Defence gets it done

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 6:58 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence is the responsible teenager who keeps a neat bedroom, never breaks curfew and volunteers his time at senior citizen homes.

The team's offence, meanwhile, is the out-of-control teenager who has a pig sty for a room, stays out until all hours of the night and throws eggs at senior citizen homes.

Despite this contradiction in lifestyles, their father, head coach Doug Berry, reports that the kids are getting along swimmingly, even though one of them isn't doing his chores.

There is no tension in his household, also known as the Bomber locker-room.

"There's none of that," Berry said. "... It happens when it's allowed to happen, and if you don't allow it to happen then it probably is not going to."

It should be pointed out that the Bomber defensive dozen hasn't been completely free of warts this season. It's just that it looks like Jessica Alba compared to the Wicked Witch of the West that the offence could be mistaken for these days.

The coaching staff hasn't touched the defensive personnel this season, save for a few minor changes, but on Monday it traded away the franchise rushing leader. That tells you where the problems are.

Winnipeg's defence allowed Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Michael Bishop to pass for only 107 yards in last Sunday's Labour Day Classic.

That was its best mark since giving up 96 more than two years ago in a game against Hamilton.

The Bombers, in fact, have not allowed more than 300 passing yards in four consecutive games. They will try to make it five in a row tomorrow against the Riders in the fifth annual Banjo Bowl at Canad Inns Stadium.

"I feel like we're getting better as we go along, and that's what you want to do during the course of the season," defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall said. "I feel like we're doing that, and we just have to keep doing that.

"As I explained to the guys in the room, we have to control the things that we can control, and the other things will take care of themselves."

Nose tackle Doug Brown is in no mood to throw a party in celebration of the defence's play quite yet.

"We gotta be consistent," he said. "You can't let last week be a flash in the pan. We need to go out and take another step."

A couple defensive players have grumbled quietly following losses that were the offence's fault (the 27-18 loss in B.C. is a prime example), but you won't find anyone on defence lambasting the point-getters, even though the team's 2-7 record is not reflective of their solid play.

"It's frustrating," defensive back Kelly Malveaux said. "I won't say it goes so far as pissing me off. It does frustrate you, but you knew that when you signed up to play football. There are three phases of this game.

"... I just reflect to last year at times, when the defence wasn't carrying their weight. When a team scored 37, the offence would put up 38."

Malveaux said the blame game serves no purpose. Instead, he hinted that it's time everyone in the Bomber locker-room took a real hard look in the mirror and decide whether or not they want to play football for a living.

"We have to be more prideful of what we're doing as professional athletes," he said. "This is a true privilege, to be in a position that we're in, to be able to play this awesome game of football.

"Whether some guys don't take it as serious or look at it as a comfy job or whatever it may be, this is the way I feed my family, and I approach it that way."


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