Slivers of hope in Bombers' wreckageBlue have some studs
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - Thank goodness that’s over.
One of the most turbulent seasons in Blue Bomber history came to a close with a snoozer of a game in a half-full stadium, which is what you get when you stumble and bumble your way to a 6-12 campaign.
History won’t treat the 2012 Blue Bombers any kinder because of Saturday’s 19-11 victory over Montreal.
A meaningless victory in the final game of the regular season does nothing to erase the public relations nightmares and on-field disasters that have marked the last 12 months.
The team you hate to love has caused more grief than any fan base deserves, and this space has been crammed with the remnants of it.
So we’re going to try something different.
You need to really sift through the rubble to find slivers of hope, but for the diligent who don’t mind digging through the charred timbers, they are there.
If there’s one place for a fan to hang their tattered cap, beaten out of shape from being thrown in anger to the ground, it’s here: since hitting rock bottom in mid-September, when it appeared this bunch had all the heart of a cockroach, the Bombers went 4-3.
Sure, at 2-9, the horse was basically out of the barn when they sulked out of Cowtown, but at least they had the sense to bolt the door before the cattle and chickens got out, too.
I get the feeling that stallion will be on the loose for a while, but this team does have a mare or two to help chase the prize down.
You could do worse than find a stud running back (Chad Simpson) and receiver (Chris Matthews) in the same off-season. The challenge now is to saddle up a quarterback.
The head hog insists he’s already in town, but I don’t know about that.
“I love Buck Pierce and I love playing for him,” Glenn January said after cannon sounded at the Ruins at Polo Park one last time. “He’s a consummate professional. He’s the most gracious individual I’ve ever played with. He cares more for this town and this team than any player in this locker-room.
“We’ve got to do a lot better job protecting him. It’s on our shoulders to keep him safe. The whole year.”
I’m not sure there is a safe place for No. 4, aside from a La-Z-Boy recliner in a room lined with bubble wrap.
But I’ll hand this to the hogs: after having it handed to them early in the year, they managed to salvage some self-respect, too.
If there’s one area that could serve as a microcosm of the entire locker-room, it’s the southwest corner of it, where the beef is.
In a state of flux because of injuries and poor play back in the dog days of summer, the onset of the cold saw it gel.
We can only hope the growth of the front five is matched by that of the back 45.
“A disappointing season, when you look at the final record,” January said. “But when you look at us on paper, we’ve got a lot of injuries. We didn’t see a complete team this whole year. We had a lot of shakeup starting off, we had some shakeup in the middle. Whenever you have a young team you need time. And we went through our growing pains this year.
“But the future is bright in this locker-room. All this team needs is time.”
Kids who didn’t know how to be pros took a few steps, 18 of them, actually. Some were straight backwards, some led to the ditch.
But they came out the other end with a year under their belts, and that’s worth something.
Whether team brass can keep the right ones, jettison the others and fill the holes that still exist, I’m not sure.
One thing is for certain.
Next season the Bombers won’t have uncertainty about where they’re playing. They won’t start the season with four road games or a deer-in-the-headlights roster or a head coach the GM isn’t sure about.
“There’s no excuses,” January said. “I’ll put that out there right now. This is on our shoulders, and we’ve got to get it done. End of story.”
It’s about time.