It's not that Crowton necessarily deserved more time. His offensive scheme pretty clearly wasn't working in the CFL, as demonstrated by the team's performance last season and this season thus far. Last year, the Blue Bombers turned in the league's worst performance across a variety of offensive categories, including points per game (20.9), touchdowns (33), offensive yards per game (337.2), passing first downs (188), yards per pass (7.3) and completion percentage (58.8 per cent). Sure, some of that was thanks to constant changes in leadership (the team fired head coach Paul LaPolice partway through the season and replaced him with defensive coordinator Tim Burke) and a revolving door at quarterback (Buck Pierce started when healthy, but often wasn't healthy, leading to Alex Brink and Joey Elliott both seeing significant playing time), but it doesn't speak well for Crowton.
This year saw a similar trend, too. Heading into this week's games, the Bombers were averaging just 22.5 points per game (tied for third-worst in the CFL) and bringing up the rear in plenty of crucial offensive categories, including passing first downs (49), passing touchdowns (4), gain per rush (4.7 yards) and passes intercepted (8). They were also second-worst in yards of offence per game (285.2), first downs (99), yards per pass (7.1), passing yards per game (220.2), completion percentage (58.9 per cent) and sacks conceded (21). Again, that's not all on Crowton: former general manager Joe Mack didn't exactly supply the team with masses of offensive talent, the constant organizational upheaval hasn't provided a good working environment, and the team's shifted directions several times this year, going from Buck Pierce to Justin Goltz to Hall at quarterback.
Crowton played his own part in each of those problems, though. He didn't come up with a scheme to really take advantage of the talents of the players he did have, the team's offensive struggles on his watch were a large part of the reason for the constant organizational upheaval, and the bizarre decision to start the new-to-the-CFL Hall was labeled as his by head coach Tim Burke. Burke still bears responsibility for approving that plan and for not getting Crowton to adapt his offensive ideas to the CFL more, but there isn't a lot of evidence to suggest Crowton deserved to be retained.
It would have made more sense to tab Bellefeuille as offensive coordinator during this offseason, too, as he wasn't doing anything. Even last week, it would have been more logical to fire Crowton and bring in Bellefeuille as OC instead of hiring him in the "consultant" role and presenting a confusing offensive leadership structure. Logic doesn't seem to have a strong role in how things are done in Winnipeg these days, though. The Bombers may have achieved a useful end result with the firing of Crowton and the elevation of Bellefeuille, but the way they went about it isn't exactly going to change the minds of those who find their organizational dysfunctional. There are still lots of problems in Winnipeg, and they go beyond who's calling the plays.
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- Gary Crowton
- Marcel Bellefeuille