Bombers should go with Eilliott against Stampeders

Winnipeg Blue Bombers QB Joey Elliott.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers QB Joey Elliott.

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:01 PM ET

Jovon Johnson figures it's a tough decision. So do Chad Simpson and Chris Matthews.

And so do I.

But for some reason Tim Burke doesn't.

On Saturday at high noon, when the Calgary Cowpokes ride into town, do the Blue Bombers hitch their wagon to Buck Pierce or Joey Elliott?

Up until last weekend, this wouldn't have taken any more debate than the choice between plaid pants or black ones for a funeral.

But that was before Monday's Thanksgiving Day shocker in Montreal, when Elliott stuffed the Alouettes defence like a turkey, carved it up and handed out platefuls of hope to Bomber fans everywhere who'd all but pushed back their chairs and left the table for 2012.

It's the second time this season the former Purdue Boilermaker has come out smoking, suggesting that maybe, just maybe, behind the gunslinger bravado there's a pivot with some real pop.

Is this the time to sit him down on the bench?

That's exactly what the interim head coach planned to do, assuming Pierce passed his final concussion test late Wednesday, and there was no reason to believe he wouldn't.

"I don't think it's that tough a decision ... Buck's our franchise quarterback," Burke said. "He gives us the best chance."

Not a tough decision? After Elliott went 17-for-25 for 335 yards and a touchdown hat trick, against no turnovers?

That's a little like benching the goalie who just shut out Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Yeah. Well, Buck had a hot hand a couple weeks ago," Burke argued.

True.

And the last time Elliott put up numbers like Joe Montana, he proceeded to go into a funk more reminiscent of Joe Adams.

But that's two offensive player-of-the-week performances this season, now. How many quarterbacks can say they've done that?

Not Anthony Calvillo. Not Travis Lulay.

Only Smilin' Hank Burris. And Elliott.

"Again? Wow," Simpson, the running back, said upon receiving the news. "He took advantage of their weaknesses and had a real good game. Kudos to him."

Never mind the kudos — how about the start against the Stamps?

"I'm tired of it for both of 'em," Simpson said. "I wish they'd go one way or the other. I'm not tired of it, but I know how it is, how it gets when you're going to play one week and the other week (you're not). I had that problem at Indy. I know it gets frustrating for both of the players."

Simpson points out they've handled it like pros.

So who would he pick?

"I never try to look at it from a coaches' standpoint," he continued. "But I'm pretty sure it's tough for them. You've got Joey who's been on and off, but you have Buck who's been on and off. So you don't know.

"From where I'm from in Miami, how we do stuff, the best player plays. Whoever you feel is the best player. 'Cause anybody can have a great game."

Can't blame Simpson for not picking a side.

Matthews, who could have been the offensive star of the week himself, wasn't, either.

"I don't know what they're going to do," the receiver said. "That's up to the coaches if they want to keep (Elliott) in or not. I can imagine it's extremely hard."

Even on defence, the feeling is this is a pick 'em between the veteran who's back to full health and the kid who was on fire five days earlier.

"It's tough," Johnson said. "It's a difficult situation to be in. Most of the time they go with the veteran. But whose call is it? It's not mine."

Yeah, most of the time the vet gets the benefit of the doubt.

But there's one additional factor at play, here. The Bombers, 4-10 and all but out of the race, are looking for a quarterback solution, long-term — not just for this week.

They know what they have with Pierce.

They need to see if Elliott's performances were flukes.

I'd start the kid, and if he's lost the hot hand, bring the vet in off the bench.

Come to think of it, it's not that hard a call.


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