REGINA — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers in-season extreme makeover may have some new victims.
Head coach Tim Burke, as been the case for much of the 2013 campaign, was not happy with the work of the men in the secondary in Sunday’s Labour Day Classic loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. And that means a club that hasn’t been afraid to make changes over the last couple of weeks could be soon airlifting in new defensive backs.
"I was disappointed with our secondary," said Burke. "We matched up with their wide receivers really well and we have in the past, but we didn’t today. When we got into man-to-man situations they won more of the battles than we did. That was very disappointing. I was disappointed in that we didn’t get a very good pass rush. Our blitzes didn’t get there.
"I’m kind of at a loss right now," Burke added. "We’ve been able to play good man coverage in the past and it just doesn’t seem like we can any more. I don’t know what the reason is but we’re going to have to look at what we’re doing and maybe make some changes personnel wise or scheme wise or both."
Riders’ QB Darian Durant hit on 24 of 35 passes for 310 yards and four TDs, but was also picked off for the first time this season when Alex Suber tipped a pass that was snared by Henoc Muamba. But Chris Getzlaf also lit up the secondary for seven catches for 112 yards while Taj Smith and Geroy Simon both had two touchdowns.
"We know that we can play with them, that’s not even a question," said Bomber cornerback Jovon Johnson. "It’s just a matter of us doing the little things right and also, we can’t turn the ball over and we also can’t get a punt blocked. As for the defence, when the ball is in the air and we’re in good position, we’ve got to make the play. That’s what it boils down to: us out-competing and winning the game."
The Bombers exited the game with three injuries: right tackle Andre Douglas — who missed all of last year — injured his hamstring on the second play of the game and could be lost for awhile; kick returner Aaron Woods pulled up lame with a bad foot while Jade Etienne was tackled hard around the head in the first half and did not return.
What’s the difference between the 8-1 Riders and the 1-8 Bombers? Talent is the easy answer. But Chad Simpson offered this take:
"Winning is definitely a habit and those guys picked up a real good habit early on this year. They played their ball. If you ask me — and I’m not taking anything away from them — they’re not the most gifted bunch. But they’re the most sound team in the CFL, they play together and when they need big-time plays their big-timers step up. That’s pro football. We didn’t do that out there."