This is down to Mike O’Shea.
He never should have sent Drew Willy back into the fray to begin the second half of Sunday’s train wreck in Hamilton. It was 31-No Hope at the time. The Tiger-Cats were home and cooled. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, meanwhile, were anxious just to get home.
Yet the Bombers’ still-greenhorn head coach dispatched Willy to take the snaps. And the lumps. Dumb, dumber and dumbest.
This isn’t hindsight speaking, simply because we’ve received word that Willy, the Bombers starting quarterback and offensive lifeblood, has a wonky right knee that renders him hors de combat for the next six weeks to two months. I said it when the large lads disappeared for recess at Timbits Park in the Hammer. With the tally 31-zip after 30 minutes, the Bombers were as likely to win that football game as Wade Miller is to sprout to 6-feet-5 inches tall over the summer. So, I figured, let’s see what kind of junk the understudy has.
No, I didn’t mean Brian Brohm. He never has been, nor will he ever be, a quality starting quarterback in the Canadian Football League. The jury long ago delivered that verdict on him.
Thus, like many others in Bombers Nation, I wanted to see the flavor of the month go in and stir the drink. That would be Robert Marve, third on the QB pecking order. Give him the reps. Let him experience an entire half’s worth of growing pains.
Alas, head coach No’Shea would have none of that. Damned if he wasn’t going to feed Willy back to the wolves, who had already taken a substantial chunk out of his hide with five first-half sacks. The end result was a 38-8 whupping and a right knee that suffered more damage than Donald Trump after he opens his mouth.
“I got a lot of faith in Drew and I still believe he gave us the best chance to win,” was No’Shea’s unreasoned response to news scavengers when asked, post-match, why he hadn’t pulled the plug on Willy when it was obvious to everyone from Ken Ploen to the ghost of Cal Murphy that the Bombers had #NoHope.
Oh, shut the front door, Mike!
And now, with Willy gone for perhaps the remainder of this 2015 crusade, the head coach is spewing similar spittle that flies in the face of reason.
So, who’s your starting QB when the Toronto Argonauts roll into River City on Friday, coach Mike?
“Well, I’m not gonna tell ya right now,” a tight-lipped No’Shea said at a Tuesday afternoon inquisition, very much playing the coy boy. “We’ll go through practice tomorrow and we’ll know then for sure. I don’t want to offer our opponent any competitive advantage, right, in terms of prep. My choice.”
Again, shut the front door, Mike. Your opponents already have a competitive advantage in terms of prep—you’re the Bombers and they’re not.
As much as it probably doesn’t matter whether it’s eeny or meeny behind centre vs. the Boatmen, it’s all about the best chance to win, as the coaching mantra goes. My guess is that No’Shea will determine that man to be Brohm and anoint him the starter, but it will be the wrong thing to do. Again.
Marve has skedaddle to his game. Plenty of it. Brohm has stand still. More’s the pity.
“Brian is a very efficient quarterback,” the coach told news scavengers hanging on his every evasive word Tuesday. “He’s more like Drew in terms of his pocket presence, his passing ability, how he goes through the process of reading a defence and using the tools he has in our offence.”
Which is exactly why you shouldn’t start him.
Going “through the process” doesn’t get it done for a Bombers QB. That gets you time in sick bay. What you need is some lickety-split. And some now-you-see-him, now-you-don’t Houdini.
That’s Marve. He might actually finish what he starts.
Patti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.