Last chance for progress

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

With all due respect to Milt Stegall, he didn't show us anything we didn't already know when he lit up the B.C. Lions defence the other day.

As teammate Chris Brazzell said in the Blue Bomber locker-room after Monday's 44-23 win, "That guy's good."

Yeah, and he's been good for the last 11 years.

The Bombers' record during the Stegall era? Not so good, at 85-109-1.

Not only has Stegall never won a Grey Cup, only three times in his star-studded career has he even been able to go home and tell his family he had a winning season. That's winning, as in above .500.

No, as much fun as it was watching No. 85 do his thing -- four catches, 234 yards and four touchdowns -- that's not what the last three games are about for this team.

Oh, sure, you've still got two home games left, and entertaining the fans is never a bad idea.

But when you're 5-10 and about to miss the playoffs for a second, consecutive season, there's a more pressing requirement: showing them you've got a plan, and are on the right track.

We don't need a weekly reminder of how good Stegall is, any more than we need proof Charles Roberts can get the job done.

Whether or not the Winnipeg defence can be anything but a speed bump for opposing offences to roll over, though, is another story.

This group was better Monday than it has been, but that's like saying this year's crops are better than last year's. Whoopee.

The Bombers gave up another 400 yards Monday, and that was against a team that started a rookie quarterback, and finished with an injured one.

They're still on track to give up one of the worst yardage totals in CFL history, which explains how they can be 5-10 while boasting the league's leading rusher (Roberts), its leader in touchdowns (Stegall, with 16) and a quarterback who's tied for the league lead in touchdown passes (Kevin Glenn, with 25).

As nice as all that fancy offence is, what fans really need to see is a defence that plays ugly. One that's finally catching on.

Is it going to be a pressure defence that doesn't put too much on its secondary, or is it going to continue to sit back and hope somebody makes a play?

If so, is there a young DB in the mix that can actually cover?

They've got three games to make their case.

Don't know about you, but I want to see new linebacker Joe Tuipala play, too.

We all know what Lamar McGriggs, Ryland Wickman and Sean Woodson can do, and it hasn't been enough to keep opposing teams from running for 130-plus yards per game.

If head coach Jim Daley goes into another year with the same cast, I could see him ending up in one.

Up front, there's no problem that a healthy Joe Fleming and Doug Brown wouldn't solve. Imagine them next to rookie sensation Gavin Walls and Tom Canada.

Over on offence, the one, big question going into the season has been answered: Glenn can play.

But it always helps to have two capable quarterbacks, which is why we need to see plenty of Russ Michna these last three games.

It'd be nice to see if this offence could cut back on its addiction to Stegall, too. Let's face it, not everyone is going to leave him as wide open as the Lions did.

Oh, and a more reliable third-and-short game is a must in three-down football.

There are a couple of issues in the kicking game, as well, such as protecting the punter and finding out if Old Lefty, Troy Westwood, still has it.

So there's your assignment for the next three weeks, team.

Make some progress on most of the above, and maybe, just maybe, people won't laugh when you remind them the Grey Cup is here in about 13 months.


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