In a game that was “meaningless” it looked like Calgary got the memo whereas the send received a mail delivery notice failure to Winnipeg!
For those that had no clue, Calgary is nicknamed “Cowtown” because it is situated right in the middle of Canada’s largest beef producing area. For those that knew that, did you know this; the Calgary Stampeders are backing into the playoffs! And for those that are completely clueless this game was not meaningless.
Calgary’s effort against the Bombers was abysmal! Winnipeg whipped them by a score of 36-16. Before I hear, “Yah, but Calgary was playing their backups,” so was Winnipeg! But a stark contrast is that Calgary started their number one quarterback while Winnipeg did not.
Jake Maier is supposed to be the “guy”. Calgary released Bo Levi Mitchell crowning Maier their starter. Sure, Bo was hurt for a lot of the season; so moving away from Bo may not have been the wrong idea…but running with Maier does not seem to be the answer. In an ironic twist, Calgary may decide to go after Dru Brown in the offseason.
Brown’s contract will expire at the end of this season and you have to think there are a number of teams that will offer him big money to be their starter. Calgary only completed a total of 8 receptions on 19 attempts; that is below 50%.
Heading into the playoffs everyone has to be wondering, “Who are the Stampeders?” Last week they stomped BC by a score of 41-16; this week they were completely flat! Trust me, that is not how you want to go into the playoffs.
Clearly there is not a single person on the Stampeders’ team even worthy of being in the conversation.
Moving over to Winnipeg, it would be easy to give the Game Ball to Oliveira! He became only the second Canadian to reach the 1,500 yard rushing mark.
Oliveira also achieved over 2,000 total yards from scrimmage. While Oliveira was not the first Blue Bombers to reach 2,000 yards from scrimmage (Roberts Mimbs had for 2,207 yards in 1993; Willard Reaves amassed 2,140 yards in 1984, Willie Burden got 2,127 yards in 1975, and beloved Charles Roberts went for 2,102 yards in 2003 and 2,098 yards in 2005) he certainly joins a club of elite players!
So I will have to hand out multiple game balls; because I simply cannot overlook the easy choice. Brady Oliveira, you get one of my Game Balls.
Yet Brady is not the only player worthy of recognition from the last Bombers’ regular season game in 2023.
I would be remised if I did not give a Game Ball to Rasheed Bailey! He was not just the Bombers’ best receive that game, but he does the often never seen dirty work of blocking. Fans should also know that while the rest of the team was preparing to leave for Calgary on Wednesday night, Bailey made the long drive in the blowing snow to speak to a group in Altona, Manitoba.
There he shared about football, but mostly about his faith. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance with my 8 year old son!
He even stayed longer than he was supposed to to make sure fans (including my son and myself go a autograph).
Not only that, but in the game vs Calgary Bailey kept his concentration (and balance) to catch a tipped ball and take it all the way 68 yards for a touchdown.
For having a great game; for doing the dirty work not often recognized nor appreciated; and for giving of your preparation time for the road trip to the fans that came out to Altona, Manitoba to hear you; Rasheed Bailey you get my Game Ball!
*The Bombers’ defense.
They only let Calgary get 13 points. I said that this game was going to be important for the Winnipeg defense. “I expect that Winnipeg’s defense will come out to play. They have been criticized this year for allowing big plays. Should the Bombers win the West Final they will not do that by allowing explosion plays. Should Winnipeg want to win the Grey Cup, they will not do so if they allow explosion plays. Winnipeg’s defense needs to use this game to to figure out how to limit big plays.”
Winnipeg’s defense was not dominant from start to finish, but they did a lot more than just doing enough to win. Yes, they let up some big plays, but after the half way mark of the third quarter Calgary did not get another point.
*Sergio Castillo for hammering a 51 yarder with the snow flying, and going 5 for 5 on his field goal attempts! I will not spell it out as it is still too painful for some Bomber fans; but there is a reason Bomber fans are excited that Castillo is part of the Bombers for this years’ Grey Cup run!
There are certainly a couple of options here. While Maier did not have a great game he did have some explosion plays against Winnipeg. The conditions were not great and Calgary relied more on the run game. Yet, despite adverse conditions Dru Brown still threw for 278 yards; so it is not like the weather was prohibitive to a pass game.
Yet, Calgary went run heavy. Somebody, anybody tell me how you think you will beat the Bombers without a passing game…I will not hold my breath.
So this is likely a collective Jock. It goes to Maier for talking his own coaches out of staying with the passing game; and it goes to the coaches for not understanding that a run game will not do it against the Bombers.
When we look ahead to the playoffs where the weather could be even worse, Calgary proved one thing…if the weather dictates a heavy run game Calgary is in trouble. What is worse for Calgary? Now everyone knows!
I said that this would not be a game where either team wanted to show more than what is already on tape out there about themselves. Yet, ironically, Calgary did just that. They showed the league that if you talk them out of a passing game; or if the weather does not allow for a passing game, Calgary is in trouble!
Do you agree with my picks? If not, let me know your choices in the comments section – wherever you are reading this.
But first, watch the highlights from the game.
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