Patience for Blue wearing thin

Bomber fan Jason Bond dressed as the Golden Boy, complete with gold body paint and shorts, cheered...

Bomber fan Jason Bond dressed as the Golden Boy, complete with gold body paint and shorts, cheered his team on in Regina. But how long will fans cheer for a perpetually losing team? (FRED GREENSLADE/Reuters)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:50 PM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are 2-7 but only one game out of a playoff berth.

That would be through the crossover spot in the West Division, where the B.C. Lions and Edmonton Eskimos are wallowing with 2-7 records themselves.

That is the polite way to sum up the Bomber season at the midway point.

There is another way to look at it, and it isn’t through Blue and Gold coloured glasses. The Bombers are mired in their worst slump in 11 years, losers of five in a row after Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the annual Labour Day Classic.

Technically, they haven’t been worse since the first year Dave Ritchie and Brendan Taman came in to clean up the Jeff Reinebold mess.

“There’s no consolation to say we’ve played hard each week,” head coach Paul LaPolice said. “Our record’s where it’s at. We gotta find ways to get better.”

It must get tiring for Bomber fans to keep hearing the same old song and dance out of Maroons Road, but it’s not going to stop until their team starts winning again.

“I’m not panicking yet,” centre Obby Khan said. “We have a good football team here. People cannot say we’re not competitive, they cannot say we’re trying hard — but we gotta start winning.”

Not to be too cynical, but what else is he going to say? Yeah, we’re going to pack it in. Can’t see us winning many more games. See you next year!

Joe Mack’s youth movement is a rebuilding project no matter how you spin it, and their quarterback play, despite decent numbers, has been killing them lately with costly turnovers.

To add injury to insult, No. 1 gun Buck Pierce could be lost for the rest of the season with a dislocated elbow suffered late in Sunday’s game. While the loss of Pierce may seem like the nail in this season’s coffin to some, it’s not like he was lighting up the scoreboard since spraining his knee in Week 3.

Winnipeg’s problems run deeper than an elbow pointing in the wrong direction.

LaPolice emerged from the locker-room after Sunday’s match and said the effort was there and to put the loss on him. Nice try. There are plenty of people around the CFL who say Winnipeg’s coaching is fine.

Does that mean the fault for this long losing streak falls on the GM? More likely. In the off-season Mack got rid of several veterans whom he felt were past their primes.

Sorry, but that valuable experience would have turned a couple of close losses this season into victories.

So what now? Well, fans around these parts are, for the most part, willing to give new regimes time to turn things around. It’s just that there have been so many regimes lately.

To be fair, the injuries haven’t helped. The Bombers have lost 51 man games this season, and that includes only starters. Don’t expect an airlift of talent to turn things around. LaPolice said there has already been too much flux.

“The problem is there’s too much roster change,” LaPolice said. “First of all, we’re very close to winning. There’s some things execution-wise, not player-wise, that has to happen. Part of that is they haven’t played together.

“What we want to do is get less change.”

And yes, there have been the solid efforts, which might make a five-game losing streak a little easier for some fans to take. All that really does, however, is slap a little lipstick on the pig.

“We know that we’re a better team than our record shows, and we know we’re capable of winning every game,” cornerback Jovon Johnson said. “We’ve lost four close games so far this year. It’s just a matter of us playing all the way to the end and starting fast.”

If they actually are close, get ready for some victories, fans.

If not, how much longer are you willing to wait?

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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