Evolution or revolution for this season for Blue Bombers?
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
|Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke watches drills during practice at Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg, Man., Oct. 11, 2012. (JASON HALSTEAD/QMI Agency)
WINNIPEG - Tim Burke was talking about evolution on Friday, and it had nothing to do with Charles Darwin’s theory.
The interim boss of the Blue Bombers was referring to his football team, and his efforts to get it walking upright along with its CFL rivals.
With the Calgary Stampeders in town for a Saturday matinee, it’s as good a time as any for such a discussion.
For it was the Stamps who made complete monkeys of the Bombers four weeks ago, cranking out a 44-3 tune — the low point of a 2012 campaign spent feeding at the bottom.
“We’re on an evolutionary process right now with our team,” Burke was saying. “After that game we’ve been very competitive in every game.”
I don’t know about that home loss to Toronto two weeks ago, but we can at least agree the Bombers, in winning two of their last three, haven’t looked like quitters since they left Alberta, Sept. 14.
It was after that game Burke showed his players what the rest of the country was saying about them, through TV tape of players laughing on the sideline and the resulting commentary.
Can something so embarrassing be the turning point for a franchise that reaps ridicule like it’s wheat?
“That was a big week for us,” corner Brandon Stewart said. “They made a big deal about our effort. So we definitely have something to prove. It’s about pride. When your pride gets challenged, we’ll see who steps up to the plate.”
Over on the other corner, Johnny Sears nodded in agreement.
“Oh, it’s in there,” Sears said of the role of that game in this week’s mood. “The type of loss it was, it was bad. It was ugly. And all the criticisms we had. We made a real point this week of not (having) bad tape.”
If the Bombers continue to win two for every one they lose, maybe we’ll look back and say Calgary was the moment of clarity for an outfit addicted to losing.
For now, though, the 44-3 taste still fresh on their tongues, they’ll use it the old-fashioned way: as a tool for revenge.
Even wizened vets say that can be a sharp instrument.
“We got our ass kicked,” receiver Terrence Edwards said. “We got beat down, took behind the shed... so we’ve gotta go prove that first game was an aberration.”
They can only hope the offence, coming off an inspired performance in Montreal but still ranked last in the country, has been, too.
Burke says his theory of evolution pertains to first-year offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton, too, who’s taken his time learning this isn’t the Chicago Bears of the NFL or Louisiana State University, where, as Burke put it, “they have a great receiver who can beat a defensive back, one on one.”
“Not that our guys can’t do that,” Burke continued. “But in the CFL, the defensive backs and receivers all tend to be pretty similar in talent. So you’ve got to create more situations where you get the receivers open through scheme.
“He’s really found his legs as far as that goes. So this will be a key game for us offensively.”
That goes for quarterback Joey Elliott, too.
A cautious approach with a concussed Buck Pierce has allowed the Bombers to take another look at last week’s offensive player of the week, as curious a study as this town as had in its pocket for a while.
Is Elliott the next true hope, or a two-time-lucky version of Troy Kopp?
That’s probably the No. 1 issue staring this franchise in the face.
Well, aside from a 4-10 mark that raises questions about the very people running the show.
So these last four games, beginning Saturday, are about much more than revenge, or proving wrong the TV talking heads or even about the playoffs.
It’s about coming to a fork in the road, with two dramatically different outcomes possible.
Will it be evolution, or revolution?