Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bombers performance suggests that this might be a very different season from recent past

We're going to hazard a guess that prior to kick off on Thursday evening, if anyone suggested that there was going to a dominating offensive performance on the field in Winnipeg, the bulk of the money would have been invested on the Argonauts.

Even with the complete makeover of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the off season, they entered the 2014 campaign very much the team of the unknown.

So, with the kickoff to another year of Canadian ball set to tee it up at Investors Group Field, one would give the Bomber faithful a bit of latitude in their attitude of show us!

And show them the Big Blue did, from that opening kick off, right through to the last snaps of the night, the Bombers banished all talk of the disaster that was 2013. Starting with a first quarter that seemed to overwhelm the Argos, the pointe where the Bombers took total control of the game.

Drew Willy had an amazing debut as the Bombers starter and we have a feeling that the combination of Willy to Kelly is going to be something that we hear a fair amount of this year. Willy found Aaron Kelly twice on the night on the way to the Bombers impressive 45-21 victory, adding to Willy's offensive output of 308 yards by air, completing 19 of 27 passes and securing 4 touchdowns on the night through the aerial attack.

Willy clearly put his stamp on the Bomber attack, crisp passing, inventive field management and a command of the offensive assets that suggested that he and his offensive unit were paying attention during new head coach Mike O'Shea's training camp sessions.

That's something that you couldn't say for the Argos, defensively they were a mess, missed assignments and incredibly poor discipline proved to be the recipe for the disaster that opening night became.

On offence, Ricky Ray one of the league's most dominating of quarterbacks was for much of the game abandoned by his offensive line, Argos coach Scott Milanovich pulled his QB in the later stages of the second half, no doubt for concerns for his health.

The way the Argos were playing he probably should have left him in the dressing room at the half, not owing to his performance, but more as a message to his team mates that they were clearly not on the same page as their star player.

For much of the game, the Bombers took to their tasks as though it was the week after Labour Day and the home stretch for the Grey Cup was on.  Over on the Argos side of the field, the impression was of a team that must have still thought that it was the third day of training camp, every aspect of the Argo game would appear to need a bit of work, film day for the Argos will not be a very enjoyable viewing for anyone.

Of all the statistics of horror for the Double Blue on Thursday night, one stands out as the key to the woes of the night, with the 22 penalties and 163 yards lost to them clearly a major concern to be addressed.

Any momentum that the Argos might have been considering on the evening, was quickly brought to a halt over selfish and undisciplined play, a topic that Milanovich will no doubt be discussing this week.

In between all of that horror to be reviewed, Milanovich may wish to put the spectacular Chad Owens 83 yard punt return on an endless loop for the troops.

If for no other reason than to show the rest of the Argonauts the need to play every play. On a night of misery for the Argos, Owens offered up the one highlight reel moment featuring somebody in a visiting uniform.

For Bomber fans, the new leadership team in the coaching ranks should offer up some confidence that this team will compete each and every night.  The Bombers have clearly understood Mike O'Shea's overall message of focus and accountability.

The coaching staff assembled by O'Shea might be the strongest one that the Bombers have had in a long, long time, Marcel Bellefeuille's offensive playbook was executed to perfection on Thursday night,  his assistant coaches clearly having schooled their students well.

While on the defensive side of the ball, Gary Etcheverry and his unit coaches have clearly made an impression on the Defensive team, with everyone for the most part on the same page in all facets of the defensive game.

Through the sixty minutes of opening night, the defensive squad made life as miserable as possible for Ricky Ray and the Argos, there were a few miscues as there always will be in the early stages of a season.

But Etcheverry must have walked off the field Thursday night in very good humour, his defensive blue print clearly taking hold in River city.

It's a long journey from June 26th to Grey Cup Sunday in November, but for long suffering Bomber fans, Opening night of 2014 offers a whole lot more promise than in recent years.

The Bomber faithful clearly were looking for a few signs of that promise. Only 24,872 took in opening night, the empty seats in the sparkling new stadium a testimony to the wait and see attitude.

Should game one be the template of effort for the remaining 17 games of the season, empty seats will be hard to find at Investors Group Field in the weeks to come!

A few reviews of the night can be found below: Stellar Start:  Bombers shine in season opening win
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers are the talk of the town after Argos beatdown
Winnipeg Sun-- New QB Drew Willy goes wild as Blue Bombers hammer Argos in season opener
Winnipeg Free Press-- Slick Willy puts on a great show
Winnipeg Free Press-- New-look Blue thrill fans
Toronto Sun-- Argos crushed by Blue Bombers in CFL season opener
Toronto Sun-- Argos look to clean things up after ugly opener
Toronto Star-- Argos embarrassed by Blue Bombers in season opener

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