Defence disappoints

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

The head coach does not have to start worrying about his job -- yet.

And the GM of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will not waste any time fretting over his own immediate future.

But we can't say the same for those who have been attempting to play defence for this CFL club.

The Bombers dropped to 3-8 after losing to the Saskatchewan Roughriders 45-26 on Sunday. Dave Ritchie was fired as the team's head mentor and replaced by Jim Daley after stumbling to a 2-5 start last season. But Daley's job is still safe.

"Absolutely," Bomber GM Brendan Taman affirmed yesterday. "But we were expecting more from certain players."

Taman declined to identify those underachievers but you can bet that most are on the defensive side of the ball. In fact, the only defenders who have consistently made impact plays this season are defensive linemen Doug Brown and Tom Canada and cornerback William Fields -- even if he was horrible against Hamilton.

'STRUGGLING'

This, of course, is the same club that failed to hang on to such impact defenders as Brian Clark, Daved Benefield, Elfrid Payton and even Ricky Bell the past few years.

"Defensively, we're struggling and we've got to find people who will make plays for us," Taman said.

Which means, 11 games into the season, Taman has still failed to find the talent needed so desperately for the current rebuilding program -- and are you getting tired of hearing that term yet? And the cries for his head will start getting louder in the coming days.

"I don't worry about it," Taman said. "If I did, I'd be focused on the wrong thing. I know it's the business but if it happens, it happens. Quite frankly, I'm just trying to find the answers to the questions we have."

And, quite frankly, we believe that sacking either Daley or Taman at this point would be a mistake. However, we may be in the minority as this club starts to sink further into the CFL abyss.

"We've got to have a complete team effort here pretty quick or we're going to be on the outside looking in," Taman said. "And we're not far away from that right now."

So, you can expect to see even more player shuffling this week, particularly in the secondary. But they could use someone to shore up the run defence on the front seven, too.

"We've got to find a few things that will change the results," said Taman, who did praise the offence for its latest efforts. "There were some positives but we're still a ways away (from becoming a competitive team)."

Even if they do airlift more players in, the nucleus of the squad will likely remain intact.

"We've just got to stay together and fight through it," Taman said. "I'm hoping we can stay positive and fight through it. There wasn't a lot of finger-pointing so that's a good sign."

Winnipeg plays host to the Roughriders in a re-match this Saturday.

"We can get 'em," Taman said. "The good thing is we're coming home and we've been pretty good at home so that should give us an edge."

Taman is also hoping that Doug Brown, who missed the last two games with a sprained foot, will be able to return this week.

"You really see how valuable a guy is to your team when he's not there," Taman said. "That's nothing against either Jon (Oosterhuis) or (Martin) Lapostolle but it really shows how good Doug is, and we already knew he was good."

But it speaks volumes when an entire defence becomes incapable of stopping the run because it is missing one man. So, whatever they are now paying Brown, it is not enough.

But it is high time the Bombers found more players of his ilk.


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