Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 11/6/2012 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
The only numbers that most Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans are going to remember from the 2012 season are 6 (the number of their team's victories) and 12 (the number of their team's losses).
But drill down past the win-loss numbers and the year-end statistics the CFL published at the conclusion of the regular season over the weekend tell a more detailed story about where exactly it all went so wrong for the Bombers in 2012 and -- more importantly at this point -- where they're going to have to improve in 2013.
Let's get the worst over with immediately and deal with the passing game first. In a season in which the Bombers had a revolving door at starting quarterback, the passing game was nothing short of dreadful in 2012.
While Bombers quarterbacks attempted the second highest number of passes in the CFL -- a function of how often they trailed this season -- they finished dead last in total passing yards and completion percentage and threw more interceptions than anyone.
But that's not even the worst of it. Consider this statistic: The four Bombers quarterbacks in 2012 combined for 16 touchdown passes -- less than one per game on average. Not only was that worst in the league, it was worst by a mile with the next-worst team -- the Toronto Argonauts -- completing 25 TDs through the air. Hamilton's Henry Burris, all by himself, threw 43 TDs to lead the league.
The good news is that Gary Crowton's offence finally found some spark towards the end of the season and led the league in terms of net yards and first downs for the six-game period immediately prior to last weekend's regular-season finale against Montreal.
The flip side? Can you imagine how bad the Bombers' offensive numbers would be if they hadn't got hot at the end of the season? The mind boggles.
Of course, as Hamilton proved in spectacular fashion this season, having a good offence is worthless if you're defence is lousy.
The Ticats scored more points than any team in the league in 2012 -- their 29.9 points per game was exactly nine points per game higher than Winnipeg's league-worst tally -- and yet the Ticats finished with the same 6-12 record as the Bombers and get to watch the playoffs on TV this month just like Winnipeg does.
The Bombers defence was better than the Ticats defence in 2012, but not by much. The Ticats surrendered a league-worst average of 32 points per game, with Winnipeg right behind in seventh with an average of 29.5 points per game surrendered.
Now, to be fair some of those points were on the Bombers offence and the real meaningful difference is in the differential. While the Ticats surrendered just 2.1 points per game more on average than they scored, the Bombers were on average out-scored 8.6 points per game -- by far the worst differential in the league and testimony to the number of times Winnipeg was blown out in 2012.
Bombers head coach Tim Burke on Sunday singled out the poor play of his secondary in 2012 as a big source of his team's problems and the numbers bear that out.
Winnipeg gave up more yards per pass and more touchdown passes than any other team in the league, suggestive of a secondary that got beat over the top way too often in 2012.
Conversely, the Winnipeg front seven was respectable this season. While the Bombers gave up an average of 111.9 yards per game rushing this season -- sixth in the CFL -- they also had the most running plays run against them in a year in which opponents so often jumped out to first-quarter leads and spent the rest of the game nursing them.
A better indicator of the Winnipeg run defence in 2012 might be the average number of yards they gave up per rush. And in that category, Winnipeg led the entire CFL at just 5.1 yards per carry.
What's more, the 43 sacks the Bombers defence registered was tied for second in the league with Calgary and trailed only the otherworldly B.C. pass rush.
Penalties hurt the team all season and got only slightly less frequent after head coach Tim Burke took over in August, despite GM Joe Mack citing too many penalties as one of the reasons he sacked Paul LaPolice. Still, in the end, the Bombers finished middle of the pack as the fifth most-penalized team in the league.
A much more critical issue was the turnover ratio, where the Bombers finished dead last by a mile with a plus-minus ratio of -17.
Winnipeg threw more interceptions (23) and lost more fumbles (18) than any other team in the league and they finished ahead of only Edmonton in giving up the ball on downs (12). And on the other side of the ball, the Bombers were dead last in forcing opponents to surrender the ball on downs (five) and tied for last in interceptions (11)
The only bright spot for Winnipeg in the turnover department was in forced fumbles, where the Bombers led the league by a wide margin with 20 recovered fumbles, five of those forced by Bombers middle linebacker Henoc Muamba.
Here's how the Winnipeg Blue Bombers ranked league-wide in some key categories during the 2012 regular season:
Average Points Scored
Average Net Offence
Average Yards Rushing
Most Times Rushed
Average Yards Per Rush
Average Yards Passing
Average Yards Per Pass
Average Yards Per Punt
QB Sacks Allowed
Average Points Allowed
Rushing TDs Allowed
14 (tie 4th)
Passing TDs Allowed
First Downs Allowed
Average Net Yards Offence Allowed
Average Yards Rushing Allowed
Average Yards Per Rush Allowed
Average Yards Passing Allowed
Average Yards Per Pass Allowed
Percentage Passes Completed Against
43 (tied 2nd)
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 6, 2012 D3
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