The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were able to walk away from Week 1 with a W, but they sure did not walk away with the game.
In 2021 the Bombers were able to get through the season very successfully, despite their lackluster kicking. In no small part, a lot of credit went to the offence and defence in 2021. The Bombers were racking up points and keeping the opponent’s point total historically low.
Yet, that was not the case for the Bombers in the 2022 season opener.
And so here are 3 areas the Bombers must improve on in order to go 1 and 0 this week.
In the season opener, quarterback Zach Collaros only threw for 188 yards. That number needs to be put into perspective. After Week 1 that was the lowest number of yards accumulated by any starting quarterback. Completing 18 of 26 passing attempts, Zach averaged 7.2 yards per attempt (personally I think the average should be per completion rather than per attempt, but that is not the way the CFL keeps that stat).
In 2021 Zach Collaros was second in passing yards with 3,185 yards (over 13 games) with an average of 9.2 yards per attempt. Therefore, Zach left 2 yards per attempt off the stat sheet. Multiplying 2 yards by 26 attempts, Zach left a total of 52 yards off his stat line in the season opener.
Backing up Zach Collaros will probably be Dru Brown since Prukop was added to the 6-Game Injured list. For my speculation on Prukop’s injury, you can head over here.
Unhappy with being pulled after taking a shot to the head, I think Zach comes out with something to prove.
If the Bombers are going to beat the Redblacks in Week 2, Zach must attack.
As a whole, the Winnipeg defence gave up 380 yards passing by Masoli, and gave up 61 rushing yards for a total of 441 yards given up. When you realize that Winnipeg only gained a total of 289 yards (239 passing and 50 rushing) that leaves a difference of 152 yards gained of offence between the teams.
One particular defensive player that will be looking for a bounce-back game will be Winston Rose. While Rose did have 9 tackles, he was matched up most of the night with Ottawa receiver Jaelon Acklin. Acklin would accumulate a massive 143 receiving yards!
As of Tuesday, Jackson Jeffcoat was practicing, and if he can play, he should help bolster the Winnipeg defence.
Adding to the efforts of Adam Bighill and Willie Jefferson, Jackson Jeffcoat will put more pressure on Masoli. Winnipeg will be looking for more quarterback sacks as they only sacked Masoli one time last game. Without the defence stepping up, I am not convinced the Bombers can leave Ottawa with a win.
If you are not noticing the trend, here it is one more time; beat in yardage production. Both of the kickers were perfect in their field goals, but Winnipeg was out-kicked in both the punting and kickoffs.
In terms of punting, Winnipeg kicker Marc Liegghio averaged 43.4 yards per punt. Meanwhile, Ottawa’s Leone averaged 50.3 yards per punt. That means that on average Winnipeg gave up almost 7 yards in punt exchanges. This is exacerbated by the fact that in the return game Winnipeg averaged 12 fewer yards per return.
Combined punting and returning, the average differential was about 19 yards. That is a lot of real estate to give up, especially when the offensive and defensive production are also behind. For more on the Bombers’ kicking game click here.
Quickly mentioning the kickoffs: Winnipeg averaged 63.2 yards per kickoff compared to Ottawa’s 69 yard average. That means Winnipeg lost nearly 6 yards per kickoff exchange.
History on Winnipeg’s side
If the Bombers are going to do what they expect to do, win, and do it in Bomber style then they must improve on those areas of the game. But great news Bomber fans, from 2016 in back-to-back games Winnipeg has a win percentage of 69.2%
Will Winnipeg continue that back-to-back winning trend? Will the defence and offence come into form? Will the fact that I picked a bunch of Redblacks in CFL fantasy help Winnipeg? (I stink at CFL fantasy). All those answers and more, we will find out on Friday night.
Keep a look out later this week when I set up a preview and prediction of the Bombers’ Week 2 rematch with the Ottawa Redblacks.
To listen to Bonfire Sports Midweek and after each game head over to the Bonfire Sports website for all their links! Hosts Darrian Bauming, Chris Walby, and Zach Schniter do a fabulous job!