Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No excuses for offence

If Blue can't score tonight they might never score again

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History will record that sometime just after 7 p.m. tonight on what promises to be a chilly and wind-swept field at Canad Inns Stadium, the litany of excuses for the bad joke that has been the 2012 edition of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers offence will officially run out.

In a season in which there has been a seemingly endless variety of excuses offered up for why Winnipeg is the home of the worst offence in Canada, there will no longer be any excuses left to make when starting quarterback Buck Pierce leads Winnipeg out on to the field tonight.

We know this so unequivocally because all the excuses that have been trotted out this season are no longer valid. Consider:

 

Shut up about injuries

 

This is, by far, the healthiest the Winnipeg offence has been this season. Even for the three games Pierce was healthy at the start of the season, the team was still without starting tailback Chad Simpson and starting slotback Cory Watson. And for the first game against B.C., they were also without both their starting tackles.

Well, Pierce is back tonight after missing the last eight games with a foot injury and Simpson, Watson and left tackle Glenn January have long since returned. The only hole tonight being filled by an injury replacement will be at right tackle, where Jordan Taormina will sit out his second game in a row with a pinched nerve.

 

Crowton no longer a CFL rookie

 

The Bombers knew they were taking a chance last winter when they hired a stone-cold CFL rookie in Gary Crowton to be the architect of their offence. But the club had fallen in love with Crowton's resumé, which included leading record-breaking offences in both the NCAA and, briefly, for the NFL's Chicago Bears.

Unfortunately, Crowton's resumé doesn't line up behind centre in the CFL and he admittedly struggled at first to adapt to an unfamiliar two-down game and everything else that goes with it.

Well, Crowton's now had 11 full games, plus two in the pre-season, to get used to the venerable rouge and the excuse of, 'I'm still just getting the hang of things' is long since retired.

 

The guy you wanted under centre will be under centre

 

There were three proven CFL quarterbacks on the market last winter -- Ricky Ray, Henry Burris and Kevin Glenn -- and Bombers GM Joe Mack decided to stick with Pierce.

Well, Pierce is back now and he's had a couple of weeks of practice. The bottom line is time is up for Pierce -- and, by extension, Mack -- to show why Pierce was the preferred alternative.

And Pierce knows it.

"My stock hasn't gone up since I've been off the field -- I've got to play, bottom line," Pierce said Thursday. "The quarterback position isn't always about your performance and stuff like that. It's about helping your team find a way to win."

That won't happen, said head coach Tim Burke, with just Pierce alone.

"All the good things he brings will overcome some of the rust he has," said Burke, referring specifically to Pierce's above average arm strength and release. "(But) he can't win the game if he's laying on his back on the turf. And he can't win the game if he's got to run for his life all the time. And we can't win the game if he throws the ball to us and we drop the ball."

What you will have on the field tonight is a Bombers offence that will have the man the front office wants lining up behind centre; he'll be supported by the players the front office wants to be surrounding him; they all will be running the offensive scheme the front office wants to be running; and it will all be playing out against a vulnerable opponent.

It has all the apparent ingredients to succeed, in other words. All of which means there is no longer any excuse for failure. And that means only one inescapable conclusion can be drawn if this offence nevertheless fires blanks again tonight:

The problem isn't on the field, it's in the front office.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

bomber game day c2-4

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

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