Bombers statistician stumped

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- Steve Daniel looks at the Bombers stats with his analytical mind, and he can't figure out why they're 3-9.

The CFL's statistician has spent plenty of time over the years analyzing football data to determine which good stats result in great teams. The Bombers are good when it comes to those stats, but their record says they aren't great.

One statistical category that good teams usually lead is the average gain on first down. The Bombers are second among the CFL's eight teams.

"Winnipeg, through 12 games, is at 7.4 yards per (first-down) play, which sets up consistently second-and-short a lot of the time," Daniel said. "And teams that are in that situation are in really good shape."

The kicker is the Bombers are almost as strong on second down as they are on first, sporting the third-best percentage of 6.7 yards.

So why isn't it translating into victories? According to Daniel, it's because the Bombers lead the CFL in big plays, which are categorized as anything more than 20-yard passes, 30-yard runs and 40-yard returns.

The Blue and Gold are the big-play kings this year with 39 huge passes and runs, which increases their averages on first and second down.

"For a 3-9 team to have that, that's a problem," Daniel said. "That's too good to have so few wins, especially when second down is also above average."

What's hurting the Bombers is how many times they find themselves in second-and-seven or longer. They have faced second-and-long 61% of the time, which is the third-worst mark in the CFL.

They may have a penchant for big plays, but they can't pull off enough of them to get out of second-and-long situations.

"I hear Paul talk about second-down conversions a lot. He loves to talk about second-and-medium," Daniel said. "Well, the Bombers are in second-and-long 61% of their second-down plays, and Calgary is at 49%."

Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice believes turnover margin is a big factor in a team's record, and his squad is currently sitting at minus-7. That ties them for the third-worst mark in the league.

While Daniel feels the Bombers are better than their record suggests, he believes there are two statistics that are killing them. The first is their league-high total of 15 face mask and roughing the passer penalties.

"They have a quarter of the league's total number of face mask and roughing the passer penalties," Daniel said. "The penalties that really add yards are the defensive ones."

Another negative is where they are their opponent begin their drives. Winnipeg starts at its own 34, the deepest point in the league, while their opponents start on the 38, which ties for the best mark in the loop.

"Those numbers look small," Daniel said, "but when you extrapolate that out over 190 possessions it adds up fast."


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