October 13, 2012
Bombers Blitz: Elliott blows shot at replacing Buck
By KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - So about that apparent quarterback controversy brewing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Saturday was another glowing example of why Joey Elliott needs more time to develop. He's not yet ready to supplant Buck Pierce as the full-time starter.
Coming off a rock-solid performance in which he put up 335 yards and three touchdowns against the Montreal Alouettes, Elliott showed flashes but exercised some poor decision-making in the Bombers 32-21 loss to the Calgary Stampeders.
Elliott moved the ball efficiently in the first half and finished the game 22-of-33 for 284 yards, with no touchdowns.
If it ended there, it would have been another solid day for Elliott.
However, with four interceptions — including three in the end zone — Elliott's numbers quickly turned sour.
To his credit, Elliott pointed the finger squarely at himself during post-game interviews, an obvious sign of leadership.
But the overall picture isn't pretty as Elliott now has 11 interceptions to go against five touchdowns.
He's taking steps in his on-field performance, but this was another example of why interim head coach Tim Burke made no hesitation earlier this week when asked if Buck Pierce would be starting once he can get medical clearance.
And while this loss is a blow to the Bombers playoff hopes, they still can't be mathematically eliminated from contention this week.
If Pierce gets the green lights from doctors, he must be the guy under centre when the Bombers try to keep their season alive against the Toronto Argonauts at Rogers Centre on Friday.
WHERE'S THE WILDCAT?
The Bombers came up with a nice wrinkle against the Montreal Alouettes last week, bringing fourth-string pivot Justin Goltz off the bench to run the Wildcat offence.
Although players and coaches said the package would be expanded during the final few weeks of the regular season, Goltz didn't see any playing time on Saturday, which is a bit of a head-scratcher, given the Bombers struggles in the red zone.
PICKING ON JOVON
While Jovon Johnson deserves credit for stepping up to play SAM linebacker when nobody else really did, the 2011 CFL defensive player of the year is clearly playing out of position and needs to be returned to the secondary.
The Bombers would be better served by moving Jonathan Hefney back to linebacker for the final three games of the regular season. His best game at that position was his final one before moving back to halfback.
The Stamps were not afraid to go at Johnson on Saturday and came up with several big gains against him in coverage.
During the first quarter, Johnson made a good read to bat down a pass attempt from Kevin Glenn but it ended up being a missed opportunity for a pick-6.
When Johnson is playing with the swagger he showed last season, he comes down with that ball and takes it to the house.
It's clear the Bombers made a mistake in cutting veteran Clint Kent coming out of training camp and they have been paying for it since.
ON THE BOARD
It took a whole lot longer than Jade Etienne — or Bombers general manager Joe Mack, for that matter — had hoped, but the fourth overall pick of the 2011 CFL Canadian Draft finally has his first official statistic.
With Rory Kohlert out with an undisclosed injury, Etienne came up with a catch on his knees from Alex Brink for his first CFL catch.
The 11-yard reception helped the Bombers keep a drive alive and Chris Matthews picked up his seventh major of the season two plays later.
1,000 YARD CLUB
Speaking of Matthews, his 31-yard grab in the second quarter made him the first Bomber rookie to eclipse 1,000 yards in receiving.
With seven catches for 116 yards, Matthews is up to 71 grabs for 1,090 yards this season — which makes him the leader in both categories.
Matthews is an excellent deep threat and has made a smooth transition to the CFL game.
It's obvious he should be one of the building blocks on the Bombers' offence going into 2013.
After the Bombers defence did a nice job to force the Stampeders to punt on the first possession, returner Demond Washington gave the ball right back after fumbling for the eighth time this season, five of which have been lost.
Washington allowed the Rob Maver punt to bounce in front of him and the carom ended up catching him in the facemask before Derrius Brooks came up with the recovery.
The Stamps took over deep in Bomber territory and quickly made them pay, getting a touchdown run from Jon Cornish.
After a two-and-out on the first offensive series, the Stamps put together a drive that lasted nearly eight minutes and resulted in a field goal.
Then, after a Chad Simpson fumble, the Stamps got into the end zone again, giving them 13 first quarter points off turnovers.
Slow starts continue to plague the Bombers, who have now been outscored 120-31 in the opening quarter this season.