Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Aug 31 2015, Page 21

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - August 31, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE C1 winnipegfreepress. com XYFOLIOXY WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2015 C 1 A NYONE who watched the Winnipeg Blue Bombers get absolutely trampled by the Calgary Stampeders Saturday night would just as soon have the whole thing erased from their memory banks. ASAP, please, from someone who was there. A 36- 8 loss, after all, tends to leave just as many mental/ emotional scars as the physical ones suffered by those decked out in Bomber colours. But it was an image from Friday afternoon, well before the carnage a night later, that has stuck with yours truly. A pair of scribes had just emerged from the media room at Investors Group Field not long after quarterback Robert Marve and head coach Mike O’Shea had done their thing with the press. And there, hobbling toward the elevator on a pair of crutches, was Drew Willy. Remember him? Every Blue Bombers fan can point their fingers of blame at upper management, at O’Shea, at offensive co- ordinator Marcel Bellefeuille. Go ahead and single out the offensive line, or all those guilty of the 16 penalties for 129 yards. Everyone, top to bottom, owns a piece of a 3- 6 record at the midway point of the season, that now includes a three- game losing skid and five losses in the last six. But 43 days ago, in Calgary, the Bombers fell 26- 25 loss to the Stampeders in a game they led 16- 0 at one point, limited QB Bo Levi Mitchell to 165 yards passing and the Grey Cup champs to just 288 yards of offence. It was a game, frankly, they absolutely should have won, save for some big- time brain cramps on special teams. It was a game that featured Willy going deep to Darvin Adams for a 79- yard TD and to Clarence Denmark for a 75- yard TD. That’s an important nugget to remember as the Bombers pit- stop briefly this week before readying for the annual Labour Day clash with the winless Saskatchewan Roughriders. Yes, it’s true, teams such as Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton have won games with backup quarterbacks at the controls. But while the Bomber defence and special teams served up valiant efforts before Saturday night’s contest unravelled — it was 8- 3 Stamps at halftime — an inept effort by the offence, which managed just 135 net yards, was critical in the club’s sixth loss in nine games. Asked afterward how he would describe the game, head coach Mike O’Shea winced. “ I can’t say it,” he said. “ Not good. The production we had wasn’t good enough to win the game.” All of which brings the Bombers to a critical point in the season with a critical question: what’s next? Moaning and groaning about what happened Saturday night, or all the bodies in sick bay, or the offensive play calling, does little to get this bunch ready for a still- critical matchup with the 0- 9 Roughriders. The Bombers don’t just have a play- calling issue. It’s more than that. It’s a protection issue. It’s a receiversgetting- open issue. But, most of all, it’s a quarterbacking issue. Look, Robert Marve has been a neat little story over the last few weeks. But as we said repeatedly leading up to the matchup with the Stamps, expecting him to throw for 300 yards and three scores against the Grey Cup champs would have been a big ask. Heck, expecting him to throw for 200 yards and one score, it turns out, would have been a big ask. O’Shea was noncommittal when asked after the game if Marve would start in Regina Sunday, and that is saying something, because if it’s not Marve, surely it can’t be Brian Brohm, who one- hopped three of his five pass attempts in relief Saturday. Can it? Could the club really go off- script and let Dominique Davis, added just Aug. 13, have a shot at the controls? Don’t rule it out at this point. Don’t rule out anything at this point. Consider: Brohm and Marve, over the past two years, are 0- 3 in their combined starts. This year they have combined to throw just one TD against eight interceptions — three of which have been returned for touchdowns. Willy, meanwhile, had a TD- tointerception ratio of 8: 3 before he was injured. But he won’t be back until late September, maybe longer. Still, as bad as the first half of 2015 has been, it could be salvaged with even a modest run, beginning with the annual back- to- back with the Riders. Asked to assess his team at the midway point, O’Shea — not surprisingly — pulled out the “ stick together, work hard,” answer. “ We’ve got to figure out a way to make that work for us in the next nine games,” he said, “ and put ourselves in position to make the playoffs.” Ed. tait@ freepress. mb. ca Twitter: @ WFPEdTait Escobar tops in Winnipeg / C5 SPORTS SPORTS EDITOR: STEVE LYONS 204- 697- 7285 I SPORTS@ FREEPRESS. MB. CA I WINNIPEGFREEPRESS. COM MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2015 C 1 Halfway home, long way to go Quarterbacking biggest issue as Blue strive to improve ED TAIT . Record: 3- 6, fourth in the West Division, eighth overall in the CFL . Points for: 168, ninth overall . Points against: 273, eighth overall NOTABLE NUMBERS 8 — Points scored by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Saturday’s loss to Calgary, including a two- point safety conceded by the Stamps. 9 — Runs batted in by Toronto Blue Jays DH Edwin Encarnacion in Saturday’s 15- 1 romp over Detroit. 6- 17 — The Bombers’ record at Investors Group Field. 14.65 — The average margin of defeat in those 17 home losses at IGF. WHAT’S LEFT The Bombers reached the midway point of the 2015 CFL season Saturday at 3- 6. To make the playoffs, they’ll need to go on a run over the next few weeks while watching the East Division for a possible crossover. Five of the Bombers’ next six games are against West Division rivals. “ It’s the CFL and the last nine really determine what happens in your season,” said defensive back Teague Sherman. “ Last year, we were in the exact opposite situation, we were 6- 3 at the midway point. Last year, we were 1- 8 ( in their final nine). It’d be nice to go 8- 1. It’s absolutely crappy that we’re 3- 6 right now, but there’s nine games left.” . Sun., Sept. 6 at Saskatchewan . Sat., Sept. 12 vs. Saskatchewan . Sun., Sept. 20 at Montreal . Fri., Sept. 25 vs. Calgary . Sat., Oct. 3 vs. Edmonton . Sat., Oct. 10 at B. C. . Fri., Oct. 16 at Ottawa . Sat., Oct. 24 vs. Ottawa . Fri., Nov. 6 at Toronto — Ed Tait, with files from Jeff Hamilton Bombers QB Robert Marve has a throw knocked down Saturday. Will he be replaced by pass- bouncing Brian Brohm in Regina Sunday? Or could we see Dominique Davis? A FIRST HALF TO FORGET FOR WINNIPEG C_ 01_ Aug- 31- 15_ FP_ 01. indd C1 8/ 30/ 15 8: 27: 38 PM

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