Bombers falling apart down the stretch

Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM Joe Mack listens to some music while watching a walk-through on Sat.,...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM Joe Mack listens to some music while watching a walk-through on Sat., Sept. 8, 2012, at Canad Inns Stadium in preparation for Sunday's Banjo Bowl football game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. (JASON HALSTEAD/QMI Agency)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:09 PM ET

WINNIPEG - A few weeks ago, we listed eight things we needed to see from the Bombers over the final third of the season. It’s quite clear the Blue and Gold don’t have enough established talent and the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of GM Joe Mack, but we won’t beat that dead horse in this space. Nor will we examine the astronomical odds of them making the playoffs after Saturday's 32-21 home loss to Calgary.

They can’t get rid of the whole team in the off-season, so it’s critical for players to show that they belong to be here in 2013. Let’s see how they’re doing in that mission and check in on the eight things we needed to see down the stretch.

1. Consistency?

No.

They followed up their win against Hamilton on Sept. 21 with a stinker against Toronto. They followed up that with a stunningly strong performance in Montreal. They followed up that with another stinker against Calgary. It’s been nearly 14 months and counting since their last winning streak. The Bombers still can’t handle success.

2. Discipline?

No.

The Bombers had the CFL’s third-most penalty yards per game three weeks ago, and they’re still in that spot today. Not only that, but they have actually increased their number of penalty yards per game. One of the two main reasons why Paul LaPolice was fired was because of a lack of discipline. It’s actually gotten worse since he was canned.

3. Early capitalization?

Not really.

They scored a first-quarter offensive touchdown for the first time in 18 games against the Alouettes, but in their other two games they were blanked by a combined score of 37-0 in the opening 15 minutes. The Bombers have scored three points or fewer in 13 of their 15 first quarters this season.

4. Hot Buck?

No.

As usual, he’s been out of the lineup more than he’s been in it, the latest ailment being a concussion that has forced him to miss the last two games. In his only action over the last three games, he mustered just 10 points in a quarter and a half of work. Still, he’s their best chance for victory.

5. Better backups?

Sort of.

Joey Elliott gets kudos for his CFL offensive player of the week performance in Montreal, but he gets criticism for the seven interceptions he’s thrown in the other two games — six of them in the end zone. Head coach Tim Burke is considering benching Elliott, which wouldn’t be a bad idea considering Winnipeg plays in Toronto on Friday. The Argos are a man coverage team, and Elliott has yet to show he can beat it. If Pierce can’t go, give Alex Brink, who had a touchdown toss on Saturday, another chance.

6. Find a SAM linebacker not named Jovon Johnson?

No.

Burke is considering moving Johnson out of the linebacking corps after Saturday. When the Stamps offence had success it was usually against the reigning CFL defensive player of the year, who complained after the game that he didn’t have enough time to catch his breath after playing special teams. That’s a whole other problem entirely. He’s too small to play SAM, and he excels on the corner. Put him back there.

7. Bring back the swag?

Yes.

The Stamps scored 16 of their 32 points on Saturday after the Bomber offence turned the ball over in its own territory, and the Blue and Gold have slowly but surely been climbing in many defensive categories as the season has progressed. Saturday’s loss to Calgary was essentially a carbon copy of the last few years. The defence plays well, the offence doesn’t, and they lose.

8. Win one on the road?

Yes.

It took one year and one day, but they finally got another victory outside of Manitoba. And they did it in the most unlikely of places: Montreal. That is a sign of growth. However, if that’s their only good game over the final third of the season, then it was just them getting lucky.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/PentonKirk


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