It is very hard for any team in the CFL to consistently win without a run game. Without the threat of running the defense the opposition can just pin their ears back and pass rush without the concern of containing the runner. If this is not obvious, it sure should be obvious to Bomber fans after the team took their second loos this season to the Redblacks!
However, before we get into the traditional run game, one thing that stuck out to me in the Bombers’ loss to Ottawa was their lack of a return game. Sure McCrea showed a flash of brilliance a week ago vs. Calgary, but in the game against Ottawa he had nothing! Was that on him? Was that the blocking in front of him? Hard to tell with the zoomed in television angles. However, the point is this, when the Bombers do not run the ball effectively on special teams, their special teams looks average. Will the return game be better this week against the Elks? Bomber fans sure hope so!
Rushing: Week 1
Winnipeg did a good job of rushing the ball in Week 1! Whenever you have a player eclipse the 100 yard mark you know it was a good day of running the ball and you usually come out with a win. Collaros also went 21/31 for 354 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Rushing: Week 2
While Winnipeg did not have a single player over 100 yards rushing, they spread the ball around and had over 100 yards total rushing.
Rushing: Week 3
In their first loss of the season the Bombers were unable to amass 100 yards rushing. Their quarterback also had a sub-par game. Fans will remember that BC was in Winnipeg’s back field all night long!
Rushing: Week 4
This game was delayed by weather and played in wet conditions so you would expect to see the rushing yards higher than normal. What I want to point out is that both teams played in the same conditions and Winnipeg still beat Montreal in the rushing category.
Rushing: Week 5
While Calgary had 107 yards rushing, Winnipeg was still able to rush for 102 yards…most of that in the second half and much of that in the (almost) 10 minute fourth quarter drive!
Rushing: Week 6
This is what is really make fans scratch their heads and wonder what is with the Bombers. Coming off an impressive running fourth quarter the week before – when everyone knew they were going to run the ball – the Bombers simply could not get the run game going. You might think Collaros’ stats are impressive, but when you have no run game you better have an aerial attack!
So What’s The Deal?
It is easy to see that when the Bombers have their run game going then they come out with the win. When they do not have their run game going they come out with a loss. Sure, many will think (myself included) that Winnipeg should have beat Ottawa, but they simply imploded. Nevertheless, in both of the Bombers’ losses this year they have had trouble running the ball.
Is the O-line getting old? Well, they are getting older! But they were completely dominant against Calgary in the latter parts of that game. Is that something that should be read into? Does that mean that Winnipeg’s O-line is getting older and can only be dominant for short stints?
Was the play calling for Winnipeg’s run game different? Did BC and Ottawa do something different against the run than other teams did against Winnipeg?
I do not know! But I can tell you one thing; if Winnipeg does not find a way to consistently run the ball they are going to be in some very uncomfortable spots.
Bomber fans will remember that at the beginning of the 2022 season Winnipeg had massive issues running the ball! Some fans were calling for more Augustine and less Oliveira.
When the Bombers were 7-0 last year I said that the Bombers were not just getting lucky; good teams find ways to win. And Winnipeg did get its running game going that season – for the most part. But the Bombers sure could not run the ball in the 2022 Grey Cup, and now we have seen the same thing twice this year.
I would like to say anything less than a complete stomping of the Elks is cause for concern! Yet as bad as the Elks are, it is not like they have been getting blown out every game.
In Week 1 the Elks lost 13-17 vs. Saskatchewan. Week 2 did see the Elks being blown out by BC by a score of 22-0. In week 3 the Elks suffered another loss at home to Toronto by a score of 31-43. Week 4 saw the Elks put up another dismal performance suffering a 7-26 loss against the Redblacks. In Week 5 the Elks lost a game against Saskatchewan in a score of 11-12 (a game neither team seemed to want to win)! And in Week 6 the Elks hung around with Hamilton before losing by a score of 29-37.
It used to be in the CFL that you could look around the league and say, “Team A beat Team B, and Team C lost to Team D, so we know how a game against Team A and C will end up.” That simply is not the case this year. While the TSN panel has wanted to talk about “parity,” for years I found it laughable most of the times. By the end of the season teams had certainly separated themselves from the rest of the pack.
Is it possible that there is true parity this year?
One question I will be asking is if the Bombers have lost their killer instinct or if it is just as Willie Jefferson says,
“We’ve got to be able to stay top, stay with the energy, stay with the momentum, and just finish the game. We were up with three minutes left in the game and that’s the time when we’ve got to really get to Winnipeg football. We didn’t do that. It wasn’t Winnipeg football in the second half.”Willy Jefferson – Blue Bombers Game Recap
Perspective: The Bombers have only played 1/3 of their season. At this rate, they end the season 12-6…though I think I they do better than that – and make the playoffs.
The top 3 teams in the West should be BC, Sask, and WPG (no particular order), though Calgary might make a push with Saskatchewan’s quarterback – Harris – getting injured.
Winnipeg is going to need to start/continue to bring in new guys that will replace the older guys – and that includes on the O-Line. If they do that, they can continue to be competitive for a long time!
The real question will be what the Bombers do when Collaros is done. This team won’t be in the 2025 Grey Cup in Winnipeg…too many guys will retire. But I don’t think for a second that the Bombers don’t fully intend to field a team that could be in the 2025 Grey Cup that year.
While Mike O’Shea has always said the easiest way to the Grey Cup is hosting the conference final (proven by Winnipeg and Toronto in 2022; and Winnipeg in 2021) Winnipeg showed in 2019 that they can be road warriors and get to the big game having to win twice on the road in the playoffs.
I think that for the next foreseeable years we are going to see something not as bad (they came in third place and still on the Grey Cup) as the 2019 Bombers, and not as good as the 2021 & 2022 Bombers where they only lost 3 games both seasons.
But at the end of the day, if the Bombers do not get the run game going, we are going to see a lot more losses and have a lot more questions!
What do you agree with? What do you disagree with? Let me know in the comments where ever you are reading this.
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