Blue defence could become worst ever

KIRK PENTON -- Wiinipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

Omar Evans' name will forever be attached to one of the worst defences in CFL history.

That's not exactly fair, because the 28-year-old Winnipeg Blue Bombers cornerback has had a pretty good season.

"Pretty good?" Evans shot back with his eyebrow raised. "I'd say a little bit more than pretty good. I'd say good."

Evans has been the exception, because the banged-up Bombers are destined make history (of the terrible variety) this afternoon in their CFL regular-season finale against the Calgary Stampeders at Canad Inns Stadium at 3 o'clock (CJOB/TSN).

270 YARDS

If the Stamps (9-7) put up at least 270 yards of offence, the Bombers (5-12) will have surrendered the most yards in one CFL season -- ever. The 1991 Saskatchewan Roughriders gave up 446.4 yards per game.

And if the Stamps rack up at least 150 passing yards, the Bombers will have surrendered the most passing yards in one CFL season -- ever. The 1993 B.C. Lions allowed 341.2 passing yards per game.

Unfortunately for Bombers head coach Jim Daley, he has also been the defensive co-ordinator since Rod Rust left the team on Aug. 20 to attend to a family medical emergency.

And now that the Bombers will miss the playoffs for the second straight season and are in danger of posting their worst record since Jeff Reinebold's dreadful 1998 campaign (3-15), Daley, along with GM Brendan Taman and others, is in supreme danger of losing his job.

It sounds like Wes Lysack, who was Winnipeg's safety this season until he was traded to Calgary on Oct. 3, wouldn't be surprised if Daley gets a pink slip.

"For whatever reason, the coaching staff that was here decided to go an entirely different route and change the defence mid-season (after Rust left)," Lysack said. "That's something I've never been a part of and I've never really seen at the pro level or any level.

"I don't know if it was exactly the best decision, and I think (the results) kind of proved that it probably wasn't."

Lysack, who is Calgary's backup safety, said there were many things going on behind the scenes that made life difficult for the Bombers. He wouldn't divulge what those situations were.

But you can't help but get the feeling from reading between the lines that Lysack feels Daley is at fault for the team's woes.

"There's a ton of talent on this team," Lysack said. "And if it's not being used in the right places and things aren't being successful, maybe it's not the players' fault."

Not surprisingly, Evans defended Daley, saying it was tough for him to be both the head coach and the defensive co-ordinator.

"Hopefully ... we'll go out this off-season, get a good defensive co-ordinator and get maybe a few more players, and we'll be all right," Evans said.

Evans leads the Bombers with five interceptions (including two he returned for touchdowns) and eight pass knockdowns. Maybe he's a glutton for punishment, because he desperately wants to be in Blue and Gold again next season.

"I would love to come back here and play in this defence, because it's a challenge," said Evans, who is under contract for 2006. "It's a challenge to go from being the absolute worst and then coming back and trying to do something next year and prove everybody wrong.

"I had a pretty good year, but it still was on the worst defences ever. I know for a fact next year it won't be like that."

If Daley is going to be around next season, too, a strong showing by the Bombers today -- and perhaps avoiding one or both of the dubious defensive records -- might bode well. It might also erase some of the horrible images from last Saturday's 41-1 thrashing at the hands of the Lions.

"Hopefully our team can respond despite having no playoff carrot," Daley said. "We have to play as if there's lots at stake."


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