June 18th, 2024

Bombers picked to win Grey Cup

By Lethbridge Herald on November 18, 2022.

By Graham Kelly

Inside the CFL   

Tomorrow, Winnipeg will win their third consecutive Grey Cup. In most categories the Bombers are superior.  However three-peats are rare, Toronto has never lost a Grey Cup to Winnipeg, and, West or East, Andrew Harris is a Grey Cup beast. 

     But to quote American writer Damon Runyon, “There’s nothing as unsure as a sure thing”. So how can they lose?

     In 1990,  Winnipeg went into the Grey Cup against the powerful Edmontonians as prohibitive underdogs. However, buoyed by the spectacular performance of linebacker Greg Battle, the Bombers won 50-11. Winnipeg coach Cal Murphy devised a defensive scheme that opposition  quarterback Tracy Ham couldn’t decipher. It was the biggest margin of defeat in Edmonton’s distinguished Grey Cup history. 

     The  2017 Grey Cup was between the 13-4-1  Stampeders and 9-9 Argos. Leading 24-17 with four minutes left, Bo Levi Mitchell passed to Kamar Jorden who fumbled it at the one. DB Cassius Vaughan picked it up and  ran 109 yards for a touchdown. Ricky Ray soon after engineered a tying three pointer. Trailing by three, the Stamps moved into FG range in  the last minute but  Calgary coach  Dave Dickenson went for all the marbles and Bo was intercepted in the end-zone. A turnover + coaching error = the best team lost.   

     Underdogs have won  Grey Cups by taking advantage of turnovers and coaching errors. It’s a tired but true cliche, the team that makes the fewest mistakes usually wins.

 Winnipeg was 3rd in total offence this year, Toronto 6th.  The Bombers yielded the fewest yards, the Argos the second most. The Scullers were second in passing offence, the Bombers had the second best pass defence.  Toronto was 6th against the rush, Winnipeg had the second most productive ground game.  The Bombers were third against the rush, Toronto had the worst ground attack but that is deceptive because Andrew Harris missed ten games.  Argo weaknesses are Bomber strengths.

    Winnipeg took the fewest penalties, Toronto was seventh worst.  The Bombers had a better turnover ratio. They allowed 14 fewer sacks.  While the team with the best defence usually has a lot of sacks, the Westerners ranked   8th, Toronto 7th.  The Bombers rely on knock downs and pressure coming from the ends while  dropping up to nine men back into coverage.  

 The Argo receiving corps is led by rookie Kurleigh Gittens, Jr. Next up are Markeith Ambles, Cam Phillips and the veteran Brandon Banks who shows  occasional flashes of his former greatness.  The Bomber group led by 2022 CFL Most Outstanding Rookie Dalton Schoen with Nic Demski, Greg Ellingson Rasheed Bailey and Drew Wolitarsky is much better. Toronto’s strength is on the ground with A.J. Ouillette and Andrew Harris. But Brady Olivera ran for 1001 yards during the season and added 130 in the division final, so rushing  is also a Winnipeg strength.  The Bombers want to jump out to an early to force McLeod Bethel-Thompson away from the running game into the air.  The Argos’ best bet is to force the gimpy Collaros to the bench. If both defences take the night off, Winnipeg is better equipped to win a shoot-out.

     Special teams? Both Bomber Marc Liegghio and Argo Boris Bede are equally capable of being the goat.    

       Give Winnipeg the edge in coaching.  Richie Hall, a CFL defensive coach since 1994 has  seen it all. This is Argo Corey Mace’s first year as defensive coordinator.  Boatman leader Ryan Dinwiddie is making his Grey Cup debut in his second year. Michael O’Shea has won six rings as a player, coordinator and head coach.      Zach Collaros who sustained an ankle injury last Sunday says he’s good to go. If not, backup Dru Brown can get it done

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