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This article was published 14/7/2014 (951 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Drew Willy -- the star-in-the-making-quarterback of the unbeaten Winnipeg Blue Bombers -- had just finished holding court with the media on Monday when a straggler held him back for one more question.
Given all the injuries this season, given there is a new head coach, two new faces in the offensive backfield and a new defensive co-ordinator, given Henoc Muamba -- the team's most outstanding player, top defender and Canadian -- is with the Indianapolis Colts and two of the team's best Canadians in Cory Watson and Chris Greaves are on the hurts list, well, just how in the names of Bud Grant and Cal Murphy is this team a perfect 3-0?
"We're just playing football," said Willy with a shrug. "It's next guy up. They've done a good job building some depth. We've got a lot of good players buying into the system and working hard even when they're not playing to be ready for the next game."
OK, so the man may be a magician on the field, but he's no Winston Churchill with a microphone in his face. All that said, as compelling as the Bombers' perfect start has been and as much as there is a smoke-and-mirrors feel to the three wins in three tries, ask around and it turns out what the club has done to spark the turnaround isn't all that revolutionary.
How are the Bombers 3-0? It's really not that complicated...
THREE REASONS THE BOMBERS ARE 3-0:
1. THE QB
There's no reason to over-analyze this: For the first time in eons the Bombers are getting solid QB play. Willy has completed 65.3 per cent of his passes for 871 yards with five TDs and two interceptions. His 102.0 QB-efficiency rating is third-best in the CFL behind Calgary's Bo-Levi Mitchell (146.6) and Ricky Ray of Toronto (117.0).
But it's also more than that. It's the attitude he brings into the huddle.
"I always expect to win," said Willy. "It's a mindset you have to have and if you don't have it, you probably shouldn't be out here."
2. THE DEPTH
Muamba and his brother, Cauchy, exited in the off-season and the Canadian defensive starter jobs have been filled by Matt Bucknor and Teague Sherman, hardly a couple of marquee additions. Watson goes down, again, and Julian Feoli-Gudino -- a former star at Laval buried on the Toronto Argonauts depth chart -- steps up to play the hero in Montreal.
Feoli-Gudino, in fact, might be the best example of how the Bombers have used some bargain-bin pickups to restock their Canadian talent.
"I'm pretty happy to get the chance to make plays," said Feoli-Gudino. "(The game-winning catch) was definitely big. I started to play football about five minutes away from that stadium. I went to a lot of Alouettes games, too, so it was pretty special to know I did it at Percival Molson."
3. THE BUY-IN
It's been said so often it's almost already cliché. Mike O'Shea has this crew believing. And if the storyline fits...
"It's buying into the system, buying into each other and knowing the man next to you has your back," said Johnny Sears, Jr. "It's easier when you have a chemistry building. You just don't want to mess up for the next man. There's a real brotherhood feel right now. And you don't want to let your brother down.
"It's a great feeling around the building right now, man. There are no dark clouds. It's all sunshine and smiles. We just want to keep that going as long as we can. We want to keep that winning taste. It's all contagious."
3 KEY NUMBERS TO 3-0
38.3 -- AVERAGE POINTS SCORED PER GAME
The Bombers lead the CFL in scoring, including 10 offensive TDs -- five through the air, five along the ground.
70 -- FIRST DOWNS
Winnipeg's 70 first downs also leads the league and is a big part in why they are second only to Edmonton with an average time of possession of 30:52.
4 -- TOUCHDOWNS BY DEFENCE/SPECIAL TEAMS
Winnipeg has two fumble-return scores by Desia Dunn and Demond Washington already this season, a Chris Randle interception-return TD and a kickoff return for a major by Washington.
3 UNDER-THE-CARPET NUMBERS IN 3-0 THAT MAY CAUSE CONCERN
34-340 -- THE PENALTY PARADE
Even the mathematically challenged know that's an ugly number, 34 infractions for 340 yards, after just three games.
10 -- QUARTERBACK SACKS ALLOWED
Drew Willy has shown an amazing ability to step away from pressure, but has already taken some hellacious hits
277.7 -- PASSING YARDAGE PER GAME AGAINST
That ranks the Bombers just seventh in the CFL. But as we've seen with Gary Etcheverry's defensive crew, it's a number that is moot if they can continue to perplex QBs at critical times. Example: As good as Ottawa's Henry Burris was early in the game two weeks ago, an adjustment changed things dramatically for him when it mattered.
3 SENTENCES FROM THE COACH ON 3-0
"We're still trying to figure out what we're all about," said O'Shea. "It's still too early. We've had a couple very good come-from-behind wins, but there's still a lot more to go in terms of building this team."
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