I know there will be many Gryphon fans, friends and teammates of former Gryphon Mike O’Shea who are interested in reading this. Many supporters had a chance to hear O’Shea answer questions when he was at the Gryphon Football Gala Dinner back in May 2014. This is the perfect update.
From the Blue Bomber Report and reprinted in today’s Winnipeg Free Press:
Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea took some time out Thursday from evaluating talent at the CFL regional combine in Toronto to give the Free Press his first one-on-one interview since the end of last season.
Here’s an edited transcript of what O’Shea had to tell Free Press football writer Paul Wiecek about the mistakes he made last season, the Bombers’ new defence and what all those upgrades on the offensive line this off-season will mean on the field:
WIECEK: You said at the end of last season that you’d do a self-evaluation of the job you did as a rookie head coach. Did that happen?
WIECEK: So, what did you do right last year? Let’s start with that.
O’SHEA: I don’t think it was anything I did in particular. I think as an organization, we made some good moves. I think as an organization, the players included, we started to shift the culture to one that’s going to allow us to win more games. But that wasn’t me — it wasn’t one thing I did. It was a collective effort and having the right group.
WIECEK: And what do you personally need to get better at this season?
O’SHEA: I need to have a better working routine, one that’s more consistent and allows me to assess things on a daily basis and a weekly basis. I need to have that planned out better and stick to a consistent plan. That’s one thing I noted. And I’ve also got to figure out what the new message is, what we’re growing to. Because we can’t just repeat the same things, talk about all the same things we talked about last year. We’ve got to grow and find out where we’re going.
WIECEK: Is hosting the Grey Cup this season a coaching tool you can use with your players?
O’SHEA: That’s interesting how that will fit in… It will be an assessment I will have to keep a finger on to see what the group might need to hear regarding that. Obviously, they’re training this off-season like they’re going to be in the Grey Cup. They want to be in it. They don’t want someone living in their locker room, for sure.
WIECEK: What mistakes did you make last year?
O’SHEA: I’m sure I made a pile.
WIECEK: Is there one that stands out?
O’SHEA: Honestly, Paul, on a weekly basis — maybe more than that — as I’m doing things this off-season, (things come up) that remind me of things I did last season that need to be changed… Yeah, I made mistakes. Absolutely. Without a doubt.
WIECEK: Moving on — a new defensive co-ordinator. How is your defence going to be different this year?
O’SHEA: Obviously, the systems are going to be markedly different and what we’re going to ask the players to do will be different. But what we’re going to ask the players to do on a daily basis will be the same. The effort and attention to detail will be the same.
WIECEK: Right, but in a general way, how is the defence going to be different under Richie Hall? I’m not looking for Xs and O’s, just a general picture of what people can expect to see different this season?
O’SHEA: But really the difference is going to be X’s and O’s… In terms of Richie the man, he’s obviously a well-respected coach, a good man and the players will like him. And he’ll find a way to get the most out of them.
WIECEK: How about the offence? You’ll have the same offensive co-ordinator but will the offence be markedly different with all the personnel changes, especially on the offensive line, in the off-season?
O’SHEA: Yeah, I think some of the free agent acquisitions (on the O-line) we made are going to allow us to do things differently… I think they will allow us to be more successful in our run game.
WIECEK: And obviously you’re hoping that new line will also do a better job of keeping Drew Willy more upright?
O’SHEA: Of course, that’s part of it too. But one of the chief complaints (last season) from the media and fan base was about our run game. And I think we’ve addressed that.
WIECEK: What are the plans for Steve Morley.
O’SHEA: He’s on our team.
WIECEK: So you fully expect him to report for training camp?
O’SHEA: Right now, he’s on our team. But it’s tough to talk about personnel right now.
WIECEK: Is Sam Hurl the next Mike O’Shea?
O’SHEA: Sam Hurl will be better than that bum. He’s his own player. He possesses different skills sets than Mike O’Shea ever did. He’s fast, that’s for sure. He’s got a hell of a lot of instincts. And I look forward to watching him play.
WIECEK: Is Hurl ready to be a starting middle linebacker in the CFL?
O’SHEA: We think so.
WIECEK: Kyle Walters said in my paper a couple weeks ago that you’re looking long and hard at (U of M receiver) Nic Demski with your second overall draft pick. What do you see in Demski?
O’SHEA: He’s proven himself at a very high level for a number of years with Manitoba. And in pressure situations. They’ve played some big games and he’s been a cream of the crop receiver for a number of years. He’s an exciting athlete. That you can see on film. But he’s got to test well (this weekend at the national CFL combine).
WIECEK: Last thing: We had a story in our paper this week that Drew Willy might head into his option year this season without a contract extension. As a head coach, would you rather have your starting QB head into the season nice and secure with a long-term extension or would you rather have him spend this season playing for a new contract?
O’SHEA: I’ve never thought about it, honestly.
WIECEK: It would seem to me there’s pluses and minuses in both scenario.
O’SHEA: I’ve got a lot of trust in our players and I don’t think it matters where they are in their contract negotiations. Drew Willy is going to play his hardest regardless. I don’t know it’s going to make a difference. But that’s an interesting question.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @PaulWiecek