Apologies all around after loss

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

It was an apologetic weekend for Winnipeg.

First, Blue Bombers defensive end Odell Willis was admonished for taking even more ill-advised penalties than usual during Winnipeg’s 16-13 overtime loss to the Eskimos in Edmonton on Saturday.

Willis was flagged five times for 55 yards — three for rough play.

“I had a long conversation with him today about making good decisions and what he has to do,” Bomber head Paul LaPolice said Monday.

“When a facemask happens, you can’t say too much about that. (But) we’ve drilled too much about not taking any steps and touching the quarterback. That’s what bothered me the most and why I took him out (of the game briefly). He’s got to be accountable to his teammates and everyone else.”

Willis was contrite.

“He said, ‘I wasn’t thinking. I’ll be better. I’ll be more focused on that situation,’” LaPolice said.

But Willis, who now has 22 penalties in 16 games, will still suit up when Winnipeg plays host to the Calgary Stampeders in the final game of a nightmare season Friday.

“Yeah, because I think he’s one of the premier defensive ends in the league,” LaPolice said. “He has to get better just like everyone else but … I told him today, ‘If you get selfish, if you get several (unnecessary roughness) penalties again, I can’t play guys who continue to do that.’ ”

S-SORRY:Secondly, CFL director of officiating Tom Higgins called LaPolice on Sunday to apologize for yet another screw-up by his officials. The Bombers were flagged for a time-count violation towards the end of regulation despite the fact that the officials actually forgot to start the game clock after a quarterback sack.

The Bombers were about to attempt a field goal but planned to let the game clock run down, then call a timeout.

“The umpire never got over the ball, they never clocked it back in and then the 20-second clock went off, but the game clock didn’t,” LaPolice said. “The clock continued to run and that’s what caught us, and I complained. I was trying to get clarification and one of the officials said, ‘We made a mistake so let’s move on,’ which we continued to do. Tom said they made a mistake … That happens, I guess.”

It seemed no one else on the Bomber sidelines noticed that the game clock continued to run. But the Bombers kicked the tying field goal anyway.

CORRECTION: LaPolice also took exception to the suggestion made by yours truly that Winnipeg’s third-down gambles are an adventure and that they seldom use all-star tailback Fred Reid in those situations. In fact, they have converted 13 of 16 quarterback sneaks for an 81% success rate on third and short after going one-for-three in Edmonton. Reid was 2-for-2 and FB Andre Sadeghian was 0-for-1.

SO LONG: The Bombers are mourning the loss of former club president and all-around good guy Bruce Robinson, who died in Edmonton on Sunday. He was 65.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos