September 4, 2015


Record: 3–6–0

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Fans take in the final Winnipeg Blue Bombers game of the season at Investors Group Field. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Ticats' quarterback Henry Burris is taken down by Jovon Johnson in the first quarter. (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
Bombers quarterback Max Hall gets rid of the ball just before he is taken down by Brandon Boudreaux of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the first quarter. (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
Ticats back up quarterback Dan LeFevour passes over the end-zone line among a mass of players. A penalty was called on the Ticats, but they scored on the next play. (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers Brandon Stewart (8) attempts to take down Hamilton Tiger-Cats Onrea Jones (89) Saturday afternoon at Investors Group Field. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers Mario Fannin (#32) is taken down by Hamilton Tiger-Cats Onrea Jones (89). (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Blue Bombers)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Wallace Miles (84) hauls a pass in as Dee Webb of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats reaches for the ball during the second half. (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)
Ticats wide receiver Onrea Jones scores a touchdown as Demond Washington of the Bombers comes crashing down behind him during the second quarter. (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
Winnipeg football fans watch the game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the second half of CFL action in Winnipeg Saturday, November 2, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade (CP)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Hamilton Tiger-Cats' Arthur Hobbs (24) breaks up the pass in the end zone intended for Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Clarence Denmark (89) during the second half. (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Max Hall (15) makes a pass against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the second half. (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Rory Kohlert (87) is tackled by Hamilton Tiger-Cats Ray Shipman (42) and Arthur Hobbs (24) during the second half. (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers look dejected during the final moments of Saturday afternoon's game. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Jovon Johnson (#2) looks dejected during the final moments of the game. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Bombers' head coach Tim Burke looks on near the end of another Blue Bombers loss at Investors Group Field. (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke shakes hands with a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after the 37-7 loss. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
A Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan delivers a message. (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)
A fan dressed in a gorilla suit had a message of his own for the Bombers Saturday. (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
Others made their voices heard by not showing up at all. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Reduce, reuse, recycle. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Bubbles are fun. For Bomber fans, this game was not. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Keith Tarr calms his three-year-old son Jaxon near the end of another Blue Bombers loss at Investors Group Field. (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke and quarterback Jason Boltus walk off of the field after the game. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers Carl Fitzgerald (#26) looks dejected as he leaves the field. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Fans take in the final Winnipeg Blue Bombers game of the season at Investors Group Field. - (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Ticats' quarterback Henry Burris is taken down by Jovon Johnson in the first quarter. - (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
Bombers quarterback Max Hall gets rid of the ball just before he is taken down by Brandon Boudreaux of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the first quarter. - (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
Ticats back up quarterback Dan LeFevour passes over the end-zone line among a mass of players. A penalty was called on the Ticats, but they scored on the next play. - (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers Brandon Stewart (8) attempts to take down Hamilton Tiger-Cats Onrea Jones (89) Saturday afternoon at Investors Group Field. - (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers Mario Fannin (#32) is taken down by Hamilton Tiger-Cats Onrea Jones (89). - (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Blue Bombers)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Wallace Miles (84) hauls a pass in as Dee Webb of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats reaches for the ball during the second half. - (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)
Ticats wide receiver Onrea Jones scores a touchdown as Demond Washington of the Bombers comes crashing down behind him during the second quarter. - (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
Winnipeg football fans watch the game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the second half of CFL action in Winnipeg Saturday, November 2, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade - (CP)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke. - (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Hamilton Tiger-Cats' Arthur Hobbs (24) breaks up the pass in the end zone intended for Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Clarence Denmark (89) during the second half. - (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Max Hall (15) makes a pass against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the second half. - (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Rory Kohlert (87) is tackled by Hamilton Tiger-Cats Ray Shipman (42) and Arthur Hobbs (24) during the second half. - (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers look dejected during the final moments of Saturday afternoon's game. - (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Jovon Johnson (#2) looks dejected during the final moments of the game. - (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Bombers' head coach Tim Burke looks on near the end of another Blue Bombers loss at Investors Group Field. - (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke shakes hands with a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after the 37-7 loss. - (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
A Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan delivers a message. - (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)
A fan dressed in a gorilla suit had a message of his own for the Bombers Saturday. - (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
Others made their voices heard by not showing up at all. - (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Reduce, reuse, recycle. - (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Bubbles are fun. For Bomber fans, this game was not. - (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Keith Tarr calms his three-year-old son Jaxon near the end of another Blue Bombers loss at Investors Group Field. - (Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke and quarterback Jason Boltus walk off of the field after the game. - (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers Carl Fitzgerald (#26) looks dejected as he leaves the field. - (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press)

Smell of underwear, change in air

THE Winnipeg Blue Bombers players emptied their lockers at Investors Group Field Sunday morning, many of them for the final time.

