Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Moore than a feeling

Undeniable chemistry blossoms between Bombers QB and receiver

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Receiver Nick Moore, above, and QB Drew Willy already have a connection.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Receiver Nick Moore, above, and QB Drew Willy already have a connection. Photo Store

It's hardly a unique topic of discussion, especially anywhere football coaches and players -- and the fans and media who follow them -- gather to dissect the game.

In fact, type the words 'quarterback receiver chemistry' into Google's search engine and 1,910,000 results pop up instantly.

They're talking about it in Hamilton where the Tiger-Cats are winless in three games. It was bandied about all over Saskatchewan before the Roughriders disappeared on a bye week -- the Grey Cup champs would say mercifully -- after a 1-2 start.

And we can guaran-dang-tee it will be thrown around by media in every NFL city from the opening of training camps this week until the ball is placed on the tee for the Super Bowl in February.

Interestingly, for all the dissection of pass protection, poor tackling and special-teams inconsistencies in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' first setback of 2014 -- a 26-3 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos last Thursday -- the notion of chemistry between quarterback Drew Willy and his revolving-door receiving corps has really not yet been broached.

Consider this: in the loss to the Esks, Willy was attempting to play pitch and catch with Romby Bryant -- who was not with the club in training camp -- while two of his favourite early-on targets, Aaron Kelly and Cory Watson -- both injured, watched from the sidelines in civvies.

That notion was not being offered up as a crutch, but an observation, with a couple of the key components -- Willy and receiver Nick Moore -- after practice Monday.

"Any time you lose an Aaron Kelly or Cory Watson it's a little tougher, no doubt about it," said Willy. "You have guys you have better chemistry with than others and a lot of that is just how many reps you get. We're still working on it. We're only four games in. I've never played with, really, any of these guys. I'm just trying to get a sense of what they like to do and vice versa.

"We've got good guys who have stepped in for the injured guys. Romby's a good player and I've got to get some chemistry with him. I really worked hard in getting it with Aaron and the one week Cory was back I tried to work with him. I've got to get used to how Romby comes out of breaks. He's got a lot of talent and it's my job to get the ball into his hands."

That last answer might best describe Willy and why his receiving corps has rallied around him. He won't point fingers or make excuses, but in the four games the Bombers have played this season, there have been three different receiving corps. Remember, too, that these guys are all new to Willy, now four games into his career in Winnipeg, as well.

If you don't think that isn't an issue, we've got 1,900,000 links for your perusal...

"It definitely takes time... some people say it takes years to really develop full chemistry," explained Moore. "All you can do is work at it and we've been doing that since training camp. It's about getting to know each other and knowing where each other is going to be, the different speeds of different plays. That's all part of it.

"I may run my 'dig' route different than Denny (Clarence Denmark) and he may run it different than Rory (Kohlert). Drew knows these things, that's part of a quarterback's job. Guys are all different... different speeds, different sizes, different everything. All that plays a part in it."

Dieter Brock used to look for Joe Poplawski in key situations. Tom Clements had James Murphy. Rick House was every QB's favourite when the Bombers needed a first down. And Khari Jones used to look over at Milt Stegall and nod when he was facing single coverage.

Seldom, if ever, was that kind of chemistry instant. But when that QB-receiving connection is percolating...

"That's the definitely the best feeling: knowing that even if I'm not at the spot yet, Drew knows I'm going to be there and he throws it anyway," said Moore. "That's what you see with the greats like Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Brett Favre... they throw the ball anticipating where the receiver is going to be every time. That's what I pride myself on: being in the right spot at the right time doing the right thing.

"The best chemistry I had I would probably say it was with (B.C. Lions QB Travis) Lulay. I played with Travis for three years. He knew where I was going to be. He's probably the best, if not the best quarterback I've ever played with... EXCLUDING Drew."

Good catch, Mr. Moore.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 22, 2014 D1

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Updated on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 6:50 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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