Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blue have no answers

Nobody, not even Jovon Johnson, knows how to fix this ongoing mess

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As Marcellus Bowman found out Friday night, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers do not come with an answer guide.

The third-year linebacker returned to the lineup for a front row seat to the 36-26 loss to the Montreal Alouettes at Canad Inns Stadium -- a score that greatly flattered the home side -- and didn't run for cover when asked about the downward trajectory his club is on.

"People say we're too young," he said following the defeat that dropped the Bombers to a dismal 1-5 through the first six weeks. "But age is not the only problem... there are a lot of problems with this team. Everyone, from the top to the bottom, needs to look in the mirror and step it up, because we're not even close to winning.

"We're getting blown out."

When asked if he'd like to expand on what the problems might be, Bowman declined, insisting he wasn't criticizing the organization but rather the poor performance to this point.

Dating back to last season, the core of this Winnipeg team -- there still is a core group from last year -- hasn't won back-to-back games since last August and is 4-12 in regular-season contests since.

"Things need to really change in here," Bowman added.

There is more Blue than Gold to this team right now, more questions than answers, and the hard-hitting linebacker wasn't the only veteran voicing his displeasure with the current malaise.

Receiver Terrence Edwards, hunched over in his stall as reporters crowded his space for comment after the game, hinted this group needs to grow up -- and he wasn't talking about a young club aging gracefully through formative CFL years.

"Screw all the playfulness," was one of the choice lines uttered by the usually composed Edwards.

The whispers of a dysfunctional room are getting louder with each loss, and with each loss, acceptance starts to become a part of the fabric -- no matter how many cosmetic changes are made to the depth chart or how many sellouts the franchise celebrates.

Winnipeg's troubles can be traced back to a number of areas.

Injuries are the popular crutch, with a lack of depth and inexperience as secondary excuses for the 2012 slide.

The stadium debacle draws some votes for the poor start, but those lines as they relate to the football ops department are blurry at best. Good teams win on the road, too.

Some question if Paul LaPolice, now 15-27 as a head coach, has lost the room; defence of his work starts with doubts about the talent level and Canadian content on the roster he has been given. Those concerns spill over to GM Joe Mack, who has lost some of his shine amongst the fan base thanks to some questionable decisions during the off-season.

There's also a sentiment some players have convinced themselves they can simply flip the switch and start winning games. If this is true, it's a dangerously immature position, a misplaced confidence that only underscores the perception that there are accountability issues with the club.

One senior member of the team scoffed at that Friday, despite a presentation that suggested otherwise.

"We're not B.C. from last year, so we can't think we can just do what they did," said defensive back Jovon Johnson, wearing dark sunglasses inside the locker-room to possibly counter the increasing scrutiny. "They started 0-5 and went to the Grey Cup. That means absolutely nothing. It doesn't work that way.

"We're the Blue Bombers. We need to start playing like we care."

Can you officially write off a one-win outfit after six weeks of an 18-game schedule in an eight-team league where six clubs make the playoffs? Not yet, but with the sun at its highest point and temperature starting to cook, the vultures are starting to circle. Something needs to change, but what those changes are and when those changes will take place is up to Mack and the Bombers board of directors. Make no mistake: Any moves from this point, big or small, will ultimately define this regime.

Even the outspoken Johnson was at a loss for words when asked point-blank what the future holds.

"I don't know," he said softly. "I guess that's yet to be determined."

Jovon Johnson without an opinion. It's worse than everyone thought.

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

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 5, 2012 B2

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