We have amazing veteran starters paired with great coaching and management staffs… so having ascended to the top of the food chain for the third season in a row we’ve got nowhere to go but down. I’m hoping that the wheels don’t fall off this season but sooner or later they will. It’s nature’s way.
I have a niggling concern for the “wheels falling off” too. I think its more of a concern of over confidence but, because the Bomber roster is replete with veterans, my concern isn’t with the players. Its with the fans (or maybe its just me). As a wise former colleague preached regularly, "If you keep your expectations low enough, you’ll never be disappointed.
Those damned niggles!
The question is do the veterans have one more year in them. Teams suddenly being too old is a real thing, denials of some to the contrary. I see the Bombers as similar to the 1983 Edm team.
1983 Edm vs 2023 Bombers
-Previous 2 seasons. Bombers 26-6, Edm 25-6-1.
-Both went to GC those 2 years.
-Players in their 30’s - 11 each. (Edm - 3 over 31, Bombers 8 over 31.)
LB-Kepley, 31, 3 X MOP, Bighill, 34, 3 X MOP
DE-James "Quick’ Parker, 25, 1982 MOP (3 MOP’s by age 28), Jefferson, 32, 1 MOP @ age 28.
DT-Fennell, 30, 2 X GC MVP, 4 Most O/S CDN awards, Thomas, 33, no awards. QB-Moon, 26, MOP, Collaros 34, reigning MOP going into 2023
-Dunigan Future HOF - backup. Brown -??
That 1983 club, like the Bombers now, had great receivers. Kelly , 27, 1812 yds, combined with Scott for 3046 yds in 16 games. (CFL record for a duo - 2016 - Bowman/Walker combined for 3350 yds in 18 games).
Edm finished 8-8. Two things - too many old players & younger, better clubs caught up to them. Age DOES catch up to teams, even the best of them - the Bomber veterans are also older than the Edm veterans were. We’ll see how it goes this year, but there is some reason to be concerned.
Go back 2 years when the 32 year olds, the “youngest” of your veterans, turned 30. The past 2 years the OL has gone from 20 sacks allowed (projected to 18 games from 14 played) to 29, an increase of 40%. Note - Winnipeg has thrown the ball less than any team both of those years so less opportunity for sacks. The DL went from 50 sacks (again adjusted to 18 games from 14 played in 2021) to 36, 2nd last - a decrease of 28% & Sayles, 2nd only to Willie, is gone. That was their worst total since 2016. Those are “niggling” trends. That’s where all your old guys are - the OL & Front 7, Collaros excepted.
What’s “really too old”? In a 3DN article, Winnipeg guy Hodge says over 30 is old. The Bomber GM, in that Dec article says they have to get younger. Did they? Bighill admits the “window is closing”. Has it? I see some much younger clubs who are capable of taking a run at the title this year. Certainly the Bombers are in the conversation.