As Bombers prep for gift,
East continues to drown


Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea has provided the official team media with all the right answers:

“As we look at that and inspect it more closely, we’ve got to shore up our tackling, but the pursuit and energy level was there,” O’Shea told the Winnipeg Sun when asked about his defence. “None of the guys were very pleased with their game, nor are the coaches, but I don’t think it’s anything but an anomaly, I really don’t. I’m not worried about it. If I was, we’d be talking about making changes and stuff like that, but that’s not the case.”

“We didn’t tackle as well as we needed to on defence,” said O’Shea on his weekly radio show on CJOB (according to Ed Tait of the Free Press, the team is not available to the rest of the media after a game). “It’s more focus than anything. Watching the tape you still see the defensive players really rallying to the ball, they’re sprinting to the ball on every play, it’s just the initial contact wasn’t as solid as we needed.”

“We rely on speed and movement of the defence,” O’Shea told the Winnipeg Free Press. “I really think whereas the (media) might say they run an unsound defensive system, it’s not that at all. As we break down film, we see where players maybe make a mistake. We see that the general concept of soundness and covering gaps is pretty good … This last game we just missed some tackles.”

First, it’s unlikely “the media” said anything about the Bombers “… run an unsound defensive system.” You can pretty much guarantee that the media doesn’t know anything about any system, let alone the defensive system.

Second, so the Bombers get pasted 38-21 and the reason for a 17-point blowout is bad tackling? Sure, that’s believable.

Fortunately, the Bombers get a team at home this week that even its beat writer, Herb Zurkowsky calls, “the free space on the CFL bingo card.” The Montreal Alouettes are a tremendously bad football team and if the Bombers execute just a little bit, they should be 6-3 heading into Regina for the Labour Day Classic.

After all, the East is getting worse, not better.

This past week, Week 8, the East played the West five times. Toronto’s big win over Winnipeg on Tuesday was the East’s only victory. Edmonton beat Ottawa, 10-8; Calgary ripped Hamilton 30-20; Saskatchewan slipped past Montreal 16-11; and B.C. smacked Toronto 33-17 in front of a handful of people on Sunday night.

I know, I know, I beat this dead horse every week, but isn’t it time someone in the CFL got a tad alarmed. Toronto leads the Division with a 3-5 record and then Hamilton, Ottawa and Montreal are all tied at 1-6. No team has scored more points than it’s allowed.

Now, I understand Hamilton’s issue. First they lost QB Zach Collaros (five weeks ago to a cheap helmet-on-helmet hit that should have been some kind of penalty, but wasn’t in a season when there are, seemingly, flags on every single play) then on Saturday, they lost No. 2 QB Dan LeFevour who was just starting to get it. The game was competitive when LeFevour went down. He was 21-for-30 for 282 yards and two TDs. Then, when poor Jeremiah Masoli had to go in, the Ti-Cats were toast.

Sunday night, the Argos played like a team that had only five days rest (Sound familiar, Bomber fans?). It doesn’t help when you play in front of a crowd that TSN’s cameras avoided at all costs. In fact, when the poor director did have to show the crowd, it was pretty embarrassing. Still, five days after Toronto whipped the Bombers, they lost by 16 points to a team the Bombers beat.

There is a legitimate reason to believe that a team with a record well below .500 will win the East. The Bombers had better take advantage of the three games they have remaining against those losers.

Editor of the popular Game On Hockey Magazine and The Point After Football Magazine, editor of Canadian Meat Business Magazine, sports editor of Grassroots News, TV play-by-play voice of the Winnipeg Goldeyes and author of the bestselling book: The Winnipeg Jets: A Celebration of Professional Hockey in Winnipeg. He likes virgin pina coladas, long walks on the beach, puppies and thoroughbred race horses that run according to form.
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