Pivotal decision

Bombers quarterback Steven Jyles (3) evades a tackle by Edmonton Eskimos defensive end Kenny...

Bombers quarterback Steven Jyles (3) evades a tackle by Edmonton Eskimos defensive end Kenny Pettway during Saturday’s 47-21 victory. Jyles deserves to start against the Calgary Stampeders Saturday in Cowtown. (BRIAN DONOGH/Winnipeg Sun files)

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:26 PM ET

Depending on what the doctors say, Paul LaPolice has an important decision to make regarding who will start behind centre this weekend against the Calgary Stampeders.

The first-year head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is saying all the right things so far, noting that if Buck Pierce is healthy he’ll be back at the controls after sitting out with a knee injury.

Otherwise, Steven Jyles stays in as the starting quarterback.

LaPolice — and presumably the rest of the Blue Bombers — remain confident, no matter which way the decision ultimately goes.

We don’t know LaPolice well enough to know if he’s really going to give Pierce consideration for a quicker return than most thought possible or if he’s putting up a smoke screen so that the Stamps coaching staff needs to watch film on both Pierce and Jyles.

“(Jyles) has to come back and get better, because there’s things he has to improve on,” LaPolice said on the weekend. “We’ll play our starter if our starter’s ready, but it’s good to have Steven, who we believe can lead the team.”

For what it’s worth, we’re going to offer a suggestion that could pay dividends down the road.

Don’t waste much time wrestling with the decision and don’t wait until the end of the week to make it public either.

Everybody knows that Pierce is a warrior and he’ll be back in uniform if you let him.

Pierce is tough as nails, but letting him sit out one more week to ensure he’s 100% healthy for a pivotal home-and-home series with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is far more important than this week’s affair against Calgary.

Since he’s a competitor, Pierce might be upset initially but it will only increase his desire to be ready to face the Ticats again.

By coming up with a steady performance on Saturday, Jyles deserves a second consecutive start.

Plain and simple.

Although there were issues to be ironed out, that’s to be expected when you’re making the third start of your career in your fifth season in the league.

Sure, Jyles had two interceptions but he also moved the ball well and didn’t wilt under pressure — something Blue Bomber backups haven’t exactly done when given the opportunity for most of the past decade.

Jyles used his arm and also his feet, something Pierce did during his first two starts of the season.

“That’s one thing that we have here in Winnipeg. We have athletic quarterbacks,” Jyles said after Saturday’s victory. “That’s huge in the CFL. It’s a big field, and you have to be able to make plays with your feet when things are not how you draw it up.”

There’s no doubt both Jyles and Pierce, when healthy, can make those plays but won’t the mobility of Pierce be limited if he’s forced to wear a bulky brace?

We’re pretty sure it would.

That’s why sticking with Jyles is the prudent thing to do.

It’s not like leaving Jyles at the wheel is going to create a quarterback controversy.

Everyone knows that when Pierce is healthy, he’s going to be The Man.

However, finding out Jyles has the ability to get the job done and post wins is also important for the Blue and Gold.

Letting him get a little more playing time early in the season can do nothing but help both Jyles and the team in the long run.

The cold, hard truth is that if the Blue Bombers want to be playing well into November, the best chance they have to make noise comes with Pierce leading the huddle.

And the reality is that rushing Pierce back — no matter how badly he wants to return — is a risk that’s not worth taking at this stage of the game.

Not in July and certainly not in Week 5.

— With files from Kirk Penton

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca


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