Blue must face music

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

Defensive lineman Joe Fleming plunked himself down on his stool, while the country sounds of George Strait drifted through the Winnipeg Blue Bombers locker-room.

It was Fleming's turn to choose the pre-practice music on this day -- or, more precisely, he got to the CD player before anyone else, and protocol says you don't turn off a teammate's tunes, no matter what.

So it was hurtin' songs that serenaded the local CFL side yesterday, kind of apropos for a 3-8 squad that's dangling at the edge of the season's heartbreak hill, wouldn't you say?

Come to think of it, this year's edition of the Bombers has been hurtin' in so many ways, it could be a country song.

"You could write a good one about it," Fleming agreed. "But there's also happy country songs. We're trying to write our own right now."

DOUBLE-CROSSED

Sorry, but if the first few verses are any indication, a happy ending for this tune is about as likely as a Johnny Cash comeback. Or a Shania Twain Grammy award for song- writing.

I mean, the Bombers are abandoned by their offence one day, cheated on by their defence the next.

And every time they go to Regina, it seems they're double-crossed by their best friend -- their special teams.

To add insult to injury, the girl they'd been flirting with the last few weeks and whom they desperately want to get closer to -- a playoff spot in the CFL West -- has been spotted snuggling up to some cowboys from Calgary.

"Guys are pissed off," Fleming said. "But you can't get down. Being pissed is also an emotion that's not going to do anything to benefit you. We need to figure out mistakes."

We assume he means how to correct them, not identify them.

Because the mistakes the Bombers have been making are as noticeable as canker sores on a beauty queen's smile. Some have been popping up with alarming regularity, too.

Like that punt return for a touchdown by Saskatchewan's Corey Holmes Sunday. Bring back memories of Week 1?

And how about the way the Bombers offence handles second- or third down-and-short? They'd have an easier time converting the Pope.

It's the collapse of the defence, though, that's most alarming.

These guys have been easier to figure out than a Shania song title. Instead of putting an exclamation point on the end, though, you're left thinking, "#$*%$!"

"Defensively, we need to pull the load and hold up our end of the bargain," Fleming said. "And we haven't done that the last two games against two teams that were struggling. There's no excuse for that."

Problem is, you get the impression they could fix the problems on defence, only to have the offence tank the next game. Or the kicking game. After all, Troy Westwood hasn't blown a last-play field goal yet, has he?

The guy trying to plug all these holes, head coach Jim Daley, can't be a country music fan, because he isn't into feeling sorry for himself.

"You don't have time to think that way," Daley said. "That's where we are. Handle it. If you're going to worry about feeling sorry for yourself ... then you don't put your mind where it should be."

It's the same type of thing Daley was saying going into the season. And his goal hasn't changed, either, going into a make-or-break rematch with the Roughriders, here, this weekend.

"Take a run at the playoffs," Daley said. "No question. We have to attempt to make hay this Saturday, in pursuit of the playoffs."

And if the baler breaks down, we'll have the final verse to our country song.

Another hurtin' song.


Videos

Photos