2023 Blue Bombers

Have an eerie feeling the Bombers could be a bit of a disaster come 2023 season.

Especially if they win a 3rd straight Grey Cup and become holders of the Cup for 4 years.

Prospects -
Mike O'Shea has not signed an extension. Could the Mountain Man be lured by a feeble Eastern team? ie. Hamilton, Ottawa or Montreal? $150,000 more than Wpg is paying him x 4 yrs might do it - GUARANTEED COIN.
Ellingson might retire. Best WR on Bombers til he got old and caught some chronic injuries.
Collaros? He's 34 . . . . are the bombers guaranteed to have him in tow for the next 2 years?
Jeffcoat? Great DE but now coming down with a parade of minor to moderate injuries. Status unknown!
Wee Willy Jefferson? Signed only for this year. Can he do a Kenny Lawler and try to grab up to $100k more than he's earning in Manitoba?
Dalton Schoen? Will the NFL come chasing him to fortify a practice roster? Highly likely!

Also likely -
Asst. GM Danny McManus moves to a GM spot out east. (evidently McManus was the architect of a move to acquire Kenny Lawler from Edmonton at the deadline - soiled by Lawler's season ending shoulder injury)
Other question marks = Hardick, Stanley Bryant, Neufeld, Jake Thomas, Bighill.
Only guarantees to stay in place? - CEO Wad Miller, GM Kyle Walters. These guys pretty much Bomber lifers now! Especially Miller!


If the Bombers can snaggle a 3rd straight Grey Cup and establish legendary DYNASTY STATUS - - - I'd be happy with a 1 or 2 yr rebuild. Even the Bomber remnants without much of the personnel in the first post would be no worse than 7-11 or 8-10 and still have a playoff possibility, albeit NOT AT IGF.

Lyle, for me it is too early to provide any meaningful opinion on next year’s Bombers, or for that matter any team.

We don’t know yet if the Bombers will threepeat. If they do then I believe it is more likely that most top players will stay for another year to try and make it four.

I am also not very worried about age. Their aging team and QB looked just fine last night with approximately 10 starters out and have looked fine all year. I looked hard for the panic button but couldn’t find it. The quality of the Bomber roster and their coaching and mental attitude are second to none.

We don’t know who might retire. We don’t know who from coaching and management might move on. We don’t know if NFL players such as Desjarlais and Kongbo or even Alford and Streveler might return. We don’t know if Lawler will return. Obviously he is not part of Edmonton’s long term plan.

The rumours of the death of the Bombers are always greatly exaggerated. This year they were supposed to have the worst receiving corps in the league yet arguably have the best or second best (to BC) as it turned out.

I don’t think it is debatable that they currently have the best management and scouting department, even if they don’t have a three decade history of finding good young QB’s like Calgary does. They do have the best history of finding DB’s, which has been showcased by the 6-8 that have generally been injured at any given time this year.

There are just too many what ifs, wildcards and unknowns at this point. Any more of a detailed analysis would be pure speculation in my opinion.


Your part on Ellingson being the best BB WR till he got old....did that happen on a specific date?
Yes they have many older vets that are near the end and might have nothing left to prove after a 3Peat.
They do seem to have some good young players at every position, and if the keep the same staff & culture, no reason to not think they wouldn't be chasing a 4Peat.

And great post Jon, make thoughts exactly.

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Of course everything is speculation but I'm tired of writing & reading posts on how horrid TSN coverage is or how poor a coach Paul LaPolice is. What about Chris Jones?

Its all speculation but when is the proper time to begin the process? Evidently, I didn't get the memo to hold off until February/March 2023.

I think Lawler could be retrieved from Edmonton, especially if he fully recovers from his shoulder surgery! Maybe not $200,000/anum but $150k + signing bonus plus performance bonuses could see Big Kenny the Retriever back in tow. He'd be a younger and equally costly alternative to the ageing, oft-injured Ellingson.

Dru Brown & Dak Prokup might not be Mr. Zach clones but they are good QBs. For Bomber D to be at least a good prevent D, the key returns are 35 yr old Adam Bighill & 33 yr old Willy Jefferson. Jeffcoat might be doubtful. Bombers should pursue L'Gared Davis.

Its all speculation but when is the proper time to begin the process? Evidently, I didn't get the memo to hold off until February/March 2023.

No memo, but my guess is that speculation can begin in earnest after the season is over, whether that is after the Western Final or after the Grey Cup.

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One thing the stamps do is let players at the end of their time go with even 2 or 3 good years left and bring in the next one. They never stay long enough to get to old it seems. Hufnagle must have a good sense of when a player is starting to drop off, and he makes the moves. Keep the team fresh. Even the q.b. Isn’t safe if he’s starting to falter, be it from injuries or time off, Covid didn’t help either for some players.

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Hufnagel is exceptionally good at 2 things - 1. Recruiting, 2. Player evaluation

Also likes going with head coaches for long stints of time.

Hufnagel is 71 or 72 but shows no signs of retreat into the darkness of night. I suspect he could go on another 3 or 4 years if his health holds up.
Dave Dickenson is prolly the rightful successor to Huff as Stamps GM. Dickenson not yet 50.

Hufnagel's kryptonite is he can't quite fire up the fan base - its been steadily deteriorating for over a decade. . . . . . . . even with the star players like Bo & Jake Meier he's brought in.

