Sunday, 26 June 2011
8 Teams, 8 Days: Winnipeg Blue Bombers
If Winnipeg didn't have bad luck, they'd have had no luck at all in 2010.
It has been covered ad nauseum, but it bears repeating: Winnipeg lost nine games last year by four points or less. If they win even half of those games, the team finishes 9-9. The line between being a playoff team and selecting first overall in the draft is a fine one.
Quarterback is a huge concern for Winnipeg again this year. The team will rise and fall based on the health of Buck Pierce. If Pierce can stay healthy for a full season for the first time in his career, the Bombers have a shot. If not, they will likely miss the playoffs for a third season.
Elsewhere, the Bombers are dealing with the loss of last season's sack leader, Philip Hunt (who fled to the NFL), but do bring back last year's leading rusher in Fred Reid and second-leading pass catcher in Terrence Edwards. The Bombers also have an emerging player in Receiver Cory Watson. Watson could easily replace stone-hands Brock Ralph, who was released in the off-season.
The Bombers spent most of the winter acquiring and stockpiling draft picks, and it seems they have decided to rebuild around a core of young Canadian players, like their first-overall selection, Linebacker Henoc Muamba. The Bombers also grabbed two Receivers in Jade Etienne (fourth overall) and Kito Poblah (supplemental draft). The Bombers have a lot of promising, young Canadians that the team can build around.
For the Bombers to make the playoffs, a lot will have to go right. First and foremost, Buck Pierce will have to play at least 14 games. Also, many of the younger players will have to step up and fill the void created by the loss of so many veterans. But Pierce's health is paramount. Without Pierce, the Bombers don't stand much of a chance. With Pierce, it'll be easier, but still a struggle. This will probably be another playoffless year for fans in the Manitoba capital.