Blue Bomber Report Record: 5–1–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

BLUE BOMBER Notebook

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PROFESSIONAL football is a results-based industry and there's been an alarming drop in Joey Elliott's production of late.

The quarterback has watched his numbers sink like a stone since his first start of the 2012 three games ago, a trend that either coincides or is a direct result of Winnipeg's uninspired offensive effort and game plan of late.

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Or maybe it's a little of both. Anyway, in his last three games...

-- Elliott went 9-of-19 for 61 yards and one interception in three-plus quarters of work as the Bombers were put over the Saskatchewan Roughriders knee and spanked 52-0 in the Labour Day Classic Sunday. It was brutal -- no other way to put it.

-- Before the Riders game, the third-year pivot went 20-of-42 for 256 yards and one pick in a loss to the B.C. Lions. Not bad, though the low completion percentage was a red flag of sorts.

-- Prior to the Lions date, Elliott turned in what many thought was his breakthrough performance: 33-of-43 for 406 yards and one interception against Hamilton. Elliott, the great unknown both in Bomberland and across the league had announced his arrival, the pundits screamed.

If only the Tiger-Cats defence was on the schedule every week.

Benefit of the doubt regarding Elliott's downward trajectory includes mention of his inexperience (five career starts) and the fact he's coming off a significant knee injury last season. Both are valid arguments and should be measured when making a final ruling on his overall play. Right now, however, he's struggling.

The club is hoping Buck Pierce will be healthy enough to play when the Riders make the trip to Manitoba next weekend, though his status won't be determined until today at the earliest. Pierce, who is still experiencing discomfort, missed six games with a torn ligament in his left foot.

SATISFACTION: His name didn't appear on the stats sheet but Odell Willis, who danced around Mosaic Stadium field all afternoon Sunday, didn't have a care in the world after the game.

"This lived up to it and then some," the Riders defensive end said outside the Bombers locker-room following Sunday's bloodbath. "A shutout and our team played pretty good. This feels pretty good and I'm already looking forward to coming to Winnipeg. That's going to be a good one."

Willis, the former Bomber who was shipped out of town by GM Joe Mack in the off-season, was asked what kind of reception he'll get when he returns to the city and stadium where he apparently held some sort of high ranking position in civic government (mayor).

"They (the fans) be talking bad to me on Twitter, so it's going to be mixed feelings for me," he smiled. "Hopefully they don't boo me off the field. I hope they're nice to me."

STRANGE CALL: History will mark Tim Burke's head coaching debut as a complete disaster -- losing by 52 points tends to skew perspective that way -- but how did he actually perform on the sidelines in his first go around?

Looking somewhat uncomfortable standing with the players (he spent the last 18 years in the press box as a position coach and defensive co-ordinator during games), Winnipeg's interim head coach made one glaring error during Sunday's contest.

In the second quarter, the Riders were on the Winnipeg 26-yard line and facing a second-and-10 into the strong wind. Quarterback Darian Durant completed a four-yard pass to Chris Getzlaf, moving it to the 22-yard line, but Saskatchewan was flagged for an offside infraction.

Instead of taking the penalty and pushing the Riders back, the Bombers declined the penalty and gave Sandro DeAngelis a field goal opportunity from five-yards closer. The score was 25-0 at the time, so the decision didn't really hurt the Bombers, but it was a curious one.

adam.wazny@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @wazoowazny

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 4, 2012 D3

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