Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Glenn only as good as team around him

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At their current level of development, Kevin Glenn is an upgrade over every single quarterback on the Winnipeg Blue Bomber roster, but he is not the pivot this team should move forward with.

In the ongoing Glenn sweepstakes, there are said to be two remaining franchises interested in acquiring his services. Rumour has it the B.C. Lions and the Blue and Gold are waiting patiently for Ottawa GM Marcel Desjardins to awaken from his dream-like state and lower the asking price for this accomplished and tenured CFL veteran.

Since Glenn left the Bombers at the end of the 2008 season, he has been to the playoffs every year, and has put his best football on his resumé. Apart from 2007, the year the Bombers went to the Grey Cup, where Glenn was the Eastern Division MVP and the runner-up for league MVP, all of his most impressive seasons came over the last five years. So why wouldn't it make sense to bring him into the fold, even if the asking price sits somewhere between obscene and ridiculous?

Because in the nature-versus-nurture debate over skilled quarterbacks, it is my estimation that Glenn is more a product of his environment than most. He is as good as the team and scheme around him, and at this point, no one is expecting the 2014 Bombers to be as good as either of the last two Stampeder teams Glenn has played for.

To be fair, Glenn has always responded when his feathers were ruffled, and after what Ottawa just did to him -- the old bait and switch, where they baited Glenn as their starter and switched to Henry Burris -- he could very well put up career numbers no matter where he ends up. That being said, it doesn't change the popular opinion that Glenn is better suited to a ready-made contender, and not the kind of guy to take a team from the outhouse into the penthouse and the numbers back up this contention.

The two highest completion percentages Glenn has had in his 13-year career, 66.7 per cent and 66.6 per cent, were both on teams in Calgary that won 12 and 14 games respectively. Two of the three highest passer ratings Glenn has had in his career, came on those two teams as well, with ratings of 100.5 and 97.2. When it comes to touchdown to interception ratios, it is commonly accepted that a good football season for a pivot is one with a ratio of two touchdowns for every interception thrown. In the two years Glenn was in Calgary, he combined for his best touchdown to interception ratio in his career, yet again, at almost 1.9 -- better than his cumulative numbers at any other stop.

With the Stampeders the last couple of seasons, Glenn, without question, was surrounded by the best talent he has ever been paired with. He had one of the best offensive lines in the CFL -- if not the best -- protecting him, and he had the league's most outstanding player to hand the ball off to, which forced every defence to play him honest, and afforded him ample time when he play-actioned. He was also playing in an offensive scheme designed by Dave Dickenson, the most coveted co-ordinator in the CFL, who can be a professional head coach in this league whenever he decides he wants to be. But he won't have these advantages anymore.

All pro athletes obviously play better when they are surrounded by upper-echelon talent and instructed in superior schemes, and Glenn is no different. It just says here that he works exponentially better with pre-packaged ingredients than when forced to formulate his own recipe for success, from scratch. He does not necessarily have the skill set to elevate and overcome mediocre accessories. This football team, in its reloading stages, is possibly better off with a pivot that will grow and improve with the team he is leading.

Just remember, if the Bombers trade for Glenn, you don't necessarily get Calgary Glenn. You get a Glenn that will have fewer tools to work with than he did in 2008 in Winnipeg, when he was shown the door and run out of town. He is a better QB now, to be sure, but for anything close to what the Redblacks are asking, is it worth the risk for a pivot that turns 35 this year?


Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press.

Twitter: @DougBrown97

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 11, 2014 C5

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