July 16, 2014

Irving: O’Shea, Willy leading magical start for Bombers


“Do you believe in magic?” It’s a song from the 1960’s by a group called Luvin’ Spoonful (sorry to date myself).

That song popped into my head when Drew Willy hit Julian Feoli-Gudino to give the Winnipeg Blue Bombers a dramatic 34-33 win over the Montreal Alouettes in Week 3.

As that game-winning 13-play, 75-yard drive concluded, it seemed like something magical was unfolding for the 2014 version of the Bombers. Not that they didn’t deserve to win.

Any team that can push the football 75 yards in the dieing minutes against that rugged and, at times, complex Montreal defence gets full marks for the achievement. Still, the thought creeps in that there just might be forces at work in Winnipeg, beyond the obvious.

In his usual articulate way, Bombers’ head coach Mike O’Shea shared some philosophical views of what happened in Montreal and what has happened during the Bombers 3-0 start.

“The main point is to get everybody to realize this isn’t last year and to move on, to realize we just have to keep on grinding and we can turn those games into wins” O’Shea said.

“The good part is we won and that allows us to make the corrections more easily I believe. There were a lot of mistakes, a lot of penalties, a lot of times when Drew got hit when he didn’t have to, mistakes on special teams. There is a lot to fix.”

Regarding the final outcome, O’Shea said “We weren’t lucky. The guys kept going and going. I wouldn’t say we were lucky to win. But with any call or different bounce or whatever in that type of game where we have made that many mistakes and taken so many penalties, I would say fortunate is maybe the right word.”

O’Shea’s comments prove he has a good grasp on reality. He knows all about that fine line between winning and losing. He also talked about the importance of removing the losing stigma from the franchise.

“I said it right from the start, we need to win and win early to get this started, to get whatever this buy-in, the feeling, to be able to exhale and let stuff go from the prior year. The idea that it’s not here we go again. With some teams, you can sense the attitude switches to here we go again. It was important that we got rid of that very quickly.”

So, it’s not magic that has propelled the Bombers to a 3-0 start. Not some slight of hand or trickery, a little good fortune perhaps, but mostly it’s a credit to the grit and determination and sense of belief O’Shea and his staff have been able to instill in the Blue Bombers and to the character of the players O’Shea and GM Kyle Walters have tried to recruit.

It’s also a credit to the quarterbacking of Drew Willy. We are constantly reminded that football is the ultimate team game but there is one man at one position who can be the ultimate difference maker.

That’s the quarterback and evidence continues to mount that the Bombers have found a winner in Willy.