Bomber Thoughts: Week Seventeen, Winnipeg at Ottawa

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.

William Powell; Demond Washington

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were defeated by the Ottawa RedBlacks on Friday night by a final score of 27-24. Here are my thoughts:

1. Bob Irving and Doug Brown chatted about Ottawa offensive coordinator Jason Maas on the CJOB pregame show, discussing how his physical limitations as a player aided his development as a coach. It wasn’t until Bob and Doug brought up Maas that I realized how much Matt Nichols’ game resembles that of the current RedBlack OC. Both experience(d) moments of brilliance as CFL quarterback, but neither can/could do it consistently enough to become full-time starters in this league.

2. The three quick interceptions Nichols threw in the third quarter should be the final straw against any team considering signing him as a starter this off-season (if there were any to begin with). Nichols should do the wise thing and sign an incentive-laden deal to keep his back-up role with the Bombers. He likes Winnipeg and the team has no reason not to like him as their number two.

3. Last thought on Nichols – tonight was just the second time in six games he hasn’t put his team in a position to win. You’d like to get more production from your back-up, but surveying quarterback depth across the league, you could still do a lot worse than Nichols.

4. The Bombers lose nothing with Matthias Goossen at centre in place of Dominic Picard. Picard hasn’t done a particularly good job of directing traffic against the blitz this season, while his snaps have often lacked quickness and the “toughness” he brings to the game hasn’t exactly intimidated opposing defences. Goossen’s the better athlete, he’s only twenty-three, and he makes just $90,000 to Picard’s $200,000. Play the kid.

5. To further my defence of Goossen – Bomber running backs have averaged 4.3 yards per carry this season. Tonight, they averaged 5.3 against the CFL’s second-stingiest rush defence. Again: play the kid.

6. I never thought Patrick Neufeld would be the answer at right tackle, but he’s been by far the Bombers’ best option there this season. Under contract through 2017, Neufeld will be a nice ratio-breaker moving forward. Now if only this team could find a left guard…

7. The Bombers chased free agent receiver Greg Ellingson this past February before Ottawa scooped him up. Watching Darvin Adams and Nick Moore drop balls tonight, I’m betting Kyle Walters wishes he’d chased Ellingson a little harder.

8. For the second straight week, Richie Hall’s defence was lights out in the second half after a disastrous first two frames. I’m interested to see the looks Hall dials up for the second half of this home-and-home next week.

9. Da’Rel Scott has some of the worst hands I’ve ever seen on a running back. I like how hard he runs, but I’d be surprised to see Scott back in blue and gold next season.

10. Jamaal Westerman got a sack on Friday night, because of course he did. He now leads the CFL with fifteen.

11. The fact that the Bombers have Westerman under contract for the next two season at $170,000 per year is a steal of a deal. If he were on the open market today, Westerman would fetch north of $220,000.

12. I can’t help but be impressed by Sukh Chungh. Chungh played heavy minutes in both of the Bombers’ preseason games and has taken every snap at right guard in the regular season. That’s eighteen games in nineteen weeks – six more games than he ever would have played during his CIS career at Calgary in a single season. Yet, despite the extra work, Chungh is still one of the Bombers’ better offensive linemen. That’s impressive.

13. What was your favorite moment of the Tajh Boyd era? The highly-touted quarterback prospect was cut from the Bombers’ practice roster earlier today. Well, then.

14. The Andrew Harris-to-Winnipeg rumor mill heated up last week when the Bombers played out in BC. I like Harris, but I’m not sure spending big money on running back who’s almost 29-years-old is ever a wise thing to do, even if he is a Winnipegger. Unless the Bombers can get a hometown discount, I’d like to see the club allocate its free agent dollars elsewhere this February.

15. Chrisophe Normand was supposed to be a draft day steal for the Bombers this past May. The fullback from Laval was selected in the fourth round and was expected to make the club’s opening day roster. Instead, Normand spent the first twelve weeks of the season on the practice roster after losing out on a roster spot to journeyman utility player Tim Cronk. Finally getting some reps on offence, Normand got blown up on the Bombers’ third down gamble early in the first quarter on a hand-off (groan) that resulted in a turnover on downs. That’s never a good look on a rookie.

16. Congratulations to the Ottawa RedBlacks on accomplishing something the Bombers haven’t since 2011 – punching a ticket to the playoffs. Anyone who says it takes more than two years to rebuild a CFL roster is either lying or selling something. For those not paying attention, the Blue Bomber organization sells things.

17. Fortunately for the Bombers, they can still make the playoffs without winning another game this season if Montreal and BC lose all of their remaining games. In this turtle derby, that’s a real possibility.

John Hodge, Blue Bomber Talk

Twitter: @BlueBomberTalk

Email: [email protected]

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.