"Everybody does see the room for improvement."

Started by ModAdmin, August 23, 2022, 06:34:18 AM

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"Everybody does see the room for improvement." - Ed Tait

Somewhat lost through the first 11 weeks of the Canadian Football League schedule - through the emergence of homegrown quarterback Nathan Rourke in B.C., through the struggles in the East Division and, yes, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers? 9-1 start - has been a storyline we've perhaps just come to expect in these parts: The continued dominance of the Blue Bombers 'Dark Side' defence.

Every one of the subplots listed above have generated the proper number of headlines and buzz through the summer months of the CFL season, but the Blue Bombers defensive group quietly and efficiently continues to be one of the league's most powerful forces, even amid a significant amount of change.

Consider this: the defence ranks first in the CFL in the two most critical defensive categories: points allowed (18.2 per game) and touchdowns surrendered (just 13 in 10 games).

And yet talk to anyone who makes his living on the defensive side of the ball and there is a clear consensus: this group can get even better.

"Mistakes have been made, but one of the things we've improved on is we're making it harder and harder for teams to move the ball on us," said all-star middle linebacker Adam Bighill after a scorching practice on Monday. "We're playing good football. Guys are flying around and making their plays. We're not giving up lots of touchdowns, which is great, and we're just making it hard for teams to score points."

All this has come, it's worth noting, with Kyrie Wilson out with an Achilles injury, with all-star safety Brandon Alexander yet to take a snap - and his replacement Malcolm Thompson also injured - with newer faces in the secondary in Demerio Houston and Donald Rutledge, Jr. and with defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat having missed three games.

"You come in, you're expected to play at a certain level and make your plays," said Bighill. "We understand people are going to make mistakes, but the idea is, don't make the same mistake twice and get better and become a vet very, very fast.

"We've got great coaching that gives guys tools and the chances to be successful. That's a huge part of this: guys work hard, they get great coaching and then they come out here and clean up mistakes. That's it."

The Blue Bombers defence posted some historic numbers in the run to the Grey Cup title last year, surrendering just 13.4 points - the lowest total by the club since allowing just 11.4 points in 1958. The club stressed from the outset of training camp that last year's success had to be shelved, but it does provide an interesting reference point.

"You don't think about what last year was, but it does make you think about what is possible," said Bighill. "We know the stuff we've left out there that we want back. There's plenty of that every single year and there was some even last year. It's about continuing to play as perfect as we can individually and then that emerges together collectively as a team."

And there's more on "Improvement" here!
"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one." - John Wooden


This team is not as dominant as last year's team, but with two more byes still to come plus a  third if/when they claim first place, there is no excuses for not making a great run down the stretch as they will have good recovery periods from now on. Outside of Collaros going down for a significant period (crossing fingers this will not happen!) and with BC losing their MVP QB, it lines up in their favour. Still anything can happen in the playoffs. They were pushed to the wall in both the western final and GC last year even after a very dominant regular season. In certain ways I hope they don't capture first place too early as then that intensity lets up for too long. Think that had an effect going into the playoffs last year as they clinched so early. Everyone was pretty much healthy due clinching very early, but that intensity intangible if turned off for too long can affect a sport team. Seen it happen in all the major pro sports at times.