Blue reboot begins

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:09 PM ET

TORONTO -- Take two.

The original 2009 plan laid out by head coach Mike Kelly, the one where quarterback Stefan LeFors improves throughout the year and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers end up winning the Grey Cup, is no longer active.

Kelly's new strategy, the one where experienced CFL pivot Michael Bishop comes in and saves the day, is now on the table.

The reboot officially begins today when the Bombers (1-3) battle the Toronto Argonauts (2-2) at Rogers Centre (noon, TSN).

While the situation may appear dire for the Blue and Gold and their boosters, the interesting part is this: The Bombers hosted a playoff game last November, and right now they're ahead of where they were at this point last summer.

"The thing about (starting) 2-8 and making the playoffs last year is you recognize it's not time to hit the panic button," defensive tackle Doug Brown said.

"But at the same time that was a miserable frickin' experience, and there needs to be a sense of urgency about what we're doing now. Because digging ourselves out of that hole that we never quite made it out of last year was not an enjoyable pursuit."

Kelly, despite the stress and disappointment he must be feeling after his original plan crashed and burned, was his usual self yesterday during his pre-game press conference at the team hotel in the shadow of the CN Tower.

'14 games left'

He cracked jokes. He tossed playful barbs at the media. He spoke in calm, measured tones. It was almost as if there is absolutely nothing wrong with his football team.

Kelly also acknowledged that it's the first of August and that there is plenty of time for a fresh start like the one the Bombers orchestrated this week when they signed Bishop and made him their new No. 1 pivot.

"There's 14 games left," Kelly said. "In '92 we were 6-7 after Edmonton absolutely annihilated us at Commonwealth, and then we put Danny McManus in and he won five in a row. Calgary last year started 2-3. I believe they were 5-4 at mid-season and went on a run.

"There's a lot of football yet to be played this year. Everybody was anointing Montreal 48 hours ago (before their 33-19 loss to Edmonton). What are you doing now? That's how this season is going to be."

Bishop is the new man at controls after the LeFors-led offence mustered only one first down in the first half of last week's 19-5 loss to the Argos. He was signed on Sunday and will make his 37th career CFL start this afternoon against the team that employed him between 2002 and 2008.

"(Today) is an opportunity to go out there and showcase, so I'm definitely looking forward to it," Bishop said. "I know a lot about Toronto's defence and the guys that play on that defence."

The guys on that defence know a lot about Bishop, too, and they're not sure how much he's going to know after just four days of practice with the Blue and Gold.

"He needs to make sure that he watched some film and make sure that he's ready to go, because this is Week 5 for us," linebacker Kevin Eiben said. "This is only Week 1 for him."

It's opening week not only for Bishop, but for the Bombers as well.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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