Last night in Montreal the Winnipeg Blue Bombers won their first pre-season game of the 2012 season, 22-10. A score that in the grand scheme of things means absolutely nothing. How meaningless pre-season games are is evidenced by the fact that TSN can’t be bothered to broadcast them. Of course, on the plus side that means two less time in which our ears will be assaulted by Rod Black’s commentary (Black’s commentary wouldn’t be so bad if there were only less of it).
So, I tuned into cjob.com last night and listened to the game there. What I was listening for, was not so much whether or not the Bombers won, but instead if it looked like they were addressing some of the issues that had held them back last year. I listed what I thought were needs for the team in my pre and post Grey cup postings.
Last night, I thought the Bombers took more shots down the field with their quarterbacks, particularly with Joey Elliot, who if he stays healthy, should push Alex Brink, who also played very well, for the backup position. Given Buck Pierce’s injury history, it’s good to have two solid backups. In fact, having three QB’s who constantly push each other, may help make the Bombers better in the overall.
On the downside, while the receivers made some nice catches, they also, along with the running backs put the ball on the ground far too often. One of the Bombers strengths last year was their positive turnover ratio. Much of this was due to the defense’s ability to create turnovers, but, particularly in the first half of the season, the offense also did a good job of holding onto the ball.
As far as the dumb penalties, the Bombers only took one, an unsportsmanlike, but that is still one too many. Also, they got called on a couple of offside penalties for being lined up in the neutral zone. One wonders if this was a lack of understanding on the part of the rookies, or part of the legacy of Odell Willis, who seemed to get called for that an awful lot, making one wonder if the linesmen are watching for that a little more closely when the Bombers play.
The kick return game appeared to have a lot more life in it last night, something that will benefit the Bombers greatly all season if it can be maintained. The field goal kickers were perfect on all five attempts, but the punting remains more than a little questionable. Good returns are nice, but if the Bombers give it all back with bad punts, it’s a bit of a saw-off.
The offensive line as expected had some troubles, but gave the QBs time to throw on most occasions. Although, the possibility of six sacks of Pierce per game is not a thought many Bomber fans want to dwell Bloi-Doi Dorzon contributed a nice touchdown, but the team didn’t make an awful lot of rushing attempts. This may also have hurt the performance of the offensive line, as the more dropbacks, the more likely that mistakes will occur.
On the whole, in a game played with a lot of backups, there were some promising signs for the team. Seeing more from the starters next week will hopefully give a better indication. Of course, with the first four games on the road, which was done so that they could play the opener in the new stadium(that’s looking like the decision of the year) we’ll know where things stand pretty quickly.