Strev’s job to lose
Starting quarterback job with Bombers is still Streveler’s, even with Collaros coming to town
WINNIPEG —Just because the Winnipeg Blue Bombers finally made a move to acquire a veteran quarterback, it doesn’t mean fans should expect to see anyone new under centre any time soon.
Yes, Zach Collaros is bringing his seven years of CFL experience to the Bombers for the stretch run, thanks to a trade with the Toronto Argos.
Yes, Collaros will provide insurance in case of injuries or complete ineffectiveness affecting the current No. 1 quarterback.
But right now, Chris Streveler is still the starter for the Bombers and it’s his job to lose.
“He’s the guy the guy who’s gonna get it going for us,” Bombers coach Mike O’shea said Thursday after the team held a closed practice at snowy, blowy IG Field.
“When I talked to Strev yesterday, after the trade went down, he said it doesn’t change anything in his prep or how he thinks. He’s preparing to play the whole game and lead a team. It doesn’t change anything.”
Streveler, who is 2-4 as the Bombers starter since Matt Nichols went down with a season-ending shoulder injury on Aug. 15, will be at the controls again Saturday when the Montreal Alouettes pay a visit to IG Field.
He’ll be looking to bounce back from a shaky performance in a 21-6 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders last week and will perhaps be facing a little added pressure to perform, with Collaros an option to step in late in the regular season or in the playoffs.
“I don’t think it will be any stress on Strev just because of the way Strev came into this league,” Bombers defensive end Willie Jefferson said.
“He’s always been a backup guy, the guy you call upon when you need him. He just took the role of being THE quarterback.
“With Zach coming in, it does give the team a little bit of poise, in that we have a veteran quarterback who knows how to play in the post-season. But we’re not leaning on him. We’re leaning on Strev because we’ve been with Strev.”
For weeks, O’shea has been saying the Bombers were not looking to acquire a veteran quarterback, but general manager Kyle Walters finally swung the deal in the final minute before the trade deadline Wednesday.
O’shea said just last week that even a veteran quarterback would be unable to come in and learn the offence this late in the season and have any real impact.
He seemed to have changed his tune about the value of veteran depth come Thursday morning.
“I think it’s a good move,” O’shea said.
“It didn’t happen until the 11th hour, but now we’ve got a seasoned veteran who comes in and will have a role. It will definitely be a good guy to have around.
“Knowing Zach, he’s a smart guy, he’s a competitive guy and he’s gonna pick things up very quickly. I’m sure the concepts are very familiar to him. The terminology will probably be different but that’s the reason why we talked about a veteran guy, because it comes that much quicker. Understanding CFL defences is something these guys do, no matter what the play call is. That’s important.”
Streveler was not made available to the media on Thursday but his teammates were quick to voice their belief in him.
He has thrown for 1,256 yards and six touchdowns, with a whopping 10 interceptions, this season. The passing numbers aren’t good, but he’s a dynamic runner and the Bombers still believe he can win games for them, even now when every game has significant playoff implications.
“Having an extra guy, if something happens with Streveler, there’s something to be said for that,” Bombers middle linebacker Adam Bighill said.
“Our offence is incredibly detailed and the playbook is incredibly large. The terminology is all gonna be brand new. It’s just a lot to learn. It’s one of the harder positions to just come in and plug and play. That’s the realistic point of view for that situation.
“The fact is, you know Zach’s a smart guy. He’ll be able to come in here and learn at a fast pace. It can’t hurt.”
Collaros won’t even practice with the Bombers until at least next week.
The Bombers will have only two regular-season games left at that point — at Calgary on Oct. 19 and at home against the Stamps on Oct. 25. Where they’ll play in the playoffs, and who the opponent will be, is still well up in the air.
“He’s a great player that has a lot of experience in this league and someone that could potentially help us down the road,” running back Andrew Harris said, of Collaros, before throwing some credit to Walters for making the move.
“Draft picks are very valuable and they’re willing to put that out there so that we can get a little more veteran experience in the locker room. It’s definitely a good sign that they care and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get us as far as possible into the playoffs.”
Quarterback Chris Streveler has been given the vote of confidence by the Bombers.