Fight to the finish

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

It's more than three months into the season, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have notched 14 games on their belts and enough statistics to choke a horse in the books.

In other words, most of the hay from 2006 is in the barn.

Why, then, do we still have this nagging feeling as we head into fall, as if the barn roof is sagging, or there are rats in the corners?

By now all those concerns were supposed to be answered.

You know, the stuff about the starting quarterback, that revamped defence and, yes, questions about first-year head coach Doug Berry and his staff.

Funny thing is, with just four games left in the regular season, we still have no clue how history will look back on this team.

Possibility No. 1 goes something like this: the Bombers string together four solid games, win at least one playoff game, create all kinds of Grey Cup buzz and ease concerns about their immediate future.

Possibility No. 2: they continue their haphazard play of late -- looking OK one week, brutal the next -- fizzle out in the playoffs and make everybody wonder if this staff is on the right track, or if a full-scale roster housecleaning is necessary.

Of course, the Bombers could also fall somewhere between those two scenarios, and wouldn't that be the perfectly puzzling finish to this Rubik's Cube of a season.

Tonight, with the hated, albeit less-feared, Montreal Alouettes paying our city another visit, the Bombers have yet another opportunity to come up with the game that defines their season.

Anyone who believes last week's win in Montreal was it hasn't watched this team all year.

Invariably, these guys follow season-turning wins with stomach-turning losses.

Even you, Milt Stegall, must have been left scratching your head a few times.

"Not scratching my head," Stegall was saying yesterday. "Just thinking, 'What happened?' We're not in a great position, and we're not in a bad position. It starts with (today's) game. This is going to determine a lot where we're gonna go."

The possibilities are still endless. A 7-11 finish? How about 9-9? Could even be 11-7.

See what we mean?

And don't go reminding us that a playoff spot is all this franchise needs to declare itself turned around.

Thanks to the helpless Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the hapless Edmonton Eskimos, the Bombers are all but in. The returns on their season aren't.

If they'd started slowly and were steadily building, like, say, the Bombers of 2000, it'd be a different story. That team, which finished 7-10-1, was clearly on the upswing.

This one? More like the teeter-totter.

That said, you'd probably rather be a Bomber than a sliding Alouette these days.

Losers of six straight, the last one at home against Winnipeg five days ago, the Als don't even resemble the team that used to swagger into town, set the houses on fire, steal the horses and ride off with the women.

"From the first game of the year to last week, there's definitely a different swagger," Winnipeg's Charles Roberts said. "They're hurting right now. You don't have no swagger when you're hurting. You're hoping."

Let's face it: the Bombers are still hoping, too.

Hoping Kevin Glenn finishes the season as an established No. 1 gunslinger. Not a star, just someone you can hang your hat on.

Hoping their offensive general, coordinator Mike Gibson, begins fooling defences more consistently than he has been.

Hoping the Marshall, as in Greg, coordinates a defence that, over the last four games, plays more like it did over the first four.

Of course, if wishes were horses, the Bomber herd would be home and cooled, happily munching on the hay they've put away over the summer.


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