April 9, 2020

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The defence doesn't rest

They're on the field all the time and it's starting to make them mad

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/9/2009 (3852 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It's there in their faces and in the tone of their voices: The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence is frustrated and mad as hell and starting to glare at their compadres on the offensive side of the ball.

In the last three games an alarming trend that began earlier this season flared up in a big way for the Bombers: The ineptitude of the offence is getting worse and the defence, on the field for an eternity against the Montreal Alouettes and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Banjo Bowl and Labour Day Classic, is paying the price.

Saskatchewan's time of possession was 16 minutes better than the Bombers here in Winnipeg, 14 minutes better in Regina while the Als held the ball for a whopping 17:06 more than Winnipeg in Sunday's loss.

That's better than an entire extra quarter on the field for the men on 'D.' All told, the Bombers have finished atop the time of possession statistical category in just two of their 11 games -- the win over Calgary in July and the slaughter of the B.C. Lions last month.

"Can you blame 'em?" said head coach Mike Kelly of the defence's frustration. "I mean, look at how many snaps those guys have had to take. It's not fair. And the fact that you haven't heard that (anger) sooner is a tribute to the way we have collectively hung together. But there comes a point where enough's enough. And enough's enough. We can't have the offence on the field for 20 minutes a game and expect the defence to play to the level that we all understand they are capable playing, when they're out there for 40 minutes a game. It's just not fair."

But the possession issue is really just part of an overall offensive nightmare that has plagued the Bombers all year. Dead-last in scoring, in passing and first downs. And get this, the Bomber defence has four of the team's 19 touchdowns this year.

Kelly was reminded Monday during his daily media session about a comment earlier this year in which he said he wanted to see progress week to week. Asked if he was seeing any lately, he was very straightforward.

"No," he began. "To be quite honest with you I'm extremely frustrated, disappointed... anything that any fan could say to you I'd probably say the same thing. Offensively we have just not been able to find a level of consistency. There's just some things that could be to the point of ridiculousness, to be quite honest with ya.

"It's a real challenge and a real struggle. I've been counting the rotations on the ceiling fan above my bed."

And as anger in Bomberland swells, Kelly was asked point blank about the suggestion from some fans that he step down, or whether he had lost the faith of the men in the locker-room.

"Me? Quit? I've never quit anything in my life and I'm not about to start now," said Kelly. "If you knock me down I'll bite your ankles, so there isn't a whole lot of quit in me.

"I don't see that (losing the room)... Where my difficulties come is when people are standing in front of me and their arms are extended (the media). This is where I've gotten myself in more trouble than I have back there."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

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