No belief in coach Kelly

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

Look at the bright side, Winnipeg. The local paper bag industry will be booming.

With still five home games to go, your Blue Bombers yesterday hit rock-bottom against the rival Saskatchewan Roughriders. At least, we think they did.

Judging by the fans wearing bags over their heads at the stadium -- full marks for coming prepared, folks -- we're not alone.

The biggest game of the year produced the team's most complete collapse -- and if that's not an indictment of head coach Mike Kelly's leadership, I don't know what is.

Continuing to run an offence that looks like it's from the Stone Age, the Bombers were clubbed and dragged off by the hair, 55-10, the final count.

Talk about ruining a perfectly gorgeous late-summer day.

Coming, as it did, on the heels of linebacker Barrin Simpson's trade demand, you're left thinking, "Who can blame the guy?"

Simpson said he wanted out, then everybody else played like it.

We can hardly wait to hear president/CEO Lyle Bauer explain this one.

Bauer went out of his way the last few days to question Simpson's leadership, making sure everyone knew this wasn't the first time the Minister of Defence wanted out (never mind that he didn't explain the circumstances from last year's trade request -- why let the details get in the way of some message control?).

Well, Bauer should turn his attention to the man he hired. That's some culture being developed in that Winnipeg locker-room, eh, Mr. President?

This game, more than any other this season, was a referendum on the rookie head coach.

The players were either going to step over their fallen comrade and get behind Kelly, or they were going to start bailing.

The votes were on full display yesterday, with some 29,000 witnesses, and I'd say it's damn near unanimous.

Not that anybody outright quit. Players have far too much pride for that.

Give them decent direction -- or maybe leave them alone, unhindered by gimmicks -- and they can even play well, at times.

Take the Bomber defence, for example. It did some good things, and how often can you say that after they've given up 50-plus points?

But they, too, know things are hopeless on the other side of the ball. And eventually the weight of it all crushes their spirit.

Brain dead

This offence, entirely Kelly's brain child, is brain dead. Dull as dishwater. As threatening as a clear, blue sky.

Nobody believes in it.

The man behind it quietly passed the play-calling duties to assistant coach Manny Matsakis this week (we presume he didn't want the public to know that, either), but it didn't make a lick of difference.

Just like the white boards and the wristbands and the giant play cards haven't. Just like the four different quarterbacks running it haven't.

Hell, Moses could call these plays and the Winnipeg offence would still be drowning.

Four straight two-and-outs out of the gate yesterday was par for the course. The crowd didn't even stir.

The second quarter, when the Bombers committed turnovers on four straight possessions, was so embarrassing, the boo-birds didn't even know what to do.

In some ways it was fascinating to see which way they'd cough it up next.

I was one of the lucky ones who didn't stick around for the end.

Had to catch a plane.

But the guy beside me at the airport bar gave me all the fan flavour I needed as we took in the fourth quarter on the big screen.

"Last week we got beat," he began. "This week we get our ass kicked. At home. That's worse.

"Somebody's got to be accountable."

I'll drink to that.

Just get me a paper bag, first.

Not sure if I'm going to wear it.

Or hurl into it.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


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