It used to be, with this Winnipeg Blue Bombers regime, that you could always count on the football club to make moves when it was struggling. Now, after three losses in a row, for some reason, they are sitting on their hands when it comes to the most important position on the field.
This management group has never been about complacency or staying status quo. Over the years, if there was any indication the ship was starting to list, or take on water, they would address it, often before you could even take account of the situation. Heck, half the time they would be fixing problems none of us even knew existed. So why are the struggles at the quarterback position not provoking the same fury of activity and remediation?
This offence has scored one touchdown in the last 10 quarters. That’s one major in 2.5 games, if you’d like to see it put another way. If that isn’t a stage-three fire alarm of distress and dysfunction, I don’t know what is. What won’t surprise you is that Chris Streveler has thrown for the fewest passing yards of anyone who has played a bunch of quarterback this year, and his average yards per pass, 6.9 yards, is also lowest in the league.
What you might not know, is that even though he is throwing the shortest passes in the league, his interception percentage is still one of the highest. Short passes are supposed to be high-percentage throws. They are supposed to be the easy passes you can make to get into a groove and rhythm, like checkdowns, quick-hitters, and dump-offs. He currently has the same interception percentage as James Franklin and Logan Kilgore, and those skill sets speak for themselves.
So with Matt Nichols done for the year, and a guaranteed playoff game, has this management team that has always attacked issues and problems at a fever pitch, decided this is as good as it gets at the most critical position on the field? I simply cannot believe that that the entire division that deals with player acquisition and evaluation feels that this is the most effective and efficient the offence can run, with the talent that is currently available out there. There are essentially five weeks left before a playoff game. That is more than enough time for anyone to get a good handle on a playbook — especially one that specializes in wide receiver screens and speed sweeps — but I digress. It may not work out if you bring in a proven veteran, but at least you tried, and delivered some hope by taking a shot.
Sure, Chris Streveler could win a playoff game, and may one day develop into a bona fide starter in the CFL. He would even get my vote to start if he could somehow win the next three games in a row. But if he can’t, then they need to have a better plan B ready than a guy who has impressed exclusively in practice and the pre-season. As it currently stands, for this team to win a playoff game, it would have to be snowing/sleeting/freezing — to nullify the passing game and maximize the importance of the running game — and the defence would have to take away the ball a couple times and probably score at least once. Oh, and Harris and Streveler would have to combine for 200 or more yards on the ground. It’s possible, but the odds are not in this team’s favour for a perfect storm of the right elements to show up when they are needed the most.
If this team stays status quo, with a relatively inexperienced starter who is struggling to throw the football consistently, and refuses to bump a number two who has never thrown a ball in a regular season game, for an experienced veteran, it makes you think the team is ok with using the Matt Nichols injury as the reason the season went off the rails.
Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears weekly in the Free Press.
Doug Brown, always a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press.