CFL Pass

Sanchez: 'People are sleeping on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers'

TORONTO — There was an unprecedented amount of change around the CFL this off-season.

Some of the league’s most notable names, including the biggest free agent on the market Mike Reilly, traded in their colours for new ones. Even some coaching staffs underwent complete overhauls.

However, one team laid low among all the chatter: The Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“They didn’t have a lot of holes to plug and that’s a good thing,” Davis Sanchez said on The Waggle podcast presented by Sport Clips last week. “I feel like when everyone’s looking on the surface right now, when everyone looks around the league, and wants to put out pre-season rankings and just look at who got better and who got worse and what the landscape is.

“People are sleeping on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.”

Episode 160: Go west, young man

EPISODE OVERVIEW: On this week’s episode Donnovan and Davis focus on the West Division and how pre-season injuries could have a huge impact on early storylines in the season.

EPISODE RUNDOWN: BC and Edmonton’s approach to the pre-season opener (2:20); pre-season injuries could have lasting effects (21:30); how does the West shake out this year? (34:30); who has the better offence on paper, Winnipeg or Edmonton? (45:00); Will Mike Reilly be an MOP in BC? (47:00).

This off-season, the Blue Bombers roster stayed relatively the same. Quarterback Matt Nichols is back at the helm for his fifth season in the blue and gold. Running back Andrew Harris will carry the rock once again and receivers Darvin Adams, Nic Demski and Drew Wolitarsky will all be catching passes from Nichols when the regular season gets underway.

On the other side of the ball, last year’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player Adam Bighill was extended to stay in Winnipeg. Brandon Alexander“>Brandon Alexander and Marcus Sayles anchor a secondary, that despite losing Taylor Loffler in free agency, still looks to impress.

The biggest moves for the Bombers this off-season was signing receiver Chris Matthews and defensive end Willie Jefferson, rounding out a roster that Sanchez says is one of the best in the league, even after losing two key offensive linemen in Matthias Goossen“>Matthias Goossen and Sukh Chungh“>Sukh Chungh.

“Other than those two spots (interior offensive line), where is there any question on this roster?” asked Sanchez. “I’m looking across this roster, and you lost Kevin Fogg as well but you can find a field corner, it’s not going to be that difficult. You’ve got Winston Rose anyway so there’s someone right there.

“To me, there’s no weaknesses on this team. They didn’t go out like Edmonton and BC and make big splash signings but I don’t see weaknesses.”

The Bombers finished 10-8, good for third in the West Division in 2018. That record, however, doesn’t tell the entire story of how well the Blue Bombers actually played on offence.

“Did they win the Grey Cup? No,” said Sanchez’s co-host Donnovan Bennett. “Did they finish first or second in the west? No. They finished third. But when you actually look at their team, look at their plus/minus, they outscored their opponents by 131 points last year. That’s second only to Calgary, who was the best team in the league. Saskatchewan, who finished with a better record by two games outscored their opponents by six points.”

Despite not creating buzz this off-season, the Blue Bombers will be looking to prove they’re contenders in the ultra-competitive West Division.