Bombers braintrust struggling

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:50 AM ET

One question kept going through my mind while watching the Blue Bombers bomb in Toronto, Sunday.

That was a football team that absolutely had to win?

At 3-7, and fresh off a potentially season-turning win, the Bombers stumbled into Hogtown for a game that had all kinds of playoff implications, only to create a smell that'll last until freeze-up.

OK, so the defence was pretty good. We'll get that out of the way up front.

Whenever you hold a team to 15first downs, 231 yards of net offence and one offensive touchdown, you should win in the CFL.

That's assuming you have at least an average offence. And a head coach that makes the right decisions.

The Bombers failed on both counts, and now another season is basically a writeoff .

The only real hope is a crossover playoff spot, and I wouldn't hang a summer jacket on that, let alone something to keep you warm and cozy in November.

So how did it all go so wrong?

Exhibit A: One of the lamest third-down gambles we've seen in a long time.

Two minutes to go, Bombers on the Toronto 27-yard line, third and two, and coach Paul LaPolice sends in his short yardage team, replacing quarterback Steven Jyles with Alex Brink.

Translation: he announces to the Argos that he's running the ball.

Then he has Brink hand the ball to fullback Andre Sadeghian (altogether, now: Andre WHO?) for his first carry of the season.

Meanwhile, Fred Reid, who'd already run for 100 yards, stands in the backfield and watches as Sadeghian gains nothing.

"If I had it back, maybe I'd call a different one," Coach LaPo said, Monday.

Maybe?

Exhibit B: Why not a two-point convert?

The Bombers had just scored to make it 17-12 with 8:29 to go. Coaching 101 says at that stage of the game, you go for two and try to make it a three-point game.

It's a no-brainer, because there's no risk in missing the two-point attempt -- you'd still need a touchdown, just like if you'd make the one-point convert.

Had the Bombers made the two, that disastrous third-and-two would have produced an easy, game-tying field goal.

"Now that I look at it again, I might have gone for two," the coach said.

Might have?

Exhibit C: The special teams take three steps back.

Fi rst they gave up an 80-yard return touchdown. Then they allowed the Argos to pick up a first down on a fake punt -- on third and 16.

Completing the hat trick, an ill-fated missed field goal return from deep in the Bomber end zone. The ensuing two-and-out on offence gave Toronto a short field, which led to the clinching Argos touchdown.

Another decision that falls on the rookie head coach.

Three strikes, and he's pretty much out of the playoffs.

"Those aren't the reasons we lost the football game," Coach LaPo said. "It's probably the worst we've played offensively all year."

In a game they had to win. What does that say?

What's left to say about receiver Adarius Butterfingers Bowman?

What does it say when receivers Aaron Hargreaves and Brock Ralph, who'd be backups anywhere else, continue to be your starters?

When's the last time Hargreaves caught a pass? Hell, when's the last time they threw to him?

It's Coach LaPo's offence, and it wasn't good enough.

"Each group took turns making their mistakes," LaPolice said.

He didn't mention the coach who screwed up too many calls, or the GM who can't seem to find better players.

Bottom line: at 3-8, this organization has failed miserably, yet again.

Which leaves you wondering, one more time, if the right people are running it.

At the very least, maybe it's time the boss gives up his play-calling duties. Because his decisions suffered, in a game he absolutely had to win.

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca


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