It is time for one of the most anticipated long weekends of the year… Labour Day (Canada’s most ironic holiday). Not only is this weekend the final send-off to summer it is also a weekend of great football rivalries. The Esks and Stamps will renew the battle of Alberta. The Argos and Ti-Cats will renew the battle of Ontario. The Lions and Als will renew the battle of 2 teams who have no rivals and play each other purely by default. And of course the Riders play the Bombers in the most storied Labour Day clash of them all.
Since 1949, the Riders have won 28 out of the 45 meetings. In fact the Bombers have only won the Labour Day Classic 5 times in the previous 2 decades and that’s pretty sad because, let’s face it, there have been some pretty terrible Rider teams over the past 2 decades.
I love how Rider fans are starting to panic and Bomber fans are getting cocky based solely on the Riders poor performance in Edmonton. Last time I checked we were still 5-3 and they are a lowly 2-6. Might I remind you about last year…
In 2009 (you know the year we made it to the Grey Cup), we were 4-4 heading (worse off than this year) into Labour Day and the Bombers were 3-5 (better off than this year). That’s right, despite overhauling their front office and coaching staff and re-jigging their roster the Bombers have managed to be even crappier than they were with Mike Kelly running the show. You know, the obnoxious guy who spied on other teams, denounced the shot-gun formation, tried to sign Pacman Jones, willing played Michael Bishop, had to use white boards to call in plays and fielded the worst offense seen in many a year. So go ahead and beak us about one bad game Bomber fans but the fact remains that last year’s team was one of the biggest embarrassments in your franchise’s history and thus far you have managed to do worse this year. Congratulations! You must be as proud as you are those rare times when your children manage to graduate elementary school before they are of legal drinking age.
This year’s version of the clash will be made all the more interesting by that fact that over the off-season the 2 teams pretty much swapped their coaching staffs and a few players as well. They got LaPolice, Reed, Baressi, and Jyles. We got Taman, Berry, Dyce, Dinwiddie, Goodspeed and Simpson. I’d like to say we got the better end of the deal but since we are stuck with Taman and Dinwiddie it’s a wash a best.
The Bombers have had a lot of injury problems this year and I’m starting to think that Paul LaPolice is to blame. Think about it… in the 3 years that LaPo was on our staff we suffered more broken legs and freak injuries than has ever been seen before now that he’s gone we have been (knock on wood) pretty healthy overall. The Bombers though have had a lengthy injury list ever since LaPo showed up. Coincidence?
Winnipeg’s biggest concern coming into this game is the status of their QBs. Jyles is nursing tender ribs (mmmm tender ribs) and Buck Pierce is… well he’s Buck Pierce i.e. coming back from injury too soon and only 1 hit away from either the injured list or the obituaries. All signs point to Pierce starting which means that the over-under for Jyles being forced into action is set at the midway point of the 2nd quarter (I’ll take the under). Compounding their QB issues is the poor play of their O-line. I have been mocking the embarrassing BC O-line a lot of late but Winnipeg’s has given up just as many sacks. It must be reassuring to Lapo to have to line up 2 hurt QBs behind a line that would likely lose to a bunch of kindergartens in a game of red rover. Though that might not be a fair match-up in Manitoba since the average age of kindergartens is somewhere in the teens.
Other issues facing the Bombers include being the 2nd most penalized team in the league, being a -7 in the turnover ratio and a defense that gets scored on as often as an attractive barnyard animal in Manitoba, averaging over 30 points allowed per game.
For all Winnipeg’s futility and problems they actually have a few things going for them. Terrence Edwards has been on fire this year hauling in 7 TDs already. Phillip Hunt leads the league with 7 sacks. Mike Renaud is the top punter in the league. Jovon Johnson remains one of the most exciting players to watch in the CFL with 2 TDs off punt returns on one more on a pick 6. Problem is that as good as these 4 are playing, the rest of the team is doing their best to be counterproductive.
For the Riders, this is a chance for a bounce back game. The defense had a solid outing last game (with the exception of Sean Lucas who has gone from one of the best cover LBs in the league to one of the best LBs to miss his coverage and be forced to make the tackle after the fact). The offense was embarrassingly futile last game but I’m not too worried. They had a bad game but they will regain their form.
The key to the game offensively is to get back to what we do best, a balanced attack with sustained drives and maintaining possession 9for god sake maintain possession!). Bomber fans are trying to make fun of the fact that Durant currently has a really low completion % and has thrown a league high amount of picks but I guarantee they would gladly swap one of there crappy QBs for Double D given the chance. Bombers have a strong pass rush and stop the run fairly effectively so our O-line will have to step up and have a solid game. If we can buy Durant some time and he can get back into a rhythm with his receivers (particularly those not named Prechae) we should be able to hang a lot of points on them.
Defensively the keys are to stop the run… that includes the QB. Jyles and Pierce have managed over 400 yds rushing so far and while I expect LaPo to be a bit reluctant to run QBs who aren’t 100%, it’s still something we need to contain. We also need to have tight coverage on Edwards. I would say we need to also cover Adarius Bowman but his catching abilities seem to decline proportional to how wide open he is, so its probably best to just let him run free while balls bounce off him like he was retarded kid in a game of dodgeball. Also LaPo is still clinging to his misguided belief that based on his past success with Bagg and Getzlaf, he can turn any Canadian receiver into an all-star so expect a lot of passes to go towards Brock Ralph… he won’t actually catch them but they will be in his direction.
Only other key to the game is ensuring that Barrin Simpson is not allowed anywhere near the coin toss. Winnipeg made that mistake last year and it didn’t turn out well for them.
The Riders always step up big time on Labour Day so I expect them to come out strong in front a wild sold out crowd and have a huge bounce back game. The Riders have yet to lose at home and the Bombers have yet to win on the road. Expect both streaks to continue.
Riders by 14.
Just a reminder that as intense as our rivalry is with the Bombers, for us fans, it’s all in good fun. Most of the Bomber fans I have met over the years have been great people and we’ve had a lot of fun beaking back and forth. There’s no need to be rude or nasty. So let’s be gracious hosts and treat them like family. Just be forewarned that to Manitobans being treated like family is a sign that you want to date them (it’s a cultural thing) so don’t be surprised if they take it the wrong way.
I’ll end this post as I end every Labour Day post… with a joke. But I will warn you it’s not work safe, it’s not appropriate for children under the age of 16 and should definitely not be read by my mother…
How do you keep a Blue Bomber from masturbating?
You paint his dick green and white and he won't beat it for years!