Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Buck, A.C. didn't play to their strengths

Whichever team adjusts better next week in Montreal will win

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It is widely accepted at the start of the CFL regular season, defences will be ahead of the offences in terms of execution and polish.

On a night where the majority of points scored came from turnovers, it makes one wonder whether the two very different quarterbacks on display are tethered to the right style of system.

Buck Pierce and Anthony Calvillo could not be more different as quarterbacks if they tried. Yet as it stands right now, I don't think either one can be too thrilled or is complimented by the kind of offence they are running.

Anthony Calvillo is a pure pocket passer, or the QB equivalent of a nuclear reactor. He is incredibly efficient and effective as long as he is handled with extreme care.

He never wants to leave the cozy confines of the pocket, and when he does, or is forced out of it, bad things happen, or it is such a rare feat it ends up on SportsCentre.

A.C. is at his best when he makes a pre-snap read and knows where he is going with the football before the play clock even starts. He relies on his accuracy and his synchronization with his receiving corps to effectively orchestrate his offence.

The way A.C. was roughed up and left to fend for himself Thursday night reminded me of how things used to be for Calvillo prior to former head coach Marc Trestman's arrival in 2008. The Bomber defence pinballed him around on opening night like a red-headed pinata.

They sacked him, rushed him, got in his passing lanes, hurried him, occasionally blitzed him, and made his life miserable. It got to the point where he was flinching after he threw the football, chucking and ducking in an endless attempt at avoiding contact.

This was not the kind of offence the Alouettes had been running the last five years, and if they don't change it in a hurry, A.C. is not going to make it through 18 games.

If A.C. is a nuclear reactor, Buck Pierce is a master of improv theater. Give him too much structure and it stifles him. Afford him options and the ability to be creative and he is at his best.

So while Anthony excels when he is at the helm of a chess board, moving the set pieces around him as he sees fit, Buck is nowhere near as mechanical.

The more he moves outside of the pocket, the more he extends plays with his legs, the more he is throwing on the run and utilizing play action, the more dangerous and successful he is.

A lot of defences practise what is called "scramble drill" at some point during the week.

It's a situational drill where you react and cover up when the QB has escaped from the pocket and his receivers break off their routes and come back to the football. Buck is one of the best scramble QBs in the CFL, who almost throws better on the run than from behind centre, and is adept at giving his receivers additional time to get open. Caging him in the pocket and making him one-dimensional is as ill-suited to his skill sets as forcing A.C. to run and gun at the ripe old age of 40.

Whichever team identifies and makes the changes necessary to cater to the strengths of their starting pivot by next week, will be the team that comes out on top in the rematch in Montreal.


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

Twitter: @DougBrown97

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 29, 2013 C5

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