My, how the worm turns. Go back approximately two weeks and there was much consternation in Winnipeg about head coach Tim Burke not playing his starters enough during the preseason and getting embarrassingly outscored in the two contests "a lot to a little."
Follow that up with a disappointing home-opening and stadium-opening loss featuring a sputtering offence that insisted on giving the ball away, and questions continued to pour in about the faltering Blue Bombers.
Fast forward to the present and the Bombers are sitting at 1-1 after a bone-crunching performance by their defence on the road at Percival Molson Stadium; a defence that swarmed all over what appeared to be a shell-shocked and ill-prepared Alouettes team.
Seven times the "Bomb Squad" got to their target, Anthony Calvillo, bringing their total number of kills to 11 on the season (all on Calvillo.)
Here's a statistic that may help bring things into perspective on how stifling the "Blue Swarm" was on Thursday evening: the Als only ran 47 offensive plays through 60 minutes of football; seven of which resulted in a total loss of 37 yards. That's less than 12 plays a quarter, which is typically one good drive for the once dangerous offence; just 122 yards net offence; and only 2.6 average yards per play.
But wait a minute; it gets even scarier on (20) second down plays: the "Black and Blue Bunch" held Montreal to 28 yards TOTAL! That's 1.2 yards per play. Ouch!
No wonder AC was so upset! He was frustrated and taken off his game in rare fashion. In fact, that's the most he's been sacked in one game in the last five seasons. It's not often you see the record-setting, even-keeled, stoic, legendary quarterback so discombobulated.
But when you do see it happen, it's the same song and dance, same tune being sung and same blue print applied: relentless pressure and a constant attack on where AC sets up shop, seven yards straight behind the center! The mission was planned, the assault was flawless and the target was terminated.
While the "Blue Storm Defence" was on its game, showing you how destructive and effective a defensive unit can be when working together, the offence still has some work to do!
Too many times the ball was given to the opposition, making the performance of the "Flying Muambas" even more impressive. Four turnovers on offence and another on special teams and the "Terminators" had to deal with what defenses call "sudden change;" when the ball is turned over and suddenly they find themselves back in action! They were up to the challenge however, holding AC and company to only four points.
Two weeks in a row the Bombers have lost the turnover battle (5-1 in Week 1 and 5-3 in Week 2).
Winning the turnover battle is usually a telltale sign how a team is performing. Often it's the one stat that decides who wins and loses, but it may not matter with the kind of defensive performance we saw against Montreal the other night.
If the Bombers can clean up their act offensively and limit the turnovers, watch out.
Why? I'll tell you why. I can say this with extreme confidence: defences CAN determine the outcome of a football game by cranking up their intensity and bringing wave after wave of relentless pressure.
I remember being sacked 10 times in the '86 Grey Cup by a vicious Hamilton Tiger-Cats defence that dominated the line of scrimmage en route to a Grey Cup Championship. After the game I basically went straight to the hospital and had both my knee and elbow operated on, all from the bombardment of an overpowering defence.
Defences do win championships and the effort we saw the other night, by whatever you want to call the men on that side of the ball for the Bombers, was of championship caliber and intensity. Just ask AC!