Plenty to prove

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

It's three games into the season, and most people I talk to still have this nagging question about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Who are these guys? And how good can they be?

Because let's face it, if the early returns have proven anything, it's that this team hasn't.

The offence, led by Magnificent Milt, has moved the ball better than anybody, but hasn't proven it can be counted on when the game's on the line, like last week against Edmonton.

More than 430 yards per game, 336 of them through the air, is pretty impressive stuff, but I'm not sure this team has really established the ground game, yet, and I doubt it wants to keep taking a dozen penalties per game, many of them niggling infractions on offence.

The Minister of Defence, Barrin Simpson, and his congregation are putting quarterbacks through hell, with 12 sacks already, but overall aren't anywhere near the baddest unit in the land, as they suggested they were going to be.

Winnipeg's dirty dozen ranks last in yards per rush, second-last in pass completion percentage and has just one interception, better only than Hamilton.

The special teams, well, they've been about as dependable as a crack addict.

If someone's not missing field goals then someone else is wobbling a punt 35 yards down field -- if he has time to get it off at all.

Even worse, the Bombers lead the league in allowing opposing teams to recover their own kicks. Nice work.

I'm not sure this is as well-oiled a machine as it should be on the sidelines, either. That's likely a product of head coach Doug Berry bringing in three assistants without CFL experience: offensive co-ordinator Kit Cartwright, Corey Chamblin, in charge of the defensive backs, and offensive line boss Bob Wylie. These guys are no doubt still learning -- the game and their players.

I still say Charles Roberts should get the ball more, especially through the air. And there are times I wonder about all the substitutions on defence (I don't remember Tyrone Jones, James West or Rod Hill shuffling in and out of the huddle), but, hey, that's why they pay co-ordinator Greg Marshall the big bucks.

The good news is Berry's offence has taken a few steps forward from Year 1, and a receiving corps that includes Stegall, Derick Armstrong and Terrence Edwards should be one of the best in the league. Also, with Marshall in charge of the defence, that side should only get better.

So what do we look for as the Bombers pay a visit to the Canadian version of Sin City tonight?

A quicker start, for one thing.

If this team keeps answering the bell like a delinquent school kid at the end of recess, it's going to get blown out one of these days. Montreal would be only too happy to oblige. Don Matthews may be gone, but these teams still don't like each other.

I'd look for Kevin Glenn to have another good game, continuing his progress up the CFL's quarterback ladder. He'd better, with that receiving corps at full strength. Of course, keeping him upright, which the Bombers have been stellar at, thus far, is paramount.

Keep a close eye on the blocking for punter Rob Pikula tonight, too. Opposing teams are like circling sharks, looking for the time and place to strike. After watching the Bombers allow two punt blocks last week, the Als smell blood. If the Bombers can't plug the holes, this could be an ongoing issue.

Bottom line, a .500 record won't cut it this season, and right now that's where this team is.

So it's down to this: win one on the road, or continue to leave people wondering about your identity.

Come to think of it, a loss would bring some answers, too, wouldn't it?


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