Bombers taking time with Pierce
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce is helped off the field after being injured in the fourth quarter against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Canadian Football League action in Regina September 5, 2010. (Reuters/FRED GREENSLADE)
WINNIPEG - The clock keeps ticking. It soon will be time to make a decision on Buck Pierce, likely as early as next week.
The Bomber quarterback was hoping to force the issue by returning just four weeks after injuring his left foot on July 13, but when he misses Friday’s home game against the B.C. Lions it will be six weeks since he tore ligaments and a muscle against Edmonton.
On Monday head coach Paul LaPolice wouldn’t commit to Pierce as the team’s starting quarterback when he returns to health, saying they’ll cross that bridge when they get to it. Pierce didn’t bite when asked about that on Tuesday.
“That’s all hypothetical,” Pierce said. “We’re 2-5. It’s still a tough world to live in. We can’t live in the world of hypothetical and what-ifs. Hey man, I’m brought here to do a job. It’s opportunities, when I go down, for other guys.
“Joey (Elliott) is getting his opportunities, and he did a great job with it last week. I wish him the best, and I help him as much as I can. Right now it’s just myself getting healthy and getting ready to go back out.”
As far as we can tell, there are three options for Pierce when his left foot is given the green light. They are:
1. Return him to the No. 1 role
Pierce is 10-8 as Winnipeg’s quarterback of record, and technically he gives the Bombers their best chance to win.
Even though it’s only one game, it appears Friday’s clash against the Lions could go a long way to determining Pierce’s future. If Elliott looks great for a second straight week and beats the defending Grey Cup champs, it might his ball to run with for the rest of the season.
If the Lions destroy the Bombers and Elliott is picked three times, it would be difficult not to see Pierce under centre for the Labour Day Classic.
The Bombers need wins, and they need them now. LaPolice probably couldn’t care less about developing a quarterback right now. He just wants to keep his job.
2. Make him the backup
If Elliott, who is 1-3 as Winnipeg’s quarterback of record, slays the Leos and looks good doing it, it would be awfully difficult going back to Pierce.
Pierce has all the qualities of a good backup: he can provide a spark, he wouldn’t make a public fuss about it, and he’s still a decent quarterback. Elliott can be the man, and Pierce can try to get things going when he struggles. The Bombers would also save cap money because Pierce gets cash every time he starts a game.
3. Release him
The Bombers can cut him after nine games and not have to pay his salary for the rest of the season.
If Elliott looks good again this week and the staff feels he’s as good an option as Pierce, then perhaps the Bombers can make that move and have Alex Brink and Justin Goltz serve as Elliott’s backups.
Then again, it’s not like Pierce’s weekly cheque will put a serious dent in the cap number, as his base salary is in the neighbourhood of $100,000. The rest of his nearly $300,000 contract comes from his signing bonus, which was probably close to six figures, and playing time.
WHO’S THE MAN?
The Bombers are in a state of limbo when it comes to their quarterback situation. A look at each pivot’s mark as the team’s quarterback of record:
Buck Pierce 10-8
Alex Brink 2-8
Joey Elliott 1-3
Justin Goltz 0-1