Winnipeg develops crisis control

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

If nothing else, at least the Edmonton Eskimos can relate to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as they come into Commonwealth Stadium Friday night.

The Eskimos started last season 0-3.

It's not much fun when you're chasing the season from the git-go.

"The unfortunate reality is that this is an indicator of how much work we have left to do to become a good football team," said Bombers head coach Jim Daley after the first loss.

"I've said all along we are a team that has a long way to go to become a good football team. I didn't think this much. Very, very discouraging. Disappointing would be a better word."

Daley's post-game quotes would become more positive after each game, but the results, so far, have stayed the same.

The Bombers opener against the Saskatchewan Roughriders was a 42-15 disaster.

Saskatchewan's Corey Holmes returned the opening kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown. And if that wasn't enough, he took a punt to the Bombers 20-yard line not long after which turned into another touchdown. It was only 5:05 into the season and Winnipeg was down 14-0.

Holmes ended up with more yards than the Bombers offence. Running back Charles Roberts ran for only 14 yards. There were five dropped passes. Quarterback Kevin Glenn was injured.

It didn't help that the Edmonton Eskimos were in next. With the teams having played to a tie and an Eskimos win in pre-season, it was the third game between the two teams in 20 days. Familiarity didn't help the Bombers.

Winnipeg, which made 10 changes to the starting line-up in the off-season had two more for Game 2, including quarterback Tee Martin. And the Eskimos, a team which opened the season with seven sacks against Ottawa, "Teed" off with six more against the newcomer.

The Eskimos won 27-8 but the statistics were more staggering than the score.

Edmonton had a total offence of 549 yards to 110 by Winnipeg. The Eskimos had a 34:13 to 25:47 advantage in time of possession. Ricky Ray was 28-for-40 for 469 yards passing compared to Tee Martin who was 12-for-29 for 107 yards.

Last week, it wasn't the opposition statistics so much as their own in a 21-15 loss to the Calgary Stampeders which coulda, shoulda, woulda been a win if a wide-open Kamau Peterson doesn't drop the big play pass from Martin.

Ten first downs were all Winnipeg was able to manufacture. And only 130 yards of passing on 12 completions by the quarterback.

The one bright spot so far has been the punting of Jon Ryan, who averaged 53.6 yards in the Calgary game and booted singles that covered 80 and 78 yards.

But it's not singles Winnipeg needs right now, it's touchdowns. They didn't get any against Calgary and so far have only three to show for their season. The Bombers have managed only 32 first downs in their three games.

Just keeping drives alive would help. Winnipeg's time of possession in the Calgary game was 25:06 and that was up more than a minute from their average from the first two games.

The schedule ahead is not encouraging.

The Bombers, after this one, play the always-tough Montreal Alouettes at home, followed by the Grey Cup champion Toronto Argos on the road.

Nobody said this was going to be easy when Daley took over from Dave Ritchie in mid-season last year.

A lot of people are cheering for him though. Along with the Eskimos' Maciocia, B.C. Lions' Wally Buono and Hamilton's Greg Marshall, Daley is a Canadian-born head coach.


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