WINNIPEG - The question was thrown out to the TSN panel members over the weekend, and it’s been bandied about in Winnipeg for most of the 2012 season.
What do the Bombers do with Buck Pierce in 2013?
Well, unless they can find another bona fide starter somewhere out there, the answer requires no debate: The gunslinger from Crescent City, Calif., opens up Investors Group Field next June or July as Winnipeg’s No. 1 gun.
A lot of people want Pierce to retire out of concerns for his health, which is bogus. The only time most fans call for Pierce to call it a career is when he gets hurts in a loss. When they win, everything’s OK. He’s one tough SOB, they say.
Pierce has shown the ability to bounce back from head injuries, unlike other players, so let him play if he wants to play. And when he plays, the Bombers win. It’s that simple. However, it is never that simple in pro football, and especially in Winnipeg right now.
There is an interim head coach, a GM under the microscope, and two backup quarterbacks who have spent the past three seasons in Winnipeg waiting for their chance. Unfortunately for Joey Elliott and Alex Brink, neither has jumped up and grabbed the reins.
There have been signs the two backups can play, but there have been many more instances that leave plenty of doubt. Then Pierce goes out and guides the Bombers to their biggest offensive output of the season on Friday night in Toronto.
That pretty much firms it all up, doesn’t it?
If you’re not feeling it yet and need more proof, all that’s required is a quick glance at the stats. Since the start of 2010, the Bombers are 12-9 when Pierce factors in the outcome. They are 4-16 when Elliott and Pierce are the primary quarterbacks.
So the question was asked of interim head coach Tim Burke a couple weeks ago: How long does a quarterback get to prove he has what it takes?
“It depends on the guy, who you’re playing behind and the situations you’re put in,” Burke said.
In other words, it’s still up for debate, which is certainly going to happen for the next several months — whether or not the Bombers pull a rabbit out of their collective hat and make the playoffs.
What everyone needs to remember is the off-season after 2008. Regardless of who was going to be the head coach in 2009, there was no doubt that Kevin Glenn had to go. Even though he was winning half of his starts, there had to be someone better. So there was no outcry when he was released.
His replacement was a young up-and-comer named Stefan LeFors. Elliott and Brink have shown more than LeFors, but not that much more. And even though Pierce has trouble staying healthy, he has still won four more games over the last three years than his replacements combined. If Brink or Elliott had stepped up and shown they could do it while Pierce was hurt for 10 games this season, then letting go of Pierce this winter wouldn’t have been a problem.
That didn’t happen. So the Bombers need to remember 2009 and keep plowing ahead. Pierce is their man in 2013 — assuming the coach and GM stay the same. If those change, all bets are off.
BUCK, BY THE NUMBERS
Starts finished: 17 (12-5 record)
Games missed: 25 (6-19 record)
Failed to finish: 10 (1-9 record)
Games missed and failed to finish: 35 (7-28 record)
A frequent argument for not giving up on Joey Elliott or Alex Brink is how every quarterback struggles at the beginning of his career. A look at three other quarterbacks and how they fared in their first 10 games of significant action. Looking at the numbers, there should be no giving up on Elliott or Brink yet: