August 30, 2015

Record: 3–6–0

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Blue Bomber Report

By Doug Brown

Hoping for a Big Blue miracle

Must commit to one QB, build around his skills

Tis the season for it, but it might take more than a Christmas miracle for the local football club to develop an unproven quarterback into a starting entity.


Winnipeg QB Buck Pierce has met with limited success in a Blue Bombers uniform.


Winnipeg QB Buck Pierce has met with limited success in a Blue Bombers uniform.

In the 11 years I was with this team, 32 quarterbacks came and went. Outside of limited successes with Buck Pierce, Khari Jones, and Kevin Glenn -- three players that were discovered by other teams -- the other 29 didn't fare so well. So it got me thinking, is it an inability to recruit and assess a quarterbacking talent that plagues this team?

Or has the franchise matched all these candidates to the wrong offensive system and been too impatient with them?

If you do an honest assessment of the roster as it stands right now, this is a football team that will go as far as its quarterback will take it.

Whether you believe it or not, the rest of the ability on this roster is good enough to compete with anybody. In fact, they were the last team to defeat the eventual Grey Cup champions, on Oct. 19, when they rushed for over 250 yards against the Toronto Argonauts.

The offensive line, despite losing their best player to Saskatchewan, and a horrendous start in 2012, came together and proved capable down the stretch.

One of the premier talents in the entire league resides at receiver, and when healthy and fully complemented, this group has the ability to stretch the field.

The crop of running backs going into training camp will be one of the deepest in the CFL, and the defence was just reunited with the tandem of coaches that transformed most of this bunch into an elite crew in 2011.

A new stadium will inspire the roster from head to toe, yet a winning season, a losing season, or a playoff season, will once again rest on the uncertainty that is the quarterback position.

I've abandoned the school of thought that Winnipeg has just been unlucky in recruiting a pivot that can play in the CFL. There have been too many that have come and gone, and you cannot tell me that not a single one of them could have been developed into something sustainable.

With the kind of numbers we are talking about here, a person with absolutely zero football sense, or a blind squirrel, could have stumbled onto a viable entity, or a nut, by now.

So what does this tell us? Not only has there been a lack of patience in developing this fleet of players that have come to Canada -- it reminds me of a saying at a restaurant: Good food takes time to prepare, your order will be ready in seconds -- but there has been no investment in them in terms of committing to one of them and building a system around him, instead of trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

The best defences I played on were under co-ordinators that were able to assess the talent they had at their fingertips and disperse the players to positions where the collective good would be maximized.

Offence requires a different approach because of the emphasis on the pivot position.

Your offence should not be designed with the strengths of the co-ordinator and what he is comfortable calling in mind. It should be an extension of everything the chosen pivot is good at.

We need look no further than the Denver Broncos of 2011 to see the most extreme example of this. As we have learned from football experts all across the NFL this season, Tim Tebow is not the answer for anybody at the quarterbacking position. The New York Jets are soon to release him without an ounce of compensation.

Yet the Broncos not only won seven games with him at the helm in 2011, out of 11 starts, but they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs on the strength of his limited skills.

And this is what I feel the Bombers have been missing all these years with all of these failed quarterbacking catastrophes: commitment. In review, out of 32 teams last year, Tebow was green, inexperienced, had horrible mechanics and was probably the 30th best quarterback in the NFL.

But the Broncos committed to him. They formulated an offence that no one had seen in the NFL before, around his strengths, and they won. They won ugly, they won unconventionally, they won unceremoniously, but they won.

Because they didn't try and make Tebow into something he wasn't, they enhanced what he was and what he brought to the table.

I look at the Bomber stable of quarterbacks and I see at least two different skill sets that should be sufficient to produce wins in 2013, if only the team has the stones to commit to one of them and the offensive wherewithal to build a system around the strengths of a player, and not just the strength of a co-ordinator.

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 December 26, 2012 C2

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