August 1, 2015


CFL

Trade rumours put Bombers defence off-kilter: Burke

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Kenny Mainor closes in on Calgary Stampeders' quarterback Kevin Glenn during the first half.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Bryant Turner Jr. (left) and Alex Hall (right) look on as Calgary Stampeders' Jon Cornish (centre) dives for more yards during the first half.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Johnny Sears Jr. looks on as Calgary Stampeders' Jon Cornish smiles after scoring a touchdown during the first half.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Max Hall takes a hard hit from Calgary Stampeders' Charleston Hughes during the first half.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Will Ford returns a kick as Calgary Stampeders' Eric Fraser watches him get away during the first half.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Jovon Johnson (bottom) tries to stop Calgary Stampeders' Jon Cornish on his way to a touchdown during the first half.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Max Hall hands off the ball to teammate Will Ford during the first half.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Clarence Denmark tries to catch a pass as Calgary Stampeders' Derrius Brooks prevents him from doing so during the first half.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Max Hall is tackled by Calgary Stampeders' Demonte Bolden during the second half.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Max Hall throws the ball during the second half. Hall completed 15 of 34 passes for 147 yards and with one interception.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Ian Wild (left) and Brandon Stewart (right) close in on Calgary Stampeders' Matt Walter (centre) during the second half.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Kenny Mainor closes in on Calgary Stampeders' quarterback Kevin Glenn during the first half. - Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Bryant Turner Jr. (left) and Alex Hall (right) look on as Calgary Stampeders' Jon Cornish (centre) dives for more yards during the first half. - Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Johnny Sears Jr. looks on as Calgary Stampeders' Jon Cornish smiles after scoring a touchdown during the first half. - Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Max Hall takes a hard hit from Calgary Stampeders' Charleston Hughes during the first half. - Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Will Ford returns a kick as Calgary Stampeders' Eric Fraser watches him get away during the first half. - Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Jovon Johnson (bottom) tries to stop Calgary Stampeders' Jon Cornish on his way to a touchdown during the first half. - Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Max Hall hands off the ball to teammate Will Ford during the first half. - Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Clarence Denmark tries to catch a pass as Calgary Stampeders' Derrius Brooks prevents him from doing so during the first half. - CP
Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Max Hall is tackled by Calgary Stampeders' Demonte Bolden during the second half. - Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Max Hall throws the ball during the second half. Hall completed 15 of 34 passes for 147 yards and with one interception. - Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Ian Wild (left) and Brandon Stewart (right) close in on Calgary Stampeders' Matt Walter (centre) during the second half. - Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press

It was the morning after the long night before and Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke had seen enough game-film to know where much of the responsibility lay for his club’s 38-11 thrashing at the hands of the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium on Saturday.

"Defensively, we played poorly. And after watching the film on the plane ride back, I’d say the defensive line played extremely poor," Burke said at the airport shortly after his team’s arrival in Winnipeg Sunday.

Winnipeg Blue Bomber head coach Tim Burke

Winnipeg Blue Bomber head coach Tim Burke

Burke’s singling out of the defensive line is an unusual culprit for a Bombers team on which the defensive line -- which has led the CFL in sacks this season -- has been the least of the team’s problems in this troubled 2-12 season.

So how did the very best part of this lousy Bombers team suddenly become the worst part? Well, Burke has a theory that trade rumours, which first surfaced publicly last week involving Bombers defensive end Alex Hall -- the CFL leader in sacks -- might be to blame.

"I think part of it is that Calgary’s offensive line is very good. But I just wonder a little bit too if all this stir about Alex Hall getting traded, how much effect that had on the D-line group which is a very tight-knit group. I have to believe it has an effect on Alex...

"I don’t know where (the trade rumours) came from. It just says something about social media that anyone can throw something out there, whether it’s true or not and nobody has to even say their name."

The CFL trading deadline is next Wednesday and league sources say the Bombers were last week demanding a second round draft pick and a player off a team’s negotiation list from team’s who inquired about Hall's services.

Hall is a free agent at the end of this season and has made clear that he wants to pursue NFL opportunities next year.

The Bombers defence were held without a sack on Saturday against Calgary and gave up a total of 622 yards in offence to the Stampeders, including 261 yards in rushing. Burke grew so frustrated with his defensive line during the game that he at one point benched Hall and then later singled him out for poor play to the media after the game.

The Bombers will take Monday and Tuesday off this week, before returning to work on Wednesday. The club next plays on Thanksgiving Monday in Montreal in a must-win game against the Alouettes.

Winnipeg is riding a four-game losing streak and now needs to win all four of their remaining regular season games and have Montreal lose all four of theirs in order for the Bombers to qualify for the playoffs.

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