July 25, 2024

Patrick Neufeld is eager to set the tone early this week. Not literally, of course—he wouldn’t risk being ejected from the Blue Bombers’ home game on Friday against the 1-1 B.C. Lions. But in a figurative sense, he and the rest of the Blue Bombers offensive line are determined to take initiative rather than being dominated, which has been the case in the first two weeks of the CFL regular season.

CFL: Blue Bombers top B.C. Lions 24-13, advance to Grey Cup | CTV News

“After Winnipeg’s closed practice Wednesday at Princess Auto Stadium, Neufeld emphasized the importance of reclaiming the physicality that has defined their play,” said Neufeld.

Winnipeg’s offensive line has been renowned for its gritty, punishing style. “The relentless ability to hit someone, play after play, and not back down no matter the situation,” is how Neufeld described it. This style has been pivotal in Winnipeg’s four consecutive Grey Cup appearances and two championship wins, enabling veteran quarterback Zach Collaros to exploit defenses and facilitating the rushing game.

However, the team’s disappointing 0-2 start in 2024 has raised doubts about whether this revamped offensive line—still anchored by Neufeld, Stanley Bryant, and Chris Kolankowski—can perform effectively. Collaros has yet to throw a touchdown pass, partly due to the pressure he’s faced from inadequate pass protection. His low efficiency rating and completion percentage, along with a zero touchdown-to-interception ratio, underscore the offensive line’s struggles.

The rushing game has also underperformed by Winnipeg’s standards, averaging just 67 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry, figures near the CFL’s lowest. The absence of star running back Brady Oliveira, recovering from injury and missing all of training camp, has compounded these challenges. Additionally, the integration of new offensive linemen Liam Dobson and Eric Lofton has been a work in progress.

Despite these challenges, Neufeld and Bryant remain optimistic, acknowledging the adjustments needed to improve chemistry among teammates. Head coach Mike O’Shea shares their confidence, emphasizing the foundation and standards the team is working to restore.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers sign left tackle Stanley Bryant to a one-year  extension | TSN

As the Bombers prepare to face the B.C. Lions, uncertainties linger regarding the availability of key players like Oliveira and defensive back Deatrick Nichols. However, the team remains focused on refining their performance and preparing for Friday’s crucial matchup.

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