Marshalling his troops

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

Maybe someone just pressed the slow-motion button.

The whole team played like it was in a Blue funk in the first half of its 38-24 loss to the Alouettes in Montreal last week.

But the most shocking aspect was the way the Blue Bombers defence played after becoming one of the most dominating 'D's' in the CFL the last couple of years.

"We weren't where we needed to be mentally and physically for the game," Bomber defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall said yesterday. "I guess we need to do a better job of preparing the players and the players need to do a better job of responding.

"I said to them early in the game, 'You're two steps behind everything they're doing right now.' We were recognizing what they were doing but we were late doing it and we started playing on our heels and playing back on your heels, you're not going to be very successful ... When we don't have our best day, it can get ugly."

Indeed. The Bombers were down 31-7 by halftime.

"I give Montreal credit," Marshall said. "They had something to do with it. But we didn't play the way we're capable of playing, obviously. I don't see it becoming a trend. Obviously, we're going to work hard this week and the coming weeks."

But they will have to rebound against B.C.'s once-vaunted offence when the Lions come to town this Friday.

"It's easy to rebound from that (loss) because we didn't do a lot right out there," said Bomber defensive tackle Doug Brown. "So, everything is easier in terms of making improvements on that performance. It was a combination of facing (Montreal quarterback) Anthony Calvillo -- I haven't seen him play that well in a while -- we didn't match their intensity and they were firing on all cylinders, and that's the result you get.

"We showed some resolve in the second half, showing what we were capable of as long we have the right mindset and the proper techniques."

However, neither defensive end Tom Canada nor Gavin Walls came within sniffing distance of sacking Calvillo, even in the second half. Canada said it was a combination of Calvillo's quick release and Montreal's focus on keeping the pair off their leader. As a result, the unpressured Calvillo completed 34 of 44 passes for 372 yards and four touchdowns.

"It was tough to get pressure," Canada conceded. "There was only a handful of times when I was even around him. It's frustrating, man."

Neither Canada nor Walls has recorded a single sack this season.

"I don't like starting off the season like that," said Canada, who bagged a dozen last year. "I want to get some sacks under my belt, you know, start competing in the sack race. But you can't dwell on it."

Nor can they dwell on the loss.

"By the end of the season, everything evens out and hopefully, this will be one of those bad memories that we will be able to put behind us," Brown said.

Although a head coach will often bench a player or two to send a message to the rest of the team after such a loss, it does not look like Berry has any such plans.

"I just don't think there's anything that I can identify by saying, 'Wow, we can really fill that hole by doing this,' " he said. "I don't think we have any major holes right now ... It just seems like we're capable, we're just not consistent. I believe we have the guys that can make it consistent."


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