June 12, 2014

Irving: Is bigger better for Bombers defence?

Don’t try to tell Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea that bigger is better…specially when it comes to his defensive line. 

Football is often referred to as a “Big mans game” which, to a large extent, it is. But O’Shea has no problem endorsing the use of smaller and faster defensive lineman in defensive coordinator Gary Etcheverry’s defensive scheme. 

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» Winds of change blowing in Winnipeg
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The Bombers plan to use a combination of defensive linemen led by CFL veterans Bryant Turner, Jake Thomas, Jason Vega, and Greg Peach. Turner is the biggest of the bunch, weighing in at 278 pounds. The other three are in the 255-265-pound range.  

“The bigger and slower you are, the easier it is for the bigger and slower offensive linemen to get you. That is one of the theories behind Gary’s philosophy.  If you are undersized and you move very well, it’s a nightmare for offensive linemen to try to get a hold of them,” explained O’Shea.

“Jake Thomas moves very well, he will slingshot himself around guys and sneak through gaps. Offensive linemen have a real hard time getting their hands on the smaller defensive players” he added. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing this reincarnation of Gary Etcheverry’s defence come Week 3 of the season because what you saw in the opening pre-season game was a very basic model of it. There will be a lot more depth to it as we go along.”

Etcheverry is well-know throughout the CFL for running what is considered to be a somewhat “unorthodox” defence that features more moving parts, more player shifting, and more controlled freedom for his front-seven on defence. 

Etcheverry has coached previously in Toronto, BC and Saskatchewan (he was the defensive coordinator of the Roughriders when they made back-to-back Grey Cup appearances in 2009 and 2010).  

“What we do is very multiple, it confuses people and people will say at various time we are undersized, we blitz too much, we don’t blitz enough.  Whatever. Basically what we’re trying to do is make sure they don’t get the ball in the end zone” says Etcheverry.

Mike O’Shea played for Etcheverry in two separate stints with the Argos and he completely buys into Etcheverry’s defensive approach. 

So, if the Bombers are going to be “better” on defence in 2014, it won’t be because they are “bigger”.