Rather than use this space to make some poor correlation between the 3-10 Bombers and turkeys, or make any number of references to leftovers, stuffing and any other predictable Thanksgiving Day metaphors, I'm just going to get right to the *meat* of this post.
It’s about the quarterback switch; the decision to replace Steven Jyles with Alex Brink. I understand both sides of the equation: On one hand, you have a first-year starter who, despite looking pretty good as a first-year starter and bringing some solid numbers to the table along the way, is 2-6 as a first-year starter and showing signs of levelling off a tad. Did I mention Jyles is a first-year starter? On the other side, starting Brink against the B.C. Lions gives the club a chance to see what they have for the future, and who knows – maybe it will provide a spark for the offence and lift this club back into the playoff hunt.
Ah, that playoff thing again. Sorry Bomber fans, but you’ll never be able to convince me switching out Jyles for Brink for the biggest game of the season is the right move – even if the club wins Monday. For me, it comes down to which guy gives you the best chance for victory. Hunches, premonitions, and what a guy does in practice is no substitute for experience – no matter how valuable you view the eight starts Jyles has over Brink.
Put it this way: According to the club, part of the reason Buck Pierce beat out Jyles in training camp was due to the experience factor. The game had slowed for Pierce. Jyles was just starting that slow down process. How slow is it for Brink these days? We’re about to find out.
No matter. What’s really bugging me is the sudden change of direction by head coach Paul LaPolice on Jyles – the guy he brought over with him from Saskatchewan and the guy who was penciled in to be the starter before Pierce showed up. Confidence in No. 3 was high when Pierce was in and out of the lineup, as we were all led to believe opportunity was all that separated Jyles from being a starter in this league. Funny how no one is saying that anymore.
Jyles has frustrated at times – no question. He fumbles the ball (but as Matt Dunigan pointed out on TSN Friday night, so does Riders QB Darian Durant) and his touch on the deep pass does little to remind anyone of Warren Moon. But LaPolice bailing out on Jyles is a complete 180-degree turn from the start of the year. Maybe the decision to bench the 28-year-old came as a result of pressure from GM Joe Mack – it depends what information you believe regarding that – but thinking through all the possibilities of how Brink moves ahead of Jyles on the depth chart, I still can’t get my head around it.
If anything, it makes me wonder this:
Wouldn’t the coach have noticed Jyles’ deep ball deficiencies or his butter fingers in the TWO FULL SEASONS they spent in Regina before coming to Winnipeg and if he did notice those things, why did he lobby to get the guy in here in the first place? Did he not make the correct evaluation on him, or did he hope that Jyles would suddenly flip the switch and be that young, starting quarterback everyone in Winnipeg has been waiting for? Didn’t Mike Kelly try that with Stefan LeFors last season? Or am I barking up the wrong tree here, looking for someone – anyone – to be held accountable for this disappointing 3-10 season?
Questions everywhere. Like the title says, food for thought.
Notes from Saturday:
- Looks like S Brady Browne and RB Yvenson Bernard are going to be in the lineup Monday. Both were on the punt cover team today, which is a good sign that you’ll be playing in the next game. For Bernard, it will be his first game this year (if it actually does happen).
- Punter Mike Renaud is still not feeling well. LaPolice said he should be OK for the walk through. On the other side, it looks like backup Sean Whyte will handle the kicking duties for the Lions. Paul McCallum has a sore hammy.
- LaPolice with some advice for Brink: "Make the plays that are available to you." I like that. In other words, ‘Keep it simple, starter.’
- Finally, the Free Press doesn’t publish Monday, but I’ll try to get a story from Sunday up on the web – either here or on the main front page. Later skaters.