Argos gunning for Buck Pierce

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce is one of the best in the CFL, but he's also injury...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce is one of the best in the CFL, but he's also injury prone. (MARCEL CRETAIN / QMI Agency)

Frank Zicarelli, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:21 PM ET

If a hit presents itself that is within the rules of the game, Ronald Flemons will be more than willing to deliver it.

If he comes clean off the line of scrimmage and Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce becomes exposed in the backfield, Flemons plans on meting out pain.

All is fair in gridiron warfare, even when a team smells blood, which in football is normally associated with a quarterback whose history is one of injury and misfortune.

Nothing will be contemplated if it results in an infraction, an area the Argos could not overcome in their loss in Winnipeg two weeks ago. But look for Toronto to pay a little more attention to Pierce when he leads the Bombers into Saturday’s Argos home opener.

“Of course,’’ Flemons admitted when asked if one of the keys for an Argos win involved Pierce. “You’d rather face the guy next to Pierce, that’s common sense in the CFL because the learning curve is so big for most quarterbacks.

“How many quarterbacks come here and do really well? Doug Flutie, Ricky Ray. Who knows? The next guy behind Buck Pierce could be the next Doug Flutie, but there’s a 95% chance he’s not going to be that type of guy.

“You don’t want to play against Buck Pierce because Buck Pierce is a really good player.”

When the Bombers opened the season in Hamilton, Ticats linebacker Jamaal Johnson came untouched off the edge to deliver a clean hit to Pierce, who somehow held on to the football.

Later, Johnson admitted he should have hit Pierce harder.

Given the violent nature of football, every player is at risk on any given down when so many bodies are flying around looking to make a hit, force a fumble and in the process knock a guy out of a game.

It’s too bad a target will follow Pierce into each week, but there’s no room for sympathy in pro football and Flemons intends to do what’s necessary, as long as it’s within the rules.

Whether Calgary stepped outside the line when the Stamps knocked Pierce (quad) out of last week’s game, only they know for certain. Nothing was done from a league perspective, but the whole issue of protecting the quarterback did get raised.

In the NFL, the league is overly protective of its quarterbacks, rules that were implemented to safeguard marquee names such as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

In three-down football, players aren’t as big, but the severity of blows cannot be underestimated.

As much as Flemons would love to pummel Pierce, the Argos veteran defensive lineman has the utmost respect for him.

“He’s a tough player,’’ Flemons said. “He’s the kind of guy where you can’t just look at the stats. If you just look at the stats, you’ll see that they’re not super impressive, but he does stuff to help his team win.

“Pierce will do stuff in a situation where it’s second and eight and he’ll scramble to get a first down to keep a drive alive. He’s a good player and you can’t quantify how good a player he is by looking at the stats. He’s not an Anthony Calvillo, but he’s a good quarterback and he’s a winner. Everyone in this league respects him.”

Last week against Calvillo and the Als, the Argos went with a bend-but-don’t-break approach on defence that yielded underneath routes, a scheme that demands a defender to wrap up his man and be physical as a way to wear down the receiver. But time of possession was dominated by Montreal, which forced the Argos defence to spend far too much time on the field. This week, expect the Argos to bring pressure as opposed to last week’s passivity that led to zero sacks.

Despite yielding one touchdown in Winnipeg, Flemons believes the Argos defence was upstaged by the Bombers’ unit.

According to Flemons, the Argos’ defensive mentality is to outplay its counterpart.

“That’s what we think about,’’ he said. “We’re playing the other team’s defence, which is a better way of thinking about it.”

With Week 4 in the CFL set to begin, no defence has been as good as the Bombers, an opportunistic group that produced a pick six in Hamilton and can take chances in the secondary when a guy such as Odell Willis is wreaking havoc in the backfield.

“We played well, but we need to play better,’’ Flemons said. “We allowed them to drive down the field, even though they got field goals. We need more two and outs, more turnovers.

“Winnipeg’s defence played better than we did and that’s why we lost the game.”

With Pierce one hit away from being knocked out and Cleo Lemon not exactly in rhythm with his receivers, it’s little wonder why the Argos’ home opener is shaping up as a battle of defences.

 


Photos