Just like any good fishing story you are bound to hear about the one that got away. This Bombers’ season was just like that fishing story.
Ask any angler who has been out longer than a weekend about their fishing trip and you are going to hear three parts of the story: the beginning of the trip, the fun in the middle, and the trophy fish that got away.
The Beginning Of The Trip
Every fish story begins with the boasting of how many fish were caught early in the trip. If the Bombers were telling a fish story they would certainly tell you about their amazing 9-0 start! Everyone was in good spirits and based on the beginning of the trip they could not help but wonder what could become of this adventure.
Like the angler starting their trip the Bombers went hard early without resting and not having a bye-week until Week 10.
I know if you asked the Bombers they would tell you “We are just trying to go 1-0 this week,” but the fact was not lost on them that the goal was a third straight Grey Cup. Even for the angler that starts their trip in an amazing fashion, they are looking to end it in an even more amazing way.
The Laughs Along The Way
When you get to the middle of the fishing trip you are still out there working hard, but it becomes more about the fun of the adventure.
You now know what to do to sustain success, and when you lose a couple of fish (or games like the Bombers did in the middle of the season) it is not really a big deal.
However, as you near the end of the trip the focus again becomes locked in, as you have not yet achieved what you set out to do, land the trophy fish (Grey Cup).
The One That Got Away
Every great fish story reads one of two ways: something that becomes folk lore or something that is a tradgey. That is what makes it a good story, it draws you in and is remembered forever. And while the 2019 and 2021 Bombers’ season will become a folk story the 2022 season was a tragedy. And in this tragedy you were not quite sure if it is going to actually end up a tragedy until the end.
The fishing trip tragedies have the highs at the beginning, the exuberance in the middle, and the sheer pain and agony at the end. That was the Bombers’ season. Being an angler myself I have lost some fish of a lifetime and have been in the boat when others have, and I can tell you it stings. I can also tell you there are some themes when it comes to losing the fish of a lifetime – and make no mistake about it 3 Grey Cups in a row would have been the Bombers’ “fish” of a lifetime.
1) The Line Is Nicked Up
When your fishing line is nicked up it will rarely stand up to the tension that a monster fish puts on it. Generally, the line will snap and the fish is gone.
I get it, nobody is completely healthy come the Grey Cup. But the Bombers’ offensive line looked like a nicked up line. The usually amazing protection for Zach Collaros was not there. In fact, in the 1st quarter the Bombers only made one first down and had an unfathomably low 29 net yards of offence.
With the Bombers’ line not holding up, Zach Collaros was sacked once in the 2nd quarter and three times in the 3rd quarter (had there not been a facemask call, you could have added another sack in the 4th quarter).
2) The Hooks Are Not Sharp Enough
Even if you somehow get past the line issue, as a fishing line can get nicked up while landing a trophy, if your hooks are not sharp enough the fish will typically get off.
And that is what happened to the Bombers…their hooks, their players, were simply not sharp enough.
While Brady Oliveira did better than his teacher, Andrew Harris, Brady only had 82 yards on 15 carries. Not that 5.5 yards per carry is a bad average, but when you are trying to land a trophy you need a little bit more.
If you want to talk about dull hooks we also have to mention Marc Liegghio. He made one of his two field goals and missed a crucial point after.
If there were any sharp hooks out there then that would have to be the Bombers’ defence that kept Winnipeg in the game, but even they struggled at times.
If there was a single sharp hook in the tackle box the Bombers struggled to find it. This was the epitome of a team loss.
3) The Trophy Fish Is Lost Boat Side
Of all the agonizing ways to lose a trophy fish (or simply a trophy) is losing it boat side.
Look, if you lose the trophy fish way out there because the line was nicked, you never really get to see the fish and you just think you could have had it. And while the Bombers’ offensive line was not strong enough they still had a chance to land it. They did not lose the game in the first or even second or third quarter.
If you lose the trophy fish because the hook is not sharp enough, often you get it close enough to the boat to take a peek at it. However, regardless of how un-sharp the Bombers were they did not just get a peek at the trophy…it was right there boat side with under a minute to go.
Losing a trophy fish, much like losing a trophy, in the last moments is brutally painful. You had it! You saw it, you could picture yourself holding it, it was right there…and then in the blink of an eye it is gone.
And that is exactly how it was for the Bombers. The line was nicked, the hooks were not sharp enough, yet they got it boat side and before they could hold it, the Bombers field goal was blocked and their trophy was gone in the blink of an eye.
So while the trip was good with a good group of guys, and while the adventure was great, setting a franchise record of 15-3, the Bombers’ 2022 season will all be about the one that got away.
Is There Another Chance
Here is the part that really hurts about the one that got away, you never know if you will have another chance.
Sure, people are saying the Bombers will be back in the Grey Cup next year…but it seems like commentators always say that about the grey Cup losers, and it just is not always the case. The Bombers will have some free agents, Schoen may get an NFL look, and you have some players nearing retirement.
Will the Bombers have their guide back? O’Shea sign another 3 year contract? It would seem that with Zach Collaros signed for an additional 3 that the Bombers will get a deal done, but Mike O’Shea hold all the chips on whether or not he comes back.
How about the free agent Willie Jefferson? Will he return?
Will the Bombers be able to put the pieces together for another great season in 2023?
Will other teams not come to poach the Bomber players as hard this year as they did not win the Grey Cup?
Will the Bombers repeat what they did in the late 1950’s early 1960’s when they won the Grey Cup in 1958, 1959, lost in 1960, but won again in 1961 and 1962?
Only time will tell and the next trip is scheduled for 2023 with the Bombers hoping this time they land the trophy, get the pictures and the other boat (team) has to talk about the one that got away.
What did I get right? What did you disagree with? Let me know in the comments.
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Written by a Bomber fan, for the Bomber fans.
Stay with CFL News Hub for the 2022 season.
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