Picture of consistency

TED WYMAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

While watching the Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders shoot the lights out Thursday night in a thrilling offensive display that embodied everything great about the CFL, one couldn't help but feel a pang of jealousy on behalf of Winnipeg football fans.

The paying customers around these parts haven't seen anything like that for quite some time and it doesn't seem likely the Blue Bombers will be involved in any similar displays of firepower any time soon.

Then again, there was that glimmer of hope in the second half of last week's loss to the Stamps. The Bombers piled up the yardage, particularly on the ground, and made a game of it, although judging from the way the Eskimos racked up the yards against the Stamps Thursday, moving the ball against Calgary is not exactly a tall order.

With quarterback Michael Bishop settling into his new role and running backs Fred Reid and Yvenson Bernard finding the holes, the Bombers offence has the potential to be at least competitive, something it couldn't claim through the first five games of the season.

And there's no better opponent for the Bombers to try their luck against than tonight's visitor to Canad Inns Stadium -- the perennially powerful Montreal Alouettes.

Tonight, with the CFL's best team in the house, the Bombers will be hard-pressed to win or even keep it close. But if they can put in a good showing against Anthony Calvillo and company, and even somehow steal two points, it'll go a long way toward turning around what's been a mostly miserable season so far.

The Bombers like to think they are better than they've shown. Now is the time to prove that.

Few people would argue that they have a chance to do some damage the rest of this season if they are 3-4 come Sunday morning and are coming off a win over the best team in the CFL.

Even fewer would argue that they are going nowhere fast if they can't even hold a candle to the class of the East Division, a Montreal team that boasts the league's best offence and defence and is particularly stingy against the run.

"The Montreal franchise has been one to aspire to over the last decade or so," said Bombers head coach Mike Kelly, whose team is lucky to be only two games under .500 so far. "The way they play. They're under control. They don't do anything particularly fancy on either side of the ball. But they line up with great confidence and great precision and they execute. It's kind of a nice thing to watch."

Model franchise

Watch and learn, Mike. Watch and learn.

As inconsistent as the Bombers have been this season and for most of the last two decades, during which they've won but a single Grey Cup (in 1990), the Alouettes have been consistently strong.

Since joining the CFL as the Baltimore Stallions in 1994, the Alouettes franchise has played in eight Grey Cups, won two, posted eight first-place finishes, five second place finishes and two third-place finishes, never missed the playoffs and finished with a losing record just once. In that time they have an overall record of 181-94-1.

"We have to make sure that we continue to try to seperate ourselves from everybody else," said Calvillo, the reigning CFL Most Outstanding Player, who has his team off to a 5-1 start. "At the same time, we appreciate every single win, because they are difficult. We don't take anything for granted."

It's that kind of attitude that keeps the Als on top and if ever there was a team to emulate and measure up to, it's this one.

The Bombers and their football faithful are in desperate need of some affirmation and a strong showing against Montreal would bring it.

"I think we showed progress in the last game, certainly in the second half in the last game," Kelly said. "Progress for us would be to put together a consistent offensive game for the entirety and give our defence an opportunity to rest a little bit."

Better yet, a good old-fashioned shootout like the one we saw Thursday night would be just the ticket to renew the fans hopes and perhaps hold back the attack dogs who are already clamouring for a piece of the outspoken (foot-in-mouthed) Kelly after just six games on the job.

For the sake of the Bombers and their fans, here's hoping it's not a pop gun against a Howitzer.

ted.wyman@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos