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 Saturdayís 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 heíll be back at the controls after sitting out with a knee injury.

Otherwise, Steven Jyles stays in as the starting quarterback.

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

We donít know LaPolice well enough to know if heís really going to give Pierce consideration for a quicker return than most thought possible or if heís putting up a smoke screen so that the Stamps coaching staff needs to watch film on both Pierce and Jyles.

ď(Jyles) has to come back and get better, because thereís things he has to improve on,Ē LaPolice said on the weekend. ďWeíll play our starter if our starterís ready, but itís good to have Steven, who we believe can lead the team.Ē

For what itís worth, weíre going to offer a suggestion that could pay dividends down the road.

Donít waste much time wrestling with the decision and donít wait until the end of the week to make it public either.

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

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

Since heís 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, thatís to be expected when youíre 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 didnít wilt under pressure ó something Blue Bomber backups havenít 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.

ďThatís one thing that we have here in Winnipeg. We have athletic quarterbacks,Ē Jyles said after Saturdayís victory. ďThatís huge in the CFL. Itís a big field, and you have to be able to make plays with your feet when things are not how you draw it up.Ē

Thereís no doubt both Jyles and Pierce, when healthy, can make those plays but wonít the mobility of Pierce be limited if heís forced to wear a bulky brace?

Weíre pretty sure it would.

Thatís why sticking with Jyles is the prudent thing to do.

Itís not like leaving Jyles at the wheel is going to create a quarterback controversy.

Everyone knows that when Pierce is healthy, heís 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 ó no matter how badly he wants to return ó is a risk thatís not worth taking at this stage of the game.

Not in July and certainly not in Week 5.

ó With files from Kirk Penton

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos