Blue Bomber Report Record: 3–15–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Matthews outperforming Carr

Maybe, just maybe, GM Mack knew what he was doing

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THERE'S been all kinds of second-guessing going on lately about some of the decisions that were made during the off-season by Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM Joe Mack.

Getting second-guessed, of course, goes with the job of being the GM of a pro football team -- and especially one that has opened the season at 0-2 and has yet to put forward anything that could even remotely be considered a complete team effort.

But the one decision that no one's second guessing Mack on right now was his decision to allow wide receiver Greg Carr to walk away from the Bombers during the off-season for more money in Edmonton and be replaced by a near physical clone -- but less than half the paycheque -- in Chris Matthews.

So how's that working out anyway? Pretty darn good, it turns out.

Consider the numbers:

-- Through two games this season, the 6-6, 214-pound Carr has four catches for the Eskimos for 47 yards and 0 TDs.

-- Through two games this season, the 6-5, 229-pound Matthews has 13 catches for the Bombers for 179 yards and two TDs.

Yes, you're thinking, but Carr is playing on a terrible Edmonton offence that scored just one point on Sunday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders and is in such disarray that backup QB Kerry Joseph was deemed a preferable alternative to starter Steven Jyles -- twice -- against the Riders.

True enough. So let's compare, instead, Matthews' production this year against what Carr did for the Bombers last season.

By that measure, Matthews also comes out far ahead: Carr had seven catches for 102 yards and no TDs through two games last season and did not record 179 yards in receiving until his fifth game. And it wasn't until his eighth game of an injury-shortened season that Carr finally recorded his second TD reception.

Indeed, with two TDs already, Matthews is already halfway to Carr's entire 2011 production of four TDs.

All of which is one heck of a bargain for Mack and the Bombers, who are almost certainly paying Matthews less than one-half the $100,000-plus Carr is earning with the Eskimos this season. And it also creates a very interesting matchup Friday, when Matthews and the Bombers take on Carr and the Eskimos in Edmonton.

So what's working for you right now, Matthews was asked Monday following Bombers practice at Canad Inns Stadium.

The answer, it turns out, is as much about hard work off the field as on it. "The answer is: "Study," said Matthews, who was unhappy with his production in Week 1 against the B.C. Lions even though he was the leading receiver on the team with five catches for 48 yards and a TD.

"I wanted to make sure I eliminated the mistakes I'd made against B.C. and so I did what I said I'd do and went in there and studied the whole time. And the result was I came out with a big game."

Matthews more than doubled his production against the Montreal Alouettes last Friday and once again led his team in receiving, hauling down eight catches for 131 yards and a TD in another Bomber loss.

The only other Bombers receiver even close to Matthews' production this season has been all-star slotback Terrence Edwards, who has 12 catches for 167 yards and one TD.

And just like Edwards has always been, Matthews has quickly become a favourite and reliable target of QB Buck Pierce. "It means a whole lot to me that Buck actually trusts me," said Matthews. "And I want to come through for him. I'm trying to catch everything. I want him to keep on having that trust."

NOTES: Edmonton will be without slotback Adarius Bowman for the rest of season after the former Blue Bomber tore both the ACL and MCL in his left knee in Sunday's loss in Saskatchewan.

Eskimos GM Eric Tillman called the injury "terrible news for this young man and our club" in a statement released Monday night.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 10, 2012 C3

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