Grey Cup gloss-over

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

There are a few things you can count on during a Winnipeg Blue Bomber losing streak.

The weeping and gnashing of teeth is one, and it's relatively harmless. Sometimes a little self-pity is good for the soul.

Another segment of fans wants blood, and like a Manitoba mosquito won't rest until getting its meal. The head coach, the GM and the quarterback are almost always the prime targets.

Then there are those offering up theories to the puzzling state of their football team. These are the thinkers, looking at the mess as a solvable problem.

Today, a bit of all three, starting with a theory: could it be the Bombers weren't nearly as good as we thought they were at the end of last year, that their trip to the Grey Cup glossed over some problems that should have been addressed in the off-season?

I'll admit, I was effusive in my praise of Doug Berry and his crew after it knocked off the Argonauts in last year's East Final.

How couldn't I be? It's a bottom-line business, and the bottom line is the Bombers were in the Grey Cup.

Now that basically the same team has started 0-3, though, it's time to reconsider.

And I seem to recall being all over this team during the late stages of '07.

The offence, so dynamic through 10 games or so, stagnated down the stretch.

Quarterback Kevin Glenn looked like Dieter Brock until early September, then morphed into Kerwin Bell.

This is one time when the numbers tell the story.

Going back to October, this group has won four of its last 11 games, and that includes last season's playoff run. Over that time, Glenn has seven touchdown passes and 10 interceptions, and the team hasn't managed to hit 30 points.

Last fall, it looked like opposing teams had figured out what the Bombers do. They sucked at third-and-short, were bad in the red zone, had an inconsistent defence and blew a five-point lead for first place.

Then came the playoffs, and a win by the skin of their teeth against Montreal, thanks in large part to Jim Popp's late decision to gamble in his own zone.

The Alouettes made changes, removing Popp as head coach.

The Bombers went to the Grey Cup and stood pat.

Through three games this year, Glenn and his offence have taken another step back, while the defence has caved.

Sometimes what players say can be very revealing, even when they don't mean it to be.

"I don't know if it's complacency, or what it is," Doug Brown said after Friday's loss to B.C.. Translation: we're complacent.

This patient needed an off-season infusion of new blood, and didn't get it.

The best coaches and GMs recognize that, Grey Cup trip or not.

It looks like the same thing that happened to Dave Ritchie after the remarkable 2001 season. The Bombers got old, tired and complacent, and by the time team brass figured it out, it was too late -- we had a 5-13 mess on our hands in '05.

Berry, who likes to say he's a protege of Don Matthews, certainly hasn't shown his old boss's instincts or willingness to make changes.

On Monday, Glenn said the team needs to believe in the plays that are being called. Translation: right now, they don't.

Berry and his staff, it appears, aren't very good adjusters.

Higher up the food chain, GM Brendan Taman was in charge of personnel with Ritchie, and still is.

This disaster, if that's what it turns out to be, has Taman's paw-prints all over it.

Standing pat is fine if you've got a full hand. Based on what we've seen so far this season, and what the Bombers finished '07 with, this team may have anted up with inferior cards.

And now they're starting to fold.

Need some hope, long-suffering Bomber fans?

Remember, it's only a theory.


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