Ed Tait is a author for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. This article was initially revealed at BlueBombers.com.
A present of palms, please, from all these on the market in the Canadian Football League neighbourhood who nonetheless have some doubts about these Winnipeg Blue Bombers…
Ok, so… we see a couple of arms raised on the market, little question from those that are holding on to the idea that till this bunch knocks off the Calgary Stampeders, they’ll’t be thought of amongst the elite.
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Fair remark. But there’s additionally this: Over the final 21 video games, the Bombers have cranked out a 16-5 document – three of these losses to Calgary – that’s second solely to those self same Stamps over that stretch.
- Calgary: 18-2-1
- Winnipeg: 16-5
- Edmonton: 15-6
- B.C.: 13-Eight
- Montreal: Eight-13
- Ottawa: 7-13-1
- Saskatchewan: 7-14
- Toronto: 5-16
- Hamilton: Four-17
Granted, in the massive image these numbers imply diddly until there’s a payoff at the finish of November. But in the small image, they symbolize one thing particular for the Bombers: Growth.
“Confidence is a huge thing in this business,” started Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols, whereas assembly with reporters at the group’s resort Wednesday afternoon. “When you are taking the subject and you’re feeling such as you’re going to win the recreation, that’s a great feeling, clearly. I’ve been on groups in the previous the place you go in hoping you’re going to win or hoping somebody goes to make the play.
“Everyone goes in anticipating to make that play to assist this group win. That’s a giant factor to have that mindset. We have been shut in the direction of the finish of 2015. We received another items in place and final yr we simply received over the hump… we had performed in loads of shut video games and did not seal them, however this group has realized easy methods to win.”
No doubt including Andrew Harris and Justin Medlock in free company in 2016 helped increase the roster. And the determination to advertise Nichols to QB1 was, in hindsight now, monumental.
But it’s deeper than all that, too. A group doesn’t crank out a 16-5 document simply because the roster turns into extra proficient. It goes on a run like that as a result of of the each day work put in, of struggling by way of the anguish of powerful losses like final yr’s West Semi-final and the euphoria of the rally towards the Montreal Alouettes a couple of weeks in the past.
Now possibly that sounds cornball or hokey, nevertheless it’s an concept the Bombers maintain shut. To paraphrase the Steve Miller Band, generally it’s a must to undergo hell to get to heaven.
“It starts with a belief and a trust, and then that develops into expectations to the point that no matter what happened the week before, you’re always working to exceed those expectations and keep getting better and better,” defined Andrew Harris.
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“Once that belief and trust is in place, then there’s no finger pointing or blame when things don’t go well or an individual might let someone down. That’s ultimately what builds a great team. It’s getting to that point to where you are always positive and exceeding expectations every week.”
And these expectations imply there’s much less of the doubt that used to hover over this group week after week after week by way of a stretch from 2011-15.
“Exactly,” Harris added. “There’s little question we’re going to get previous no matter we’re going by way of now. There’s little question now that we’re going to beat adversity. There’s little question that once we’re down and out, we are able to climb again and get it performed. There’s additionally little question that the sky’s the restrict proper now as a result of we’re consistently getting higher.
“You take a look at the B.C. recreation and some of the video games we have been in earlier in the yr. It comes right down to loads of the veterans on this group who’ve seen extra issues and been in additional conditions. It’s the combine of rookies now we have, too. I imply, I’ve been on groups the place the rookies had this sense of entitlement and have been actually complacent and lazy. Our guys actually need to work and rise up to hurry with what we’re doing. There’s no cliques on this group, everybody hangs out and has enjoyable collectively.
“We nonetheless have an extended methods to go and that’s essential to grasp as a result of on this league you don’t need to peak too quickly. We’re entering into the proper route.”
GAME 9 | BLUE BOMBERS (6-2) vs ALOUETTES (three-5)
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. (CT) Thursday, Percival Molson Stadium, Montreal
Radio: CJOB: TV: TSN, RDS, ESPN three
Streaks: Winnipeg: 4W; Montreal: 1L.
Vegas line: The Bombers are favoured by 1 level.
Home/Road: The Bombers are three-1 away from residence this yr, a yr after posting the greatest street document in the CFL at 7-2. The Alouettes are three-1 at residence this yr.
