July 16, 2012

Cauz: Is it time to turn to Brink or Elliott for the long haul?

A crazy Week 3 is in the books and with Week Four mere moments away I needed to bang out my column and get it out fast. So when in doubt, focus on the glamour position, the quarterback. Here are some of the most fascinating quarterback storyline from this past week.

It’s time to bench Buck Pierce.

Is this a knee jerk reaction to his recent injuries? Maybe…probably. Now I need to stress this sentiment is nothing about his courage or his ability to lead men. It is all about his ability or more accurately his inability to stay healthy. Hey, some people are just unlucky. Remember Jesse Lumsden? His body was designed to dominate on the football field. He was a physical freak blessed with a once in a lifetime combination of athleticism and skill. Only one problem; he rarely was on the field to display his talents.

Listen, this may be unfair to say but being healthy is a skill. Or at least it needs to be treated as one. It needs to be regarded as highly as your 40-time or your prowess at reading a defence. Unfortunately for Winnipeg, it is a skill that Buck has yet to master and guessing by his history of injuries he never will.

Hey it’s not his fault. Just like Lumsden his body was not designed for the rigors of football. Buck has missed time for big hits, little hits and everything in between. A lot of which led to him being let go by the BC Lions.

For Paul LaPolice and Co. no matter what happens this week the team has to start thinking about the bigger picture. Last season’s run was terrific, fuelled by a fantastic defence and the only time Buck could remain upright for an entire season.

Looking back, maybe 2011 was the outlier for Buck Pierce, maybe his role is that of the best backup QB in the league, the change of pace guy who can wreak havoc with opposing defences.

The Blue Bombers offence is a mess and it won’t get any better until they are settled at quarterback. More importantly they need a guy who they can depend on to start; they need someone who can take all the first team reps in practice during the week. Right now you have a revolving door at quarterback. That lack of continuity is certainly hurting the ability of the offence to sustain drives, to capitalize on a nice one-two punch of Chris Matthews and Terrence Edwards at wide receiver.

So, for the good of the Bombers offence Winnipeg needs to sit Pierce down, settle on either Alex Brink or Joey Elliott.  

Drew Tate

Drew Tate made the right decision to elect for surgery over rehab. In a situation like this, dealing with the same injured shoulder the prudent move is to shut Tate down and live to fight another day. Drew is young enough where he still has a long and bright future ahead of him, no use jeopardizing that for short term gain.

On a bigger picture this injury is a massive bummer to all fans of the league. Listen I am an Argonauts fan first, everyone knows that, but I hate seeing young talent, especially at the quarterback position get derailed due to injury. I love watching the development of quarterbacks, it’s why I root for Darian Durant, the league is just so much better served when it is littered with under 30-year-old gunslingers showing off what they can do. Drew Tate’s surgery is a massive blow to a Stampeders team that easily could (and probable should) be 3-0 but it is even a bigger blow for fans of the league. Here’s hoping his rehab goes well, he comes back strong and he dominates the league…except for twice a year against Toronto.

Darian Durant

Speaking of Durant, he loses his best wideout in Andy Fantuz, he is coming off his worst season as a pro and yet through three games he is quarterbacking the only undefeated team in the league. Biggest difference: In the last three years Durant has thrown 57 interceptions and fumbled the ball 28 times, this year he is clean in both categories. On top of the turnovers his 67% completion percentage is the highest of his career, a good sign for a guy whose decision making ability has been questioned in the past.

Going back to the Winnipeg and Edmonton game for a quick second, here’s a sign you’re watching a bad game: Six, count ‘em six quarterbacks all get a chance to play.

Anthony Calvillo

He turns 40 on August 23rd and yet he leads the league in passing yards, tied for touchdowns thrown and is tops in quarterback rating. This can lead to only one conclusion, Anthony Calvillo is not a man but rather a cyborg sent from Skynet to wipeout the human race. Save us John Connor, save us!

Now going back to Calgary for a moment … I think we will be hard pressed to find a worse interception thrown than that piece of work Kevin Glenn delivered right to Jerald Brown on Thursday night. Cleo Lemon in his worst days wouldn’t have made that decision. You’re better than that Kevin.

Henry Burris

And finally it wasn’t a great day for Henry Burris but he got the job done late when they needed him. Eleven minutes to go and Toronto had stormed back from a 21-0 deficit to cut the lead to 29-27 having outscored the Tiger-Cats 27-8. Clearly Hamilton’s offence needed to respond. It couldn’t all be about Chris Williams, now could it?

Three times Hamilton faced a 2nd and long, three times Burris delivered. The first situation, a 2nd and 7, Burris audibled at the line of scrimmage, rolled out to his right, found no one open and burst free for a 23-yard gain. Two plays later on 2nd and 10, his receivers were covered so Burris ran right up the middle of Toronto’s defence, made three men miss and gained 14 precious yards en route to another first down.

Finally, his touchdown pass to Bakari Grant was a perfectly placed ball, a rocket that found its way through tight coverage being provided by Jalil Carter. 36-27, advantage Hamilton, game over. The hero on Saturday night was Chris Williams, but it was Burris that helped seal the win. Why is it that the quarterback always seems to get all the credit?