The Winnipeg Blue Bombers do not control their destiny. No one does. Destiny happens no matter what you do.
What the Blue and Gold do control is their situation. They do not need any help to finish first in the CFLís East Division. If they win their remaining five games, they will host the East final at Canad Inns Stadium on Nov. 20.
They have plenty of work to do for that to happen, though. Here are five things the Bombers must do to win their five remaining games.
1. Hold. On. To. The. Ball.
Winnipeg turned the ball over 10 times in its first eight games, which is truly amazing. In fact, it was unrealistic to expect a similar pace over the course of a whole season.
Despite that, thereís no excuse for coughing the ball up a whopping 20 times in the last five games. Wait a sec. Werenít the Bombers 7-1 in their first eight games? Arenít they 1-4 in their last five?
Perhaps itís time to take a page from the movie The Program, and have members of the Bomber offence carry a football with them everywhere they go this week. Then tell all citizens of Manitoba to try to knock the ball out of their hands if they see them at the grocery store or walking down the street.
2. Shore up the offensive line
This will lead to Buck Pierce staying healthy, which is 2A when it comes to their keys to success. The defence is going to be solid, so a healthy quarterback and a decent running game are crucial for the stretch drive.
If the coaching staff was going to make a change on the O-line it probably would have done it by now, but maybe it will this week after Friday nightís debacle on the one-yard line.
3. Let Jovon Johnson return punts again
He leads the league with six interceptions, so heís earned the right to go back to double duty. Tim Brown has speed, but not the savvy Johnson does to find the holes.
The Bombers are dead last ó by a mile ó in net punt and kickoff returning, and itís killing them in the field position battle. They canít expect improvement by changing the 11 blockers, so switch the returner. Thereís nothing to lose.
4. Get Odell Willis angry
Or something like that. Bombers GM Joe Mack believes quarterback and defensive end are the two most important positions on the field, and there simply hasnít been enough pressure on the opposing pivot lately.
The Bombers had 29 sacks in their first seven games, but they have mustered only 12 in their last six. Of course teams are focusing on Willis more after his torrid start, but he and defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke need to find a way to get him to the quarterback more often.
It might also be time to put Jason Vega back at the other defensive end spot, which has generated just one sack since mid-August.
5. Figure out whatís wrong with Terrence Edwards
Yes, heís sixth in CFL receiving with 858 yards. Yes, heís going to hit 1,000 yards again. Yes, he has eight touchdown catches, which is tied for second in the league.
But twice in the last two weeks the veteran pass catcher has fumbled at key moments in the game, and he seems remarkably frustrated with the officials every time someone lays a finger on him. He needs to show more poise for the young receiving corps.
Edwards is nursing a lingering injury of some kind that often keeps him out of practice. If heís not healthy, sit him for a week and let him be at his best for the stretch drive.