Drew Willy had the Winnipeg Blue Bombers out to a blazing start. The rebuilt team had the highest scoring offence through the first three weeks of the season, and an undefeated record to boot. Now, following a near-abysmal Week 4 offensive performance in their first loss of the season, Winnipeg's first-year starting quarterback is placing the blame squarely upon his own shoulders.
"I think anytime you have only three points, it's one of those things that you take it personally as the quarterback," said Willy as he prepared for Friday's matchup in Vancouver against the 2-2 B.C. Lions. "That's your job. Your job is to always take — no matter what happens out there it should really always be on you. We each had our part in it, but I mean, it's definitely one of those things where it's my job to make sure we're productive and make sure we get going as an offence. Taking responsibility is not a huge thing for me. I always tried to do that in my past."
The Bombers were held to just 209 yards of net offence in their 26-3 loss at home to the Edmonton Eskimos. After studying the game film, Willy feels he could have been a touch more patient on some plays.
"There were definitely times I wish I would have stayed on a few receivers a little bit longer. It kind of opened up a little bit later than I thought it would. It's just one of those things where I need to trust what we're doing on offence and go from there."
"It's never going to be a perfect game in your reads and everything."
After allowing five sacks to the Eskimos defence, some will immediately look to an area of weakness from last season — the offensive line — as the reason to why the Bombers offence struggled. While Willy was often hurried and harassed by the Esks last week, he doesn't see his line protection as the overriding issue.
"We've done some good things. We were throwing the ball. We were basically averaging just under 300 yards the first three games. Obviously there was some good protection there for me to be able to throw for that kind of yardage. It's just one of those games last week that it just wasn't all on the O-line. It was all twelve of us and we each took our part. You could look at drives and one play it's one guy, and one play it's another. One play it's me. It's just all around, so we just need to consistently be on the same page on offence and make sure we don't have those mental mistakes."
After a breakout 122 rushing yard performance in Week 1, and three TDs on the ground in Week 2, rookie tailback Nic Grigsby had only 17 rushing attempts in the following two games for a total of 84 yards. The quarterback knows the importance of getting the running game going again if he wants his offence to succeed.
"To get (Grigsby) going would be great for us. He's a dynamic player," added Willy. "If we can get him the ball in the running game or pass game — we just need to get him some touches. Any time you run the ball well, in my past experiences in this league, it definitely increases your chances of winning."
NOTES: Rookie starting safety Moe Leggett returns this week after missing two games with an ankle injury ... Linebacker and defensive back Johnny Sears has been ruled out this week with a hamstring pull. He was listed as questionable throughout the week as he worked to get healthy for the game ... Defensive end Jason Vega is another veteran hit to the Bombers D corps as the former NFLer is out this week due to injures referred to by Mike O'Shea as "various what-nots" ... Rookie kicker Lirim Hajrullahu will take on all kicking and punting duties following Mike Renaud's hamstring injury suffered in pre-game warm-ups last week ... Returner Aaron Woods returns to the active roster after a two week absence where the team used Paris Cotton and Demond Washington on kick and punt returns. Cotton has been placed on the one-game injured list ... The club has decided to swap tackle Dan Knapp and guard Cordaro Howard. Howard moves over to the right tackle spot Friday night, and Knapp inside to left guard as Canadian starter Chris Greaves continues to recover from a knee injury suffered in Week 3. Greaves practiced this week and may be ready to go by Week 6 ... Slotback Julian Feoli-Gudino missed practice on Tuesday and Thursday this week, but Mike O'Shea assured he will be good to go Friday night ... The team signed Canadian linebacker Kyle Jones on Monday. Jones is a true utility player who can play special teams, punt, kick, kickoff, snap, and hold. "The one thing he can't do is snap to himself, hold it, and kick his own field goal. But I haven't asked him to do that so maybe he can," quipped O'Shea. Jones should work as a safety net with the Bombers only having one healthy kicker at the moment.