Blue Bomber Report Record: 3–15–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Five storylines

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1. WELCOME TO THE BLUE AND GOLTZ ERA

Just in case you missed it -- or your eyes glossed over after reading the same thing over and over again during the last three-plus seasons -- the Bombers have made a quarterback change this week. Justin Goltz, the 25-year-old Occidental College product who made his first pro start a week ago, has been declared the No. 1 gun going forward.

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That gives this change a bit more of a semi-permanent feel in this ongoing drama, especially compared to the starts made by Joey Elliott and Alex Brink in relief of the injured Buck Pierce in years past.

"There's no choice, there is no time to make excuses, no time to look back and say, 'What if?' " said Goltz this week. "I've got to take it and run with it, and I'm going to make the most of it. I know I need to come in and compete and I know results need to be shown."

2. PLUGGING THE SIZE-LARGE HOLES IN THE AIR DEFENCE

The whole QB soap opera over the last few days has, temporarily at least, created an interesting diversion from one of the real concerns with the Bombers right now: their inability to make any quarterback squirm in the huddle. If it's the defence NOT blitzing Calgary's Bo Levi Mitchell, it's the horrible miscues in the secondary.

And, quite clearly, there's a correlation here. Consider these numbers that have been trotted out over and over again in the last week: In the last three games, the three quarterbacks the Bombers have faced -- Hamilton's Henry Burris, Ricky Ray of Toronto and Mitchell -- have combined to complete 87.1 per cent of their passes for 1,024 yards, with seven touchdowns and zero interceptions.

3. PUT THE BALL IN THE PLAYMAKERS' HANDS

A sentence yours truly didn't think he'd be typing heading into Week 6 of the season: Chris Matthews, last year's CFL Most Outstanding Rookie, is EIGHTH in Bomber receiving, with six catches for 76 yards. The seven players ahead of him? Cory Watson (15-215), Clarence Denmark (11-213), Jade Etienne (14-208), Rory Kohlert (13-175), Terrence Edwards (10-86), Chad Simpson (13-81) and Isaac Anderson (8-77).

The Bombers' big target has been out since Week 2 with an achy back, so it's hard to pile up big numbers in civvies. But if this offence is to find some traction again, they need to get the ball into his hands and into the mitts of Chad Simpson. Of course, this is like saying breathing is a good thing, but putting this theory into practice has been difficult for the attack.

4. HARASS HARRIS

Don't think it doesn't bug a ton of folks in the Bomber organization that one of the best Canadians in the CFL hails from right here in Winnipeg. Trouble is, Andrew Harris -- undrafted, but signed as a "territorial exemption" after playing junior football for the Vancouver Island Raiders -- wears B.C. Lions colours.

He was the top Canadian in B.C.'s 2011 Grey Cup win over Winnipeg, was a CFL all-star last year and is the motor in the Lions' offence, with 403 yards rushing, 164 yards receiving and five TDs already this season.

How do the Bombers stop him?

"Get him to come back to Winnipeg would be one," cracked Bombers head coach Tim Burke. "I think he's obviously one of the top backs in the league. He's so versatile. He can run inside, he can run outside, he catches the ball well, he leaps over tall buildings -- he's that kind of guy. How do we control him? We have to do our jobs defensively as far as plugging the holes... And one thing we've got to do is tackle better than we did last week."

5. STOP THE BLEEDING: WIN ASAP

No-brainer. Bombers have dropped three straight and are winless in their new building. Reminds us of the quote by longtime Vancouver Canucks head coach Harry Neale.

"We can't win at home, we can't win on the road," said Neale. "My failure as a head coach is I can't think of anywhere else to play."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 3, 2013 C4

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