With the CFL trade deadline tomorrow, the mediocre play of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers offence has sparked quarterback-related trade talks. Or rather lit a burning fire of wrath.
Problem is, there’s a shortage of worthwhile options on the market.
Quarterback Trade Partners for Winnipeg
When it comes to any sort of rumoured deal, Toronto’s the assumed partner. The Argos have McLeod-Bethel Thompson, James Franklin and Zach Collaros stashed on their roster plus have already been eliminated and are looking forward to the future.
All three fit the rental description, although all three’s play, or lack of play, is a large reason why Toronto’s out of the East Division playoff race in early October.
Franklin hasn’t lived up to any expectations since joining the Argos, most recently ending up on the wrong side of a 34-0 halftime deficit. Collaros hasn’t completed a pass this season, and chronic head injuries make the veteran quarterback an extremely risky and illogical add.
If Winnipeg had to make a deal, Bethel-Thompson’s their best bet. He’s got respectable base stats with over 3,000 passing yards and 20 touchdowns.
Within those starts is a string of abysmal games against above-average defences, such as a four interception night in Calgary, or sub-100-yard games in Edmonton and versus Calgary.
With the Bombers likely going to Calgary or Regina for a single-elimination game, Winnipeg can’t afford any risk of the turnover-prone version of the one-dimensional gunslinger.
While on the turnover-prone subject, Ottawa’s Dom Davis and Jon Jennings are also available.
The bottom line is none of these names are going to take Winnipeg further than Streveler.
Then there are the older, retired pivots; Travis Lulay and Kevin Glenn, specifically. Some have even thrown out Drew Tate’s name on social media. The speculation should end there, as all three are not realistic targets.
Unless somehow Calgary’s Nick Arbuckle becomes available at a reasonable price, a quarterback trade isn’t worth the hassle for Winnipeg.
That said, the Blue Bombers do need an improvement in quarterback play. They also need to look at feeding the football to their most valuable player and working off their strengths.
Andrew Harris’ Carries
Late in the first half against Montreal in Week 15, the Bombers offence started to crack.
On a second-and-four from his own 48, Chris Streveler failed to pick up Alouettes defender Ciante Evans, who jumped Kenny Lawler’s hook and intercepted the football. The Alouettes punched the ball in three plays later, cutting their deficit to 34-17. No sweat though, right?
Well, the Als pulled off a record-breaking comeback in the following 30 minutes after Winnipeg’s defensive meltdown.
Lost in the collapse was Andrew Harris receiving just five carries in the second half, a confusing and even more concerning gameplan.
Since Matt Nichols went down, Harris hasn’t had more than 13 rushing attempts in a game.
In Nichols’ nine starts, Harris rushed the ball fewer than 13 times in a game twice. The star back is also averaging four catches a game with Streveler, one less than with Nichols.
It begs the seemingly obvious question. Why?
Winnipeg’s Ground Game
The Bombers are by far the league’s best running football team yet are without the starting quarterback and are giving their workhorse back less carries. Streveler’s kept the Bombers rushes and rushing yards up to par, but enough designed quarterback runs will lead to an even bigger problem at the position.
As mentioned, Winnipeg is averaging more yards and yards per rush than any team. Teams can’t stop the ground-and-pound attack from their carousel of ball carriers. Instead, Winnipeg is losing games by tossing three interceptions inside the opponent’s 35-yard line.
There’s no need to force deep balls into coverage. Streveler’s won a game this season with seven completions and more yards rushing than passing, plus a 25-point win over Saskatchewan. Getting away from the ground game has cost Winnipeg some crucial points.
Main image credit:Embed from Getty Images