The Bombers open their season Friday at IG Field (7:30 p.m. start, 5:30 p.m. pre-game show on 680 CJOB). Here are five numbers I think are important to the home opener versus the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
On average, Dalton Schoen’s targets were 19.1 yards downfield. That’s the deepest a receiver has been targeted since we started tracking in 2015. His effectiveness when QB Zach Collaros was under pressure was astounding. Playoffs included, Schoen was over 20 yards per reception in 2022. The 20-yard barrier hadn’t been broken since Milt Stegall did it in 2005.
The Bombers blitzed Bo-Levi Mitchell just 13 times in two games last season. That was the least they blitzed an opposing QB all season. It will be interesting to see if that holds up now that Mitchell is with the Ticats. They certainly have receivers who can win one-on-one if the Bombers’ defence sells out to get to the quarterback.
Zach Collaros’ adjusted interception rate was 5.6 per cent, the highest in the league last season. He threw 15 interceptions last year and 12 more were dropped by defenders or prevented by a Bombers’ receiver. With a quarterback as good as he is, you’re happy to see him take some risks. Just know that if Collaros has league-average luck he’ll have four or five more of those passes picked off this season.
It took the Bombers eight games last season to find their running game in 2022. In the first seven games, Brady Oliveira had 75 carries for 258 yards — at 3.4 yards per carry, ranked last in the league. The 1.2 yards before contact was tied for lowest in the league, suggesting that there was a lot of blame to go around. Is the run game ready to go this season with Oliveira being limited in camp?
The Bombers defence got pressure on 25 per cent of dropbacks last season. That was a 12-percentage point drop from 2021 (a CFL-high 37.6 per cent). Who will join Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat in getting after the QB? The Bombers have lost defensive tackles Steven Richardson and Casey Sayles in consecutive off-seasons. It will be up to Ricky Walker to fill their shoes and create havoc from the interior.
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