Sometimes, you have to rely on fluke circumstances to force your hand, when you otherwise would not pull the trigger, or make a move. In the case of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, it appears the only way either one of the pocket passers on the depth chart are going to actually see any meaningful reps this season — before the playoffs — is if Chris Streveler is too banged up to play on Friday, and I fully expect that he is.
No one ever wants to see anyone miss a game due to injury, especially not someone like Streveler, who seems to be the epitome of everything you’d want in a perfect teammate. This guy would literally sacrifice an appendage for the betterment of his football team, and do it with a smile on his face. But let’s face the facts here. Stuff happens in pro-football, and Mike O’Shea is too stubborn to give any of his backups any live-fire experience with this offence, unless Streveler is actually too compromised to play.
In the game on Saturday against Calgary, Streveler was caught in a pinball machine of battery and abuse. He had four more carries than Andrew Harris —15 in total, which is a whole other column unto itself — and he delivered, received, and was caught up in a cornucopia of violence. On one play his throwing hand was used as a landing pad for a Stampeder helmet that came crashing down, unforgivingly, into the turf. On several other plays he was a bumper car gone awry, caught in a corner on a concrete rink at the local fair grounds, as two or three of the Stampeder school yard bullies teed off on him from all directions. He slowly limped back to the huddle, he took a knee, he held his ribs, he grabbed at his ankle, and he eventually missed a total of two whole plays. In any other context you would write Chris Streveler a heartfelt letter, insisting he leave such an abusive relationship, but this is a gladiator sport, and punishment loves good company.
It says here that the best thing that could happen to Streveler, and this football team — after what we witnessed on Saturday — is that he takes a seat for the final regular-season game, and takes the next three weeks to recharge his hulk smash mentality, for the seemingly inevitable, Western semi-final on the road. We know full well what this physical dynamo brings to the table, and he will need to be at 100 per cent for this team to have a legitimate chance to move on to the final. And from what I saw at McMahon stadium, playing six days later, even for Superman Streveler, would be a near impossible feat.
So, if O’Shea and company are going to be forced into playing either Sean McGuire or Zach Collaros on Friday, what should the game plan be? Hmmmnnn. Two career passes or a guy that’s led a team to the Grey Cup... The decisions these guys face would keep you up at night, but I digress. McGuire may be the next coming of Dane Evans or Nick Arbuckle, but now is not the time to find out. You have one regular season game, and two more weeks before it’s win or go home time. Taking a flyer on a guy who is, at best, unproven and inexperienced at this time of the year, is like betting your mortgage on a coin you flipped into the wishing well at the mall. It’s just not the time or place for evaluation or wishful thinking. It’s time for the team to take every single remaining repetition at the starting quarterback position, and give them to Zach Collaros, in an attempt to get him up to speed by November. It may not be enough time, and it may not make this team good enough to get them out of the first round, but it’s still the best chance they’ve currently got.
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.