WYMAN: Bombers all business as they arrive in Toronto for first road game of CFL season – Ottawa Citizen

Author of the article:

Ted Wyman

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Jackson Jeffcoat (94) applies pressure to Toronto Argonauts quarterback Nick Arbuckle (9) during the second half of CFL action in Winnipeg Friday, August 13, 2021.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Jackson Jeffcoat (94) applies pressure to Toronto Argonauts quarterback Nick Arbuckle (9) during the second half of CFL action in Winnipeg Friday, August 13, 2021. Photo by John Woods /The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Willie Jefferson, stylishly dressed like a man who has his mind on success, stood on an outdoor terrace at a waterfront hotel on a hot and muggy Friday in Toronto and talked about having a chance to do some things he hadn’t done in a very long time.


He did in-person media interviews — no Zoom this time — after flying on a charter plane with his Winnipeg Blue Bombers teammates to Toronto, where his team will play its first road game since the 2019 season, against the Argonauts on Saturday.

“It felt good just to be on the airplane again, travelling with the boys,” the Bombers star defensive lineman said. “We’re coming to handle business. It’s gonna be ‘Get the job done, get back on the plane and go home.’”

The Bombers defence has been handling business like champions so far this season. After dominating in the 2019 playoffs and Grey Cup game, the Blue and Gold defence has been stifling in the first two games of the 2021 season.

They held the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to just six points in Week 1 and held the Argos to just a single converted touchdown in Week 2.


“That’s just the way we play ball,” Jefferson said. “We try to keep teams out of the end zone as much as possible. It’s only been two weeks, but we’re trying to keep that energy going.

“We have a mindset of zero, one, three on the defence — no touchdowns and, if anything, we’re gonna give up a single or a field goal.”

The Bombers beat the Argos 20-7 last Friday, riding the defence and a reasonably efficient offence to the victory.

Quarterback Zach Collaros (292 yards), running back Brady Oliveira (29 yards) and company didn’t exactly light it up against Toronto’s defence and that has the Argos feeling like they can win Saturday if they can just gain some traction of their own offensively.

“We’ve got to be better on offence,” Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said Friday. “I thought our defence did a good job last week, they did exactly what we needed to do to get a win and unfortunately we didn’t do that. If those guys come back and do what they did last week and the offence stays on the field, has some longer drives, changes the field position, gets some more points, that’s what our focus is this week.”


Jefferson figures the Argos will try to build on the 111 rushing yards gained by running back John White last week and will look to iron out some of the wrinkles in the plays they were trying to execute.

They’ll have a different starting quarterback in Nick Arbuckle, who replaced an ineffective McLeod Bethel-Thompson last week, and will have some knowledge about what might work after analyzing last week’s game.

Of course, it’s been a long time since any offence dominated against Winnipeg’s defence. The Bombers averaged 13 points against per game in the 2019 playoffs and have allowed a total of 13 points against through two games this year.

The Argos can talk a good game about doing more on the attack, but it’s not going to come easy against this Bombers defensive dozen.


“It starts up front,” Dinwiddie said. “They’re good at stopping the run, they’re good at getting to the passer, so we’ve got to handle their front seven, especially their D-line, and capitalize on opportunities to attack the secondary when they’re there.

“We’ve got to stay on the field. We can’t just be trying to hit home runs every play.”

One thing that could be a factor in Saturday’s game is the grass field at BMO Field.

It’s the only grass field in the CFL, but it has artificial turf in one of the end zones, which makes it difficult for players, particularly receivers, to get proper footing.

“Traditionally, if you are playing on grass, you’re gonna wear grass cleats that have detachable, longer spikes that dig in a bit more,” Arbuckle said. “At the same time, if you’re in the end zone you can’t wear those cleats cause you’re not gonna get any traction.


“Receivers have to wear cleats that you can wear on turf and, for me, maybe I wear grass cleats and pray we don’t have a ball inside the five-yard line where I’ll have to drop back in the end zone. From a traction standpoint, it’s always a bit of a concern when you haven’t played a game on real grass in a while. I’m sure after the first couple snaps it’s not gonna be anything that we’re thinking about.”

Collaros said the Bombers are prepared to test different kinds of footwear, if necessary, on the grass surface.

“I know that (equipment manager Brad) Fotty has packed us multiple pairs of cleats, to see which ones we like,” Collaros said. “It’s not something I specifically think about, but some teams I’ve been on have made a bigger deal of it than others. I’m just gonna go out there with what I typically wear and what’s always worked for me and take it from there.”

The Bombers are looking to get to 3-0 for the second straight season, although with this being a shortened 14-game campaign, it’s a mark that holds more significance this time around.

There’s an opportunity for the Bombers to get some early separation from West Division teams like Edmonton (1-2), B.C. (1-2) and Calgary (0-2 heading into last night’s game vs. Montreal).

“We believe if we take care of business everything else will take care of itself,” Collaros said. “We try not to pay attention to what other teams are doing, just our opponent, and we’ll take it one play at a time from there.”

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