With the losses and costly turnovers piling up, each week it looks less likely that Chris Streveler can guide the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to their first Grey Cup victory in 29 years.
Streveler’s believers might be at an all-time low after Saturday’s 21-6 loss at Mosaic Stadium to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The 24-year-old quarterback, who has started six games since No. 1 pivot Matt Nichols suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, left a lot of points on the field on Saturday after a fumble and two interceptions in the second half. The Bombers had the ball in enemy territory on all three of the back-breaking turnovers.
Streveler finished the game 26-of-40 passing for 252 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. An inability to find the end zone has been the theme lately as Streveler and the Bombers offence have only scored one touchdown in their last 10 quarters (in the opening drive of the Hamilton game).
Streveler will look to regain the trust of the Bomber faithful on Saturday when the team hosts the Montreal Alouettes at IG Field. He enters the weekend with a 67.6 completion percentage on 1,256 passing yards, with six touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. Streveler has thrown the ball 42 times more than he did all of last year as a rookie, but he’s already doubled his interception total this season.
With Streveler sporting a 2-4 record this year, the Bombers have looked into bringing in another arm to perhaps give the team a push down the stretch. Justin Dunk of 3DownNation reported Tuesday morning that the Bombers made an offer to the Toronto Argonauts for quarterback Zach Collaros. According to the report, the Argos declined and countered with James Franklin. Collaros started the year with the Riders before being traded to Toronto in July for a 2020 fourth-round draft pick. The draft pick could turn into a second-rounder depending on playing time and whether Collaros re-signs with the Boatmen. The CFL trade deadline is today at 3 p.m.
But even with reports of trade talks out there, Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said he thinks Streveler will turn things around.
"High," O’Shea responded when asked what his confidence level is in his young quarterback.
"I see him every single day working his tail off. There’s ebbs and flows to every season and every player has ups and downs in games and in parts of the season, so I’ve got great confidence that he’s going to work extremely hard. I’ve seen him be successful. I’ve seen him out on the field leading and having great success, you know, not that long ago, a few quarters ago. And you see him in-game having great success also, so I feel good for him."
Fans online and several members of the media have been clamouring for the Bombers to make a move to bring in a more experienced quarterback before the season goes to waste. But Bombers wide receiver Kenny Lawler doesn’t agree with that sentiment. He wants the Bombers to continue to roll with Streveler.
"The media wasn’t saying that when Chris drove us down the field four straight times (against Montreal three weeks ago)," said Lawler, who leads the team with 525 receiving yards. "You know, it’s just media. It’s fans. That’s what (social media) is for, to make conversation and that’s what they’re doing. We have all the confidence in Strev. We’ve won with Strev. That’s my quarterback and that’s who we’re going to stick with."
Lawler said the team needs to get back to the level they were playing at in the first half of their 38-37 meltdown loss in Montreal on Sept. 21.
The Bombers put 34 points on the board in the first two quarters but have been held to 22 points since.
"We know it’s in us. Y’all know it’s in us," Lawler said. "Y’all write about how ‘Oh they’re doing this, this and this’ you know, so I know it’s in us as an offence to score points, create explosive plays and everything. We just got to do whatever it is. We just gotta focus and put our focus on the right things. Play for our brothers and it’s going to come back to that."
Streveler spoke to the media after Tuesday’s practice and didn’t provide much, if any, insight on the offence’s recent struggles. He responded to every question with robotic-like answers and classic football clichés.
"We’re just not executing. We’re not playing clean football," Streveler said. "We’re making mistakes at inopportune times. So, obviously, one touchdown in 10 quarters isn’t going to get it done. so we gotta play cleaner football."
The Bombers are desperately hoping they can end their losing skid this weekend against Montreal before closing out the regular season with a home-and home series against the Calgary Stampeders. A victory on Saturday against a surging Alouettes team that beat the Stamps last week would surely help put some of Streveler’s critics at ease. But when asked if a win on Saturday would turn things around for the team, Streveler wasn’t quick to agree.
"Well, I mean, that’s the game we have this week. We have one game this week. That’s all we can worry about. That’s all we can focus on. The last couple weeks are in the past and we have to focus on playing a good game of football this week. That’s the task at hand and that’s what we need to do."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
Updated on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 9:20 PM CDT: Adds photo
October 9, 2019 at 8:45 AM: Fixes headline
9:58 AM: Corrects that Bombers offence has had one touchdown in the last 10 quarters