The Blue Bombers are on a roll! After beating the Edmonton Elks on Friday by a score of 24-10, Winnipeg moves to the top of the leaderboard and have won their seventh game in a row. The reigning Grey Cup holders have started the season just as they finished the last.
Collaros: Leading from behind
A large portion of the Blue Bombers’ success can be attributed to play from their star quarterback, Zach Collaros.
Collaros leads the CFL in passing yards with 1,724, while also being second in passing touchdowns. Additionally, Collaros is not afraid to make big plays, as he is 3rd in the CFL in yards per play.
🔥 It’s safe to say that Zach Collaros is completely dominating the @CFL right now.
🧨 His @Wpg_BlueBombers sit 6/6 in the West and show no signs of slowing down. #CFL | #CFLGameday | #FortheW pic.twitter.com/22LT16CEFQ
— The Playbook (@genius_playbook) July 23, 2022
The two biggest beneficiaries of Collaros’ play are Greg Ellingson and Dalton Schoen. Ellingson played college football at FIU and has played on the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Schoen played his college football at Kansas State before signing with the Blue Bombers. Both Schoen and Ellingson are amongst the top three players in receiving yards in the CFL, combining for 1,021 of Collaros’ 1,724 yards.
Schoen is a fairly new receiver, whereas Ellingson has put together five straight one thousand yard receiving seasons. Ellingson and Schoen are also both in the league’s top four for receiving touchdowns, with Schoen being tied for the league lead.
If the Blue Bombers want to stay strong, they’ll continue to go to their top receivers.
A well-drilled offense
Another large contributor to the Blue Bombers’ offense is from running back Brady Oliviera. He was drafted in 2019 by the Blue Bombers and has put together a nice season. Thus far he is sixth in rushing yards in the CFL with 258 yards and has also scored a touchdown.
The style in which the Blue Bombers play isn’t as conventional as you would expect, scoring the most points and destroying their opponents. In actuality, the Blue Bombers are one of the more slower-paced teams. They are eighth in yards per games played and seventh in plays per games played. They also are very meticulous moving the ball up the field, only averaging 4.7 yards per play (only the Edmonton Elks being worse).
Even with their overall team’s statistics being understated, they still manage to put together some electric plays. Just this past week, Collaros connected with Schoen for an 81-yard touchdown to end the first half.
The Blue Bombers extend their lead late in the 2nd! #CFL pic.twitter.com/krTruV0bi6
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) July 23, 2022
A tough nut to crack in defense
In addition to their strong offense, the Blue Bombers’ defence has proved to be another one of their strengths. Defensive Coordinator Richie Hall has done an incredible job at creating a productive defense, particularly in stopping the run game. Against the run, Winnipeg have allowed just 529 total yards, an average of 75.6 yard per game – the second-fewest in the league. They’re also yet to concede a single rushing touchdown so far. Food for thought for opposing offensive coordinators.
“The @calstampeders are a very good football team… We have to be sound in our execution.”
» https://t.co/8MPBprSpkg#ForTheW pic.twitter.com/55iTwpVpuK
— Winnipeg Blue Bombers (@Wpg_BlueBombers) July 27, 2022
The Blue Bombers have forced the most interceptions and have the second most sacks in the league. Former FIU basketball player Nick Taylor has led the Blue Bombers’ defense with three interceptions while former Baylor Bear and Washington Redskin Willie Jefferson leads the defense with three sacks.
The Blue Bombers face a tough test on Saturday, matching up against the Calgary Stampeders. Winnipeg hopes to move to 8-0, to solidify their position as the strongest team in the league. They remain undefeated, but Calgary will be a test. They’ve lost just once, and have an overtime win to their name. If Winnipeg can come through unscathed, we might just be looking at a year of complete CFL domination for the Blue Bombers.