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Bomber beatdown demands action

Andrew Bucholtz
55 Yard Line

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Charleston Hughes and the Stamps were all over Joey Elliott and the Bombers Friday.

"They're dead, Jim." No, Bones McCoy wasn't doing colour commentary on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' 44-3 Friday Night Football loss to Calgary, but he might as well have been. In a game where they had every imaginable reason to show up, to supply hope for both this season and next, to prove that last week's 25-24 loss was merely thanks to a single error at the end rather than a sign of  everything that's wrong with this team, the Bombers instead turned in one of the worst CFL performances of the year. They rolled over and died immediately after the opening whistle. If Tim Burke was complaining that people were pre-emptively putting his team on the cart earlier, well, there's another sketch that's more appropriate for what they did Friday.

This football team clearly has kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible. It wasn't just the result, as Calgary was highly favoured here, and it wasn't even just the score, as the 52-0 Labour Day loss to the Riders was even worse from that perspective. This Winnipeg team turned in an appalling performance that was unworthy of the CFL. Heck, there have been York Lions games that were more competitive, and that's from before they were good. This team was so atrocious that it felt like a merciful break for fans when TSN momentarily lost its feed in the fourth quarter. Of course, it was back in time for more carnage as the beatdown continued.

There are plenty of statistics that illustrate just how bad this one was, and how it continued the Bombers' free-fall since Paul LaPolice was fired in favour of Tim Burke. Joey Elliott started the game at quarterback for the Bombers, but completed five of eight passes for just 26 yards with an interception. Backup Alex Brink wasn't effective either, completing six of 14 passes for 55 yards. That's right, the Bombers threw for just 81 yards all night. Winnipeg was held off the scoreboard through the first two quarters, making it six scoreless road quarters in a row, and they allowed 44 points on the night. The most revealing statistic, though? Calgary receiver Nik Lewis, who picked up 131 yards (and passed 10,000 career receiving yards) on seven catches, had 109 of those before the half. By contrast, the Bombers had negative-three yards of net offence in the first quarter and just 53 before the half. That's right, one Calgary receiver recorded over double the net offensive yardage of the entire Winnipeg team through the first two quarters.

Something has to change in Winnipeg. This is their fourth-straight loss and their second loss by more than 40 points in the last three games. Every game since the firing of LaPolice has been an outright disaster, but at least last week's game had some effort. Friday night, with so much to play for, the Bombers turned in a showing unworthy of any professional team in any league. It's not clear what the next move will be, as the logical play would be sacking general manager Joe Mack, but the team's board has already said he'll be keeping his job at least through the end of the season. It's hard to see them changing coaches twice, either. Still, something must be done. If anyone thought the status quo in Bomberville was acceptable, Friday night's game was harsh evidence that it's not. Still, fixing this wouldn't be easy, even if McCoy was around. After all, he's a doctor, not a miracle worker.

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