The search for the a new Bombers Head Coach ended Friday as the club hired former Riders offensive coordinator Paul Lapolice. Lapolice takes over a Bombers team that was a dysfunctional group last year with Mike Kelly calling the shots and Winnipeg finishing with a dismal 7-11 season, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
At 39 Lapolice is among the youngest coaches in the CFL but nonetheless has accomplished alot in a short time. Last season he turned the Riders into an offensive powerhouse with first year quarterback Darian Durant leading the team to Grey Cup appearance and a near victory. What was most remarkable was that the Riders offence was able to produce consistently despite having no real established star players on the offensive side of the ball. Bomber fans will remember Lapolice in the Dave Ritchie era in Winnipeg as the team’s offensive coordinator in 2002 and 03. During that stretch the offense put up some impressive stats including 46 touchdown passes throw by quarterback Khari Jones and a record 23 touchdown catches for Milt Stegall.
With the Bombers being the subject of much controversy last season Lapolice hopes to bring respectability back to the Winnipeg franchise. "We want to make sure we put a professional face on this organization," LaPolice said with his wife Tina - a Winnipeg native - and young daughter Payton by his side. "I'll do my utmost.
"I'm humbled by the opportunity. I'm going to work very hard for this community and I'm going to do my best to represent it in a positive light." Evaluations and player recruitment has already begun for Lapolice who believes the team must improve in all areas of the game. "This game is about you having to put points on the board . . . ," LaPolice said. "We'll do some things creativity-wise to force people to have problems and mismatches in coverage and we'll get people open." Bishop will be among those evaluated at quarterback, Lapolice knows him well having worked with him in both Toronto and Saskatchewan.
This off season has been a near carbon copy of last years with wholesale changes once again in the front office and their second head coach in as many seasons. Lapolice brings with him a Grey Cup ring from his time as receivers coach with the Riders back in 2007 when they defeated the Bombers in heartbreaking fashion. The Bombers will name on offensive coordinator later on in the week, though Lapolice will be the primary play caller.