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Bombers need new fleet of quarterbacks

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Next spring, when the stench that has hovered over this season has hopefully dissipated, there should be a new fleet of quarterbacks in Bomberland. Not one, not two, but a whole new crew.

Buck Pierce can’t stay in the game. Joey Elliott gets little done. Alex Brink is a short-yardage specialist and nothing more. These are the quarterbacks of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and they are the worst in the CFL. By extension, so is the entire team. Now 3-10 and two wins out of a playoff spot with five games left, there is no more holding off on assessing what the Bombers are — a terrible football team.

Like everything else in the CFL, it all begins with the quarterbacks and Winnipeg’s don’t measure up.

GM Joe Mack can talk about his success collecting talent but he might as well be whistling in a Prairie gale if he can’t do the job at the pivot position. No quarterback? No nothing.

I don’t like writing this. I like Buck Pierce a lot. I’d let him date my sister. Elliott and Brink are nice guys, too. But it’s over with this group. Trade them, cut them, whatever. They all need to go.

Pierce has been here for three seasons now and when he’s healthy he’s effective, but he’s proven unreliable. Pierce has now left 23 of 60 career starts due to injury. An organization just can’t pin its hopes on that kind of inconsistency.

There is also the issue of doing the responsible thing. Pierce has had concussion issues during his career and the shot he took on Saturday night can’t be overlooked. One of these nights he’s going to get hurt and it’s going to stick. I’ve never seen a quarterback with the knack for getting absolutely destroyed the way Pierce does. Maybe he hangs in to the last minute and takes a hit to make a play but it’s become a grotesquerie.

Winnipeggers should love Pierce for the way he’s embraced our town and we shouldn’t want to see him get hauled off the field on a cart.

More than any of that, Pierce just doesn’t finish anything anymore. He’ll be remembered for his run to the Grey Cup last season but this is a today business and Pierce is out of those in Winnipeg.

Elliott may prove effective down the road but it won’t happen in Winnipeg. He just hasn’t produced. Can Mack pin the future of the organization on his shoulders? Absolutely not. Elliott has had a number of chances to step in and show he’s the man of tomorrow and has failed to ring the bell. Yes, Elliott looked good in a win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats but since then it’s been a whole lot of nothing.

Maybe Elliott has the pieces but he’s been entirely vanilla. There’s no justification for declaring him the quarterback that will lead the Bombers into a new era.

Brink hasn’t had the faith of the Bombers coaching staff for a couple of years. Injuries to Elliott kept him installed at No. 2 slot on the depth chart but he was never part of the plan where the No. 1 job is concerned.

Elliott was the man the Bombers hoped would take over for Pierce. Now that day has arrived and he’s not ready.

The simple truth is the Bombers have no answer at quarterback. This season may be a writeoff but next year is banging on the door like a bill collector working on commission. And Mack is standing behind that door going through his pockets, hoping against hope that he’ll come across some money he forgot about. Sorry Joe, you’re broke.

One can make the argument that starting fresh at quarterback is easier said than done. That finding a new starter, a backup and a prospect project is a monumental task. I’d agree. That’s why letting it get to this point has been an unforgivable error.

Mack has let the quarterback position of his football team regress. The Bombers went out and re-signed all three of their quarterbacks last off-season. Why?

Mack felt it necessary to tweak the rest of his roster yet he let the most important position on his team stagnate. And now it’s a rotting, fetid pile.

Good isn’t good enough at quarterback. And bad? Well, you’ve seen what that gets you.


Twitter: @garylawless

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.


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