Recent historical past: The Bombers knocked off the Alouettes 41-40 in Winnipeg again on July 27th, finishing one of the biggest comebacks in franchise historical past by rallying for 2 TDs in the remaining minute.
Winnipeg and Montreal cut up their season sequence final yr, with each golf equipment profitable on the street. The Als spoiled the Bombers ’16 residence opener with a 22-14 win at Investors Group Field on June 24, however Winnipeg answered in Montreal with a 32-18 victory on August 26.
SOME LOVE FOR MATTY ICE
It’s taken awhile, however extra and extra eyes throughout the CFL are getting opened in appreciation of the work being performed by Matt Nichols. It’s not only a coincidence that since he took over as starter, the membership is 16-5. His numbers over that span are proof: he’s accomplished 69.Eight per cent of his passes for six,080 yards with 32 touchdowns towards 13 interceptions.
And so it got here up upon arrival right here Wednesday, when Herb Zurkowsky of The Montreal Gazette stated to Nichols ‘I’m positive I’m not the first to say it, however you’ve gotten a reasonably good win-loss for a man Edmonton mainly discarded. Is that what continues to inspire you?’
“I’m a guy that’s always had a chip on my shoulder and that will never go away, no matter how much people tell me I’m bad or how much people tell me I’m good,” Nichols stated. “It’s tunnel imaginative and prescient. It’s working onerous every week for my teammates and ensuring I work onerous for them.
“It comes from the place I used to be introduced up – small city, onerous-working individuals and I form of took on that mentality. You get neglected in highschool, neglected popping out of faculty… it’s simply one thing the place you at all times really feel such as you’re not at all times attempting to show individuals improper, however show to your self that you are able to do it.”
“Everyone goes through stuff and everyone has reasons for why they play.”
And if it’s true group takes on the id of its head coach and its beginning quarterback, then these Bombers are the spitting picture of Nichols and Mike O’Shea.
“We don’t really worry about how much respect he gets anywhere else – he’s got the respect of the entire room to a man, the coaching staff, the whole organization” stated O’Shea of Nichols. “To wonder why would just be a waste of my time and everyone else’s, too. He’s meant a lot to the club, obviously. We’ve gone on quite a tear with him in there. He’s a fiery leader, he’s ultra-competitive, he’s smart, he’s a pro… those are all good things. All of that rolled into one makes him a leader people will follow.”
IN PURSUIT OF 1K-1K
The CFL has been abuzz about Bombers operating again Andrew Harris since the first kickoff on opening evening, and with good motive. His receiving totals have been gaudy, to the level that he’s threatening the membership document for catches by a tailback – 71, set by Robert Mimbs in 1991 – but in addition the league document of 102, set by Saskatchewan’s Craig Ellis in 1985.
But in posting again-to-again 100-yard speeding video games for the first time as a Bomber and third time in his profession, Harris has cranked up one other assault on the CFL document e book – he’s on a tempo to grow to be the first participant ever to complete with 1,000 yards receiving and speeding.
“That’s a big accomplishment, for sure,” stated Harris earlier this week. “I said it’s a goal of mine, but the No. 1 goal is to get to the Grey Cup and if that’s going to help my team get to the playoffs and play for a Grey Cup, then so be it.”
Harris is presently on tempo to hurry for 1,114 yards and end with 1,zero33 yards receiving. The solely participant who has come near threatening these marks was Robert Drummond, who rushed for 1,134 yards and had 840 receiving yards for the 1997 Toronto Argonauts.
Harris would wish to common 50.5 yards speeding and 54.1 yards receiving in the remaining 10 video games to achieve that 1K-1K mark.
REMEMBER THE RALLY… AND DON’T FORGET THE FIRST 58 MINUTES, EITHER
The Bombers have rolled into Montreal on a 4-recreation win streak, the first of which got here with the miraculous comeback towards the Als in Winnipeg at the finish of July which noticed the membership rating two TDs in the remaining minute in a 41-40 victory.
That rally helped, to some extent, gloss over a horrendous defensive effort wherein the Als rolled for 495 yards web offence, together with a whopping 183 alongside the floor.
And that truth hasn’t been misplaced on the Bombers all week.
“As a group, when we put the film on and watch it, people understand the mistakes that were made,” stated head coach Mike O’Shea. “And they study from them, right them and go on the subject the subsequent time and do their greatest to not duplicate it.
