Put up or shut up

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

The extended training camp is over now.

With new quarterback Michael Bishop at the helm, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have proven that they can offer some semblance of an offence, even if the play-calling is still sometimes suspect.

The defence had already proven what it could do and the kick cover teams have been solid.

With new head coach Mike Kelly, there was a period of grace despite some of the antics in the early going. But now is the time for the 2-4 Bombers to put up or shut up.

"It's just getting old out here," Winnipeg defensive tackle Doug Brown said after Saturday's 31-23 loss to the Stampeders in Calgary. "We're 2-and-4 and we need to (expletive deleted) get it together ASAP if we want to stay in contention for anything this year.

"The excuses are out now. We know how the defence can play and we know what the offence is capable of. So the excuses are out the window for the rest of the season because we know what we're capable of. There's no scapegoats, there's no reasons or rhyme for it not happening."

Until Saturday, the defence had carried its load but showed signs of being spent in the first half as the Stamps built a 13-0 lead before the offence had a chance to do anything.

But once that offence did get going, Bishop led it to a gritty comeback that still fell short because the Bombers only played half a game.

The Bombers out-scored the reigning Grey Cup champs 20-8 in the second half, out-gaining them 360-127 over the final two quarters.

"I think we ended up with more total yards but the bottom line is points and we didn't score enough points," Kelly said. "Until we can get to the point where we are putting the ball in the endzone in some type of regular fashion, then we're going to be standing here saying, 'Boy, that was a good effort.' But that's not what this is about.

"Yeah, we probably took some steps towards improvement. But until we can put four quarters together, then it's going to be a frustrating year."

FRUSTRATING

Don't look now but it has already been a frustrating season. Winnipeg is tied for last in the East with the Toronto Argonauts at 2-4 and already in a three-way race for the cross-over playoff spot with B.C.

What's more is that Kelly has said he blew up last year's squad because its 8-10 finish just wasn't good enough. Well, the Bombers need to go 6-6 over the rest of the season just to finish 8-10 and that might not even be good enough to make post-season play.

Maybe Saturday's second-half comeback was a moral victory of sorts. But you can talk about character and their admirable never-say-die attitude until you're Blue in the face but the bottom line is wins. In fact, we used to hear that same mantra about the Hamilton Tiger-Cats when they were the lovable losers of the CFL.

"The whole thing in the Canadian Football League is to have each other's back and play off each other in all four quarters," Brown said. "We need to put a cohesive effort together across the board. It's still early in the season and I still think we have potential if we can do that."

But the time for talking about potential is over and it is time to live up to it.

It won't happen if the defence does not play as well as it can. It won't happen if the coaches cannot learn better clock management in the waning moments. It won't happen if the offence stinks for the first half of games.

The Bombers are no threat to win the Grey Cup this year, at the moment, but if the stars align, they could become a contender. Right now, they need to improve just to become pretenders.


Videos

Photos