No reason for Blue to celebrate

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:22 AM ET

If there’s one thing we already know about Paul LaPolice, it’s that he brings new meaning to the term “low key.”

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers boss celebrated his first victory as a pro head coach on Friday night by going home and watching part of the 49-29 demolition of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on his PVR. He then got up on Saturday morning, came into the office, and watched the whole thing.

Does this guy know how to party or what!

Actually, he probably does know how to whoop it up. It’s just that he’s not going to get overly excited about one win in an 18-game season. LaPolice said there’s plenty of room for improvement.

“There’s a lot of things we need to do, execution-wise, better,” he said Saturday afternoon.

LaPolice wants his team to be humble, and that’s exactly how they were all acting in the upbeat — but not exuberant — Bomber locker-room after the victory.

“We just gotta continue to work each week. We haven’t done nothing,” said slotback Terrence Edwards, who had a career-high 191 receiving yards and two touchdowns against the Tabbies. “We got one win. We just gotta continue to work and get better, and we could be pretty good.”

The Bombers, who are alone in first place in the East Division, will host the Toronto Argonauts on Friday night. The Boatmen have lost nine consecutive regular season games dating back to last season.

LaPolice can talk about needing to get better and not be wrong; special teams surrendered two touchdowns, Alexis Serna struggled on field-goal attempts thanks to poor snaps and holds, there were two fumbles, and they allowed four sacks.

On the other hand, there is plenty to be positive about. The offence, under the guidance of new quarterback Buck Pierce, racked up 472 net yards. That included five “big plays,” which are carries, catches and kick returns of 20, 30 and 40 yards, respectively.

Last season the Bombers had a grand total of seven “big plays” in their first four games, including returns.

Winnipeg also had 211 yards on the ground on Friday night, a number it reached only twice last season.

Defensively, the highlight was six sacks and a mere 56 yards of offence allowed in the first half. The last time the Bombers had half a dozen quarterback drops was three years ago, in September 2007, also against the Ticats.

“I love playing around these young, talented guys,” said veteran defensive tackle Doug Brown, who registered his 45th career sack on Friday night.

LaPolice singled out Mike Renaud’s punting on special teams, noting his whopping 60.4-yard average was 15 yards better than his counterpart Justin Palardy, who also had one blocked that ended up as a Winnipeg touchdown.

And then there was the resiliency, which was required after the Bombers gave up a touchdown on the first play of the season — a 93-yard kickoff return by Marcus Thigpen.

Centre Obby Khan attributed that to the coaching staff’s low-key, no-panic approach, which starts with you-know-who.

“Numerous times in the game we faced adversity,” Khan said. “We had a lot of two-and-outs, we had a couple sacks, and it didn’t faze us. We’d come off, and it was just a calm sense on the sideline, where it’s like, ‘Hey, it’s OK. Let’s talk about what happened, let’s regroup, and let’s go back out there.’

“That’s what you need as a player when you come off. You need that positivity, that coaching on the sideline, and it’s great. The whole game was just a good feeling for us.”

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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