WINNIPEG - I hear Paul LaPolice is giving his troops some extra time off in advance of the East Final in just under two weeks.
A reward for what — finishing the regular season with a bang?
The Blue Bombers finished it with a bang, all right. A bang right out of an SCTV script.
They blowed up, reeeeeal good.
After looking like the team to beat in the CFL East for the first half of the season, Coach LaPo’s boys were just that in the second half.
If there was a book on what to do with a 7-1 start, the Bombers just rewrote it.
Now they should burn it.
This might be the ugliest 10-win season in league history.
Three wins in their last 10? That’s the same torrid pace the Toronto Argonauts managed going into the playoffs. One less win than the lowly Riders managed in their last 10.
Anybody still doubt this was the worst 7-1 team, ever?
“In the first eight, nine games, I bet we shocked a lot of people,” quarterback Buck Pierce said. “We came out fast, we played with an intensity that every game we were going to win. Over this stretch we’ve lost a bit of that consistency in all three phases.”
The good news is the entire East Division is a dog’s breakfast of dysfunction.
The three playoff teams enter the post-season on a combined 0-for-6 stumble, one of them conflicted about who should be its starting quarterback, two of them questioning their head coach — and the just-happy-to-be-here Bombers coming up the middle, smelling like roses after rolling in turds since Labour Day.
They fooled us, the Bombers did. Won what we thought were big games in Hamilton and Montreal down the stretch.
Looking at those two teams now, those weren’t superhuman accomplishments at all.
All snugly curled up in the mediocrity blanket of third place for weeks, the Ticats have shown all the pride of a feline that just came face-to-rear-end with a skunk.
Then there’s Montreal, that bastion of consistency that limped into B.C. Saturday and left with its limbs ripped off, after which linebacker Diamond Ferri announced they’d been out-coached.
Als head coach Marc Trestman’s response to this latest sign of mutiny: it’s just Diamond being Diamond.
Here in the ’Peg, everybody still loves the head coach and there shouldn’t be a split over quarterback loyalties, not when you look at the records of starter Buck Pierce and erstwhile No. 3 Alex Brink.
Pierce plays ugly and barely wins, Brink plays ugly and barely loses.
Meanwhile, out West, they seem to be growing quarterbacks of the future, Calgary turning up a guy named Drew Tate, B.C. looking like world beaters behind Travis Lulay.
Extra days off?
Seems to me Coach LaPo should be putting the players through some extra work, instead.
You know, maybe address a passing attack that produced fewer yards and interceptions than only the Argos this season, and that tied with the Eskimos for the most sacks allowed.
Seems like the Bomber attack has two outcomes: two-and-out or big play. And opponents have figured out the big play.
Perhaps the Bombers could address some of the little things they do wrong — like take more penalties than any team in the league.
Maybe they could work on their mental game, considering they’ve started their last two games about as ready to play as a guard dog that hasn’t eaten in a week.
“We’re a team that grinds games out... a team of mentally tough people that gets through those situations,” Pierce said. “We bounced back from 24 down just like that in that game. Our team is what it is. We like what we do.”
Lately, so do their opponents.