“As I’ve stated, it’s simply simpler to digest when a set of errors didn’t price us a win. And it virtually did. These guys perceive that.”
- Matt Nichols is now 24-17 in his CFL profession as a starter – and 16-5 in his final 21 with the Bombers – after final week’s win over Edmonton. He has thrown for two,414 yards with 14 touchdowns and 4 interceptions this yr and has QUAR score of 88.1 – second greatest in the CFL to Edmonton’s Mike Reilly (95.5)
- Montreal’s Darian Durant is three-5 this season and 61-59 in his profession as a starter – together with 11-6 vs. the Bombers – with Saskatchewan and now the Als. He has thrown for two,070 yards with 10 TDs towards eight interceptions this yr, however struggled in final Saturday’s loss to Toronto, finishing 14 of 27 for simply 93 yards with one interception.
three BOMBERS TO WATCH
#21 Brandon Alexander, CB: He returns to the lineup after lacking three video games resulting from damage and will substitute Roc Carmichael – who might be the additional defensive again – at cornerback. Alexander has already confirmed to be versatile sufficient to play defensive again and linebacker, when Moe Leggett was down, and brings an vitality to the defence and particular groups the teaching employees has been raving about since coaching camp.
“It always starts with his work ethic,” stated O’Shea, “as has been noted several times from mini-camp right on through. The guy steps up and wants to work every single play…. He’s not going to give an inch.”
#54 Tristan Okpalaugo, DE: The Bombers signed him in the offseason to be a distinction maker reverse Jamaal Westerman and he was exhibiting flashes of that early in the yr earlier than an damage sidelined him for the previous six weeks. Of course, the work of Jackson Jeffcoat helped offset the sting of his absence and now will probably be intriguing to see how the teaching employees works the D-line rotation.
#23 T.J. Heath: He’s nonetheless tied for the CFL interception lead with 4, however hasn’t stolen one since the third recreation of the season. Heath was onerous on himself for dropping a pair of alternatives in final week’s win over Edmonton, however his palms are too good for the drought to increase for much longer.
#three Kevin Fogg, DB: Looks to make his first begin of the season and may get a wholesome dose of Nik Lewis, who’s 9 catches shy of tying Geroy Simon as the CFL’s all-time receptions chief at 1,029.
The Bombers unveiled their 46-man roster Wednesday and there have been a pair of adjustments, with DE Tristan Okpalaugo and CB Brandon Alexander added in place of DB Abu Conteh and DB Brian Walker. Walker was moved to the one-recreation injured checklist, becoming a member of LB Ian Wild (prolonged on six-recreation checklist) and SB Weston Dressler.
O’Shea performed coy when requested if security Taylor Loffler, who missed observe all week, would begin towards the Als. If he can’t go, Derek Jones may get the name.
The Bombers defensive entrance seven vs. Montreal’s O-line and operating again Brandon Rutley.
The Als romped and stomped throughout the Bombers run defence in the recreation in Winnipeg at the finish of July, cranking out 183 yards alongside the floor – together with 90 on the final drive when the residence facet desperately wanted the ball again. The Als managed simply 41 yards speeding and 138 web yards offensively in final week’s blowout loss to Toronto.
- Montreal’s Nik Lewis, who’s 10 catches shy of changing into the CFL’s all-time reception chief, has caught passes from 21 totally different quarterbacks in his profession. Henry Burris leads that checklist at 508. Interestingly, on that checklist are three one-time Bombers – Kevin Glenn, Khari Jones and Danny McManus. Glenn and Lewis have been teammates in each Calgary and Montreal; Jones and McManus attached with Lewis as teammates with the Stamps at the finish of their careers.
- Over the final 4 video games, Matt Nichols has a QUAR score of 94.Four, tops amongst CFL quarterbacks throughout that span. He is on tempo for a membership document of 5,431 passing yards and might be the first Bomber QB since Glenn in 2007 (5,114) to eclipse the 5,000-yard passing mark.
- The Bombers have scored 33 factors or extra in every of their final six video games – the longest streak by the membership since the remaining six video games of the 1981 season.
- Justin Medlock’s 28 subject targets by way of the first eight video games has him on a tempo for 63. That would break his personal CFL document of 60, set final yr.