After the first pre-season game of 2019, all anyone can really say definitively, is whether they’d like to see more of a certain player, or not.
After one game, you can’t say a player is absolutely the guy for the job, you can’t say he’s undeniably better than the players he’s competing against, and you can’t say with any degree of certainty that he’s going to perform a certain way each and every week. All you can say is, "That looked good in exhibition game No. 1, and I’d like to see more in No. 2."
So with those disclaimers out of the way, I’d like to see more of Bryan Bennett in the final pre-season game. I don’t know if it’s possible and I don’t know if it will happen, but from what I saw on Friday, I’d like to see him get at least a quarter of action on Thursday. Though he shared time with two other quarterbacks Friday, and though they all played against varying levels of competition, and with varying levels of offensive weaponry at their disposal, I liked what I saw.
I liked his accuracy with the football, and the velocity in which he threw, most of the time. I liked his composure in the pocket, and the way he took charge of the huddle. I liked how comfortable he looked running the offence. I liked how he distributed the football, and how he easily got into a rhythm even though he was going in and out of the game. And I think — with acknowledgement of the enormous limitations of a one-game sample size — that he just might be a more suitable No. 2 candidate one day than backup QB Chris Streveler.
This doesn’t mean I’ve soured on Streveler. How can you not like a quarterback who plays with the kind of physicality that he does? In the words of Marshawn Lynch, he totes the rock like he wants to "run through someone’s face." He seemingly has more testosterone than all the pivots in the East combined. He is supremely competitive, he is a fiery leader and doesn’t think twice about laying it all on the line to help his team win. He won’t be denied in getting you and your team the first down that you need, or when you need someone to scratch, kick and claw their way into the end zone.
Which is exactly what makes him the ideal candidate to run the short-yardage package, run some hurry-up plays and to throw a change-up pitch at the opposition. In fact, there is no quarterback currently in the CFL that I’d rather have running the short-yardage package than Streveler, but unfortunately, that isn’t also necessarily what you would want in your No. 2 pivot and emergency backup for Matt Nichols.
Now, Streveler could go into the Saskatchewan exhibition game, throw for 100 yards in a quarter, and we could all use this column to wrap some walleye. It can take a lot more time to develop a pocket-passing acumen than a couple of starts, a year of practice and some pre-season games. Call it a hunch, a best guess, but I’m not sure he eventually will. After an excellent inaugural season, where he started some games, won some games, threw 11 touchdowns against only five picks, and ran for almost six yards a carry, we were all in awe of his promise and potential, and were excited to see his progression.
It’s just that the Streveler I saw, albeit briefly, Friday looked a lot like the Streveler I saw last year. A physical dynamo who isn’t all that comfortable in the pocket, who is just waiting and looking for a reason to run and get the hell out of Dodge.
I didn’t see, after a season of seasoning, that level of comfort within the confines of the pocket. And that isn’t necessarily what you want in your No. 2 guy. It’s what you want in your short-yardage specialist, and your change-up pitcher, but his habits, and affinity for contact, aren’t sustainable for the long-term in the CFL.
But what the hell do I know? It was only one game.
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.