Hogs hold the key

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

The assignment, the man said, was to list the five things that must happen for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to win the Grey Cup.

Yes, this year.

When the laughter died down -- after quite some time -- and the usual tongue-in-check suggestions of terror attacks on opposing teams began to wane, we started to think that stranger things have happened.

Like turning water into wine.

Or the Boston Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series.

So yeah, it could happen! And here's how ...

1. It would start on the line of scrimmage, particularly the offensive line. Without proper protection, it will not matter who is at quarterback and without exploding off the ball on running plays, scatback Charles Roberts could become Nod not Blink. The oft-criticized Hogs could point to the fact that the Bombers have boasted one of the top rushers in the CFL since Roberts burst upon the scene. Scary thing is that head coach Jim Daley expressed concern about his O-line after the second pre-season match.

2. Of course, the O-line could become the reincarnation of the White Horses of mid-80s fame and it would still not matter if the quarterbacks do not perform. None of the four QBs still in camp need to make everyone forget Doug Flutie but he does need to get the ball into the hands of the club's game-breakers, namely Roberts, Keith Stokes, Wane McGarity, Milt Stegall and Kamau Peterson. More importantly, the offence must move the ball consistently, allowing the defence to rest. The players trust Kevin Glenn to lead them, even if fans and others don't.

3. The revamped secondary must come together and do it fast after it was lit up throughout last season. Only safety Wes Lysack remains from the defence that finished the last game, although Cedric Dickerson spent the past season on the practice roster. The Bombers must hope that both Omar Evans and William Fields still have what it takes after Calgary gave up on them, and that Tim Carter lives up to his promise.

4. Keep Charles Roberts healthy. He only stands 5-foot-6 and 171 pounds but remains one of the most durable backs in the CFL since he first started back in 2001. He is the key to the club's attack. The offence will revolve around Roberts but his health will also depend on the schemes introduced by offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson. There is still potential for this offence to become explosive.

5. The front seven comes together quickly and lives up to its potential. Doug Brown and Joe Fleming anchor what could become the best front four in the league, with Tom Canada on one side and either Antwone Young or Gavin Walls on the other. But they will need to get much-needed pressure on opposing pivots. However, the linebacker corps still seems unsettled. Both Sean Woodson and Willie Fells are still ridding themselves of the rust of not playing for a year while Ron Ockimey awaits in the background. But one of them must somehow replace the absence of the retired Mo Kelly, who left a big hole. If Woodson and Fells return to form, the front seven could be the strength of club.


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