The Winnipeg Blue Bombers dropped their game in Calgary by a final score of 36-22 on Friday night. The team has fallen to 0-2 in the 2016 regular season.
1. Wade Miller took over as the CEO of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on August 9, 2013, the same day Joe Mack was fired as the club’s general manager. Speaking to the decision to dismiss Mack, Miller famously declared: “Under Joe Mack, the record speaks for itself.” It was a simple sentiment that momentarily satisfied the irate members of Bomberland — for the first time since the tumultuous Joe Mack era got underway in 2010, a club representative acknowledged that Mack was a poor hire and a disaster in his role as GM. The problem is this — since Mack’s firing, the Bombers’ record is worse than it was under him. The Bombers went 21-39 under Mack until he was fired mid-August of 2013, a winning percentage of just .350. Even if you add the rest of the 2013 season into that figure — a time during which Joe Mack was no longer the club’s GM, but it was certainly his team on the field — the record becomes 23-49 (.319). Since Mike O’Shea was hired prior to the 2014 CFL season, the Bombers have now gone an abysmal 12-26 (.316). Does that record speak for itself, Mr. Miller? It’s undeniable that Mack’s tenure set O’Shea and Walters up for early struggle, but the 2016 Blue Bombers have (thus far) looked worse than they have at any other time under the control of O’Shea and Walters. Trending down in the third season of a rebuild is uninspiring, to say the least.
2. Last week’s game versus Montreal featured one of the most bizarre quarterbacking performances I’ve ever seen. Drew Willy entered the fourth quarter of that game with fewer than 100 yards passing, but finished with over 300. In an unfathomable twist of fate, Willy repeated such a performance on Friday night, recording 266 passing yards in the fourth quarter after throwing for just 96 in the prior three. The club will try to point to another solid fourth quarter offensive outburst as a reason of optimism moving forward, but don’t buy it. As the old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
3. The Bombers recorded six offensive first downs in the first half of Friday night’s game — a miserable number, but still an improvement over the one offensive first down the recorded in the first half of last week’s game versus Montreal. Maybe next week the Bombers will manage to crack double-digits before halftime.
4. The crowd calling for Mike O’Shea’s job will grow louder after each poor performance this season, but it’s hard to imagine what dismissing O’Shea mid-season would accomplish. Paul LaPolice — coaching for the first time in almost four years — has seen his offence get off to a pathetic start this year. And Richie Hall, whose defence hasn’t looked much better, has never received serious consideration for a head coaching job after a disappointing two-year stint with the Eskimos in 2009-2010. O’Shea may be doing a poor job of leading this team, but it’s almost impossible to see promoting LaPolice or Hall mid-season paying off. The Bombers chose O’Shea heading into this season — they need to stick with him until it’s done.
5. The failure to attempt a field goal at the end of the second quarter might be the lowest moment of Mike O’Shea’s tenure as the head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Though Paul LaPolice and Drew Willy are largely responsible for managing the clock in late-half situations, O’Shea had a timeout left. How do you not use it with Willy wasting a number of his remaining twelve seconds before the snap of the ball?
6. As bad as the Blue Bomber defence looked on Friday night — they allowed 259 yards in the first half alone — I’m interested to see how they’d look if the Bomber offence was able to consistently sustain drives. Richie Hall’s unit was on the field for twenty minutes and seven seconds (67 percent) of the first half. It’s tough to compete with Bo Levi Mitchell and his 263-pound tailback when you’re on the field for that long.
7. I counted four pressures on Drew Willy in Friday’s entire game. Against a pretty good Calgary front seven, that’s a very respectable number. You can’t blame the offensive line for the lack of a passing game.
8. Props to Trent Corney on recording his first career CFL sack. Stampeder left tackle Derek Dennis, one of the more well-respected pass blockers in the league, completely underestimated Corney’s speed off the edge. Bomber fans should expect big things from Corney.
9. Macho Harris’ blocked field goal in the first quarter was an insane feat of athleticism. If you missed the play, look it up on the game highlights — it’s worth a watch or two (or ten).
10. One of my big complaints about the Bombers’ scouting department over the past two years was their inability to uncover rookie receivers of impact. From Jhomo Gordon to Mike Willie to Kevin Cone, every first-year Bomber pass catcher disappointed when given an opportunity to play. Thomas Mayo (5-78) and Jace Davis (5-49, 1 TD), both of whom bring some nice size and speed to the line-up, appear to be keepers. Now if only the Bombers had someone to throw them the ball…
11. By my count, the Bombers have committed just eleven penalties through two games this season (league average is currently ten per team per game). That’s unbelievable. Clearly, flags aren’t hurting this team.
12. With a second poor performance in as many weeks, the Bombers are fortunate to be going on the road again next week in Hamilton. If this team can upset the Ticats (who also looked terrible on Friday) at Tim Hortons Field, they will win some fans back in time for week four’s match-up versus Edmonton at Investors Group Field. If not, I’d advise the club to skip pre-game introductions — the 20,000+ fans in attendance will not be kind to an 0-3 squad.