Stinks to high heaven

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:59 AM ET

So where do you go when you've been away at the lake and need a quick refresher on what the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have been up to?

To the same place you go if you need a plunger to unplug your toilet, of course: the local hardware store.

Hardware Hank has as good a handle on this team as any fan I know. Trouble is, he doesn't quite know what to make of this mess, either.

"They suck," were the first words out of Hank's mouth.

I followed the sound downstairs and found Hank stretched out on a couch, looking a little worse for wear and tear. If it's true that fans live and die with their team, Hank has been dying a little each week.

Oh-and-four when I left -- I thought head coach Doug Berry would have figured a few things out by the time I got back -- the Bombers are mired in the CFL East basement, at 1-6.

Good lord, surely they can't be that bad, can they?

"Yup," Hank said. "They're that bad. They've got big problems with the O-line. Roberts isn't running the ball. The coach, the offensive co-ordinator, has no imagination whatsoever. The same plays over and over again.

"We're up there, going, 'OK, it's back to the Reinebold era, folks.' "

Hank winced involuntarily as he said it, as any Bombers fan who's been around at least a decade would.

The Reinebold era was like a massive sewer backup that took years to clean up, the stench still lingering 10 years later.

The same way communities in the Red River Valley mark the level of the Flood of the Century, Bombers fans point to the years 1997-'98 as the low-water mark in franchise history.

To suggest things are almost as bad now is no laughing matter.

Hank wasn't laughing, either.

The only nice thing he could say was about new receiver Romby Bryant.

"If they don't do anything this week, they're going to have to fire someone," he said. "Berry's going to start taking the heat."

I hear the third-year boss has already tried changing quarterbacks, and that didn't work.

Ryan Dinwiddie played all three games during my hiatus, pulling out a wild shootout win his first game, then reverting to mediocre status the next two.

So it's back to Kevin Glenn when Hamilton comes to town Thursday.

Seems to me a team that doesn't know who its leader is is a team in trouble.

Then again, maybe trying to make the Winnipeg offence look good is like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Berry's attack hasn't done much, going back to the last eight games of last season.

I don't care who's throwing the ball or calling the plays, if the offence stinks, it stinks.

Word from Hank is Berry is too slow on the trigger when it comes to giving the hook to his starting quarterback. But he doesn't hesitate to point fingers at players publicly, whether it's a kick returner or a kicker.

Wait a minute -- didn't he get rid of Troy Westwood long ago?

"It looks like he's pulling his tricks with the kicking corps again," Hank said.

Sure enough, rookie Alexis Serna was found under a bus after the last game. Poor guy probably didn't even see what hit him.

Hank figured the defence hasn't been that bad, but it's the same old story: it can't hold forever. This is the CFL, after all, and teams are going to score points.

Every team except the Bombers, that is.

What about Milt Stegall? Wasn't he supposed to save the day?

"Stegall's still injured," Hank said. "He played one game."

So much for that "routine" off-season knee surgery.

And to top it all off, I hear Berry quietly signed a contract extension recently, but the Bombers have been waiting for the right moment to announce it.

Yikes.

"If I can survive Reinebold, I can survive this," Hank concluded, going back upstairs to serve a customer.

Somebody get me a plunger.

This is going to get messy.


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