With offence clicking, Burke shifting focus to defence | CFL.ca | Official Site of the Canadian Football League
Adam Gagnon


WINNIPEG -- Now that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' offence has found new life, the defence is looking for a way to turn around what's left of their season.

"As a defence, we've got to go out there and execute and be a lot better fundamentally,'' cornerback Jovon Johnson said Tuesday.

"We've been giving up some plays in the secondary that we wouldn't usually give up. ... We're a lot better than what we've been showing.''

The Bombers will try to keep their playoff hopes alive Saturday when they play the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton.

Head Coach Tim Burke has had nothing but praise for the Winnipeg offence lately.

Quarterback Buck Pierce returned and running backs Chad Simpson and Will Ford shone in last Saturday's 44-32 win in Toronto. It was the highest point total of the season for the Blue Bombers.

However, the defence - one of the best in the league last year - has become a source of confusion for Burke and his staff. The defence gave up four touchdowns to the Argos' passing attack.

That's a major concern as the Bombers must win both their final games and hope Edmonton loses both of their matchups in order to make the playoffs.

Johnson, the CFL's top defensive player in 2011, said the secondary has become too easy to read on man coverage.

"Teams know what we're going to do and they've been doing things game-plan wise to attack against what we do,'' he said after an indoor practice.

He added they've been changing their coverage this week to address those shortcomings.

But Winnipeg will also be playing without a couple of starting defensive ends this weekend as Jason Vega and Kenny Mainor are both out with injuries. The Blue Bombers have added a couple of imports to their practice roster - Rodney Fritz and Anthony DeGrate - to fill the holes.

Fortunately for the Bombers, Fritz isn't a newcomer. He played six games for the Bombers over the last two seasons and Burke said if he had an NFL-sized roster, he's the kind of player he'd keep around.

"He was with us last year and with us in training camp this year so he knows what to do,'' he said. "It's just a matter of refreshing his memory.''

"It feels great to be back,'' said Fritz, who knows his plug-and-play ability is a major asset. "I think that was probably the key thing that brought me back.''

He didn't seem concerned at the flak the defence has been taking lately.

"Challenge is good some times,'' he said. "It's supposed to bring out the best in us as competitors. Me coming back in the situation, I know the kind of teammates we have.

"They're going to be resilient, they're going to fight for everything.''

Fan Comments
They've been way below their capability all season. And yeah, Burke.. it only took you this long to figure out how to fix the offense? It's not like everyone was yelling all year to actually use Simpson or anything.
October 25, 2012 - 3:03pm
Fine with the Ticats if the Winnipeg D isn't up to snuff; makes it even easier to torch them with the Hamilton offense!
October 24, 2012 - 2:10pm
als rule
man now I real hope the bombers beat the cats so that I can laugh at TFmcb again!! LOL LOL LOL
October 24, 2012 - 9:45pm
Just like they did last time?
October 25, 2012 - 3:01pm
als rule
it maybe 2 late for this year BUT sets up for next year!! also wasn't/is burke the DC? so the HC is saying the DC wasn't doing his job and therefore he needs to take over? LOL LOL LOL
October 24, 2012 - 11:13am