Numbers reveal Bombers' woes

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:46 AM ET

WINNIPEG - He designed it, he calls the plays for it and this week he’s defending it.

Blue Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice Wednesday rushed to the defence of his struggling offence in the wake of a Labour Day Classic loss that saw his team held without a touchdown and score a season-low seven points.

In losing to Saskatchewan, 27-7, the Bombers failed to reach the 300-yard mark for the fourth time this season.

“Montreal’s got one of the most consistent offences in the league and Calgary’s got one of the most, and both those teams really struggled this weekend,” LaPolice said. “So I don’t think us and those two teams are going to throw out their offences. We faced a pretty damn good Hamilton defence twice this year, a pretty good B.C. Lions defence twice this year. We’re getting better each week offensively.”

The stats don’t bear that out.

Winnipeg’s running game, in particular, has been ineffective, showing no sign of improvement. It managed just 57 yards in Saskatchewan, 35 by running back Fred Reid.

“Fred is the second leading rusher in the league,” LaPolice countered, not realizing Reid had dropped to third among the CFL’s backs, behind Montreal’s Brandon Whitaker and Avon Cobourne of Hamilton. “We went against Wes Cates who averaged the exact same amount of yards as Fred did (2.5 yards per carry). Joffrey Reynolds (Calgary) and that crew hasn’t had a 100-yard game this year. League-wide, people are trying to stop the run this year.”

LaPolice acknowledged the Bombers need to run the ball more effectively on second-and-short, and will be working on that this week.

“We two-and-outed a little in that game, and you can’t do that,” he said. “We have to throw the ball more on first-and-10 to make sure we keep people honest. It’s not just Fred Reid, it’s the offensive line, it’s everybody. It’s the play calls. It’s a collective thing. We’ll keep doing it. Fred’s a good back, and we’ll be better.”

While Reid is among the league’s leading rushers, his season average, a paltry 3.9 yards per carry, isn’t.

With a career average of 6.3 yards over his first four seasons, it’s a number he never envisioned.

“Nah. But I’ll get it up,” Reid said. “It is what it is. I just gotta keep comin’ out, workin’ hard and just get better. It’s not a trend. We’re close. We’ve been close every week. It may not seem like that, but we know we’re getting close.”

At times it seems Reid has lost a step, at times it appears there are no holes for him to run through.

“We’re makin’ holes,” the 29-year-old said. “Yeah, there’s definitely holes.”

Overall, the Winnipeg offence ranks second-last in yardage, better only than Toronto. But there likely won’t be personnel changes for Sunday’s sold out Banjo Bowl.

“We need to let these guys play together, and Buck (Pierce) to get comfortable,” LaPolice said of his quarterback. “We’ve got a good unit, here, We just have to keep coaching them and letting them play together.

“Offence takes reps and rhythm.”


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