Bombers looking for more offence

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:55 PM ET

WINNIPEG -- When the six-foot-eight, 295-pound guy suggests you do something, the least you can do (for your physical well-being, anyway) is listen.

Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown had a request following Winnipeg's 13-12 win over the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday at Rogers Centre.

"Here's the media challenge for Week 6 in the CFL: Focus on the positives from this game, which is the defence, which played really well, and not things that you don't think were up to par," Brown said.

"Give the boys some props, man."

OK. The Bombers defence was spectacular. Forced six turnovers (special teams had a seventh). Made Argos quarterback Kerry Joseph wish he was selling insurance in Baton Rouge. Won the game.

There.

Now back to the offence.

The Argos had just taken their first lead on Saturday, early in the fourth quarter, and the struggling Winnipeg O was trying to counter.

Wide receiver Brock Ralph lined up to Michael Bishop's left on second-and-7, started down the field and then moved slightly to his right.

It looked like the beginnings of a post route when Bishop unleashed a bullet towards the Alberta native.

Before the ball even got there, which doesn't take long when Bishop is doing the throwing, the wide-angle view indicated that if Ralph caught it, there was a great chance he was gone.

Unfortunately for Ralph and Bishop, they'll never know what would have happened, as the ball was just slightly ahead of the receiver's wide-open palms.

Punt.

The Bombers still went on to score the much-needed victory, but that one play midway through the fourth quarter showed exactly where the Winnipeg offence is as the CFL season approaches the one-third pole this weekend.

"We're not even functioning marginally yet," head coach and offensive co-ordinator Mike Kelly said yesterday.

"We're simply not good enough right now offensively, but I see too many glimmers of hope to give up and just trash things and try to start all over again.

"I know we're very, very close, and if we can turn into an average to just above average offence, with the way our defence and special teams plays, I think we can be as competitive as anyone."

Bishop, who completed 16 of 30 passes for 213 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the Argos, had four days of practice, a pared-down playbook and second-half jelly legs to contend with at hot and muggy Rogers Centre, so he gets a pass.

Also, Kelly believes more progress is made between the first and second week than any other span in a season.

The next seven days just so happen to be the time between the first and second week of Bishop's season.

"We're in a growth stage," Kelly said.

"So maybe this will be a thing where Michael says, 'OK, now I've got that under my belt, I know where my conditioning is, I'm back to an understanding of game speed.' And hopefully we'll see another step forward."

Leaps and bounds would actually be better, because the Bombers will play the Stampeders in Calgary on Saturday before hosting the Montreal Alouettes on Aug. 15.

The Stampeders, who, like the Bombers, are 2-3, will not be happy hosts after Chris Getzlaf's 65-yard touchdown catch with 1:18 to go on Saturday night gave the Saskatchewan Roughriders a 24-23 win over Calgary at McMahon Stadium.

The Alouettes, meanwhile, are the CFL's best team at 4-1.

The Bomber defence would need to perform miracles to win the next two games on their own, but Kelly has faith.

"They're as good a group as I can remember," he said.

That should make Doug Brown happy.

We hope.

KIRK.PENTON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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