Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–7–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

It's execute or be executed vs. Lions

Blue defenders plan to play tighter game against B.C.

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A continuation of the recent trend with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' defence -- its secondary in particular -- leads to some very dark places.

In their current three-game losing streak, the 1-4 Bombers have seen opposition quarterbacks connect on nearly 90 per cent of their passes, throwing for more than 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns.

Next up: Travis Lulay and the 3-2 B.C. Lions Monday afternoon at B.C. Place.

"They're a good offence," Bombers defensive back Brandon Stewart said Friday. "They've got a good offensive line, they've got skill players and they've got one of the best quarterbacks in the league. You can say that most every week. There are some exceptionally good quarterbacks up here.

"We know we've got to be assignment-sound for sure or Lulay will take advantage of it."

Lulay's home-field record is 13-1 and the team is 16-2 since the Lions moved back into their renovated stadium in 2011.

"No, I couldn't care less," Stewart said of those impressive numbers. "It's just a home game for them and another away game for us in a dome.

"We've just got to go out there and execute. If we do that, we're going to have a chance to win the game."

"To execute" -- translation: Fix some of the major errors of the past three weeks. Against the Lions, the Bombers need to get their act together, and that's collectively.

"They (opponents) get paid to do their jobs as well, but at times, we've not been as sound as we should be on the back end," Stewart said. "We've just got to tighten up and make sure everybody's doing their jobs."

Finding holes

Added defensive back Jovon Johnson: "They're finding the holes in our defence that we're giving up. Some of it is us just having breakdowns in coverage, lack of communication. So we're giving up a couple of big plays in a game just based on lack of communication, and we've got to do a better job of that.

"Other than that, I think teams are scheming where to go with the ball and they're finding holes in the defence. That's pretty much what's been going on. But I think we've got a good game plan and we'll be fine to get back on track."

An element that could foster a trend reversal is turnovers. There, the Bombers are the worst in the CFL by ratio at minus-12 through five games.

"We've just got to do a better job of getting turnovers and putting them (the Bomber offence) in position to score points," Johnson said. "Then we'll be fine and it won't matter who's our starting quarterback."

The veteran defender pointed out another vulnerability that has cost the team, but one it hopes to correct soon -- individuals trying to do too much.

"Any time you play against B.C., the priority is to stop the quarterback, because he makes the machine run," Johnson said.

"They have some very good skill players, and we have to be fundamentally sound, know our assignments and be where we're supposed to be and not try to do too much."

That, head coach Tim Burke said, could be a big difference.

"Especially in the last game, we were guilty of guys trying to do too much," Burke said.

"For example, we made a giant mistake, giant mental error when we gave up that first long pass in the last game. After that then, a couple of players are trying to overplay that responsibility in case that same player makes that same mistake again, and now they're playing outside of their responsibility and then that opens something else up."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 3, 2013 C5

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