Bomber Thoughts: Week Thirteen, Winnipeg at Montreal

Bomber Thoughts is a blogging series for which Blue Bomber Talk author John Hodge writes new posts immediately following every Blue Bomber game of the season.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were defeated by the Montreal Alouettes on Sunday afternoon by a final score of 35-14. Here are my thoughts:

1. In professional football, it’s up to the rest of the offence to elevate its game when they are without their starting quarterback. Matt Nichols was hardly perfect on Sunday afternoon — he threw a number of errant passes in his second game as a Bomber, finishing 23/48 for 189 yards and an interception — but his supporting cast did little to make things easier. Justin Veltung, Troy Stoudermire, and Clarence Denmark each dropped passes, while Darvin Adams dropped two — one of which would have resulted in a touchdown. It was yet another disappointing effort from a Blue Bomber positional group that tends to falter when it is counted upon the most. Nick Moore can’t get healthy fast enough.

2. The final score looks bad, but Richie Hall’s defence gave up just 250 yards of offence on Sunday afternoon and forced two turnovers. It wasn’t a perfect outing — the unit didn’t get nearly enough pressure on Jonathan Crompton, for one thing — but when you only give up 250 yards of total offence in the CFL, you should win.

3. Speaking of special teams folly, Montreal returner Stefan Logan put up 278 returns yards on Sunday afternoon on just eight attempts. Logan scored a punt return touchdown in the second quarter and set up the offensive TD early in the third that effectively ended the game. I hate to repeat myself, but I’m going to do it until something changes: how much longer will Mike O’Shea allow his special teams units to stink?

4. Maybe the biggest joke of the Bombers’ 2015 season is the insistence that Troy Stoudermire is some type of three-pronged weapon who can be effective on offence, defence, and special teams. Stoudermire’s return averages are poor, he’s recorded just nine yards on four offensive touches, and, between college and the pros, he has just one year of experience at defensive back. I hate to be one of those obnoxious bloggers who resorts to including memes in his posts, but, frankly, I’ve gotten tired of making this point any other way.

TS Meme

5. While they struggled down the stretch, the Bombers’ much-maligned offensive line played a solid first half against a stout Montreal defence. Cameron Marshall, who finished with sixty-eight yards on eleven carries, also deserves credit for some tremendous blitz pick-up work.

6. Sunday afternoon’s game marked the fifth time the Bombers have lost a game this season by twenty points or more. With Winnipeg slated to host Calgary in just five days’ time, there’s a decent chance that number will increase next week.

7. For some perspective on that last stat, the Ottawa RedBlacks — 9-20 all-time — have lost just five games by twenty or more points in franchise history.

8. Sam Longo and Stanley Bryant were burned on a John Chick stunt last week that led to a first quarter strip-sack deep in Saskatchewan territory. The Alouettes put that same stunt to work in the third quarter today and the result was… another sack. Where’s the film study?

9. Speaking of Sam Longo, I really can’t see how Matthias Goossen wouldn’t be an improvement at left guard at this point. With the Bombers in next-year country, it’s time to develop the club’s 2014 first round pick.

10. I called the line for this game (Montreal minus-ten) the “most over-inflated point spread of the CFL season” in my picks earlier this week. Clearly, given the final score of this contest, I was wrong.

11. Referencing the team’s poor performance on Sunday, Matt Nichols sent out a post-game tweet that said, “We will be better for you bomber fans.” How many times have Bomber fans heard that from a player, coach or management over the past few years? Too many. How many times have they delivered? Too few.

12. Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press published a very intriguing article just prior to Sunday’s kick-off about Guelph University’s interest in hiring Blue Bomber general manager Kyle Walters as the school’s athletic director. I’ve been critical of Walters at times, but losing him at this point in time would a disaster for the club. Wade Miller has to do everything in his power to keep Walters happy and keep Walters in Winnipeg. Here’s a link to the article, though it’s blocked by a paywall.

13. With the club now at 4-8, I’m ready to write the obituary on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the 2015 season. Even if this team makes the playoffs by some miracle — Montreal, now 5-6, is the team to beat for the third and final playoff spot in the west — they will surely lose in the Western Semi-Final to Calgary or Edmonton, whichever team eventually ends up hosting the game. It’s a disappointing end to a disappointing season for a fan base that, despite all rational thought, was hoping to see this team raise the Grey Cup at Investors Group Field late in November. And while the calls for head coach Mike O’Shea’s head are premature at this point in time, they won’t be if this team remains unimproved next season. Which is a shame, because Bomber fans deserve better. Bomber fans deserve better.

John Hodge, Blue Bomber Talk

Twitter: @BlueBomberTalk

Email: [email protected]

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.