December 11, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
1. OF RICKY RAY, SMALL-SCHOOL QBS AND DELIVERY-TRUCK DRIVERS
Some numbers to munch on right off the top: In his last three starts against the Bombers Toronto Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray has thrown for 994 yards with nine touchdowns against just one interception while completing 73.6 per cent of his passes. Yowza.
And in his last game against the Bombers back in Week 3 all Ray did was complete 19 of 20 attempts -- the lone misfire was a drop -- before leaving the game with a knee injury.
All this from a guy who was discovered by the Edmonton Eskimos in 2002 while he was playing for the Fresno Frenzy of AF2, the Arena Football League's development circuit, and driving a delivery truck for Frito Lay.
So from all that we can draw this conclusion: In their never-ending quest to find and develop a QB the Bombers clearly need to scout more small-school pivots -- Ray is a product of Sacramento State, the same school that gave us Charles Roberts -- and tap into any connections with snack-food company employees who can hit the long corner route.
2. THE MATURATION OF MAX HALL
Football is a win-now-or-else business where the locker-room nameplates begin getting replaced if wins don't come in bunches. The Bombers, it could be said, understand that as well as anyone given their season of turnover and upheaval.
But in all this there have been some silver linings, not the least of which has been the slow progress of quarterback Max Hall. Now, while no one is suggesting he is the long-term answer to the black hole at the position on the Bomber depth chart, there is some evidence Hall -- working with his second offensive co-ordinator this season after being bumped from No. 3 to the starting gig -- is starting to figure out this wacky three-down version of the game.
"When I first took over in the first couple games I did some good things, but I also made some pretty big mistakes and had some turnovers," Hall said this week. "Now I think I'm eliminating those mistakes and taking care of the football better."
An example of Hall's growth came with nine seconds left in the first half of last week's win over Montreal when he connected with Clarence Denmark for a 40-yard TD. What he saw prior to the snap wouldn't have been recognizable to him earlier this season.
"He wasn't the first option on that play," said Hall. "I understand the (defensive) look and saw how the halfback played it before and he was kinda cheating and I thought we could get over top of him late in the half. Denny's a guy I trust to go up and get the ball and he did."
3. ONE WIN IS GOOD; BACK-TO-BACK WINS EVEN BETTER
A stat that says everything about the free-fall the Bomber franchise has been in over the last couple of seasons: This club, coming off a victory over Montreal on Thanksgiving Monday, hasn't posted consecutive wins since August of 2011. In fact, since reeling off five straight W's as part of a 7-1 start to that season, the Bombers are an absolutely atrocious 12-31.
Of course, last week's win came against a pair of rookie QBs in Josh Neiswander and Troy Smith. Facing Ray and the defending Grey Cup champs will be an altogether different matter.
"There's a big difference there," said Bomber cornerbacker Jovon Johnson. "A young quarterback doesn't always go through his reads. But Ricky Ray, he'll make his reads and he'll make his throws. We've got to try and show him different looks and be in position to make a play. When we played him here earlier in the year when he was 19 of 20, we played so much zone we never even really gave ourselves a chance to do anything. He was picking us apart.
"Our game plan is a lot different this week, we'll disguise a lot of things. Hopefully that will give us a chance to knock him off and not allow him to complete 90 per cent of his passes.
4 ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER NEW FACE
Meet Mike McAdoo, the latest new recruit who will make his Bomber/CFL debut this afternoon. As the club looks to replace Alex Hall, shipped to Saskatchewan for Patrick Neufeld (who will not dress because of his leg injury), McAdoo will be one of four defensive ends to rotate into the game along with Kenny Mainor, Greg Peach and J.D. Griggs (who dressed for his first CFL game last week).
McAdoo's last game came as a member of the Baltimore Ravens in 2011 against the Atlanta Falcons. He tore his Achilles in 2012 and was released by the Ravens this past June before joining the Bombers.
"I'm excited man, I've been waiting for this time for awhile," said McAdoo Friday. "I've had a couple bumps in the road. They've given me an opportunity to play and show my craft so that's what I'm going to do. Being released by the Ravens, that was the first time I've ever been cut from a team. That was hard to deal with. When I step on the field I'm going to give it all for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers because they gave me a shot."
5. GIVING SOME LOVE BACK
Finally, the Bombers should consider this as they take the field for their second-last home game of the season in front of 30,000 diehards who are still supporting a 3-12 team: they are just 1-6 in their jewel of a new stadium.
Just to hammer home that point, fans in Montreal have seen this club win more at Molson Stadium -- where Winnipeg is 2-0 -- than here in their own barn. And that just ain't right.
email@example.com Twitter: @WFPEdTait
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 19, 2013 C15