saw the Bombers cap off their four-game home stand with a last-second loss to the defending champion BC Lions. Despite the loss, the Bombers put together one their most complete efforts of the season, something that did not go unnoticed by Burke.
“Quite honestly, I think we are playing better,” noted Burke.
“You’ve seen our offensive line play better, Chad (Simpson) has done a good job running the ball, Joey (Elliott) has done a great job here lately, so I think we’re getting better.”
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|