Blue Bombers defence stands out in Week 1 | Football | CBC Sports

CFLBlue Bombers defence stands out in Week 1

Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 | 11:09 AM

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Winnipeg’s Alex Suber, top, and J.T. Gilmore celebrate one of the Bombers’ five sacks in their Week 1 home loss to Montreal. (John Woods/Canadian Press) Winnipeg’s Alex Suber, top, and J.T. Gilmore celebrate one of the Bombers’ five sacks in their Week 1 home loss to Montreal. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

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In an opening CFL week characterized by sloppy defence, the only defensive performance that I appreciated was the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' in a losing cause against the Montreal Alouettes, and I would not be surprised to see the Bombers beat the Als in Montreal on Thursday night.
The high-scoring games in Week 1 of the CFL season were a result of sloppy defensive football.

Typically, it's the offences that struggle early in the season as it takes some time to come together with the short CFL training camps. I was surprised to see teams put up 40 points when they didn't have any game film to help them build a game plan.

Although the offences deserve some credit, the defences made it way too easy. Often times it looked like simple pitch and catch on the field. Sprinkle in a few busted assignments and missed opportunities, and you got some really poor defensive performances. That's not going to cut it against the talented group of quarterbacks and receivers around the league this year.

The B.C. Lions finished the 2012 regular season with the best record in the CFL (13-5) because they didn't turn the ball over and they played "lights out" defence. While the Lions' offence was average at best, their defence was tough to beat. It's pretty easy to win games when your defence only gives up an average of 19.7 points per game, the lowest mark in the league.

But on Saturday, the Lions gave up 44 points in a loss to the Stamps. How does last season's best defence do that with a veteran roster?

Calgary running back Jon Cornish rushed for 172 yards on a defence that gave up only 76.4 yards on the ground per game in 2012, which is simply embarrassing.

Success defensively is determined by winning one-on-one battles, not by elaborate schemes that are drawn up on the white board. Simple, aggressive, physical defensive football will frustrate opposing offences, and at the end of the day B.C. played "soft."

Porous pass D

In the passing game, a defence needs to be able to disrupt the timing of the offence. The front seven has to make the quarterback uncomfortable in the pocket, and the defensive backs have to get their hands on the receivers in order to reroute them to throw the timing of their pattern off, or it will be really difficult to stop passing attacks in the CFL.

In Week 1, passing offences ran amok. A quarterback efficiency rating of 100 is a great day at the office for a quarterback. Toronto's Ricky Ray was named the offensive player of the week after posting a rating of 145.2. Hamilton's Henry Burris had a rating of 123.8, Saskatchewan's Darian Durant 133, and Calgary's Drew Tate 118.9.

The arrival of Odell Willis in Edmonton was supposed to produce a relentless pass rush as he was paired up with Marcus Howard. But they combined for a disappointing four defensive tackles while Saskatchewan running back Korey Sheets rushed for 131 yards in the Riders' 39-18 win. Maybe there was a good reason why Winnipeg chose to use Willis only in obvious passing situations in 2011, and why he has played for three different teams in the last three years.

Swagger back in Winnipeg?

The only defensive performance that I appreciated this past week was the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' in a losing cause against the Montreal Alouettes, and I would not be surprised to see the Bombers beat the Als in Montreal on Thursday night.

Montreal has a very talented offence, led by one of the best quarterbacks ever to play in the CFL. But the aggressive physical play of the Bombers defence held Anthony Calvillo to an efficiency rating of 78.8.

Winnipeg disrupted the Montreal offence with a great pass rush, finishing the game with five sacks and some well executed physical man-to-man coverage that shut slotback Jamal Richardson completely down. Two players that are going to be fun to watch on the Bombers defence this season are Alex Hall and Demond Washington.

I wasn't sure what to make of the Bombers this season, but if they continue to play solid defence and get running back Chad Simpson rolling, they could be a tough team to beat.

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