Piercing scrutiny

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:35 AM ET

WINNIPEG - The price of Swaggerville stock has taken a bit of a dip in recent weeks, but the Bomber defence remains the class of the CFL.

The Winnipeg offence, meanwhile, is not. Far from it, in fact. That’s why we put offensive co-ordinator Jamie Barresi on the hot seat on a cool Thursday afternoon to get down to the nitty gritty of what’s wrong as the Bombers (7-3) head into a first-place showdown with the Montreal Alouettes (6-4) on Sunday at Molson Stadium.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Barresi said. “There’s things that improve every week.”

The Bombers reside in the basement in many offensive statistical categories, as you can see by the graphic. The one that bothers Barresi the most are the 11 interceptions thrown by Buck Pierce and the one by Alex Brink.

Pierce threw five in Sunday’s 45-23 Banjo Bowl loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, which not coincidentally was Winnipeg’s worst setback of the season.

“Up until this game, Buck went two games in a row without an interception,” Barresi said. “And the biggest thing we always look at is the giveaway/takeaway ratio. That’s not acceptable to do that. That makes us look like we don’t know what we’re doing.

“When you throw it away that many times, you’re going to have a real struggle to win.”

Another bane of Winnipeg’s existence this year has been its running game, which is averaging a paltry 4.5 yards per carry. Interestingly, Barresi put some of the responsibility for that on Pierce’s shoulders.

“We’re putting more of an emphasis on maybe the back end, meaning the quarterback, and what he has to do and his responsibility on it,” Barresi said. “That means his line of scrimmage operation has gotta be — and he’s been good — but we’re just emphasizing it a little bit more and trying to make it better.

“We think Fred (Reid) has done a good job with it. We do have some things up front that we think we need to improve on, in terms of getting push.”

It appears the offensive line will remain the same for Sunday’s game in Montreal, although Barresi said they are “challenging some guys” this week.

Other key statistics Barresi looks at when analyzing his offence are penalties and time of possession. The Bombers are extremely disciplined on offence, and their time of possession is second only to the Alouettes. Strangely, though, they lead the league in two-and-outs. Barresi attributes some of that to having fourth-quarter leads and their opponents knowing they’re going to run the ball.

“I can’t say that’s the only answer for the two-and-outs, because we are taking shots down the field,” Barresi said.

The bottom line is the Bombers are a timely and big-play offence, a category in which they lead the league. No team has thrown the ball fewer times than the Bombers, yet they and the Edmonton Eskimos both have 17 plays passing plays of 30 yards or more.

If there’s good news for the Bombers on that front, it’s that only one other team has allowed more deep passes than Montreal this season. In addition, Barresi expects Pierce to bounce back after his worst career outing.

“I know he’ll be back much better,” Barresi said, “and he’ll do a better job of that.”

WOE IS THE O

A look at 21 offensive categories and where the Bombers rank among the league’s eight teams in all of them:

First

Penalties, 22

Big plays, 22

Turnovers downs, 2

Second

Time of poss., 31:20

Fumbles lost, 6

Third

Avg pass on 1D, 8.3

Comp. %, 63.7

Fourth

None

Fifth

Avg. gain/pass, 8.1

Sixth

Red zone TD %, 48

Seventh

Net offence, 334.9

Avg. gain/rush, 4.5

Fewest passes intercepted, 12

Fewest sacks, 24

Touchdowns, 19

Passing TDs, 12

2D conversions, 41.2

Avg run on 1D, 4.5

Eighth

Rushing TDs, 7

First downs, 178

Two-and-outs, 79

Avg gain on 1D, 6.2


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