Blue Bombers defence play worst game in 7 years

Anthony Calvillo and company piled up 551 yards of net offence Friday, the most given up by...

Anthony Calvillo and company piled up 551 yards of net offence Friday, the most given up by Winnipeg's defence in almost seven years. (OLIVIER JEAN/Reuters)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:39 PM ET

WINNIPEG - If you’re a Bomber fan who likes to worry, the defence on Friday night gave you 551 reasons to start chewing your fingernails.

That’s how many net yards of offence Winnipeg surrendered to Anthony Calvillo, Brandon Whitaker and the Montreal offence in its 41-30 loss at Molson Stadium. The last time the Bombers allowed that many yards was nearly seven years ago.

Yes, you read that correctly. Seven years. As in 2005, which also happened to be the year the Bombers had the worst defence in CFL history. Not coincidentally, their previous worst defensive showing also happened in Montreal, as the Bombers allowed 613 yards of net offence to Calvillo and the Alouettes on Sept. 25, 2005.

So the Bombers are 0-2, they’re coming off their worst defensive performance in a long, long time, and they play their next two games on the road, the second only five days after the first.

Gulp.

The Bomber linebackers were mostly invisible against the pass on Friday night. Whitaker, the running back who finished with 235 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, had a field day against middle linebackers Pierre-Luc Labbe and Henoc Muamba, and weak-side starter Dustin Doe, who is filling in for the injured Marcellus Bowman.

The pass rushers didn’t put any pressure on the 39-year-old Calvillo, but he is renowned for getting rid of the ball quickly.

Calvillo is also a great quarterback. And after several solid performances against him over the last couple of years, the Bomber defence is allowed a stinker now and again. The only problem with Friday’s defensive debacle is the timing. It’s the second game of the season, and there are several key new parts. Coincidence? Probably not.

Doug Brown is out. Brandon Collier, who didn’t have a single stat on Friday, is in.

Joe Lobendahn is out. Labbe and Muamba are in and still getting used to the position.

Odell Willis is out, and Alex Hall, who took two offside penalties on Friday night, is in.

Clint Kent is out, and Johnny Sears, who took a bad offside penalty on a second-and-one stuff in the first quarter, is a starter as a result.

Bowman’s injury absence stings as well.

Like the entire team, the defence is young. Veteran halfback Jonathan Hefney said “hopefully there’s not a growing period, because we can’t afford one.” He also chalked up Friday’s beatdown to “communication errors” and facing a pretty darn good quarterback in Calvillo.

“We didn’t do the proper things on defence, switching off, and we didn’t rally to the ball,” Hefney said. “As a defensive whole, we let the running back get loose. They had it going towards the end, and it showed up in the score.

“… There’s a reason why he’s the passing leader of all time. He can gun it, he can get it out real fast, and that’s what he did today. Hopefully the next time when we play them, which is in a couple weeks, we’re gonna try to slow it down.”

Hefney may not want a growing period, but that’s where the Bombers are about to endure — in every phase of the game.


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