Bring on the desperation

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:50 PM ET

The first two weeks of any CFL season are seldom a true gauge of what to expect from a team — especially one with a rookie head coach and three new quarterbacks.

After all, two pre-season games and a compressed training camp just isn’t enough time to assess the talent you need.

But, around the third or fourth week of the year, the club should start showing what it really has to offer in the immediate future.

Right now, that future does not look bright for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and that was even before starting quarterback Buck Pierce got hurt.

Hamilton hammered the Bombers 28-7 and the score could have been a lot higher. Yes, the Bombers beat the Tiger-Cats convincingly at home in Week 1 and even showed promise in the loss to the re-building Toronto Argonauts in Week 2.

But the way they lost in Week 3 has to be cause for concern.

The Bombers were beaten on both sides of the ball.

Hamilton quarterback Kevin Glenn had his way with them throughout the first half and its defence forced the Winnipeg offence to four straight two-and-outs to start off the match.

After the game, Bomber rookie head coach Paul LaPolice said the coaches should accept part of the blame and we’re not about to argue. The offensive gameplan seemed predictable and Pierce was under a lot of pressure from the get-go.

The week before, Pierce used his legs to get the offence on track when he was hurried. In Hamilton, he stayed home and eventually got hurt. And why the pressure? When you employ two imports on the offensive line, it should be dominating the D-line.

That does not get the defence off the hook, either. Glenn, who is known for his quick release, found wide-open targets while seldom rushed. It was also the most innovative offence we have seen Hamilton employ in years.

And guess who is coming to town this week? Edmonton’s Rick Ray might even have a quicker release than Glenn and the Eskimos boast two of the four top receivers in the CFL, even if they do have a penchant for dropping passes. The Bombers had better not rely on those butter-fingers this Saturday.

Clearly, the Bombers still have a lot of work to do going into Game 4, and that should include some critical personnel changes.

Such changes, however, will be up to LaPolice.

“I told him he’s the head coach and it’s his call on any changes that need to be made,” Bombers GM Joe Mack said Monday.

“When people don’t execute on the roster very well for several weeks, maybe you make a change,” LaPolice told reporters Sunday. “But, two weeks ago, we were 1-0. Hamilton’s 1-2 and we’re 1-2. Yeah, we’ve lost two games but a lot of teams in this league have gone through two losses and will go through two losses. We’ve gotta play better.”

Yeah, they are 1-2 after losing to a desperate Argos team, then a desperate Ticats club. This week, they will face the desperate 0-3 Eskimos. Then, they go into Calgary before taking on the ‘Cats yet again in a home-and-home series.

“Obviously, there are things that need to be corrected,” Mack said. “Obviously, we’d like to have a better record, but we are only one game out of first place.”

Perhaps LaPolice should convince his troops that they are 0-3 and in desperate need of victory each and every week.

This is not to suggest that all is on the verge of being lost this early into a new regime. After all, six of eight teams make the playoffs.

But we are about to find out if Mack and LaPolice can do the jobs they were hired to do.

— With files from Kirk Penton

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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