Short celebration for Blue Bombers

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:05 PM ET

Mike Kelly celebrated his first win as a professional head coach by heading over to Earl's, where he settled into a booth on the "quiet side" of the restaurant before munching on some calamari and downing a couple of beers.

Then he tossed and turned all night because his Winnipeg Blue Bombers had given up two touchdowns in the final two minutes of Friday's 42-30 thumping of the Calgary Stampeders.

The moral of the story: Wins are fun, but the room for improvement will always be the focus.

"I guess I've been internalizing things because I had kind of a rumbly stomach all night and didn't really sleep very much, just thinking about how things went," Kelly said yesterday afternoon.

But then he smiled when he relayed the story about the 43 messages that were on his phone when he woke up yesterday morning, not to mention the 20 more calls he got after arriving at his office.

"I had a very nice talk with Damon Allen. He gave me a call," Kelly said. "Some of the guys from the past era recognized some of the things that we were trying to accomplish offensively and got a little bit excited about it, a what-was-old-is-new-again kind of a thing.

"That's very nice when people reach out like that. It's been a variety of people from all over North America, which is very humbling."

And then there was the beer that someone left by his car. Kelly told Shaw's Fabulous Blue Bomber Show earlier in the week that he preferred Corona and Guinness, and yesterday a Bomber staffer found a custom-made six-pack -- three Corona, three Guinness -- in the parking lot.

Huge smile

"My, how things change, huh?" Kelly asked rhetorically, a huge smile taking over his face.

The Derick Armstrong saga created a groundswell of negativity towards the rookie head coach earlier in the week, but strong performances from all three phases of his team on Friday against the defending Grey Cup champs has surely alleviated it -- for now, anyway.

You will not, however, find Kelly, or anyone in the Bomber locker-room, resting on their laurels. The Bombers have a glorious opportunity to go on a little winning streak here, as their next three games are against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Saturday at Ivor Wynne) and the Toronto Argonauts (July 24 at home and Aug. 1 on the road).

The Ticats (1-1) upset the B.C. Lions on Friday night, while the Saskatchewan Roughriders pasted the Argonauts (1-1) in their home-opener yesterday afternoon.

"What we did 24 hours ago doesn't affect what we have to do over the course of this week," Kelly said. "My main concern is making sure that we make improvements every week. I'm not going to let anybody get fat and happy over a win in the second week of July. We have a lot more to accomplish.

"I believe in this team. I've never wavered from that. It's up to myself and the coaching staff now to keep the pedal down and keep these guys focused and get them to realize what can be accomplished if they continue to work."

That kind of coach speak is expected the day following a game, but the way his players were talking after Friday night's victory showed that Kelly has already hammered his message home in the locker-room.

"You never want to start the season 0-2," right guard Kelly Bates said amidst the modest celebration going on around him. "Yeah, they're the defending Grey Cup champions, but it's a long season.

"It's nice to get a win. We're going to enjoy it tonight, and tomorrow we're back at work."

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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