Still too many mistakes, says Bombers' LaPoliceBlue hardly jumping for joy despite first win
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Jovon Johnson (L) and Henoc Muamba chase the football after Jake Thomas (R) forced Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Steven Jyles to fumble in the final minute of Thursday's 23-22 Bombers win. (FRED GREENSLADE/Reuters)
Paul LaPolice is either a Bomber historian or he simply witnessed what happened on the field Thursday night at Canad Inns Stadium.
On Friday afternoon, just 12 hours after his team won its first game of the season in five starts, the Bombers head coach looked about as excited as someone getting audited.
LaPolice said there is still plenty of work to do in the wake of Winnipeg’s 23-22 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos in its home-opener.
The Bombers are 1-4, and they are far from where they need to be if they’re going to be a playoff team.
The home side caught a big break in the final minute when Eskimos quarterback Steven Jyles fumbled the ball deep in Winnipeg territory, thanks to the hard work and determination of rookie defensive tackle Jake Thomas, who punched the ball loose.
Had Jyles held on to the pigskin the Bombers would be 0-5 right now, and LaPolice knows it.
“There’s certainly a lot of work to be done,” he said Friday. “It’s a game of inches. You’re so close to them holding the ball and kicking a field goal, but our players played and fought hard all game.”
While there were plenty of positive signs for the Blue and Gold on Thursday night, the list of mistakes was a long one, and that’s what LaPolice focused on Friday without much prodding.
The defence badly blew assignments on Edmonton’s two touchdown passes, they gave up a first down on third-and-10 just before Jyles fumbled, and they had to take a timeout late in the contest because they weren’t sure which players were supposed to be on the field.
A member of the punt cover team went right when he was supposed to go left.
“I don’t know how those things happen,” LaPolice said.
This young team is still learning, and it’s not going to happen overnight. That’s probably why LaPolice sounded Friday like someone who couldn’t wait to go coach up his troops.
He noted he has to keep reminding the new guys that the punter can recover his own kick, which happened when Burke Dales shanked a boot in the first half, and he hopes Demond Washington remembers next time that he can get back up if he goes down on the turf without being touched by an opponent.
“We need to take that next step,” LaPolice said. “I maybe hit it in training camp, but these are things I have to keep (teaching) with these guys.”
As for the history lesson LaPolice may or may not be aware of, it’s this: Of the previous six times the Bombers have started a season 0-4 and won their fifth game, they failed to win their sixth every time (tying once) and then lost the seventh every other occasion but once.
Complacency, however, won’t be the issue if the Bombers stumble again on Friday at home against the Montreal Alouettes.
The coach has made it clear they’re going to work even harder in the wake of their first win.