Test driving the Bombers

Bombers defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke said there were a lot of ‘assignment mistakes’ in the last...

Bombers defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke said there were a lot of ‘assignment mistakes’ in the last three games. Pressuring Calvillo and disrupting the receivers are the assignments for the match against the Alouettes. (CHRIS PROCAYLO/QMI Agency)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:39 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Tim Burke doesn’t have a nervous tic, and I haven’t seen the Bomber defensive co-ordinator cross himself or get down on his knees to pray this week.

But geez, this isn’t exactly the way you want to go into a game against the high-flying Montreal Alouettes, with a defence that’s leaking oil in several places.

“Not really,” Burke said, behind a pair of sunglasses on a bright but cool day in the ’Peg, Thursday. “You’d like to be on a roll. On the other hand, it presents a great challenge.

“They’re the best offence in the league, by far. It’s a great challenge for us to go in there and see if we’re as good as we think we are.”

The last three games, Burke’s unit hasn’t been nearly as good as we thought it was.

Although still ranked No. 1 for yardage allowed, Winnipeg’s defensive machine has developed a few rattles, and if you look closely you’ll see blue smoke coming from the tail pipe.

This from the vehicle that seamlessly carried the Bombers through the first eight games.

“I’m not real happy with the way we’ve played the last three games,” Burke said. “I don’t know if that’s been a lack of focus. Especially the last game. I’m very unhappy with how we played that. We had a lot of assignment mistakes... which is very troubling.”

So it’s been back to the machine shop this week.

Saturday, Burke takes the jalopy to Montreal, the fastest track in the land, his first regular season trip there since he left the Alouettes to tinker with his new baby in Winnipeg.

But if trying to throw a wrench into the works of his old employer has him licking his chops — Burke ran Montreal’s defence for three years — he’s not letting on.

What he will freely admit is that he gets a rush from the challenge of putting his creation up against the CFL’s most intimidating combination of speed and power.

Having firsthand knowledge of its inner workings can’t hurt, either.

“He watched them day in and day out,” Bomber receiver Terrence Edwards said.

“So he should have some little nuggets to give our defence to slow them down.”

Burke put the brakes on that idea.

“I know the offensive players inside-out,” he said. “But as far as the scheme goes, it’s the West Coast Offence. And they just run it to perfection.”

After a few early hiccups, the Als are once again humming along like a well-tuned race car.

Put the scope on ’em, and you get the usual readouts: most points scored, most touchdowns, most yards passing, fewest interceptions, best time of possession — the list goes on.

The thing doesn’t run itself, though.

“It’s like a Ferrari,” Burke said. “You gotta put the right fuel in it.”

And the Als are loaded with high-octane stuff, starting with you-know-who behind the wheel.

“He’s always the key,” Burke said of quarterback Anthony Calvillo. “No offence to Marc (Trestman, Als head coach), but they have won Grey Cups with Anthony Calvillo before.”

Not even Calvillo, though, likes to have his wheels bumped.

“That’s the one thing that A.C. struggles with,” Burke said. “He struggles with pressure.”

So that’s Burke’s plan for Sunday. That’s always the plan for a guy who’s never met a blitz he doesn’t like.

“We’re not getting as much rush because people are keeping more guys in to protect,” Burke said. “So we’re either going to have to blitz more or add coverage guys to the pass rush.”

Disrupting Montreal’s receivers is the other plan.

Of course, these things are always the plan when going to Montreal.

All too often when that light turns green, the blue car is quickly eating dust.

The one change, this time: the man who built it.

“If anybody can do it,” Edwards said. “It could be him.”


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