55 Yard Line

Bombers obliterated 53-17 by the Lions, raising questions about what’s next in Winnipeg

Adam Bighill (44)'s first-play fumble recovery TD was the start of a brutal night for Winnipeg.Winnipeg Blue Bombers' fans may have gone to Investors Group Field Friday night expecting to see a football game, but they were on hand for a massacre instead. The hometown Bombers proved singularly inept on the night, falling 53-17 to the B.C. Lions and dropping to 2-11 on the year. The defence wasn't impressive, even if they did manage to generate a little bit of a pass rush (but much less than expected), but the brunt of the blame here has to go to the Winnipeg offence. Quarterbacks Max Hall and Jason Boltus both struggled significantly, running back Will Ford achieved next to nothing, and the offence turned the ball over so frequently that they were actually outscored by the Lions' defence, which piled up 21 points off of turnovers. It's a beatdown that makes you wonder what the Bombers will do next; will they try to shake things up with further staff and personnel changes, or will they just ride out the season and hope things get better next year?

This team did just about nothing right Friday, especially on offence. They couldn't run the ball (Ford collected just 28 yards on 10 carries) and they couldn't throw it (Hall completed 14 of 24 passes, 58.3 per cent, for 169 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions, while Boltus completed just five of 13 attempts, 38.5 per cent, for 59 yards with an interception). Funnily enough, the biggest cheers for quarterbacks all night came when former Bomber pivots Buck Pierce and Joey Elliott took some snaps for B.C. late in the game. The Winnipeg defence was a little better on the night than the offence, but they were run over by local product Andrew Harris (14 carries for 73 yards and a spectacular touchdown that saw him bounce through a maze of Bomber defenders) and couldn't stop inexperienced quarterback Thomas DeMarco, who completed 15 of 21 pass attempts (71.4 per cent) for 170 yards and a touchdown. All in all, it was a dismal day for the Bombers.

After a result like this is added to the Bombers' ledger of disappointing showings this year, the case for change in Winnipeg is pretty substantial. A solid argument could be made that it should start with a coaching move. This team's already changed CEOs and general managers this year, but head coach Tim Burke has kept his job so far despite a tenure that looks like Gary Cherone's time in Van Halen. Burke went just 4-6 last season after replacing Paul LaPolice midseason, and things have become even worse this year. He's made the case that it's not all his fault thanks to the players he's been given, and he's partly right there, but he sure hasn't achieved much with what he has.

There isn't an obvious interim replacement for Burke on staff, though, as defensive coordinator Casey Creehan's tenure with the Bombers has gone about as well as expected, and the offence is looking just as inept under replacement offensive coordinator Marcel Bellefeuille as it did under predecessor Gary Crowton. There aren't a lot of players who have really shown they deserve to keep their jobs, either. Thus, who will stay and who will go is somewhat up in the air. Still, there shouldn't be many safe jobs in Winnipeg. If the team elects to ride out this season without major changes, more ugly results may be ahead.

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