Who needs marquee QB?

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

As Blue Bomber fans begin chewing their nails in anticipation of a new CFL season, we bring up two names from the past: Tom Burgess and Sean Salisbury.

Not exactly household names in Bomber lore, we know.

But that's the whole point.

For the uninitiated, Burgess and Salisbury are the last two quarterbacks to lead this team to Grey Cup titles: Burgess in 1990, Salisbury in '88.

Neither went down in club history as one of the greats, although both had their redeeming qualities.

Burgess, a respected leader, was tough as shoe leather, while Salisbury, slower than the golden boy most days, was big and had a pretty good arm.

Both played just two seasons in Winnipeg.

And both left with something Bomber greats like Dieter Brock and Khari Jones never acquired: a championship ring.

In other words, all the questions about whether or not Kevin Glenn can become a marquee quarterback are a rather moot point.

I think it's safe to say Glenn will never be Montreal's Anthony Calvillo or B.C.'s Dave Dickenson.

He doesn't need to be.

NICE LUXURY

Oh, sure, it's a nice luxury to have a quarterback who can win games on his own. It can mask a few weaknesses elsewhere. Kind of like having a goalie who can bail you out in hockey.

But to say a team can only win with a marquee passer, or that CFL teams are only as good as their quarterbacks, is just plain wrong.

Surround the guy with enough ball-hungry receivers, a running back with a nose for the end zone and an offensive line that blocks more than the sun and you'd be surprised what can happen.

Back him with a defence that takes opposing touchdowns as a personal affront and you've really got something.

In '90, for instance, the Bombers were the lowest scoring team in the league and the No. 6 offence, statistically. They didn't have a receiver in the top-17, although they did have the league's leading rusher, in Robert Mimbs.

And they had a defence that played like their lives were at stake.

The Bombers' record, 12-6, was the best in the league and they mauled the Eskimos, 50-11, in the Grey Cup.

Two years earlier the Winnipeg offence ranked dead last and the team went 9-9, but there was Salisbury, sipping from the Cup when it was all over.

New head coach Doug Berry has alluded to the fact his quarterback doesn't have to be his best player.

"Maybe sometimes too much is given to that position," Berry said. "We have a lot of people here who can take the load off that position. So whoever we go with should be able to rely on the offensive line to carry some weight, on the running back to carry some weight and on three or four of the receivers to carry some of the weight.

"So the quarterback right now doesn't have to carry it all."

It's a little different than Berry got used to in Montreal, where Calvillo does plenty of heavy lifting. Give him a little help, and you go three years winning at least 13 games (2002 to '04).

Here, Berry has Glenn, who put up some decent numbers last year while playing with the worst defence in the loop and an offence that relied far too much on Milt Stegall and Charles Roberts.

If Bomber GM Brendan Taman and Berry do their jobs well, Glenn won't have to thread the needle on 2nd-and-long all the time, or toss four touchdown passes a game.

He'll just have to play smart, avoid turnovers and find ways to win close games.

That's something Bomber fans can go ahead and chew their nails over.

Because Glenn hasn't proven he can do those things, either.

Particularly, the winning.


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