It was during Tim Burke's session with the media on Monday -- one in which he arrived with a sheet of paper outlining the litany of offensive errors plaguing his Winnipeg Blue Bombers -- that a secondary problem emerged for the head coach:
The mistakes appear to be so widespread Burke doesn't have enough digits to point fingers at all the areas of blame.
"There's a lot of ails right now," said Burke. "I know everybody likes to focus on the quarterback, but there's a lot of things going wrong."
Some of the problem areas Burke pointed out, without naming all of the culprits:
- One of the wide receivers didn't beat man coverage once all night;
- One receiver was continually late on his "waggle" (movement toward the line of scrimmage before the snap);
- The offensive line was stuffed twice on runs in the third quarter;
- One O-lineman was burned on a certain blitz twice;
- Three of the six sacks were the result of poor technique by O-linemen, and;
- There were three open receivers not hit by quarterback Buck Pierce.
"There's a lot of things there and everybody's got to pick up their game on the offensive side of the ball," said Burke. "It's not just one guy, it's many.
"How are we going to get better at it? We're going to start by practising better on offence. Everybody's got to take responsibility for their actions. You can't point the finger at one guy or the co-ordinator or whatever and say it's this person's fault, because it's many people's faults.
"When we do get it corrected, we'll be a pretty good offence."
That's a tough sell right now, based on recent -- and not-so recent -- evidence.
The Bombers are last in passing TDs (six), have surrendered the most sacks (14), fumbled more than anyone, are sixth in scoring, sixth in yardage... and so on.
What was particularly disturbing is in the second half of the loss to Hamilton on Saturday, the Bombers had just 48 net yards offence, and of the eight second-half possessions, seven resulted in punts, five resulted in negative yardage and there were three sacks against. The lone bright spot was the second rushing TD by Chad Simpson.
That's ugly with a capital ugh.
Asked which area would be the first he'd like to have fixed, Burke pointed to the fact there were no offensive turnovers in the game (the one interception came on a fake punt by Mike Renaud).
"What's the next thing?" said Burke. "Well, I'd rather not have our quarterback get sacked so many times."
As deep-rooted as the offensive problems are, Burke was quick to cut off any discussion about a possible quarterback change from Pierce to either Justin Goltz or Max Hall.
"It's not all the quarterback's fault that we're not producing," said Burke. "If a receiver is supposed to be in a certain spot in his read and he's not there, now (the quarterback's) got to switch gears and go to the other side of the field. Obviously if an offensive lineman misses his block and he's got no time to throw, that's not his fault either. Now, can Buck get better at what he's doing? Of course he can."
Burke said there will be at least one roster move, possibly two, for the offence as the Bombers prepare for Friday's game with Toronto. And that might just be the start of it.
"After awhile if you don't do your job, you've got to sit down," he said. "(The offensive problems) all fixable, that's the thing. So, we've got to get it done."
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