Stealing the show

Defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall (right) is off to a spectacular start with the Bombers. The...

Defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall (right) is off to a spectacular start with the Bombers. The defence, which was the worst in the league last year, is the stingiest in the CFL so far this season, much to the delight of coach Doug Berry (left). (Winnipeg Sun/Marcel Cretain)

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

Now I know I'm losing it.

What I heard at the end of yesterday's Blue Bomber practice has me thinking I should just look for the men in the white coats and get it over with, check myself in.

Maybe I simply need my hearing checked.

Because I swear I heard lineman Doug Brown talking about the possibility of the Bomber defence being overconfident going into Saturday's home date with the Edmonton Eskimos.

Two weeks into a new season, and a defence that couldn't cover a waterbed last year is worried about getting full of itself.

"The biggest thing that worries me is the fine line between being euphoric and confident ... but also letting it make you overconfident," Brown was saying. "That better not be a problem this year, any of us thinking we're going to have anybody rolling over for us."

That's quite a leap, even for the 6-foot-7 Brown. Particularly when you consider everybody else in the CFL simply rolled over these guys in '05.

Statistically, they were the shoddiest defence in league history, remember? They surrendered more yards than Reimer Soils, for crying out loud -- 458 per game, to be exact.

Opposing quarterbacks came in here trembling, all right -- in anticipation of the boost their stats were going to get.

This was a group that should have been sponsored by 7-Eleven: Play the Bombers and you'll be open all night. Just like us!

Fast forward to the present, and the Bomber D is flirting with the record book again.

But this time for not giving up yards: a mere 72 in a 16-9 win over Toronto last Friday.

The CFL doesn't keep such records, but it's hard to imagine a team allowing fewer. That was a typical drive against this team a year ago, not a full game.

"I've never seen anything like that before, man," Brown, a nine-year pro, said. "Even in 2001-02 when we thought our (crap) pretty much didn't stink, we never saw anything like that. We had some pretty dominant fricking performances, but that was pretty balls to the wall."

When the league stats come out later today, chances are the team in blue and gold will have the top-ranked defence in the land. I'll bet you more than one CFL coach will be turning his stat sheet upside-down, thinking it was printed up wrong.

So, Mr. Brown, how did the Bombers do it?

"First of all, you get rid of your defensive co-ordinator and your head coach, and your defensive line coach and your secondary coach. You fire all those guys... replace them with new and improved versions. And you get a whole bunch of new players, you get a whole bunch of new schemes, and you just saw the results."

Sounds simple enough. Just clean house.

Problem is, when you clean house sometimes things get messier before they get better.

Somehow, the Bombers have turned this unit around in one off-season. Not even Oprah lost her ugly that fast.

The man calling the shots, defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall, is the same man who was overlooked for the head coach's job in favour of Doug Berry.

Don't look now, but the bridesmaid is stealing the show.

"So far, so good," Marshall said. "Hopefully we can continue that. The guys are buying into what we're asking them to do. We're trying to put them in the right place so they can make plays."

Marshall was pretty low-key in his assessment, realizing the defending champion Eskimos, with quarterback Ricky Ray, are a different kettle of fish than the Argos. Things can change quickly.

Brown knows it, too.

"That's two weeks," the big guy said. "There's 16 more."

Plenty of time for this defence to work on its overconfidence.


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