Tait: Blue Bombers overdue for a meaningful November home game
Something good may be brewing for Winnipeg's team.
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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were back at their posts on Monday, fresh from the second bye week in their schedule, and with their heads down and their eyes collectively fixated on their next opponent.
And, yes, we know: that sounds predictably boring and cliché.
But it has also been the Bombers mantra all season -- worry about what is directly in front, not what is in the rear-view mirror or two, three weeks or months down the road.
And at 8-3 and sporting the second-best record in the Canadian Football League to the powerhouse Calgary Stampeders – cruising along again at 10-1-1 – who is really to debate whatever negatives there might be to that approach?
Still, all of this doesn’t stop us from peering past this Friday’s home date with the Ottawa Redblacks and what it might take for the Bombers to reach one of their coveted goals: a home playoff game.
The Bombers have seven games left, four at home, three on the road and the docket includes a quartet of contests against West Division opponents.
There’s more to munch on when analyzing what’s left: three opponents, including Ottawa, Hamilton and Toronto, have losing records. B.C. is under-performing at 6-6, Edmonton has dropped five straight at 7-5 while the regular-season finale is in Calgary.
All of this is to say that if the Bombers go 4-3 or 5-2 in their last seven – hardly unreasonable – they should get to 12 or 13 wins and likely earn the right to host a playoff game here in Winnipeg for the first time since the 2011 East Final.
And if that seems like a long time ago, consider this: that game was played at a stadium that no longer exists on a site that now features an abandoned Target store.
So, yeah, they’re kinda due for a November home game of meaning.
“We acknowledge where we’re at, but we’re not content,” veteran cornerback Chris Randle told me on the weekend. “We just want to keep getting better. The good teams peak in the playoffs. That’s what we’re striving for right now.
“We know where we’re at in the standings, but our priority right now is us and getting ready for Ottawa.”
There’s a message in Randle’s comments that have already been echoed throughout the Bombers clubhouse: they understand more than anyone they’ve got areas that need tending to, including their nasty penchant for giving up some size-large "explosion plays" on defence – a flaw that was conveniently glossed over in their Banjo Bowl win over the Saskatchewan Roughridgers.
But there’s also a belief there’s something good brewing, too.
“It’s the last third of the season here and we’re sitting in a good spot,” said running back Andrew Harris. “But we’ve got to continue to get better every week and keep working on the things we need to get better at. We just need to worry about the little details and keeping the intensity and physicality up.
“We’ve got a tough back end of the schedule here and we’re looking forward to it.”
That back end of the schedule begins Friday at home against Ottawa. But the final chapter of this season won’t be penned until November. And the later in November, the better, for the Bombers and their faithful.
Ed Tait is the Blue Bombers Director of Content. His columns appear weekly in the Metro. Follow him daily at bluebombers.com.