Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–7–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Once in a Blue mood

Bombers don't feel any of the defeatist attitude from last season

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Quarterback Drew Willy sums up Thursday's performance in Toronto. But his teammates don't expect that loss to be the start of another irreversible slide.

CHRIS YOUNG / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Quarterback Drew Willy sums up Thursday's performance in Toronto. But his teammates don't expect that loss to be the start of another irreversible slide.

No one knows more about losing in these parts than Winnipeg Blue Bombers veteran linemen Glenn January and Bryant Turner.

And so with the once high-flying Bombers mired in a two-game losing streak -- and losers of three of their last five games -- we turned to the experts on Thursday for advice on how this losing streak is different than all the other ones that January and Turner -- not to mention Winnipeg fans generally -- have suffered through in recent seasons.

"It's completely different," January said Thursday. "You look at the two most recent losses and we had a chance to win right up until the fourth quarter. So it's not like we're getting blown out the way we were the last few years.

"And the feeling we have going into these games is that we are always have a chance to win. It's a completely different mentality in the locker-room this year. Guys aren't getting down on themselves and guys are doing whatever it takes to be prepared for every game.

"The work environment has changed to the point where nobody wants to let down their teammates. It's less of a baby-sitting situation and more of a 'Be a professional and make sure you're doing the right thing.' "

'It's a whole different mood. First of all, we've got completely different guys in the locker-room this year. And no one's going into shock about it. I feel like we'll get if fixed and turned around'

-- Bryant Turner

While there is a sense of urgency in the Bombers locker-room right now -- they face Montreal next Friday and then play rival Saskatchewan back to back -- Turner says the players and coaching staff are keeping the recent struggles in perspective.

"It's a whole different mood. First of all, we've got completely different guys in the locker-room this year," said Turner.

"And no one's going into shock about it. I feel like we'll get it fixed and turned around."

It has been a tale of two very different Bombers seasons so far in 2014. First, there were the Bombers who stormed out of training camp with three straight wins over Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal in succession to open the regular season at 3-0.

And then there's been the more recent incarnation of a Bombers team that got shellacked at home by Edmonton in Week 4; bounced back with impressive road wins over B.C. and Hamilton in Weeks 5 and 6, respectively, and then stumbled again the last two weeks with losses at home to Saskatchewan and on the road this week in Toronto.

Add the 3-0 start to the 2-3 record since then and you've got a Bombers team that heads into the midway point of their season with a 5-3 record that is both surprisingly good -- given how little was expected of this team before the season began -- and a bit disappointing -- given how good they looked during the first three weeks.

The danger, of course, is that the current skid becomes an uncontrollable slide.

While every Bombers fan -- much to their chagrin -- vividly remembers all the losing streaks that went into last year's 3-15 record and the 6-12 season in 2012 -- the better comparison to this Bombers team might be the 2011 outfit.

That team stormed out of the gate to open the regular season with a 7-1 record, only to go 3-7 the rest of the regular season and limp into the playoffs, ultimately losing the Grey Cup game that year to B.C.

January says he doesn't see that kind of skid happening to the current team.

"There's been no sense at all of 'Here we go again,' '' said January. "Obviously there's some things that we've got to do to get better and some things that we need to fix. And the good news is we've got some time now to work on making those fixes."

With an unusually long span between games -- the Bombers played on Tuesday and don't play again until Aug. 22 -- head coach Mike O'Shea gave his players Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off this week.

The club returns to practice at Investors Group Field on Saturday.

 

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 15, 2014 C3

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