The declaration may have prevented a revolt.
Winnipeg head coach Paul LaPolice declared Tuesday that Steven Jyles will indeed be the starting quarterback when the Blue Bombers take on the Alouettes in Montreal this Sunday.
Jyles earned that starting status by coming off the bench to orchestrate a 47-35 comeback victory over the B.C. Lions in overtime Monday.
After the game, a number of Bombers made no bones about the fact that they believe that Jyles should remain their top gun.
“After this performance he should be the starter the rest of the way, no doubt about that,” said Bomber tailback Fred Reid. “He’s unbelievable. He came in and lifted us when we needed it. He made big plays for us, threw the ball down the field, and that’s what we needed. Big ups to Jyles. I’m glad for him, the way he came in and helped us come back and win.”
But watching Alex Brink, the rookie who started, complete only four of 18 passes for 61 yards throughout the first 40 minutes of a must-win game had the fans up in arms, and most observers scratching their heads about why he was left in so long. But, even after watching Jyles’ heroics again on film, LaPolice would not admit to regretting not going to his bullpen sooner.
“No, because I was trying to go through the process of what’s (Brink’s) fault, what isn’t and then, I might have done it one series before is the only thing I would say,” LaPolice said.
But it was almost too late as the Lions had taken a 25-11 lead and the Bombers were starting to look like a beaten team.
“(Brink) didn’t have an understanding where the receiver was once or twice but yeah, I would have to say it was first-game jitters,” LaPolice said. “It’s a learning process.”
But the benching seemed to light a fire under Jyles, who had taken over the reins when Buck Pierce was felled by injury.
“He did talk to me a little bit about that,” LaPolice said. “He talked about how it cleared his head about what he has to do to be ‘the guy’ in this league. That’s a positive that he can come from it.
“He and I had a great conversation (Tuesday) and we talked about things he’s got to do to stand up against everybody else in the league.”
Jyles, who replaced Brink with about five minutes left in the third quarter, completed 11 of 19 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns.
“It is one of the most exciting games I’ve ever been a part of,” Jyles said after the match. “We were down by what, 22 points or whatever it was, and for us to come back as a team … it feels great. I feel excited right now.”
He was not exactly excited when he was told to take a seat to start the contest.
“He’s a great pro,” LaPolice said. “We had talked all week about certain scenarios and situations and I told him to be ready.
“Steven performed well and put us into position to win the football game and — one of the things we’d been asking for — finish a game for us … Steven will be the guy.”
Now, LaPolice will have to soothe Brink’s psyche, especially after he was booed so unmercifully by hometown fans.
“The thing he has to come back with is the understanding is that there is a reason we kept him here when we had other guys,” LaPolice said. “There’s a reason right now why he’s our No. 2. He’ll handle it, he’s a pro and all that stuff.
“The big thing he has to come back from when people are frustrated is the negativity. He’ll understand that and I’m sure our fans will understand that, too.”