Much was made about Toronto resting their starters and especially their quarterback Kelly. I believed that the Bombers would have to win in a convincing fashion in that must win game…but did they do that?
The Bombers certainly owned the time of possession, having the ball for 39:21 of the game! That means that Toronto had the ball for only 20:39. With that type of time of possession you could assume that Winnipeg ran the ball effectively…and you would be correct.
“With 34 rushes for 199 yards (5.9 per carry), the Winnipeg running game impressed with a thorough exhibition of will imposition, among the best that we’ve seen all season.”Source
And who had the majority of those carries? Of course, Brady Oliveira.
The only other two rushers for Winnipeg were the quarterbacks. That says something when your featured running back is your only true rusher in that game and he is able to amass 169 yards; a new career high in a game! The big boys up front were doing their job and Brady was able to play what he calls “bully ball”!
But do not forget about Winnipeg’s receivers. Dalton Schoen broke the 100 yard mark yet again! By doing so he once again took the lead for the CFL’s leading receiver.
Winnipeg’s defense was no slouch either. When you look at the box score, Winnipeg only allowed 4 points in the second half. While Toronto was putting up the points in the first half, Winnipeg’s defense woke up in the second half. I really do believe they woke up. There is a natural emotional let down when you are facing a team resting their starters, and that was seen in the first quarter.
When thinking about Game Ball recipients how about Winnipeg’s kicker? He was called on 7 times and hit 6 of them. The one that he did miss was from a long distance, had the leg, but was just slightly off and hit the upright, before falling short.
I will leave the special teams kickoff returns off the page because quite honestly…they still stank.
So while there are a lot of really good options for the Game Ball, the Game Ball goes to…the fans! The Bomber fans showed up for a third straight sell out! In a day and age where fan attendance is down, Winnipeg fans (from in the city, out of the city, and out of the province) regularly make the trip. In 2019 the Bombers were not selling out games like this, and that team was more dominant.
Watch the highlights and let me know who your choice for the Game Ball would have been.
This is a hard one to award this week. I could give it to the schedule makers for having this game so late in the schedule that Toronto was resting their starters in the Grey Cup rematch game. But honestly, who would have thought Toronto would clinch first in the East this early? Nevertheless, I am a firm believer that the first game of the regular season should always be a rematch of the teams in the Grey Cup and should be played at the Grey Cup winner’s stadium.
But rather I will give the Jock to Ryan Dinwiddie for not playing Chad Kelly at all! Hey I get it, I remember 2007 when the Bombers looked like they were destined to win the Grey Cup (and it took 12 more years for them to finally win).
In 2007 Bomber’s starting quarterback Kevin Glenn broke his arm in the Eastern Final (remember Winnipeg used to be in the East). Do you remember who came in for the Bombers and had his first start in the 2007 Grey Cup? If not, it was Ryan Dinwiddie.
Sure, I get it; Chad Kelly is the meal ticket. Chad Kelly gives Toronto the best chance to win. Toronto needs to see what they have if Kelly got hurt. Ryan Dinwiddie wants to learn from Bomber’s past mistakes and be ready to have a back up plan. But Ryan Dinwiddie, in my mind, let his emotions and history get in the way of good judgment.
One has to think that Kelly will play some of next week’s game; a home game celebrating 150 years of the Argos. How much does he play? Who knows. He could come in for one series, or one quarter and get injured then. I would have to believe Kelly plays in other games as well. It is really hard to hide players. There is no metrics for snaps proportional to injury.
While Toronto did not need to lose the game, they also should be concerned about dropping some games the rest of the way. Losing happens when mistakes are made. Mistakes repeated cause bad habits. Bad habits kill you in a 1-and-done playoff format. If Toronto drops a few the rest of the way while they rest starters, teams are going to look at Toronto as far more beatable then they did when Toronto was 11-1.
With that loss to Winnipeg, Winnipeg is the second team to beat Toronto (yes, I know, I know, Toronto was resting starters). But that is not how the psyche works for players. Winnipeg now looks at Toronto and thinks, “We can beat these guys! We already have!” And Toronto players look at Winnipeg and think, “They beat us once, maybe we are not that invincible”.
Ryan Dinwiddie can completely vindicate himself should they make it Chad Kelly look healthy and fresh in the playoffs. But if Kelly looks rusty and slow come the playoffs Ryan Dinwiddie will be judged harshly, and rightly for how he handles the rest of the season.
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