Sloppy defence kills

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

As much as Saturday night's loss to the Montreal Alouettes was a complete team collapse, the most disturbing development was the play of the Winnipeg defence.

With the continuing instability at quarterback, you can expect a 20-year-old offensive scheme to struggle and sometimes completely malfunction.

But the Blue Bombers were playing solid defence until the first half of the previous week's game against Calgary. They rebounded in the second half but reverted to looking like a junior squad, at times, on Saturday.

The Als immediately converted turnovers into majors when holding them to field goals would have been the type of in-game victory that could have sparked an inept offence.

"That was our Achilles heel," linebacker Barrin Simpson said yesterday. "We gave up three fast touchdowns in the second quarter, which hurt us and let them get ahead of us a bit. We can't do that. We've got to keep us in the game and let the offence go to work. We've got to be good defensively."

The defence surrendered a season-high 39 points, with 24 of those coming off turnovers.

"We did a lot of good things," said Simpson, a.k.a The Minister of Defence. "Just about all of their scoring came off four plays so defensively, we gave up four big plays.

"Normally, we're good with sudden change. In that game, we weren't good with sudden change. We played well defensively but we've got some things we've got to correct."

The shoddiest defensive play of the game came when Montreal wide receiver Kerry Watkins took an intermediate pass and turned it into a 71-yard touchdown because three defenders failed to tackle him, namely Jonathan Hefney, Lenny Walls and Ian Logan.

"It is unacceptable," Bomber head coach Mike Kelly said. "We gave up a 71-yard touchdown where three pretty good football players missed their tackles."

Both Simpson and fellow linebacker Ike Charlton almost caught Watkins at the goalline.

"Where's all the other guys?" Kelly asked aloud. "Where were they? You got two guys that are really hustling down there to try to make something happen.

"Like I said, it's back to basics."

What was even worse is that Montreal head coach Marc Trestman rubbed Winnipeg's nose in it when he passed on an easy field goal to gamble on third and four at the Bomber 25 in the first quarter. Quarterback Anthony Calvillo then completed an easy 11-yard pass to Watkins. Simpson, however, did not complain.

Two plays later, Calvillo completed a 14-yard TD toss to a wide-open S.J. Green for the major that gave the Als a 10-3 lead and they never looked back.

The Watkins TD came on the very next Montreal series, giving the Als what proved to be an insurmountable 17-6 lead.

"We can't afford to play sloppily," Kelly said. "We have to play well and we broke down a couple of times. You can twist it anyway you want but I still feel that offensively, we keep the defence on the field too long. Until we get that corrected, those kinds of plays, unfortunately, are going to happen."

The defence, it seems, has been off-kilter since losing linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz to injury, and he will not be back this week.

"It's one thing when you're just a bad team," said Bomber defensive tackle Doug Brown. "It's another thing when you're just not executing."


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