Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Joey: Bigger than IKEA

Forget furniture store, Blue QB talk of the town

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Put Joey Elliott in a Winnipeg Jets jersey, give him a fake Burton Cummings-style moustache and have him drinking a Slurpee while collaborating with John K. Samson on a song about IKEA at the corner of Portage and Main.

That's the only way he could generate more buzz in this town.

Scoff if you will, but at this hour, Winnipeg remains in a full frenzy regarding the Blue Bombers quarterback, this reaction coming in the wake of Thursday's 32-25 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at the soon-to-be-renamed "Joeydome." Elliott threw a sizzling 33-of-43 for 406 yards and one touchdown in that game, qualifying him as the first 400-yard Blue and Gold passer since the 2009 season (Michael Bishop), and pushing the last-place Bombers up from the ground and back among the living in the CFL's East Division.

On top of that, the third-year QB salvaged a season that looked completely grey, and not in the good, end-of-November kind of way.

Thursday was his third career start, in case you forgot.

Imagine if he wins two in a row.

"It's just momentum, and that's what you want to create as an offence and as a team," a cool Elliott told a gaggle of reporters after practice at Canad Inns Stadium Monday. "You try to create momentum in the town, and our fans will be a lot louder come this week versus the B.C. Lions."

Momentum is a good word to describe what's going on with Elliott and the Bombers. After a terrible start, the club finally has some direction, it appears, and doesn't look quite as bad as it was in July. It's been said many times that a backup quarterback provides hope today for a brighter tomorrow, and that certainly applies with Elliott, but what happens next?

The constant requests, the responsibilities to media partners, the public displays of affection from fans at the grocery store. The buzz around No. 14 is bigger than wasps circling sugary drinks on the patio these days, but the club is confident inflated egos and swelled heads won't result from the extra attention.

Head coach Paul LaPolice said as much Monday, believing Elliott is smart enough to know where his true evaluation comes from. Guess what everyone -- it's not from the media, the fans or the message boards.

"I think he (Elliott) understands that the most important feedback is from this building than the fans or the media, because, no offence, they're (the fans and the media) very fickle," LaPolice told reporters. "We coach him up on what he needs to do better and we try to stay as even-keeled with a win or a loss as possible."

Keeping the buzz out of the Bombers' offices was the task during the careful cross-examination of Thursday's game film over the weekend. Elliott made some good decisions and managed the game well, the coach said, but he needs to take better care of the football.

LaPolice stressed there were a couple of throws that Elliott was fortunate on; balls that could have been intercepted.

"A lot of room for improvement," the coach said.

Within the buzz (or the buzz-kill, as it were), the energy created by Elliott has not only done wonders for the fanbase, the organization and the precarious situation LaPolice's job was in prior to the Ticats game, but it also took some heat off offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton, who's been singled out as the person responsible for Winnipeg's pop-gun attack.

"It was a good win, I'll just say that," Crowton offered. "I've been coaching long enough to understand there's always pressure to perform. I always try to look at the big picture... it's cliché but it really is one game at a time. You get a little momentum in this game, and get on a little roll and get your confidence going, good things can happen."

With Elliott as the starter, Win nipeg (2-5) hosts B.C. (5-2) Friday night. Kickoff is 7 p.m. Twitter: @wazoowazny

Buck update


MONDAY, Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice ruled Buck Pierce out for the B.C. game and framed the possibility of the No. 1 quarterback practising with the team in "maybe next week" terms.

There hasn't been any setback with the left-foot injury and the team is just being cautious getting him back into the lineup, LaPolice said. Pierce hurt the foot in a July 13 game in Edmonton, and has taken a strange recovery route for a player trying to get back from injury. Some days, he's bouncing around and throwing the football with the quarterback group. Other days, he's nowhere in sight.

Five weeks ago, an optimistic Pierce figured he'd only be out a month.

LaPolice dismissed suggestions Joey Elliott's recent play has afforded the club more time with Pierce, and chose to take the fifth on any potential quarterback controversy for the Labour Day Classic if/when Pierce is back at 100 per cent.

"We'll cross all those bridges when we get to them," LaPolice said.

Pierce is expected to address the media today.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 21, 2012 C1

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