Playoffs pure fantasy

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

REGINA -- This is getting ridiculous.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have fast become the cure for whatever is ailing opposing teams.

Just one week ago, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats recorded their first victory of the CFL season by beating the Bombers.

Last night, the injury-ravaged Saskatchewan Roughriders welcomed the woeful Blue to the annual Labour Day Classic and snapped a five-game losing skid. And they have already won the season series over Winnipeg. Not that it matters much. The Bombers can't win on the road and they can't beat a western rival, so any thoughts about post-season play at this point are just fantasy.

Now, Winnipeg must defeat the Roughriders at home next week in the Banjo Bowl just to tie for last in the West.

So, what's next?

Do the Bombers dismantle the current club and start rebuilding all over again? After all, either these players aren't good enough, or smart enough, or the coaches aren't doing the job.

"Look around the room, we've got guys who can make plays," said veteran defensive lineman Joe Fleming. "We've got players, we just need to execute. It's not that complicated on defence.

"There's no reason to get down and there's no reason to look around the room and say we can't do it because we can."

But time is running out.

"We're a team that needs to take every game as if it's a playoff game," Fleming admitted. "We need to win a lot of football games to get into the playoffs. That's not a good situation but what are you going to do, fold the tents? You can't do it and there's no way the guys in this room will do it.

"The guys fought hard but made some mistakes and we're going to continue to fight hard. We just need to keep the tempo and attitude up. You can't fold. You can't. It's too important."

PUNCH-DRUNK BOXER

But head coach Jim Daley is starting to resemble a punch-drunk boxer.

"This sure knocks you back a bit and the reality is, we have to get back up off the ground," said Daley, who remains the eternal optimist. "It makes it a lot harder, having lost (last night) but in the second half last year, Saskatchewan became a great football team, one of the best in the league. At this stage last year, they were similar to where we are now."

The difference is that squad learned how to play defence well enough to challenge B.C. for a Grey Cup appearance.

Another difference was that the Roughriders could actually convert short yardage situations. The Bombers attempts in last night's match were simply pathetic. First, they went into a shotgun formation snap on second and one! And they didn't come close because a defender tipped Kevin Glenn's pass.

But failing to convert, in fact, turning the ball over after getting first down at the Saskatchewan three is unforgiveable. Charles Roberts ran for two, Wade Miller got nothing, then Roberts got nothing. Then, LaDouphyous McCalla intercepted Glenn in the endzone.

Not only did the Bombers come away with absolutely no points, some of the players were screaming at assistant coaches in frustration on the sidelines afterwards. Those are the types of incidents that can start tearing a team apart internally.

And throughout those short-yardage situations, 6-foot-3, 246-pound fullback Scott Regimbald was not even on the field!

"We got stopped on second and short a couple of times and we started to get a mindset that we want to throw," Daley said. "We needed to stay with the run a little bit more. Sometimes, we make that mistake at certain times and it's something that we have to look at."

Like a whole lot of other things.


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