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O'Shea still dissecting season


WINNIPEG—Mike O'Shea still was meeting with players yesterday to talk about the past and future before they go home to watch another Grey Cup from afar.

The Blue Bombers' head coach then will dissect the season with his assistant coaches, but he revealed in his season-ending press conference that all the co-ordinators are under contract for next year.

That includes defensive co-ordinator Richie Hall, special teams co-ordinator Paul Boudreau, and offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice, whose name has been tossed out as a possible candidate for the Montreal Alouettes' head coaching vacancy.

O'Shea said the contract extension LaPolice signed earlier this year (he didn't reveal its length) doesn't automatically include permission for another club to speak to LaPolice about a head coaching job.

“There is a process that has to be followed," O'Shea noted. ”There is a tampering issue, rules and regulations that you have to abide by.

“But in conversations, and they were some time ago, with Paul and his signing an extension to me is a good indicator that he wants to be here.”

Winnipeg's offence wasn't viewed as the reason for the team's 39-32 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos in Sunday's CFL West Division semi-final that extended the franchise's Grey Cup drought to 27 seasons.

The group led by quarterback Matt Nichols was credited with being the drivers behind the squad's 12-6 regular-season record, which was the most wins for the club since 2002.

The offence finished second in the CFL with an average of 26.7 points scored per game. It also allowed a league-low 71 quarterback pressures and 38 sacks, tied for fourth-fewest.

The area that's received most of the blame for the team's shortcomings was defence.

It finished last in the league in allowing an average of 321.6 passing yards and was seventh for rushing yards allowed (96.7).

Winnipeg's defence also allowed a league-high 65 big plays (plays of 20-plus yards), including 42 passing plays of 30 or more yards.

B.C. was next, giving up 56 big plays, while Calgary had the fewest with 39.

Fingers have been pointed at Hall, but O'Shea balanced some of the criticism by noting the defence's turnover strength for the second-straight season.

The Bombers topped the CFL with 25 interceptions. The defence forced a total of 42 turnovers, second to Calgary's 45, and Winnipeg used those takeaways to score a league-high 166 points.

Saskatchewan was next with 130 points.

O'Shea called the yardage given up as the “elephant in the room.”

“I'm not trying to cover up the fact that we gave up a lot of yards, but I'm not throwing it all out,” he remarked.

“I think there's a way to maximize our takeaways and our pressures, and minimize the yards we give up,” O'Shea added.

“I have to figure out how to do that.”

Winnipeg has more than 20 pending free agents and O'Shea said you can't expect all the players to be back.

O'Shea said he doesn't talk contracts with the players, but he's given general manager Kyle Walters his input about priorities, starting with the offensive line.

“We've got a hell of an offensive line group that work well together,” he noted.

“They are a big reason why we have success on the offence.”

His meetings with individual players focused on allowing them to vent and also offering some of them advice for their preparations heading into next season.

“There's got to be a certain element that says we did some good things this year, but we can't be satisfied with that,” O'Shea said of the overall message.

“Everybody's going to be bitter for quite some time that we're not playing for a championship.”

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