The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will open up the 2018 CFL season with a new face behind center. Winnipeg’s new quarterback is a result of Matt Nichols’ absence; last week it was announced that Nichols will be out four to six weeks with a knee injury.
On Monday afternoon Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea revealed that rookie Chris Streveler is getting the nod at quarterback. Streveler edged out teammate Alex Ross for the backup quarterback spot, which has now amplified to the starting position. Although Ross was the favourite heading into camp, O’Shea and co. are going with the young gunslinger for at least one week.
Who is Chris Streveler?
Born in Crystal Lake, Illinois, Streveler spent his college career with two programs. Streveler spent his first two years at the University of Minnesota before transferring to the South Dakota Coyotes. The 23-year-old spent two seasons as the starting quarterback for the Coyotes, posting some impressive numbers. In his senior year (2017), Streveler threw for 4,134 yards and 32 touchdowns and added another 720 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Streveler was then named the runner-up for the Walter Payton Award (Offensive Player of the Year in FCS football).
Streveler is an athletic, unorthodox quarterback that plays with a high motor. Listed at 6’1 211 lbs., the former South Dakota Cotoye possesses a thicker build but is deceivingly quick. Streveler ran a 4.45 40-yard dash on his Pro Day in March. The golden ticket for Streveler is his mobility and ability to be elusive in the backfield. On the other hand, football smarts and accuracy could be an issue. Learning a new game can induce a steep learning curve, and being inaccurate in a passing league can be detrimental.
Streveler’s preseason performance
Streveler immediately caught O’Shea’s attention throughout camp which made the former a legitimate candidate to become the then backup pivot. In his first preseason outing, the rookie pass-thrower completed all ten of his passes for 140 yards and one touchdown. However, Streveler finished just three of nine for 44 yards with an interception last Friday. To make matters worse, the interception was due to a late throw and ended up being a pick-six for BC.
Last Friday’s performance put a negative on a rather explosive training camp from Streveler. But in the end, Streveler is the Bombers’ starting quarterback.
The next four to six weeks
Since Nichols’ injury timetable is four to six weeks, Streveler temporarily has the keys to the Bombers’ offence. As a result, Streveler is the first quarterback to go straight from college to a CFL starter since Anthony Calvillo in 1994 (ever heard of him?).
Head Coach Mike O’Shea has already answered any questions to whether Streveler will be given a reduced playbook.
Mike O’Shea when asked if the #Bombers had to take any special precautions with rookie Chris Streveler starting at QB, like possibly reducing the playbook: pic.twitter.com/3tZm1ygfyJ
— Ed Tait (@EdTaitWFC) June 11, 2018
While O’Shea’s comments are uplifting for his rookie quarterback, the likelihood of the entire playbook being showcased, regardless of who is at the helm, is slim to begin with.
With all that being said, expect to see a quarterback-friendly gameplan from Paul Lapolice’s offence in the upcoming weeks. A heavy run game, high-percentage passes, options, and running plays featuring Weston Dressler and Nic Demski; not reducing the playbook, but putting Streveler in a position to succeed.
While the Bombers attempt to tread water without Nichols, limiting turnovers is massive. In preparation, it is a guarantee that Winnipeg’s coaching staff is preaching ball security first and foremost. At the same time, Streveler displays a high level of confidence and is prone to big plays, meaning he will take risks with the ball in his hands.
The last word
Streveler has all the tools internally – elusiveness, strong arm, vision, hustle – and externally – Andrew Harris, bonafide offensive line, talented veteran receivers, Paul LaPolice – to succeed in the CFL. Thursday night the CFL world will be introduced to the former standout South Dakota Coyote when the Bombers host the Edmonton Eskimos at Investors Group Field. Without Aaron Grymes, and possibly Johnny Adams and Arjen Colquhoun, the Eskimos’ secondary is decimated. For Chris Streveler, this is a glorified chance to shine from day one.
No matter how the next month-and-a-half shapes up, it will be an exciting start to the CFL season in Bomberland.
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