Bauer still upbeat

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

Hindsight being 20-20, it's easy to say the Winnipeg Blue Bombers went into the season thinner than a supermodel at the quarterback position.

After all, the offence has shown all the bite of a gummy grandmother in back-to-back losses since starter Kevin Glenn got hurt.

But Bomber president/CEO Lyle Bauer isn't buying the suggestion GM Brendan Taman left the team vulnerable at the most important position, going into the season.

"I don't believe that," Bauer told the Sun yesterday. "You look around the league, and everybody has their starter. I don't think anybody is extremely deep."

Bauer's mood, in general, is still pretty upbeat, despite the recent trend.

And the big guy figures the fans are on the same page as he is.

He says he hasn't heard a backlash during the slump, which has coincided with injuries to four offensive starters: Glenn, receiver Milt Stegall and offensive linemen Dan Goodspeed and Matt Sheridan.

"People understand that injuries take their toll," Bayer said. "We lost 40% of our starting offensive line, which makes a difference. Then you take out Kevin and you take out Milt, there's a third of your starting offence. So it's not just losing a quarterback."

But before you get the impression he's letting everybody off the hook ...

"Those aren't excuses," he added. "That's reality. And our coaching staff has to find a way to overcome that. And, quite frankly, there are some players that need to step up."

Not surprising that a guy who's responsible for the bottom line would look at just that when analyzing the first half of the season.

"If you'd looked earlier in the year and said we'd be 5-4 and second place, halfway through, when you saw the schedule come out, people would have been quite satisfied with that," Bauer said. "But when things start earlier, expectations change. And they did."

His expectations for the second half are these: keep playing the same way on defence, but end the brain cramps on offence, no matter who's at quarterback.

"Our defence is good enough to win, and we have to have an offence that doesn't make mistakes. We don't have to be spectacular on offence. Just put enough points on the board to win, without turning the ball over."

It's a scenario that reminds Bauer a little of the 1988 team, when he was the starting centre.

With Sean Salisbury and Lee Saltz at quarterback, the Bombers weren't going to scare anybody.

That defence was another story.

With Salisbury completing less than half his passes, the Bombers finished 9-9 and won an unlikely Grey Cup.

"The first goal is to get in the playoffs," Bauer said. "It doesn't matter how you get there or what position you get there. You get there, and you never know."

Ah, yes, the Grey Cup, to be played in our own back yard in three months.

The Bombers announced this week they'd passed the three-quarters sold mark. Of course, that still leaves more than 10,000 tickets unsold.

A year ago at this time, weren't the B.C. Lions announcing they'd already sold the thing out?

"They were also 11-0, weren't they?" Bauer said. "That might have a little something to do with it."

True enough.

But those last 10,000 seats, almost all in the end zones, will look a lot more comfortable if the Bombers provide even an inkling they'll be in the hunt, come late October.

"Even not playing this week, we'll still be in second place in the East," Bauer said. "No matter what happens."

No arguing that.

And the way things have gone lately, not playing is probably the best thing this team can do right now.


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