December 4, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
DONE FOR THE SEASON
CALGARY -- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers put RB Chad Simpson and WR Chris Matthews on the nine-game injured list Friday. Both have been slow convalescing from injuries and neither are expected to play again this season, Bombers head coach Tim Burke said.
"They're just not healing very fast," said Burke. "And I will give Chad credit -- he's worked his butt off to get healthy... And then Chris, he just hasn't healed very well."
Both Simpson and Matthews are free agents at the end of this season.
The 2-11 Bombers are 16-point underdogs coming into their game today against the 10-3 Calgary Stampeders and Burke was asked if he thought it was possible the Stamps might take the Bombers lightly.
"I really hope so," Burke laughed. "But I doubt it."
Stampeders pass rush specialist Charleston Hughes had a good-natured challenge Friday for his counterparts on the Bombers defensive line.
The Stampeders and Bombers boast the best two pass rushes in the CFL and Hughes said that he's looking forward to sharing the field with his Winnipeg rivals.
"It gets you a little excited just knowing we're considered the two best defensive lines in the league," said Hughes, before quickly adding with a smile: "Obviously we are the best defensive line in the league. You know that, right?"
Well, actually, if the gold standard for measuring the efficacy of a defensive line is quarterback sacks, it's the Bombers front-four with a narrow lead of 48-47 over Hughes and the Stamps' front-four this season. Bombers defensive end Alex Hall leads the league in sacks with 15, followed by Hughes with 13.
Hall wasn't going to be goaded into an argument when told of Hughes's boast.
"I think they have good players -- him being one of them," Hall said. "But I think we have the best line. We just have to go out and show it."
"Oh really? I didn't know that (laughing). I don't know what to tell you about that."
-- Bombers defensive end Alex Hall responding to rumours he's been the subject of trade inquiries by other CFL teams wondering if they could pry him loose in advance of next Wednesday's CFL trade deadline.
SOME CREDIT FOR THE D
The woeful performance of the Bombers offence this season has overshadowed what at times has been a very respectable defence.
Consider these numbers dug up this week by the CFL stats bureau:
The Winnipeg defence has held its opponents to under 300 yards offence three times in 2013 -- including last week against B.C. -- and has held opponents to under 315 yards of offence five times.
By contrast, Winnipeg's average net yards as an offence this season is 267.5 yards per game -- their second worst total in 43 years. Only a 266-yard average in 1998 was worse.
The Bombers turnover ratio this season is also flirting with some unfortunate franchise history. At minus-28, the Bombers are approaching a franchise worst turnover ratio of minus-30 set in 1999.
Winnipeg has won the turnover battle just once in 13 games this season.
VERY GOOD, VERY BAD
The Stampeders have qualified for the playoffs for the ninth consecutive year. The Bombers are poised to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
-- Paul Wiecek
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 C4