Buck Pierce has had the starting quarterback chores for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers stripped from his hands and handed to Justin Goltz – and he’s not exactly doing cartwheels over the decision.
"I’m not happy about it at all," said Pierce today after practice. "I don’t feel in my opinion it’s the right move. I feel that I can contribute and, obviously, they don’t feel the same.
"It’s my job to stay positive with the guys and help and I’ve always done that in my career and I’ve always been positive in adverse situations. It doesn’t mean that I agree with the decision, because I don’t. But I want this team to win and I want to help these guys along."
Bomber head coach Tim Burke announced before practice this morning that Goltz would be the club’s starter for the rest of the season, with Pierce transitioning into "a backup role and also assist (offensive co-ordinator) Gary Crowton in the development of our younger quarterbacks."
"You might ask the reason why. We just feel like we have a desire and need to develop the quarterbacks for the future of the organization. And also we want to have continuity with our offence and we feel like Justin will give us a better chance for week-in, week-out continuity."
Pierce said he was told of the decision a couple of days ago, but when he was asked about involvement with the game-planning today, added this:
"I’m in shape to play right now. Nothing was ever spoken to me about bringing young guys along right now and helping in that aspect. That was never talked to me about it."
Pierce did acknowledge that getting into coaching was a ‘natural fit’, but also wondered aloud about how the team could afford to keep him around as the third-string quarterback.
"It’s a business," said Pierce. "They’ll have to make a decision on what they want to do with me. That’s the reality of the game, that’s the reality of our business. I want to be here and I can’t overstate that enough. I want to be here. I want to help us win. But, as a third stringer I don’t know if that’s using my ability to the best."
The 1-4 Bombers will be in Vancouver for a Monday game against the B.C. Lions.
Goltz, 25, first joined the organization in 2010.
In his one and only start for the team, last week, he was on the short end of a 37-24 decision against Calgary in which he completed 19 of 35 passes for 194 yards, including two touchdowns and one interception.
Pierce, 31, has been the team’s main man since 2010, starting 32 games for the team in that span, throwing 25 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions.
Pierce started Winnipeg’s first four games this season but was injured in Week 4, leaving the start to Goltz in last week’s home game versus Calgary.
No. 3 quarterback Max Hall’s status on the depth chart was a little murky with this morning’s announcement but it sounds like he could be moving up to No. 2.
"I will say that we feel that Max Hall has really developed as well," Burke said. "We feel like he’s come a long ways since joining the organization. We’ll see where it goes from here."
Before any more conclusions can be drawn, Burke inferred that he now needs to see some games with Goltz in control of the offence.
The coach danced around a question about the statement he had made earlier in the season that a healthy Pierce gives the Bombers the best chance to win.
"I’ll just say this: I think Justin gives us a great chance to win as he develops," he said. "This is a decision we had to make recently. It’s just a continuity thing and I think Justin had a chance to show what he could do in a game and I think he showed that he’s improved a lot from a year ago.
"I think he’s got a lot of upside potential and hopefully he can lead us to some victories."
The coach made it clear the Bombers are not discarding Pierce, though it remains to be seen how much more the injury-prone veteran can do for the team on the field.
"He’s got a lot of experience," Burke said. "He knows the defensive co-ordinators in this league. He knows a lot of players in this league so he can assist them (the other quarterbacks) with all that kind of knowledge."