SPORTS

Bombers QB Drew Willy takes a break but will play in Ottawa on Friday

09/30/2014 03:48 EDT | Updated 11/30/2014 05:59 EST
WINNIPEG - Their quarterback leads the league in passing yards but the Winnipeg Blue Bombers keep sliding down the CFL West Division standings.

It might look like a paradox but the last-place Blue Bombers aren't quite out of contention just yet, with only two points separating them from fourth-place B.C. and the crossover spot that could get them into the playoffs.

And Willy and Winnipeg's position isn't unique. A close No. 2 on that passing-yards list is Toronto's Ricky Ray and the Argos sit at 4-8 in the East, making the Bombers' 6-7 record look rather rosy.

Willy, who was a little banged up after Winnipeg's 16-11 loss to Hamilton last week, didn't throw the football at practice Tuesday but he was still on the field.

"Pretty sore from the game and just wanted to do everything I can to be ready to go tomorrow (in practice)," he said. "I didn't want to make anything worse."

He said they don't have to rewrite their playbook to succeed.

"We just need to execute at a higher level throughout the game. We can't have penalties. We can't have misreads. We just need to be more efficient as an offence ... the yardage was there last game but the points weren't."

The Blue Bombers marched down the field late in the fourth quarter against the visiting Tiger-Cats but they were hampered by a time-count violation and couldn't get past the Hamilton goal-line.

"Execution, that's the definitive word I'm sure, and it's probably execution down to the minute detail," said head coach Mike O'Shea. "Little things ... always allow you to make big plays. Doing the little things incorrectly allow you to fail on simple plays."

Winnipeg has made big strides after a disastrous 3-15 season in 2013, which cost both the former coach and general manager their jobs. The Blue Bombers started the 2014 season with five victories in their first six games but have recorded just a home win over Montreal since.

"I don't think we've changed what we're doing at all," O'Shea said. "I think we're staying the course. I think we're evolving and getting better. I think were adding what we can to the playbook offensively to be more successful."

The Blue Bombers are fourth in the league with 304 points scored this season. However, they've allowed 324 points — the second-worst total in the league.

"I believe that effort trumps detail maybe earlier in the season," O'Shea said. "Now you need that sustained effort and you need that attention to detail also to win games ... because everybody's sharp now. Defences have seen you more than once."

The running game has been a problem for Winnipeg but Willy has done a nice job to offset that with his strong passing game. The rookie starter has completed 265 of 404 attempts for 3,280 yards and 13 touchdowns.

"I think it comes down to just focusing a little bit more when we're in the red zone and making the play," said Clarence Denmark, who is third in the league with 750 receiving yards but has only one touchdown. "We need to make more big plays and have that 'whatever it takes' attitude."

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