I like the idea of retaining the same coach to, but you have to have the organization set up for constant success , or it likely won;t work. Wally. George brancatto. Seems like a stable team fairs better over the long run. Instead of constantly changing every 2 or 3 years.

Zack is a great qb , but not a "carry the whole team on his back" like flutie was

Point is that the bombers are a complete team and even if 1or 2 key players take a step back next season it wont put them into a rebuild

It would take the loss of 4 to 6 key peices befire rhat happens

I do see a few teams next year improving to the point that Winnipeg willl face better competition and thats what will lower their wins ...

And before the forum explodes with "oh my god the riders think ( fill in the blank ) ....

Im talking about BC with a healthy Rouke all season , the stamps and if Bo goes to toronto include them

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If Bo goes to TO, where does MacBeth go? Both have far too big egos to serve as underlings to the other?

Montreal to go hand in hand w/ ageing Trevor Harris?
Ottawa is the natural destination but MBT seems a bit alien to community culture. Can he adjust to being #1 in that type of market? Can they fit both MBT & Masoli in under the cap?

One thing the Stamps do is sign players prior to FA. Locking up Malik Henry for three years was a good move. Finding Malik Henry was a good move for that matter.

Whether it was the leg injury or the cold (maybe something else) Zach kinda fell apart in the final quarter of this year's Grey Cup.
If one were to pin-point the key Kryptonite allergies the bombers have I'd go with:

  1. Erratic place-kicker who folds under pressure.
  2. Minor pass-blocking inadequacies that force Zach into speeding up his reads, forcing bad throws or ill-timed sacks.
  3. Zero bull-rush! Jake Thomas is a great veteran, experienced Canuck but incapable of generating much of a bull-rush. Willy J is a magnificent DE with amazing range & well above average speed but a bull-rusher he ain't. Jackson Jeffcoat is the closest thing to a bull-rusher but he's more a cover-space guy. Lack of a legit bull-rusher means more time for opposing QBs to abuse the Bomber secondary.
  4. Adam Bighill. Greatest leadership qualities in recent bomber history - but he's obviously lost a step, tries to make things up by fading deeper and giving himself more angle for sideline to sideline tackles or push-outs. If he gives away angle - he may as well not be on the field. Just becomes a chaser. Not having a monster WILB or OLB hindered Bighill big-time last season. Still a slightly above average CFL MLB at age 34/35 - and his best trait, he's like having a defensive coordinator on the field, calling the shots.
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Valid concerns but still time yet to chink the cracks. Problem is hanging on to the players of tenure is expensive. Can't say I see too much left for signing another impact player for the defense so once again fingers crossed Willie stays healthy.

Also think Anthony Coombs would play ahead of McCrae and Grant on offense but that boat has sailed as well. O'Leary Orange and Agudosi are the likely starters to go with Demski and Wolitarsky. Spot open for Dalton Schoen should he be back.

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Bombers definitely known as the 'Play 'em & Keep 'em' CFL franchise. Yeah, they lost Lawler (temporarily) to a massive Elks offer and the guy cashed in. Walters & Wad prolly told him to grab the sack of money while he had a chance!
Lost Couture this year to BC - but if Vern doesn't respond to winning, Couture could be assigned part of the blame.
Biggest loss for Bombers in last 15-20 yrs was Henoc Muamba. He's matured into an all-star specimen, at this point he's far superior to the higher-paid Adam Bighill.
Losing Husky Harris was a planned loss. Bombers made him a lo-ball offer and hoped like the dickens he wouldn't take it. He didn't.
Losing The Weyburn Giant to Sask'n was a big loss at the time - but Bombers have learned scout, sign & keep decent canadian interior line talent so not the greatest loss 10 yrs later.
Bombers now a very stable stable, if you will . . .

Did not realize Brett Jones is from Weyburn. Maybe the water.

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...when he suffered the hip injury in Edmonton. Hips are more complex than shoulders and sometimes, that injury won't really ever heal.....


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Not sure what it is the Bombers do not see in the Herdman Reed brothers. Almost seems made to order like chips and gravy for them to fill in behind Bighill and play on special teams. Believe they will be 29 this year. Jordan played very well in his rookie year filling in for an injured Sol Elimimian.

James Reed was a good player. They say the acorn does not fall far from the tree. I see them every bit as useful to a team as Shayne Gauthier, Jesse Briggs, or Mike Miller

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Loyalty & cheapness can sometimes be bed mates.
Yes, Bombers were forced to step up to pay Kenny Lawler, Zach Collaros (highest paid guy in league now) & Bighill (long term contract plus a plum job training with a top investment firm).
When you pay a few boys the sky - some guys are left digging in the ditch.
Gauthier, Miller & others are superb special-teamer but leave a lot to the imagination as full-time defensive starters. They can use all the training they receiver, be in position most of the time but when it comes to making big plays, stopping key situations and the like, they are basically on-field observers who are defeated far more often than not. They're also fairly cheap labour and thats the key to the Bombers current success.

Bomber defense has 4 or 5 top level players scattered within. Obviously Jefferson & Jeffcoat (when he's not injured), Bighill and a couple of really good DBs. It creates a huge disparity in play, allowing opponents to routinely march the football against their will - but when the tough get going, opponents tend to bog down before crossing the goal-line and settle for 3 pt plays. In essence, Bombers let their opponents defeat themselves. Whether they can do it again in 2023 is the BIG QUESTION.