July 28, 2012
Bombers schedule not so bad after allBlues will have edge
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - A quick glance of the CFL schedule shows the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had it rough to start the season.
Look a little closer, however, and the Blue and Gold didn’t have it so bad. And now they have it real good over the next month as they enjoy a four-game homestand that kicked off Thursday night with a 23-22 win over the Edmonton Eskimos.
The Bombers started the season with four consecutive road games after the team’s brass and the company building their new stadium made the monumental error of whiffing on the opening date of the facility by more than a year.
The story is well known by now. The Bombers were supposed to be playing at Investors Group Field to start the 2012 season, but the opening was pushed back to the end of July. So Winnipeg asked the CFL to play its first four games on the road.
Then, after the schedule was already made, the opening date was delayed again until September, making the first four games on the road pointless. Then, just to rub a little more salt in the wound of Winnipeg’s football operations department, it was decided they’re going to wait until 2013 to open the shiny new digs.
The Bombers said all the right things in public, but you can bet there was plenty of grumbling going on behind the scenes.
The Bombers lost their first four games in B.C., Montreal, Edmonton and Toronto. The schedule wasn’t used as an excuse, but it was always in the background. The team was hit hard by injuries, and while there was a myth out there they were healthy in training camp, half of the players on their injured list over the last month were hurt before the team made its first regular-season plane ride.
Put a microscope on the schedule, however, and Winnipeg’s opening four games on the road weren’t as bad as they seemed. That’s because the Blue and Gold had more days between games than every one of their opponents. What’s more, the Bombers have more days between games than each of their opponents during their four-game homestand and one more than Saskatchewan going into the Labour Day Classic.
That’s more time for the players to recuperate from injuries and more opportunity for the coaches to come up with game plans. Time is of the essence in the CFL, and the Bombers have more of it than anyone else.
Looking at the schedule of two other CFL teams picked at random, the Bombers have it much easier over the first half of the season. The Montreal Alouettes have five games in which they have the advantage and four they do not. The Saskatchewan Roughriders have the edge just twice and seven times when they do not.
Winnipeg’s next three games are at home and they have more time between games than each of their opponents, so they will continue to have the physical and preparation edge, and must use it to their advantage.
If they’re 1-8 after the Labour Day Classic, the last thing they will be able to use as an excuse is the schedule.
Days between games
Opponent Wpg Opp Adv.
B.C. 8 7 1
Montreal 6 4 2
Edmonton 6 4 2
Toronto 4 3 1
Edmonton 7 5 2
Montreal 7 6 1
Hamilton 12 6 6
B.C. 7 4 3
Saskatchewan 8 7 1