We’re heading into Week 12 and the Winnipeg Blue Bomber offense is no better now than it was in Week One.
The defense has been brought back to reality and will most likely move forward without middle linebacker Joe Lobendahn, who is believed to have suffered a season-ending knee injury.
"Swaggerville" racked up 29 sacks in their first seven games and averaged four a game. During the last three games they got five sacks, averaging just fewer than two a game.
Buck Pierce threw for five interceptions Sunday afternoon before being pulled with just under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, a move that should have happened at half-time.
Those five interceptions are a new career high for Buck Pierce, edging out the three he threw against Winnipeg while a B.C. Lion during the August 10, 2008 game.
However all the blame cannot be placed on Pierce alone, as he was blitzed far too often with catastrophic results, being sacked three times.
The offensive line didn’t do much to aid Pierce during the game, often being beat and out-rushed at the line of scrimmage.
The same can be said for their run game against a team that’s fourth in the league against the run. Fred Reid gained only 46 yards on eleven carries, below his 63.1 average per game. Fred Reid has yet to rush for more than 100 yards since October 23.
Making his Bombers debut Sunday was receiver Tim Brown, who suffered an injury during mini-camp and retired, but was kept around Winnipeg before returning two months ago.
In his debut, Brown returned punts five times for 35 yards. However, it was his kick-off returns that caused notice—seven times for 141 yards on 20.1 averages.
Elsewhere, the Bombers managed two receivers who gained over 100 yards, Terrence Edwards with 123 yards and Cory Watson with 111 yards.
Kito Poblah returned last week and lead all Bomber receivers with nine catches for 89 yards. This week he fell off the grid, hauling in one catch for all of ten yards.
Each of Buck Pierce’s interceptions allowed the Saskatchewan offense to yield great field position, often resulting in touchdowns and a pick-six.
Alex Brink, in short playing time, completed 72 percent of his passes for 59 yards and a touchdown to Terrence Edwards.
Looking ahead, the team will face the Montreal Alouettes, who have lost the last two of three. However, Anthony Calvillo is looking like his old self once again and at just the right time, as they push to take first place in the East next Sunday.
Paul LaPolice’s conservative and safe game plan worked well for the first seven weeks, but it is time to let the offense be more edgy if they want a chance at retaining first place this season. At this rate, Hamilton and Montreal will face each other in the Eastern final.
The offensive call-playing of the last few weeks has been questionable. With 10 weeks of playing time, Buck Pierce and the receivers are no more in sync now than in Week 1.
They may have only lost three games and sit atop the league, but anyone who believes that Winnipeg doesn’t need to make changes is a fool.
The special teams unit, for the most part, has been average at best due to the one thing holding them back each and every return: penalties. Any time the Bombers are able to break one, it’s called back.
Kyle Walter’s plays have not produced the yards that teams around the league have produced all year long. Buck Pierce and the offense can’t put a drive together due to the two and outs, while being stuck on the 20 yard line each and every possession.
Joe Mack and Paul LaPolice continue to spread the word that they’ll go out and find someone better if they feel fit. Well, now is that time. The offensive line has not produced the holes to allow a talented back like Fred Reid to exploit his talents.
The play-calling has been spotty all season and some of the worst in the last few weeks. Is it possibly time for a new offensive coordinator? Maybe.
But before we get drastic, however, Paul LaPolice at least needs to allow Jamie Burresi to call his own plays and run his offense, while allowing himself to be the head coach.
We all remember when Saskatchewan released Doug Berry three weeks ago. Darian Durant threw ten touchdowns on nine interceptions and 2,044 yards. In the last two games without Berry, Durant has thrown seven touchdowns on just one interception and 462 yards.
Winnipeg needs to make moves, those moves need to be made now and they need to send a message, because at this rate Winnipeg will play themselves out of a play-off spot after starting the season 7-1.
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