1. THEY'RE BAD, BAD... REALLY, REALLY BAD (APOLOGIES TO MICHAEL JACKSON)
There's a lot of history jammed into the 80-plus years of the Winnipeg Football Club. And so it really takes some doing for any one single player -- or any one single edition of this franchise -- to have those who compile the record book busting out the erasers or hammering away on the delete button.
But regardless of what happens today this 2013 bunch has the distinction of going down as one of the worst in the club's many decades of service. Yes, 4-14 would look a helluva lot better than 3-15, but either number still stinks enough to have skunks blowing chunks.
Some numbers, as a point of reference:
-- The last team to go 4-14 was the 2010 Bombers in their first year under Paul LaPolice. That team lost 10 games by a touchdown or less;
-- The only Bombers squad to finish 3-15 in an 18-game schedule was the 1998 crew. That year the team opened 0-10 and fired Jeff Reinebold before interim head coach Gary Hoffman helped guide the club to a win in the final game of the season. That squad's 15 losses came by an average margin of 14.67 points.
FYI, heading into today the 2013 Bombers have lost 14 games by an average margin of 15.8 points.
So, in the grand scheme of things, what's the difference between 3-15 and 4-14?
"Pride," said offensive tackle Glenn January. "You always have to face every opportunity and give it your best shot otherwise you've let yourself down as a man. Regardless of whether or not we win this game we're going to have a bad taste in our mouth. At least we can feel a sense of pride as we exit the field for the last time in 2013."
2. WINTER IS COMING
There will be a purge in Bomberland this off-season. The players know it, the coaches are frighteningly aware of it. And so earlier in the week Tim Burke told the troops to enjoy their final days together, because for many this will be their last game as teammates before the axe starts swinging.
"Coach told us to just enjoy each other," said running back Will Ford. "There's going to be new faces, there's going to be people that come and go. He said to enjoy each other, to enjoy being around each other and see what good can come out of it.
"Through this rough season I really do believe this team has come closer. We all got each other's backs and we'll live and die together."
3. THE QB PICTURE FOR 2014
Put yourself in Max Hall's cleats for a moment. Better yet, try being Justin Goltz, Jason Boltus or Levi Brown knowing that one of the first orders of business in the next few weeks for the Bombers is to upgrade -- read: clean out -- the current crop at the quarterback position. That wouldn't exactly give anyone who tosses footballs for a living right now a warm and fuzzy feeling.
But, if nothing else, what Hall has done over the last few weeks has earned him an invite back for 2014. He has completed 58.1 per cent of his passes for 1,839 yards with nine TDs and nine interceptions. Not bad numbers, given the circumstances.
"I want to be known as a guy who answers the bell when he's called upon," said Hall.
"This whole season has been crazy and there's been a lot of things happen. This opportunity I have... I've done some good things and I've done some bad things. But I think the bottom line is I've stepped up in a tough situation and done the best I can, I've gotten better every week. The last three-four weeks I've put our team in a situation to win games. I've got to do it one more time."
4. TICATS: REST VS. RUST DEBATE
Remember the 2001 Bombers? Romped to a 14-2 record, took their foot off the gas for the final two regular-season games -- both losses -- and then looked rusty in the post-season before falling to the Calgary Stampeders, an 8-10 team, in the Grey Cup.
That comparison might not ring any bells in Hamilton, but it is the debate almost every coach wrestles with prior to a game in which the result has no bearing on the standings.
The Ticats will play host to the East semifinal next weekend and will rest a number of players against the Bombers, including C.J. Gable, Bakari Grant and Evan McCollogh while others -- like QB Henry Burris -- might only get a few snaps.
"We have a plan, but that's subject to change depending on what happens," said Ticats head coach Kent Austin. "The game means something. Every game means something. We're coming off a season that was not successful. We'd like to win every football game. We have guys that are coming back off injury, that either came back last week or are coming back this week, that are going to be on the field ready to play and play at a high level.
"It's not the overall record (that matters) it's that every victory means something. It's not easy to win. All wins are precious in this sport. Our players know they've got to win every game. Otherwise, why are you playing? It's a disservice to everybody, your teammates, the organization, across the board, to not prepare to win."
5. ONCE MORE WITH FEELING
Finally, if the Bombers do nothing else today they should take a moment to look up in the stands after the national anthem and thank the heavens for whoever is in the building.
This is a 3-14 team playing at the same time the Jets are facing the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks across town.
That anyone still cares enough to watch this 2013 club is a testament to the fans' loyalty. And that the Bombers have averaged 31,177 fans -- a franchise record -- has many wondering one thing as the casket lid closes on this season: Just imagine the numbers if this team had been even remotely entertaining?
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