As former Winnipeg Blue Bombers receivers, James Murphy and Joe Poplawski know it takes time to get on the same page with a quarterback.
This is why if anyone can appreciate what Zach Collaros and the Bombers offence have been able to accomplish in the past month, it’s the pair of Hall of Fame pass catchers.
However, they believe Collaros’s success with the Bombers has been an overall team effort.
“The guy’s got some great leaders on the team and I think that speaks more to the leadership on the team and the coaching staff,” Murphy said. “Zach’s a professional. He’s a leader. He knows and understands what it takes to win. When you put that together, that’s a recipe for success. Hopefully, he just has one more game in him to be able to continue to create the magic he has created these past three weeks.”
Poplawski believes offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice and the quarterback room also deserve a lot of credit.
“He’s a veteran of the league,” Poplawski said of LaPolice. “A lot of things are transferable. What you learn from one team can be transferred to what the newest team’s offence is going to be running. However, I will say this: Paul LaPolice has perhaps the most creative, or one of the most creative, offences in the league and therefore there would be a lot to learn. I tip my hat to Zach Collaros. But I would also think that (Chris) Streveler, as well as Matt Nichols, have been working arm in arm with Collaros, providing their insight how certain plays should be run.”
Murphy, Poplawski and former Bombers offensive lineman Chris Walby were asked for predictions for Sunday’s Grey Cup game between the Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. While none of them would predict the score, they all had similar answers as to how the game will play out.
“The Bombers have had an up, down, up, down type of season. But the last three or four weeks, they’ve been up,” Murphy said. “They’ve been playing with a lot of spirit, the way they were playing when they went on their winning streak (five wins to start the season).
“I expect to see the same thing on Sunday. Again, I predict it to be a very close game.”
Walby believes there will be a three-point difference between winning and losing.
“I think it’s going to come down to a field goal,” Walby said. “Both teams are so evenly matched right now. But I will say this: he who commits the least amount of turnovers will win the football game.”
Poplawski had a near-identical response, and if his prediction is right, everyone in Bomberland will be sitting on the edge of their seats until the final whistle.
“I hate to say it, but I think it’s going to come down who has the ball last,” Poplawski said. “Who has the possession of the football in the last 30 seconds of the game? I think it’s going to be a coin toss.”
— Taylor Allen