December 8, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
It was impossible to ignore the disparity between watching an actual professional quarterback work on one side while a collection of ham-fisted maladroits stumble along on the other.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers do not have a quarterback. Before they can achieve anything resembling success they need to remedy this crippling shortcoming.
Hard as this is to believe, a very simple and absolute maxim has eluded Bombers management for some time: You need a quarterback to win in professional football.
Acting GM Kyle Walters has proven he's willing to deal. To shake things up and take a risk. Acting CEO Wade Miller needs to give him the green light to try and make a bold move -- now.
Canadian middle linebacker Henoc Muamba has value. He's a free agent this off-season, unlikely to re-sign in Winnipeg. Walters told me this week Muamba's agent will almost certainly take the player to market.
So trade him now.
Offer him to the Calgary Stampeders for Bo Levi Mitchell. See if they'll bite. Muamba can help the Stamps as they make a push for a Grey Cup. Hey, (elbow to the ribs here) sweeten the deal with little brother Cauchy, if you must.
Maybe try and pry Zach Collaros away from the Toronto Argonauts.
The deadline is Oct. 9 and there will be other takers for a starting Canadian such as Muamba. Use him to help solve your much bigger problem: the lack of a franchise quarterback.
It looks like he's leaving anyway. Maybe you trade him now and then try to get him back in free agency.
Regardless, he's a chip that can be played.
The Edmonton Eskimos realized they needed a revamp at quarterback last off-season and went and got Mike Reilly.
While both teams are 2-9 after Edmonton's 25-7 win over the Bombers on Saturday night, it's clear the Eskimos are well ahead of Winnipeg in their respective rebuilds.
It's why Ed Hervey still has a job and will be GM of the Eskimos going forward. The opposite is why Joe Mack was fired and likely won't ever work in the CFL again.
Edmonton, with Reilly in their lineup, has hope. They can get offensive linemen to protect him and receivers to catch his passes.
Step 1 is complete, the rest can follow. Winnipeg must make that same step and Muamba represents an opening gambit.
The Bombers have Justin Goltz, Max Hall and Jason Boltus at quarterback. Hopefully I spelled all their names right. You can Google the three, but not much comes up.
There was a point in the third quarter of Saturday's disheartening destruction of any faith some may have had in the Bombers, when TSN analyst Duane Forde remarked on Reilly's success against Winnipeg.
To paraphrase, Forde stated it must be hard for Bombers fans to watch Reilly torch their club knowing he could have been pitching for their side.
What Forde didn't say, was if the Bombers had fired Mack last summer and hired him as GM instead of backing out with cold feet, Winnipeg would be miles ahead as an organization.
Forde, or you or my mother for that matter, would never have spent last off-season dithering and then electing to bring Buck Pierce back as the starter. Mack seemed to be the only person, other than Pierce one must presume, who thought this was a good idea.
Bombers coach Tim Burke certainly didn't. This could be easily concluded on Friday afternoon when Burke was asked about his team not aggressively pursuing Reilly's rights last off-season.
"I would say the coaching staff really liked him a lot," said Burke, after spending an interminable amount of time looking at his feet and then the ceiling, before emitting an answer that -- diplomatically -- didn't roast Mack.
Kevin Glenn was available too, but Mack's nose wrinkled at the thought. Where would the Bombers be with Glenn? Better. That is for certain.
Pierce is now out in B.C. Goltz's most memorable moment this season was a fit of whining when he declared he "felt betrayed," after losing the starting job. Hall has yet to do anything to suggest he won't be looking for work in the real world this off-season. Boltus is still a mystery.
Walters shipped out Pierce to give the quarterbacks' corner in the locker-room a new smell, but the guys left behind have cranked up the stench.
Say what you will about Pierce, but at one point he was a legit CFL starter. None of these other hombres in Blue can say the same.
Mack sat on his hands and let Reilly slip away. Didn't even give Glenn consideration. The Bombers are worse for it today.
Dealing Muamba now can't really hurt Winnipeg this season and it doesn't preclude the Bombers from getting him back down the line.
It's time to hit the reset button. Don't pull a Mack.
Get busy, Kyle.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 15, 2013 B2