Bombers� Glenn January waits for the sweet relief of the end ot the 2013 season.

CP

Bombers� Glenn January waits for the sweet relief of the end ot the 2013 season.

With the club done for the season after a 37-7 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at IGF on Saturday, players loaded their gear into garbage bags and began to head out for the four corners of the continent.

With widespread and systemic exchange expected this winter for a team that tied a franchise record for futility with a 3-15 record in 2013, the finality of a season prematurely ended was mixed with anxiety and uncertainty about the future as players said their goodbyes on Sunday.

"Change is inevitable," said offensive tackle Glenn January. "Something's going to have to happen with us to right the ship and it still remains to be seen what the solution is."

January, who has morphed into one of the undisputed leaders in the Bombers locker-room, said the mood on Sunday was "a mixed bag. You have some guys who are just happy to be out of here. And you have some guys that are still a bit despondent and upset with the outcome of the season.

"However you want to read into that, I think that could be the story of the season in itself."

 

January sticks up for O-line

ONE of the areas many think needs to be improved next season is the team's offensive line, which gave up far too many sacks this season and had difficulty developing a sustained running game.

But January thinks his unit has been unfairly tarnished.

"If you look statistically across the league, I think there's a lot of offensive lines that get a free pass. If you look at our numbers compared to even our most recent opponent, Hamilton, the number of sacks and hits they give up with a veteran quarterback who has a quick release is even more than we have. So I don't know how they're juggernauts and we're terrible. You have to actually boil it down and look at what the numbers say.

"Obviously we're not happy with how our season went and we can be better. But this whole sense we're the worst in the league is complete nonsense."

Hamilton gave up a league-worst 65 sacks this season, while Winnipeg gave up 50, which was sixth in the league.

 

NFL appeals to Matthews

BOMBERS wide receiver Chris Matthews, who followed a CFL rookie of the year season in 2012 with an injury-riddled 2013, is one of Winnipeg's 22 potential free agents this winter.

Matthews said returning to Winnipeg would be his first choice if he plays again in the CFL, but he first intends to pursue any and all opportunities in the NFL.

"I'm not opposed to staying up here and signing a contract. But I'm 23 -- I'm still young and I feel like I want to give it that shot at getting a chance to go to the NFL and see if I can potentially get down there and stick, and actually do well."

While his 2013 season was basically a washout, Matthews said his 2012 performance attracted some NFL interest and he's confident he will be able to get some NFL workouts this winter.

 

Morley's future uncertain

VETERAN guard Steve Morley is another of Winnipeg's potential free agents this winter.

Morley missed the only starts of an otherwise uninterrupted five-year career with the Bombers in 2013 due to a knee injury and there was a feeling among the Bombers coaching staff even before the injury that the former NFLer's play has begun to tail off.

So, will he be back in 2014?

"That'd be nice. I love it here and love the city," said Morley. "But we'll see what happens. There's going to be a lot of changes."

 

Hall showed toughness, durability

BOMBERS QB Max Hall didn't have his best game against Hamilton, but he generally showed improvement during the final six weeks of the season and, if nothing else, proved himself the toughest and most durable quarterback the Bombers have had in recent memory.

Hall once again took some hellacious hits against Hamilton and was asked Sunday if the toughness he showed in the late-goings of this season, combined with the steady improvement, warranted a return invite to training camp next year.

"I try to stay in there, man. I feel like I'm pretty resilient and can play through pain," said Hall. "I think I grew as a quarterback in this league and showed that I can lead this team... I think I'm very capable of being a starter if that's the route they decide to go. But that's not my decision. If they decide to try bring someone else in, hopefully I'm still here and it's a guy I can learn from and just keep getting better."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 4, 2013 0

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