CFL Week 11 Talking Points: Blue Bombers vs Roughriders

cfl week 11 talking points
Spread the love

Continuing with the CFL Talking Points series, Last Word On Sports CFL writers Thomas Gunther and Kelly Bale are back with the latest game breakdown. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers entered the Labour Day Classic on a hot streak and looked to end an 11-year losing streak against the struggling Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Riders put forth their greatest effort of the year but it wasn’t enough to overcome a litany of penalties and bad mistakes. Thomas and Kelly address the big questions raised by the game as well as their overall impressions of each team. For last week’s recap on the Edmonton Eskimos and Riders, you can click here. Let’s get start with the key takeaways in the CFL Week 11 Talking Points.

CFL Week 11 Talking Points

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

1) Winnipeg jumped out to an 16-0 lead early and looked set to dominate the game. What were the early keys to the game for the Bombers?

Thomas Gunther:The Bombers win, not just the early lead, comes down to three words: second down conversation. The Riders were unable to stop the Bombers from converting whether it was runs by Andrew Harris or short crossing routes to Gerrad Sheppard. The Bombers were frequently driving down the field and putting up points rather than striking out early. and that made all the difference in this matchup.

Kelly Bale: The Bombers were allowed a great deal of space on passing plays and ran the ball well early. The Saskatchewan Roughriders have been starting slow and that continued in the last Labour Day Classic at Mosaic Stadium. The Bombers capitalized on extra opportunities and hit on a couple of big plays while the Riders sputtered.

2) Who can touch the Bombers right now? Mike O’Shea and his team are rolling towards a playoff berth and maybe more, so what has turned around the Winnipeg franchise?

TG: Patience. Fans were clamoring for heads to roll when the season started off rocky for Winnipeg, but those in power stood behind head coach Mike O’Shea and general manager Kyle Walters, and allowed them to mold the team they wanted. Well patience has certainly paid off and the Bombers are looking at their most successful team in the past five years. It’s anyone’s guess how far the team will go, but fans in Winnipeg are glad to be along for the ride.

KB: Winnipeg is staying humble and their players are bonding as a team. All of this started with the personnel decisions made by O’Shea and Walters a few weeks back. Those decisions saw Matt Nichols, Travis Bond, Kevin Fogg, and a bevy of others take a leading role on the team. The team has fed off the success of it’s leaders on the sideline and on the field, and it will be hard to stop the momentum now.

3) What should the Bombers focus be going forward into next week and beyond?

TG: Winnipeg needs to bottle this feeling and keep it on hand for the second half of the CFL season. Winning close games, especially those against rivals, is incredibly tough and doing it two weeks in a row in the Banjo Bowl will be a true test for the mental makeup of this team. The Bombers have earned the CFL‘s attention, qnnow they have to play with a cross-hair on their back and show they deserve it.

KB: The team should take a pledge to make a push for the first week playoff bye. The Bombers should be trusting one another and working at an all time high right now. Winnipeg is poised to stretch this feeling out a few more weeks, and the team might even earn a home playoff game, which would prove difficult for any opponent to beat them in.

Top Performer

TG: The Blue Bombers player of the game is the gold footed Justin Medlock. Berated earlier in the year for a series of misses after signing a mega-deal with the Bombers, Medlock came into this game with over 20 consecutive field goals made. While Medlock did break that streak with his lone miss of the night he more than made up for it with seven field goals including the absolutely clutch game-winner in the final seconds of the game.

KB: Nichols shredded the Riders secondary with his accurate distribution and made it a priority to protect the football. His play made the difference in this match-up and the Bombers got a gritty win out of their signal caller. Give the man his award!

Saskatchewan Roughriders

1) This game was easily the best effort from the Riders all season. What worked for the Green and White and can they bring it again in the Banjo Bowl?

KB: The defence played extremely well at times and two players emerged on offence. Kendial Lawrence just kicked off his 2016 campaign with a dynamite return touchdown and Rider Nation will hope that bodes well for next week. They hope the same with receiver Caleb Holley, who broke out with a huge chunk of the Riders total offence.

TG: The Riders came on strong in the second half of the game with a diversified passing attack and much better protection for Darian Durant. Saskatchewan was able to mitigate the ultra aggressive Bomber defence by completing short passes until the deep routes opened up down the middle. One major area of concern going into the Banjo Bowl though, will be Durant’s inability to connect on screen passes, a season-long trend and major handicap for the offence.

2) The Riders record may not show it but they have certainly uncovered some star players for next year. Identify a player or two whom the organization can build around in 2017.

KB:Receiver Ricky Collins Jr. would be a candidate for Riders Rookie of the Year award for his play so far. Defensive back Justin Cox will certainly get some votes as well, and he would not be out of place in any CFL defence. Not a rookie, but newcomer linebacker Greg Jones will anchor the front seven again in 2017. All of the aforementioned players have all produced Rider Pride and the fans love it.

TG: Although he comes with a troubled past, Cox deserves some recognition as one of the Riders most impressive young players. Cox has routinely been placed on the opposing team’s top receivers and come out on top more often than not. The rookie corner leads the Riders in interceptions with two and has had several more called back on him. The Riders have an outstanding piece to build around.

3) With his worst professional outing coming in the Riders biggest (non-playoff) game of the year has Tyler Crapigna placed his job in jeopardy going forward?

KBTyler Crapigna is 24-years-old and will struggle at times in what should be a long career in Saskatchewan. He’s such a good professional already and he’ll rebound from these mistakes. The Riders would be foolish to pass on his talent and the type of professional he is after just one game.

TG: It’s not great to pile on a great guy and talented kicker but tonight’s loss rests heavily on Crapigna and his shocking misses. The former McMaster Marauder left 7 points on the board and could now drawn the ire of Rider Nation much like former Rider kicker Paul McCallum did. With no other option other than the injured Quinn Van Gylswyk on the roster the Riders may have to roll with Crapigna for now, though Johnny Mark is still out there…

Top Performer

KB: The fans at Mosaic from both sidelines were the top performers. There were many stellar plays by Lawrence, Holley, Naaman Roosevelt, Cox, etc., but none were as good as the showing of the 13th man of Taylor Field at Mosaic Stadium. Goodbye to the Labour Day Classic as we have always known it. Hello to 2017 and new beginnings!

TG: Without a doubt Holley was the top performer for the Green and White in the Labour Day Classic, though Lawrence and Durant certainly made good cases for it as well. The dynamic rookie receiver hauled in an impressive 121 yards and a touchdown on 10 catches in the Riders heartbreaking loss. If there is a silver lining for Rider fans tonight, it is that the Riders now have a number two playmaker to go next to Roosevelt.

Main Photo.