Deja vu for Bombers

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

Remember the Blue Bombers' Alamo?

Remember the Blink Barter? The Canada Conundrum?

Yes, with a laughable 2-5 record thus far, this certainly does feel like deja vu all over again.

Last season, the Bombers needed to win their last CFL game before their bye week just to be 2-6. Winnipeg needs to beat the Lions in B.C. this week to go into next week's bye at 3-5. Otherwise, they will be 2-6 again, despite a new coaching regime and an almost completely revamped team.

If the playoffs started today, the Bombers would be watching and the Bomber faithful are restless yet again.

"Yeah, it's kind of similar," veteran Bomber long snapper Chris Cvetkovic conceded yesterday. "But it's not a deja vu of last year because I like to think this team is better than the one we had last year.

"It's just a question of us beating the clock right now because we're running out of time, obviously. It's a close race this early in the year but we definitely have to turn it around. We have the right people right here to do it."

The Bombers turned their 2-8 season around after trading tailback Charles Roberts, the club's all-time leading rusher, and giving the workload to Fred Reid, trying to trade defensive end Tom Canada but still ending up with linebacker Zeke Moreno, signing defensive end Kai Ellis, and handing the entire offence to veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn.

Moreno, Ellis and, most importantly, Glenn, are gone now.

"We were 2-8 last year but I thought we fixed all that," said Winnipeg defensive end Gavin Walls. "I don't want to go 2-8 two years in a row. You're digging out of a hole, and you're playing so hard. You're fighting through pain. All these nicks and bruises, you're fighting through it just to have a winning record, and when it don't happen and you're hurting physically and hurting mentally, it's just frustrating."

But Reid is confident that the team can repeat its second-half resurgence this year.

"There's no doubt about it that we can do it again this year," said Reid, currently the CFL's leading rusher. "We've got the talent that can do that, if we stay together as a team.

"It's still early. We've got a week off next week. Everybody will go home and get their heads right and put a great second half together down the stretch. We've got six home games left, and I think we'll be OK."

The Bombers struggled so badly on offence early last season that Glenn was actually benched and the defence suffered a serious blow when it lost linebacker Barrin Simpson to injury for the season.

But with the addition of linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz and a much-improved secondary, the Bombers are fielding a better defensive dozen these days.

"We're a way better football team, talent-wise, than we were last year, and last year, we turned it around and finished at 8-10," Simpson said. "We believe in one another like none of the other teams that I've been on. We believe we can get it done."

However, the offence that has replaced most of its personnel is even more anemic this season.

"There's a lot of aspects of our football team that are playing well enough to win, but there's one or two aspects that just need to be addressed," said Bomber head coach Mike Kelly. "We don't need to blow anything up. We need to keep our heads level and attack the things that we see are problems."


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