Don’t let that score fool you. All four of Winnipeg’s quarterbacks still have plenty of work to do.
Rookie Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice emerged from film sessions Monday long enough to demand more from his troops, including QBs Buck Pierce, Steven Jyles, Adam DiMichele and Alex Brink, despite defeating the Montreal Alouettes 34-10 in a CFL pre-season contest Sunday.
“At times, our execution was very spotty,” LaPolice said. “We’re not anywhere close enough to where we need to be.”
In fact, LaPolice believes his squad should have scored even more than the 34 points it hung up on the Als.
“But we dropped the ball in the endzone; we had a bunch of other drops,” LaPolice said. “(Running back) Yvenson Bernard probably would have had 200 yards rushing on four carries if we had handed the ball off to him a couple of times on the zone read.
“Not anyone graded out perfectly. The quarterbacks have a ton to improve on.”
They are not the only ones, though. Wide receiver Adarius Bowman, for one, dropped a catchable pass from Jyles in the end zone.
“I still have a lot to learn,” Pierce said. “I’ll … evaluate myself and just continue to try to keep learning and get to a point where I am a little more comfortable.”
Pierce completed six of 10 passes for 105 yards and one touchdown. He also scrambled three times for 34 yards.
“Steven made some good decisions,” LaPolice said. “He made a beautiful throw up the sideline to (receiver) Chris Davis. He recognized man coverage and put the ball in Chris’s hands … We gave him a chance with Adarius and his numbers would have been better if he had finished at the back of the end zone. He made a bad throw on the interception. He could have gone backside or just run with it.
“But he showed what he can do with his feet as well as his arm because he can chuck it downfield.”
Jyles completed only two of eight passes for 42 yards with the one pick. But he was also the leading rusher in the match, scampering for 54 yards on five carries.
“DiMichele managed the game well, made some plays,” LaPolice said. “But he’s got to protect the ball better down at the goal-line.”
DiMichele completed five of seven passes for 91 yards but got away with fumbling the ball away because Montreal was nailed with a penalty on the play.
“Adam said it was the hardest he was ever hit on that fumble,” LaPolice confided.
“Obviously, I took a shot here (Sunday),” DiMichele said. “There’s probably a lot of things I’ve got to improve on still but, overall, I was pretty excited about the game. It was a fun time.”
LaPolice felt for Brink, whose only two passes were dropped and whose time was limited because the head man screwed up the rotation. Both Canadian receivers Cory Watson and Jabari Arthur dropped his perfectly-thrown passes.
LaPolice got into Watson’s grille on the sidelines afterwards.
“What these guys have to understand is that when we’re two-and-out, that guy’s opportunities are over,” he said. “So, if they catch the football, that unit of guys trying to make the team gets more reps.”
The QBs will spend this week learning more of the playbook as they prepare to face the Tiger-Cats in the final pre-season contest in Hamilton this Sunday.
“We have to get better in everything we do,” said LaPolice, who has yet to decide whether to take all four throwers to Steeltown.
— With files from Paul Friesen and Kirk Penton