The Winnipeg Blue Bombers open major coaching camp this morning. That is the eighth and closing section in our annual positional-preview sequence.
Simply over a yr in the past, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback depth chart seemed deep and it seemed set.
There was Matt Nichols atop the group because the unquestioned starter, as he was coming off a season during which he threw for Four,472 yards with 28 touchdowns in opposition to simply eight interceptions. Veteran Darian Durant had been added over the winter as a confirmed arm to return out of the bullpen, and former B.C. Lions prospect Alex Ross was additionally signed to supply much more depth.
There was additionally an intriguing prospect on board in Chris Streveler, who was pegged to battle Ross for the third-string gig.
Yeah, nicely, everyone knows how all that turned out…
Durant bolted with a just-before-camp retirement; Nichols went down in a heap earlier than the primary common season sport, and Streveler emerged from a camp battle with Ross to be the opening-night starter and never solely gained a sport throughout his time beneath centre, however supplied a wrinkle to the offence that has left followers wanting extra.
And in order we start our eighth and closing positional preview previous to the opening of coaching camp Sunday, it’s price noting simply how a lot has modified in a yr.
Make no mistake, Nichols continues to be the clear-cut No. 1, as he has guided the Bombers 30-14 document in his begins relationship again to 2016. He returned from the camp knee damage to go 9-5 as a starter in 2018 after which assist the membership to its first playoff victory since 2011 within the West Semi-Closing determination over Saskatchewan. However he additionally struggled at occasions after the knee damage with a nasty stretch in late summer season/early September that noticed the membership drop 4 straight. He rebounded and in his closing seven begins – together with the 2 playoff video games – threw for eight TDs in opposition to zero interceptions.
Within the course of, Nichols has moved into sixth place on the Bombers all-time passing yardage record at 13,041, behind solely Dieter Brock (29,623), Khari Jones (20,175), Kevin Glenn (18,116), Ken Ploen (16,470) and Tom Clements (14,917).
Finally, what Nichols and all these QBs are judged on are Gray Cup championships and what’s attention-grabbing concerning the membership’s Prime 10 profession passers – together with Don Jonas, Matt Dunigan, Jack Jacobs and Tom Burgess – is just Ploen, Clements and Burgess helped the Bombers win a title. Jones, Glenn, Dunigan and Jacobs additionally all led the staff to the ultimate – though Glenn (2007) and Dunigan (1993) have been injured for the Gray Cup sport. That’s a dialogue that actually gained’t be rekindled till November.
Within the meantime, what Streveler offers the offence behind Nichols is an intriguing look. Final June Streveler grew to become simply the 12th straight-from-college quarterback to start out Week 1 for a CFL staff since 1959 and the primary since Anthony Calvillo with the Las Vegas Posse in 1994. He was additionally the final faculty QB to start out an opener for the Bombers since John Schneider approach again in 1968.
His rookie season ended with some notable numbers: 11 passing and 10 dashing touchdowns, making him the primary Bombers QB in 25 years – since Matt Dunigan in 1993 – to hit double-digit TD totals by way of the air and alongside the bottom.
Nichols and Streveler are settled in on the 1-2 spots on the QB depth chart, however what occurs with the third-string gig can be one of many positional battles to review throughout camp. Veteran Bryan Bennett made himself useful to the membership on particular groups, each as a holder and after he volunteered to line up on the kick-cover items – bear in mind, he saved a possible landing with a important deal with late within the West Semi-Closing win in Regina.
However he can be trying over his shoulder at Sean McGuire, the all-time passing chief at Western Illinois who was not too long ago on the Bombers free agent camp in Florida and mini-camps with the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins. He beat out former Alliance of American Soccer pivot Kevin Anderson, who was launched after rookie camp this week.
The Bombers even have Sawyer Buettner of the College of Ottawa in camp as a part of the CFL-U Sports activities QB Apprenticeship program, however he’s right here on a studying mission and can be again with the Gee-Gees for his or her season.
All in all, there’s a strong combine on the Bombers QB place, from the veteran Nichols, to the thrilling No. 2 in Streveler, to the athletic Bennett, to the prospect in McGuire.
And, make no mistake, the QB who helps lead this staff to its subsequent Gray Cup is not going to solely earn a couple of free meals and pints on this city, he’ll discover a place among the many franchise legends.
The Returnees: Matt Nichols, Chris Streveler, Bryan Bennett
CFL newcomers: Sean McGuire, Sawyer Buettner* (U Sports activities QB apprentice)
McGuire will get listed right here by default, because the QB depth chart returns three from final yr in Nichols, Streveler and Bennett. He’s bought good measurement at 6-Three, 228 and gained over coaches in Florida and once more in rookie camp.
He’s confirmed to be a harmful risk working the short-yardage set and when he tucks the ball away and runs. What the teaching employees is hoping to see from the second-year professional is a greater understanding of CFL defences now that he has a season beneath his belt and a capability to dissect them together with his arm now, too.
NOTABLE NUMBER | 32-19
That’s Nichols’ document as a starter since first arriving right here by way of commerce with Edmonton in September of 2015. Previous to Nichols, the final Bombers QB with a successful document was Khari Jones, who was 44-28-1 from 2000-04.
The others: Kevin Glenn (35-37-1), Buck Pierce (14-18), Drew Willy (11-18), Michael Bishop (6-Eight), Steven Jyles (2-Eight), Joey Elliott (2-7) Max Corridor (1-Eight), Justin Goltz (1-Four), Ryan Dinwiddie (1-2), Alex Brink (1-2), Stefan LeFors (1-Three), Chris Streveler (1-Three) Tee Martin (Zero-Three), Robert Marve (Zero-2), Brian Brohm (Zero-2), Mike Quinn (Zero-2), Dominique Davis (Zero-1).