July 18, 2012
Poor O line play pulling Bombers down
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - It says something about your team when the best block thrown for your quarterback comes from a media relations staffer.
In case you hadn’t heard, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers violated CFL rules and banned the media from entering their locker-room after last Friday’s debacle in Edmonton.
Seems somebody wanted to protect injured quarterback Buck Pierce from the prying eyes of the public, regulations be damned.
If the Bombers were that determined to protect their pivots on the field, they likely wouldn’t be looking at a season on the Brink.
Unless No. 2 passer Alex Brink or third-stringer Joey Elliott can survive long enough to produce a win in Toronto Wednesday, the defending East Division champs will limp home with a fast-approaching expiry date hanging from their necks.
No, 0-4 in July isn’t an automatic ticket to the November cellar, as the B.C. Lions proved a year ago.
But if this group thinks it can duplicate the Lions’ feat, it’s as delusional as it is pitiful.
Through three games the new Bomber offence has all the punch of American beer, while the once-formidable defence is handing out more yards of real estate than Reimer Soils.
Other than that, everything’s hunky-dory in the land of Joe Mack and Coach LaPo, the GM/head coach duo who were rewarded with off-season contract extensions.
Usually that’s reward for a job well done.
In Winnipeg, it’s what you have when your team has won four of its last 15 meaningful games.
OK, one of them got the Bombers to the Grey Cup last fall. Bravo.
But 3-7 down the back stretch of the 2011 regular season has spawned 0-3 this year, a trend nearly as disturbing as Justin Bieber.
One of the team’s elder statesmen acknowledges he was embarrassed by what happened in Edmonton.
“The first two games, I don’t accept losing, but I saw some good things,” receiver Terrence Edwards said. “Last week it was just a travesty the way we played. Very embarrassing. We gotta correct it... or we’ll have a long season and be home early.”
Even the nice-guy head coach seems to realize this thing is teetering.
“He was fiery,” Edwards said. “He came in this week and let us have it. And deservedly so. He let us know, ‘Either you get it done or we’ll go find somebody else to do it.’ ”
Trouble is, part of the problem is a lack of cohesion due to too many changes, some forced by injury.
This was supposed to be a young contender on the way up, ready for a stint atop the league’s ugly-duckling division.
Instead it’s just ugly.
Everybody knows you start building a team up front. Win the lines of scrimmage and there’s a good chance you’ll win the game.
But Mack somehow got caught by surprise last winter, losing all-star guard Brendon LaBatte to free agency and not having a good backup plan.
Then they basically pushed centre Obby Khan into retirement, only to find the people waiting in the wings aren’t quite ready.
Maybe Mack was so proud of getting his three quarterbacks re-signed, he wanted to make sure they all got playing time.
Well, they’re going to get it.
Before you go pinning it all on the brittleness of Pierce, don’t forget Brink suffered a concussion last week, too. And a separated non-throwing shoulder last year, along with a broken collar bone in 2010. Elliott tore his ACL a year ago.
Sure, some of those were freak accidents. But that’s still a pretty lousy record for protecting the biggest investments on the team.
As Week 4 arrives, I’m reminded of Edwards’ argument following the inept display by the offence, Week 1.
“It’s not panic time,” Edwards said. “If this continues week by week, then yes. But we need to find something else to talk about.”
So far, they haven’t given us anything.
And they won’t until their quarterbacks can stay in one piece.