Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–3–0

Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Goltz not great, but better than Buck

Blue brass need to do what it takes to win

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Justin Goltz (18) looks on from the bench during the second half of Friday night's game against the Calgary Stampeders.

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Justin Goltz (18) looks on from the bench during the second half of Friday night's game against the Calgary Stampeders.

Joe Mack and Tim Burke might be tempted to give Buck Pierce the ball this week. It would be the wrong decision.

Justin Goltz may not have provided enough of a showing to earn another start under normal circumstances, but the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ quarterback quandary qualifies as absolutely abnormal.

Goltz was serviceable completing 19 of 35 passes for 194 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Not other-worldy, but he provided enough to show there’s a reason for hope. And hope is really all the Bombers have right now.

The Bombers have little chance of winning in B.C. next week regardless of whether it’s Pierce or Goltz at the helm. The Lions are a much better team and they’ve won 16 of their last 18 games at home. If ever there was a time for the Winnipeg brain trust to worry less about the now and more about the future, it’s this week.

And Pierce is not the future. I’m not sure Goltz is, either. But Mack and Burke can at least become more informed by playing Goltz.

I know — low bar. But that’s where things have regressed to in Bomberland. The club is 1-4, and despite the fact there are 13 games remaining on the schedule, I’m quite confident in saying this is not a championship team.

So when will a better time present itself to ascertain if there’s a future quarterback in this organization? Never.

There’s nothing to be gained by playing Pierce. We know what he can do. Another start for Goltz, however, gives the organization a longer look at him and a larger sample size to judge what he represents in terms of a future option for the Bombers.

Mack and Burke, of course, have a little something called job security to consider when deciding what to do this week and beyond. They need wins, and Pierce, despite his injury history and poor play of late, still holds some power of seduction.

Mack’s one moment of glory in four seasons of running the Blue Bombers came with Pierce at the helm when he limped through the 2011 season and got his team to the title game.

Before and after that, it’s been utterly dismal. Mack is under pressure. He knows CEO Garth Buchko was ready to fire him at one point last summer, and with only one year left on his contract after this season, he’s become eminently more disposable.

Wins are the only thing that can save his job. So giving a green quarterback time on the job to make mistakes and learn likely isn’t a priority for the GM’s office. Too bad. Mack must make the decision that is right for the organization and not himself.

Burke has been handed a steaming pile of a football team and finds himself in the unenviable position of having to try and win games with no definitive answer at quarterback. That’s why this team has just one win in five games. It has no quarterback.

The coach has also been around long enough to know a new GM will likely demand the right to name his own people. If Mack goes, Burke might get swept away in the wake. So he needs to win too.

Things are about to get nasty in Bomberland. Don’t be surprised if offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton gets the scapegoat treatment in the next little while if the losses continue to mount.

Something has to give, and Crowton has done little to show his system and game plan are going to miraculously begin to produce.

Don’t think the boardroom boys aren’t beginning to sweat. They can see the empty seats and understand the marketing slogan of "great stadium, crap team" isn’t going to produce a profitable bottom line.

There will be some sneaky and snaky operating in Bomberland this week. Buchko will be fighting fires all over the place.

The question that matters most, however, is quite clear. Will the organization do the right thing? Will they look to protect the future rather than gorge on the already spoiled fruit of today?

You should be concerned and you should pay close attention. After all, it’s your team. Not theirs.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

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 www.winnipegfreepress.com
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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