The Winnipeg Blue Bombers wrapped up their first half of the season with their annual Labour Day loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders to sport a record of 2-7. It was a tough first half of the season. The Bombers suffered numerous injuries to starters and numerous brain cramps that have left them on the short end of the scoreboard all too often.
The Bombers have lost 52 man games from their season opening starters. That’s an average of more than 6 starters per game. The team depth has been tested and come up admirable in that the Bombers have remained competitive, but they have still lost most of their games. QB Buck Pierce started just 5 games and only finished 2 of those. Safety Ian Logan only played in 3 games. The linebacking and secondary units have been rotated like a merry-go-round with the healthiest bodies getting in on game day. The offensive line had a starter go down in pre-season and had to plug and play as two more guys missed significant time. Rookie Terrance Jeffers-Harris’ promising season has been derailed while he has been sidelined for a number of games with a high ankle sprain.
The constant changes in lineup have not been kind to the Bombers. There have been many on field breakdowns that could be attributed to the lack of familiarity between teammates.
More troubling is the mistakes and penalties. There have been a high number of fumbles lost by the ball handlers. Coaching errors have seen poor replay challenges and have used up timeouts that could have helped in the endgame. Penalties against have prolonged opponents drives when the Bomber defense has needed a 2 and out to get the ball back in the 4th quarter. Field goal kicking and dropped passes have also failed the team over the course of the opening nine games. The Bombers sport a high number of rookies in the starting lineups. With more experience, it is expect that those mistakes will reduce in number and effect.
Unfortunate and untimely inconsistent reffing with head scratching calls have also contributed to the piling on of the little things not going the Bombers way. And it’s these little things adding up that have kept the Bombers from winning more of those close games.
The Bombers are looking to put the first half behind them as they play the rematch against Saskatchewan in this Sunday’s Banjo Bowl. The game is sold out with numerous fans of the Roughriders making the trek east. The Big Blue take on Toronto and BC twice with a game remaining against the Eskimos. The season still has some winnable games left. Catching Toronto or getting the crossover playoff berth can not been ruled out yet.
But first the Bombers are going to have to be more consistent. Backup QB Steven Jyles will have to lead the team as Pierce will be out for a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks with a dislocated shoulder. Jyles will need to keep his passing percentage and overall QB efficiency up while cutting down on the fumbles. Urgency and results are aspects missing from Jyles end of game performance. Jyles will be able to work on those aspects and get much needed experience with Pierce being out so long. 3rd String rookie QB Alex Brink will be on the clock should Jyles go down.
Elsewhere, RB Fred Reid needs to get more carries. Receivers need to hang onto the ball. The defense while playing great at times will need to reduce the number of drive extending penalties. The Canadians that are part of the starting lineup need to be difference makers in the outcomes of games. In addressing the lack of Canadian playmakers, the Bombers are attempting to bring RB Jesse Lumsden into the fold. My suggestion would be to turn him into a receiver. Hopefully at the receiver position, he’ll have less contact with the hard hitting front sevens across the CFL. Several devastating hits have lead to Lumsden’s career being shelved by shoulder problems.
I’ll be back Sunday with a game report on the Bombers next effort to turn their season around.
About the Author
Written by Jim Penner
I've been a life long Manitoban and a fan of the Bombers just as long!