Bombers embarrass Alouettes on Friday Night Football (& 13 other thoughts)

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeated the Montreal Alouettes by a score of 56-10 in front of 19,498 fans at Percival Molson Stadium on Friday night. Below are my thoughts on the game.

1. Chris Streveler was simply outstanding in Montreal, completing 22 of 28 pass attempts for 246 yards and three touchdowns. The rookie pivot also ran the ball ten times for 98 yards and a touchdown, earning his first career victory.

The Bombers were thought to be in tough when Matt Nichols suffered a non-contact injury to his knee in practice just over two weeks ago. While the kid still has a lot to prove — it’s been just two games, after all — it’s impossible not to be impressed with the play of Chris Streveler.

The Alouettes’ defence was expected to be good this season following the off-season additions of Jamaal Westerman, Tommie Campbell, Mitchell White, and Henoc Muamba. The unit held B.C. to just 300 yards of total offence in week one and some speculated that Streveler would struggle after Montreal defensive coordinator Rich Stubler — a man with 30 years of CFL coaching experience — had an opportunity to see the rookie on film.

That didn’t happen. Full credit to Streveler and the Bombers’ coaching staff and implementing and executing a solid game plan in Friday’s contest.

Matt Nichols will undoubtedly regain his starting status when he returns from injury, but there’s no reason for Bomber fans to panic in the intermediate. Chris Streveler is a ton of fun to watch and has already established himself as the best young quarterback the Bombers have found in quite some time.

2. Drew Willy’s inability to make decisions with the football will be the defining aspect of his career. Willy was sacked three times on Friday night, the first of which came on a play that saw the Bombers rush eight defenders against just seven blockers. The embattled pivot later took an intentional grounding penalty on a play that saw two of his interior linemen roll out for a screen pass that Willy never looked to throw.

Montreal’s offensive line was far from perfect on Friday evening — they desperately need to improve their American tackles — but Willy has always been virtually impossible to protect. Barring miraculous growth in Willy’s processing speed and elusiveness, expect the 31-year-old pivot to be under siege all season long.

3. The Bombers are getting great production from their Canadian players on the offensive side of the football. Andrew Harris, Nic Demski, and Kienan LaFrance all scored touchdowns on Friday, while second-year man Drew Wolitarsky scored his second and third majors of the season. Winnipeg hasn’t had a national receiver eclipse three touchdowns in over a decade — Cory Watson, Rory Kohlert, and Julian Feoli-Gudino each reached that total at least once — and the Minnesota product is already one score away from breaking that total.

4. Speaking of Wolitarsky, his second touchdown came on a slant route opposite Tommie Campbell, widely considered the top defensive back in the CFL. Campbell was later victimized by Rashaun Simonise for a 53-yard gain down the sideline, the first reception of the rookie’s career. I texted an acquaintance to inquire about Campbell’s lackluster play. His response? “Tommie’s too busy counting his money.” Shots fired.

5. I don’t think there is a more underused player in the CFL than Montreal running back Tyrell Sutton. Sutton had just two carries in the game’s first 30 minutes, by which time the Alouettes were forced to abandon the run due to a lopsided 34-7 score. Khari Jones needs to commit to Sutton early and often — as Willy’s security blanket, Sutton should be getting at least twelve carries and five receptions per game.

6. Adarius Bowman enjoyed a decent bounce-back game on Friday night, recording five receptions for 38 yards. Regardless of what Bowman may have said following last week’s game — a contest in which he was held without a catch — failing to make the stat sheet against his former team must have been frustrating.

7. Henoc Muamba should expect a call from the league office this week regarding his head shot on Chris Streveler. Muamba admitted in an interview with RDS to purposefully taking a late shot at Johnny Manziel during the preseason in a misguided attempt to intimidate the former NFL quarterback.

I’d argue that Muamba deserved supplementary discipline for his late hit and post-game comments two weeks ago. I expect that he’ll be fined for his head shot on Streveler.

8. Winnipeg’s offensive line was excellent in Montreal, allowing the club to record 245 rushing yards and holding the Alouettes without a sack. Some speculated that the Bombers would miss Travis Bond when he wasn’t retained in free agency, but the line hasn’t skipped a beat with Patrick Neufeld at left guard.

9. The Alouettes recently introduced the “Q4” ticket package, a sales tactic that allows fans to pay $8 or $10 to attend the fourth quarter of games. The team’s website advertises the package as a way to enjoy “the last decisive minutes of a football game.” I’m not sure how many “Q4” tickets the Alouettes can expect to sell should they make a habit of trailing by thirty points come the end of the third quarter.

10. Maurice Leggett had a relatively quiet season debut, recording two tackles and returning two kickoffs for 38 yards. The Bombers are working Leggett back into the fold slowly following the Achilles injury the veteran suffered last October.

11. William Stanback was one of few bright spots for the Alouettes, recording three special teams tackles. The 6’0, 233-pound running back out of Virginia Union garnered national attention for an outstanding hit he made in a game versus Rutgers when he was a freshman at Central Florida. I’d suggest that Montreal reward Stanback’s special teams play with some carries on offence, but that seems unlikely given the club’s reluctance to run the football.

12. The Bombers took just six penalties in Montreal, bringing their season total to eleven. The Alouettes committed 13 infractions on Friday night alone.

13. Andrew Harris left Friday’s game after taking an awkward hit to the knee from Montreal safety Jermaine Robinson. The league’s reigning Most Outstanding Canadian remained on the sideline after leaving the game, an indication that the injury isn’t serious. Anthony Gaitor left the game in the fourth quarter after suffering what appeared to be a non-contact injury to his right leg. I expect Maurice Leggett to step in at halfback should Gaitor be unavailable for next week’s game in Hamilton.

14. The Bombers will travel to Hamilton for a week three match-up with the Tiger-Cats next Friday night. Chris Streveler should make his third consecutive start against a Hamilton defence that added a stud cover man in former CFL all-star Delvin Breaux this past week. Stay tuned.

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