As the memorable 2013 season — albeit, for less than desirable reasons — draws to a close, fans of the 3-13 Winnipeg Blue Bombers are going to be seeing changes for 2014 beyond the players on the field, coaches on the sideline, or brass in the front office.
The football club recently announced an increase in season ticket prices in five of the seven categories at Investors Group Field for 2014. While most increases are in the two to three per cent range, the club's most affordable season tickets will jump from $199 to $250 — a 26 per cent leap.
But while fans in the stands may not be enthused by current trends, things have been looking up as head coach Tim Burke continues his late-season mantra of improvement, growth, and development for his team headed into next season.
The offence has begun to click as of late under mid-season offensive coordinator appointee Marcel Bellefeuille, with rookie quarterback Max Hall passing for a career-best 385 yards while leading his team to season-highs of 466 yards of offence and 25 first downs this week at home against the Argonauts. Hall's 385 through the air is the second-highest total put up by a Bombers passer over the last four seasons.
With Winnipeg in the Big Smoke for a rematch at Rogers Centre on Thursday night, the Blue and Gold hope to see similar production out of some starters who are trying to make a name for themselves.
Running back Will Ford, who started the season as the No. 2 on the depth chart, continues his push to be the undisputed No. 1 headed into the offseason. His 324 rushing yards over the last three games ranks third league-wide, while he remains a dangerous threat as the deep man on kick and punt returns.
Former NFL-standout Mike Sims-Walker made his first career CFL start last week, and while he has been ruled out this week with a sore and swollen knee, he definitely left an impression. His 8 receptions for 137 yards while in for Aaron Kelly on Saturday included four for first downs and 52 yards after the catch. The soon to be 29-year-old remains under contract next season.
Notes: Young Canadian offensive lineman Patrick Neufeld will not dress for his first game in Blue and Gold this week after coming over from Saskatchewan in the Alex Hall trade... Wide receiver Aaron Kelly returns to his starting role with Sims-Walker out... Wallace Miles is slated to make his first start of the season in place of Terrence Edwards at slotback... Running back Mario Fannin is slated to dress for his first game after being signed to the practice roster on October 1... The defence will look relatively the same for their rematch with the Boatmen, as starting nickelback Desia Dunn moves back in for Jeremy McGee who suffered a hamstring pull against Toronto, and backup defensive lineman Michael McAdoo will dress for J.D. Griggs who has been placed on the one-game injured list.