EDMONTON — It is a monument to just what a monstrously bad day the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had Monday that perhaps the most positive thing for the Blue and Gold came when some key players publicly disagreed with their head coach after the game.
How's that, you say?
Well, true to form, Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea was in spin mode after his club's 41-9 throttling at the hands of the Edmonton Eskimos, insisting fault for the rout lay not with his bumbling players but with himself and his coaches.
"I felt like we didn't have the right stuff and the right plan. I felt like we were out-coached in the first half in all three phases," O'Shea said.
"We're going to have to inspect our plans to make sure we're giving them enough to be successful."
Bombers defensive end Jason Vega said thanks, but no thanks, when he was told about the free pass his head coach was giving the players.
"I respect the hell out of him — the reason being he's taking that approach," said Vega.
"I won't take that approach. It's us. We're not making plays. We're giving up big plays here and there and that's on us. There's only so much (coaches) can do — they can make a play call and say 'go ahead guys.' But if we're out of position, that's on us.
"I applaud him for doing that, but we need to take responsibility."
Vega wasn't the only Bombers veteran who wanted nothing to do with the idea coaches and the game plan were to blame for an embarrassing loss in which the Bombers gave up four sacks in the first half and five turnovers overall, while taking 11 penalties for 121 yards in the first half alone, including two unnecessary roughness penalties and two pass interference penalties in the Bombers' end zone.
"I'm not going to say it's the coach's fault. The coach is not on the field, the coach didn't take one snap. He never went off-side like I did. He never did anything," said defensive lineman Bryant Turner. "Of course, he's just taking the pressure off of us."
Indeed, it has been O'Shea's modus operandi throughout a horrifying losing skid that has seen the Bombers lose six straight and eight of their last nine games, to resist laying blame on his players and insist good times are just around the corner with a better scheme and only modest improvements in the team's execution.
And that's why if there was any silver lining for Bombers fans Monday it was influential players no longer seemed interested in riding any more of their coach's waves of excuses for them.
If the first step in getting better is admitting you have a serious problem, the Bombers may have finally found their rock bottom in this humiliating defeat.
"It feels like we're in a downhill slump right now," said Turner. "It feels like we haven't figured out the answer to our problem. I feel like we came to this game well-prepared and it just did not show on the field.
"We have to change something to begin going in the right direction."
None of this is to say, however, O'Shea is blameless for the loss. His decision to replace running back Nic Grigsby — who led the league in yards from scrimmage coming into last weekend — with Paris Cotton was, in particular, a failure.
Cotton had just 31 yards rushing and his first-quarter fumble was costly, leading to an Edmonton field goal and setting the tone for a series of ensuing miscues that ultimately had the Bombers down 37-0 at halftime.
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Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.
Updated on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 8:47 AM CDT: Changes photo