Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sounds of silence sinister

Strangely, not a whisper from Blue day after loss

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It was quiet, almost too quiet.

The stony silence from the front office of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers was deafening on Saturday, one day after the club's record fell to 1-6 following a 37-18 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Investors Group Field.

The loss was the fifth straight for Winnipeg -- who are also still looking for their first win at Investors Group Field -- and Twitter was alive all day Saturday with calls from Bombers fans to fire everyone from offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton to head coach Tim Burke.

But if more blood-letting -- this is a team, remember, who just finished firing their GM and CEO -- was what fans wanted in the wake of the Hamilton loss, they were disappointed as the Bombers office on Saturday was even more quiet than the Bombers offence the night before.

Head coach Tim Burke, who used to regularly conduct day-after post-mortems with the media following home games, has now done away with that practice and the club didn't offer anyone to speak in Burke's place on Saturday.

And so with no one available to speak on behalf of the team, fans were left to guess what the next move will be for a team that looked Friday night to be in as much disarray on the field as they've recently been off of it.

With the club's next two games on the road -- next Saturday in Guelph against Hamilton and Labour Day Sunday in Regina against the Roughriders -- the general consensus seems to be this Bombers season could rapidly reach the point of no return unless something drastic changes soon.

Burke was noncommittal after the game Friday night when he was asked whether Crowton would still be his offensive co-ordinator this coming week, saying only that everything is on the table right now given the team's dire straits.

Similarly, Burke wouldn't commit to who will be his starting quarterback for the next game, even though the man who started the last one -- Max Hall -- wasn't shy about telling the media Friday night that he felt he did enough against the Ticats to earn another start in Guelph.

Did he? That's an interesting question.

To his credit, Hall had a solid first half against the Ticats and gets credit for so quickly figuring out what all Bombers quarterbacks eventually learn -- when in doubt, throw it to veteran slotback Terrence Edwards.

Edwards was Hall's favourite target all night and he made some clutch grabs -- including a pair of 22-yarders on second down -- that kept a 103-yard Bombers touchdown drive alive in the second quarter.

Hall wasn't nearly as effective in the second half, however, and his three turnovers -- a fumble and two interceptions -- jumped off the post-game stats page, even though you couldn't really fault Hall for the fumble (he got pasted from the blind side) and at least one of the interceptions was the result of a receiver running the wrong route.

While it was nothing spectacular, Hall put in a performance at least as serviceable as anything the other two Bombers starters this season -- Buck Pierce and Justin Goltz -- have put together. And the fact Hall did it in his CFL debut suggests there's at least some more upside there.

The other question left unanswered by the Bombers on Saturday concerns any impending player moves. You can fire all the coaches and front office people in the world, at the end of the day the game is played by the players and a couple of things emerged with crystal clarity on Friday:

1. The Bombers secondary cannot cover.

2. Kito Poblah cannot catch.

Neither of these problems is new, of course -- Burke has expressed his distaste with the secondary and Poblah all season long -- but you have to wonder if Friday wasn't the last straw.

The secondary got torched by Hamilton QB Henry Burris for 250 yards in the first half, while Poblah encapsulated with his drop of an easy TD reception in the second quarter everything that drives Burke crazy about the third-year underachiever.

Winless at home in four tries. A five-game losing streak. A 1-6 season record. Something's got to give in Bomberland -- and soon.

They say it's quietest before the storm. Saturday's silence at Investors Group Field could be the final moments of tranquility for quite some time.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 18, 2013 B3

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