If Winnipeg comes out with another W they will be 2-0 on the season. However, if they play the way they played in Week 1 then they will surely walk away with a loss. Read here to find out the areas I believe Winnipeg must improve upon in this outing.
In their first matchup, Ottawa led in almost every statistical category, yet Winnipeg found a way to win.
For those that think Winnipeg would be happy splitting the series, make no mistake about it, winning is an expectation. However, just winning is not good enough for the 2022 Bombers.
In a post-game interview, after the season opener, Head Coach Mike O’Shea said, “We didn’t play particularly well.”
Darrian Bauming (creator of Bonfire Sports TV, which is a really good show for your midweek and post-game Bomber fill) asks Mike O’Shea about the game seeming stagnant. O’Shea says the game was, “Not flowing…I don’t think we really got in a rhythm…all three phases would have liked to have played better.”
Looking at the Matchup posted by CFL.ca, Mike was right.
In all fairness, Winnipeg probably should not have won the game and received some help from Ottawa’s mistakes. Darrin Bauming discusses these mistakes with Redblacks Head Coach LaPolice.
Be that as it may, the Bombers cannot and will not be banking on similar mistakes this week, and will be looking to improve their effort.
Pat Neufeld (who has played with the Bombers since 2014) said, “We’re not happy with just winning the game now. We have things that we expect to do on the field and hold ourselves to a certain way that we play. That’s the sign of a good football team and we’re going to try and keep building.” That says a lot from a guy who was on the Bombers in 2014, 15, and 16 when they went 7-11; 5-13; and 11-7, missing the playoffs two of those three years.
Read the whole Bomber’s Need To Know: Week 2 here.
There will be some notable differences in Winnipeg’s lineup as Jeffcoat is in, meanwhile, Prukop and Briggs are out.
Ottawa will be missing a few players as Randy Richards, RJ Harris will still not see the field. However, the biggest area of concern for Ottawa might be running back Willaim Powell. Powell will miss his second game in a row. In their first meeting, Ottawa only rushed for 61 yards, with Powell on the shelf.
Ottawa will again have to lean on Devonte Williams, and Jackson Bennet to carry the ball out of the backfield. Combined they rushed for only 55 yards and will need to improve to keep a balanced offence and stop Winnipeg’s bone-crushing Jefferson, Bighill, and Jeffcoat.
Superfan, friend, and a guy I enjoyed attending the last 2 Grey Cups with provides this week’s Fan Tweet
My Rematch Expectations
I anticipate Winnipeg will once again beat the Redblacks if they improve in these areas.
Winnipeg will need to do a far better job running the ball, and doing so will give quarterback Zach Collaros more time in the pocket. Winnipeg’s leading rusher in the first game was Brady Olivera who rushed for only 17 yards on 10 carries. That is a horrific 1.7-yard average per carry! Yes, Olivera is taking the spot left vacant by all-star Andrew Harris, but nobody expected that kind of drop-off.
Winnipeg allowed Ottawa quarterback Jerimiah Masoli to pass for a staggering 380 yards! Masoli would add to his yardage total by also rushing for 10 yards. Masoli has been known to give the Bombers trouble when he scrambles, and maybe the Bombers trying to contain him gave the quarterback too much time in the pocket. Winnipeg is going to have to find more balance between containing Masoli and pressuring him.
When Sergio Castillo left the Bombers for the Elks he left Winnipeg with a kicking conundrum. Winnipeg would retain kickers Marc Liegghio and Ali Mourtada. These are the kickers Winnipeg had last year until a late (and surprising) signing of Sergio Castillo. Even the long-time voice of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Bob Irving did not see the signing coming.
The conversation in 2021 was, ‘Would you be confident heading into a playoff game – needing a field goal to win – and having either Liegghio or Mourtada?’ Apparently, Winnipeg was not confident, in 2021, nor should they have been. Liegghio would go 5 for 8 that year on field goal attempts, and Mourtada was 8 of 15. (Sergio Castillo would go 5 for 5 in the 2021 Grey Cup).
Fan’s 3 Keys To The Game
I asked my buddy, Bomber Reaper to give us his 3 Keys to the game, and here they are!
I am taking Winnipeg to win in Week 2 against the Redblacks. I expect their ground game to be far better, and to put up over 100 yards rushing, as a team. I expect Winston Rose will play better. He may not shut down Jaelon Acklin completely, but the return of Jeffcoat should leave Masoli will less time in the pocket.
I do not expect the kicking to be any better this game than it was in the season opener. However, Winnipeg proved it could win games in 2021 without an elite kicker. The question will be, if kicking is not great in the second game of the 2022 season, what does Winnipeg do? Do not ask me, I have no clue. Much like Bob Irving, I never saw the Bombers bringing in Castillo as a late-season acquisition.
I predict the Bombers will put up close to 30 points and keep the Redblacks under 20 points. The Head-To-Head numbers, since 2014, say that the game will be closer, with Ottawa averaging 24.2 points, and Winnipeg averaging 26.5 points. However, I am looking for a Winnipeg bounceback.
Will I be right? We will find out Friday night at 6:30 CST as the Redblacks host the Bombers.
Written by a Bomber fan, for the Bomber fans
Follow me on Twitter @DonCruickshank1