No way Stamps lose to brutal Bombers

ERIC FRANCIS, SPORTS COLUMNIST

, Last Updated: 2:45 PM ET

CALGARY -- Make no mistake, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will cut this column from the paper and post it in their locker-room before tonight's game.

However, team officials would be wise to ensure nobody on the offence tries using scissors given how brutal their hands are.

With all due respect to Winnipeg's defence, which has proven to be a respectable bunch despite the enormous workload they've been saddled with, the Bombers are a brutal football team right now.

Sub.-500 in the lousy east last year at 8-10, there's little doubt the re-tooled version under Mike Kelly is destined for an even worse fate as they attempt in vain to regain some semblance of adequacy.

There's very little reason to believe otherwise, especially when you look at the quarterback now leading the club: Michael Bishop -- a man who's constantly betrayed his strength and abilities to be one of the biggest underachievers the CFL has seen in years.

After asking a sideline reporter on TSN at the half of a recent loss if she could throw, the ever-entertaining Kelly got the next best thing in Bishop, who was essentially out of pro football two weeks ago. Desperate after realizing Stefan LeFors is not starting material, Kelly's desperation led him to grabbing Bishop.

And now he's in the line of fire against the defending Grey Cup champs, who are a little ticked at a predicament that not only saw them lose to Winnipeg earlier in the year, but to Saskatchewan last week.

It was this time last season the Stamps turned around a poor start and steamrolled to a title. The Bombers represent the easiest possible way to kick-start another surge given how pitiful they are and how motivated a very frustrated Stamps squad comes in.

This one will be a cakewalk. A massive blowout. Otherwise, it'll be clear this is a Stamps team with far more problems than just a slow start.

The only way to lose is by beating themselves with silly penalties -- something they've become good at lately.

But this is about both teams and where they're headed.

In a recent loss to the lowly Argos, the Bombers racked up one measly first down in the opening half. The 2-3 club averages just 18 points scored a game while the Stamps have struggled so far and still come in at almost twice that.

What's worse is the Bombers scored almost half their points in one game, against Calgary in week 2 when they beat the Stamps 42-30.

Gone are Winnipeg's top receivers, Derick Armstrong and Milt Stegall, and here is Bishop, a man who couldn't grasp a playbook after years with the Argos, let alone two weeks with Winnipeg.

On every team's schedule there are must-win games and there are should-win games. For the Stamps, this is both.

There's no logical reason to explain how the Stamps could lose tonight or somehow fall short of eclipsing the 14.5 point spread.

Should the unthinkable happen, it'd mark a low point in recent Stampeders history that rivals having the owner's son start at quarterback.

That's not going to happen.

None of the players or coaches are going to say it, so I'll say it for them: Tonight's game at McMahon represents as easy a win as the Stamps will pick up all season.

"We have an awful lot of doubters, but I like that," said Kelly when asked about his team's growing pains.

He won't like it when they're all proven right tonight.

Get out the scissors.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca


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