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The nail in the coffin

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If there was even a sliver of a hint of hope for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers it packed its bags and stomped out of town late Friday night.

The Bombers are alone in their futility. This season is all but over with only the possibility of collecting a high pick in the CFL draft to be garnered.

Losing is what this team does best and that should offer some consolation to Bombers fans who have already turned the page and are looking to the future. This team is too inept to get in its own way and somehow win its way out of picking right after the expansion Ottawa Red Blacks.

Even when they are good, this edition of the Bombers is bad.

The Blue offered up their best 30 minutes of football on Friday night and held a 20-0 lead before collapsing to fall 35-27 in overtime to the Edmonton Eskimos.

It was the ugly punctuation mark on a season that now sees the Bombers all alone in last at 2-10 in the CFL.

The loss will hang over this group of coaches and players and likely put an end to any talk of redemption. Head coach Tim Burke can almost certainly not come back from this defeat.

Burke is a good man and has a track record as an excellent defensive co-ordinator. He’ll need it. Burke will have to be fired by GM Kyle Walters at season’s end.

Walters will now be free to gut as much of this roster as he wants and begin auditions for next season. Trades should be made to improve the team’s draft position. No one should be viewed as untouchable.

Free-agent-to-be Henoc Muamba is a priority signing, but Walters must get an answer prior to the trade deadline of Oct. 9.

If Muamba refuses to sign an extension he should be dealt for picks or another Canadian with more term on his contract.

No offer should be denied out of hand. Everything should be considered.

Walters must focus on the future and position the club to try to acquire a quarterback from another club prior to the dispersal draft that will welcome the Ottawa Red Blacks to the CFL for next season.

On the subject of quarterbacks, the Bombers should not be afraid to sign a new passel of passers to audition.

None of the quarterbacks currently in residence has put forth an argument as a future franchise leader. There are NFL cuts and free agents on the street in the U.S. Start bringing them in and giving them a look.

There’s no need to insult the fan base with talk of trying to win more games this season.

There is nothing to be gained from it and this community has been forced to accept drek masked as football for too long.

A few more losses won’t damage them further. Bombers fans want and deserve a better product. It’s time to start working towards that end.

The Joe Mack era is over but it still haunts this franchise. Acting CEO Wade Miller needs to step forward, admit how bad this team is and how far-reaching the problems are and inform fans that a complete and thorough rebuild is underway.

Miller must decide what he’s going to do about the GM position and either give the keys to Walters or begin his search for a new candidate.

This season is lost. Gone. Toast. In the wind.

Miller must find a way to make the most use of the remaining games, assets and time available to him.

To date it’s been one of the worst football seasons this city has had to endure, but to let it now go entirely for naught would be just as big a sin.

The hole has been dug and the Bombers are in it. All that’s left is to simply admit the plight they are in and get out of the hole and look towards a new day.

Or stay in it and let the rest of the league proceed to cover the club and its fans with dirt.

This can either be a funeral or a rebirth. One has a future the other doesn’t. Get on with tomorrow. It’s already here.

 

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Joe Bryksa / Winnipeg Free Press

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Max Hall looks down field to pass.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 21, 2013 C3

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Updated on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 5:05 AM CDT: Adds videos, adds slideshows

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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