The Winnipeg Blue Bombers head to BMO Field to face the Toronto Argonauts on Monday night to round out the Week 4 schedule.
Winnipeg is coming off a 26-12 victory in their Week 3 Grey Cup rematch against Hamilton, while Toronto is looking to forget a 44-3 defeat at the hands of the BC Lions.
The Bombers defence has held opponents to just 13.6 points per game this season. The Argos will need to be ready for the depth that the Bombers have on the defensive side of the ball.
In their Week 3 win it was defensive lineman Willie Jefferson who stood out. Jefferson recorded a sack and a pick-six against the Ticats. Linebacker Kyrie Wilson had five defensive tackles for the Blue and Gold.
Jefferson knows what he’s capable of on a week-to-week basis and wants to continue to show why opposing teams need to be aware of his presence.
“I come into every game, every week just wanting to be dominant,” Jefferson told bluebombers.com. “I know teams game plan against me, game plan against our defence and if I’m able to make something happen, good for me, and if not I just want to disrupt the offence for my team. As long as we, as a defence, can play together and make some stops and get off the field on second down and get our offence the ball to do what they do, it’s good.”
That’s without mentioning reigning Defensive Most Outstanding Player in linebacker Adam Bighill, or fellow linebacker Donald Rutledge Jr. who have the ability to thwart offensive opportunities. The Bombers have allowed an average of 62.3 ruhsing yards per game, the third best average in the league.
If there’s an area of the Winnipeg defence that the Argos can exploit, it may be in the passing game. The Bombers have allowed 316 yards per game in that category. However, despite giving up the third most passing yards, they’ve made stops when they’ve needed to most and have held opponents to just one touchdown through the air.
It’s been a bend don’t break mentality from defensive backs Nick Taylor, Winston Rose, Deatrick Nichols and company.
Offensively, it will be quarterback Zach Collaros trying to get the better of the Argos defence. Collaros completed 21 passes for 302 yards against the Tabbies but threw an interception and failed to throw for a touchdown.
The Bombers receiving group has shown that depth for this team doesn’t stop on defence.
Greg Ellingson has totalled 218 yards and two touchdowns through three games. Additionally, Dalton Schoen and Rasheed Bailey have each surpassed 120 receiving yards for the Winnipeg passing attack as well.
The Argos also can’t afford to forget about versatility of Bailey, who caught five passes for 58 yards and rushed twice for 24 yards against Hamilton.
The Bombers will be without Nic Demski who was placed on the six-game injured list with an ankle injury. He’s coming off one of his best performances of 2022, having caught six passes for 96 yards a week ago.
Brady Oliveira has carried the majority of the load at running back and will do so again on Monday night. Oliveira has seen 39 touches through his first three games and has rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown. The second year back saw a season-high 15 carries in the Week 3 win over Hamilton.
Bethel-Thompson threw for 178 yards and backup Chad Kelly completed two passes for 26 yards last week against the Lions. Both threw an interception in what was a game the Argos would like to forget.
Bethel-Thompson was able to complete just two passes to star receivers Brandon Banks and Kurleigh Gittens Jr. Resulting in just 59 yards between the pair of receivers. Getting the ball into the hands of his top playmakers will be crucial for the success of the Argos offence.
The pivot wants his team to use the loss to BC as motivation heading into the matchup with Winnipeg.
“We need to look ourselves in the mirror,” Bethel-Thompson told argonauts.ca after the loss. “This is great, we’ll find out who we are. There’s only two ways to go, you shrivel up or you stand up and take it. We’re not shying away from anything. It’s an 18 game season for a reason.”
They’re hoping for a better performance out of the run game, as well.
Andrew Harris, who was limited earlier in the week due to an ankle injury, rushed for 27 yards against the Leos. He’ll have a little bit of extra motivation as he faces his former team for the first time.
The Boatmen are averaging 306 total yards per game compared to the Bombers 340.3 mark, so the Double Blue’s defence will be tested.
Their defence has one interception and four sacks on the year, ranking them in the bottom three of the league in each category.
Linebacker, Wynton McManis has two of those sacks, while defensive back, Tarvarus McFadden has the interception. Both players will be key in stopping the pass and rush games.
The Bombers are hoping to start the year 4-0 with a win on Monday night. The Argos need a rebound effort if they hope for a better result to close out Week 4.