Turnovers are simply a 2016 Blue Bombers thing
After 16 games, why are we even asking this anymore? asks Ed Tait.
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The question comes up a lot these days, mostly to Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea, but to some of his charges as well.
It’s pointed, it’s valid and it goes more or less like this: this turnover thing – the defence intercepting passes, stripping footballs and then pouncing on them – how long can the Bombers keep on relying on that as a formula to success?
Well, here are a couple other related questions as the Bombers enter their bye week at 10-6 and in sole possession of second place in the Canadian Football League’s West Division:
-After 16 games, why are we even asking this anymore?
-And why can’t anyone simply accept that this is what the 2016 Blue Bombers do and this is who they are?
In Friday’s dramatic come-from-10-points-behind-with-five-minutes-left 35-32 win over the B.C. Lions – in Vancouver, no less – the Bombers forced another six turnovers, four interceptions and two fumbles.
And, as per usual in the five games this season in which the club has forced six turnovers – and the 10 games of which they forced three or more – O’Shea was asked if his troops can keep this thievery going.
“Game by game it’s going to be different,” said O’Shea. “We’ve got to force takeaways in different ways. It’s going to be tighter games and tougher to force all those takeaways, but we’ve just got to be diligent.”
Pressed further as to how ‘abnormal’ this is, O’Shea grinned and added:
“It wouldn’t seem so for this group right now. Somebody’s got to do it.”
Look, every team takes on a certain identity or characteristic each season. The Bombers of 2011 milked that whole ‘Swaggerville’ deal and followed that up with a couple of seasons that would be best described as – how can we put this nicely? -- ‘tire fires.’
The 2016 Bombers are a lot of things, including a team that is being led by a fiery quarterback in Matt Nichols, that can dominate the offensive line of scrimmage and has a cyborg kicking field goals in Justin Medlock.
But, first and foremost, they would be described by just about anyone who follows the CFL – and, especially, their opponents – as ball hawks. They may bend a ton on defence, but dang it if you don’t protect the football they will take it away and make you pay.
And that’s not just a formula, it represents a comfort in the defensive system and a vow to protect the ball offensively. More than anything, though, it’s an aggressive approach to the game that sure beats what football fans have seen too often of late in these parts.
Let’s face it, while the good book offers a wonderful message in ‘blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth’, on the football field that’s an invitation to getting your backside kicked.
Ed Tait is the Blue Bombers Director of Content. His columns appear weekly in Metro. Follow him daily on Twitter (@EdTaitWFC) and bluebombers.com.