Archive for August 11th, 2012

LaPolice pulls the trigger, switches to Elliott at QB

- August 11th, 2012

It’s official.

Many fans are getting their wish as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are changing their starting quarterback for their next game, which happens Thursday against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The Blue Bombers took to Twitter at the end of Saturday’s first workout back from the bye week to announce that Joey Elliott was taking over from Alex Brink. The players were told at the end of practice and both shared their thoughts with members of the media.

Naturally, Elliott was thrilled about the chance to get his third career CFL start and first since late in the 2010 season.

“It’s an opportunity. In my first year here, I had two starts at the end of the season and you have to look at them as opportunities to further your career in this league. My approach will be the same.”

With the close bond among quarterbacks, does it create an uncomfortable situation for anyone, Elliott was asked?

“Oh no, going into the season we knew this could be one of the situations that presents itself and we’re both handling it like professionals. My name got called this week, who knows it could be his next week or the next week. You never know. It’s a long season and we’re just competing for wins.”

What can Elliott bring to the table as the starter?

“That’s up to the coaches to show that off. Hopefully, they game-plan a bit more towards my strengths and hopefully we can get some more offence going in the first half.”

Brink, who started the past three games, was disappointed and frustrated, admitting he felt was blindsided when LaPolice shared the news with him.

Having said that, expect Brink to be supportive of Elliott, just as Elliott had been supportive of him.

Did Brink feel like he was progressing, getting more comfortable with each start?

“It’s natural as a young player, that every opportunity you get, you get a little bit better. There’s always ups-and-downs. You can look  across this league for probably, 20, 30, 100 years it’s been around that growth at the quarterback position takes some time. So yeah, I feel like I was growing.”

Brink understands the Blue Bombers 1-5 record may have factored into the decision.

“The nature of pro football, sometimes the nature of life plays into it. When things aren’t going well, a change gets made,” said Brink. “Coach made a decision to go in a different direction based on where we’re at as a team. I’ve played this position for a long time and part of playing quarterback is that you get a lot more credit than you deserve and you get a lot of blame at times.

“I’m here as a Winnipeg Blue Bomber and I’m here to support the team in whatever capacity that is and we’ll go forward from here.”

What will the week ahead be like for Brink?

“It will be another week to prepare and try to win a ball game.”

LaPolice explained that the Blue Bombers need to get a win and felt it was time to make a change, re-iterating that Brink and Elliott were basically 2 and 2B coming out of camp and nothing that’s happened during the past month changed that.

Here are some of the excerpts from the LaPolice discussion with the media about the QB change:

Was this one of the parts of the job that’s no fun?

“You care about these guys. You care about these guys, you spend so much time with them. But you have to always work on the results business of it and I try to be as fair and honest as I can through the process.”

Did Brink express his disappointment to him?

“I hope he’s disappointed. I want players who are disappointed,” said LaPolice. “I had a good long talk with Alex at the end of practice about just keep continuing to get better and learn and be better. That’s what this business is all about.”

Was Brink not progressing the way LaPolice had hoped or is this a shake up?

“We just feel that we have to see what our options are and unfortunately, quarterbacks get way to much blame. We have to be better on the offensive line, the plays calls, with the running back, at the receiver position, we’ll address that with a lot of things.”

What was Brink lacking on film?

“Through the course of some games, there were certain opportunities to make plays. Sometimes you make them, sometimes you don’t. Bottom line, we have to score points and put ourselves in position to get down the field and score touchdowns. We certainly have started slow and we have to fix that as an offence, whether that’s the offence or the quarterback. But you never know that until you evaluate other people.”

What will Elliott bring to the table?

“Joey anticipates throws very well, he’s an accurate thrower. He understands the game and makes decisions quickly and gets the ball out of his hand. Again, this is somebody with two career (CFL) starts under his belt. He’s certainly performed well when we’ve seen him in practice and everything he’s done in training camp and everything.”

Where have you seen the growth in Elliott since he arrived in 2010?

“Certainly when he came in, he was impressive for a guy who wasn’t through training camp. And he came out of training camp last year as our No. 2 and got hurt on a drive and led us down the field with a bad ACL and into position to kick a field goal. Then he had a very good training camp (this year). But with Alex’s experience and play, we wanted to give him an opportunity.”

The quarterback change was obviously the biggest move coming out of Saturday and will be our main story in the paper and at winnipegsun.com.

The notebook includes the following items:

* Buck Pierce was moving around well on his foot and showed pretty good mobility. LaPolice said he wasn’t sure if Pierce would be able to dress this week. Either way, he won’t be starting but the progress he’s showing must be seen as a positive regardless.

* It looks like the Blue Bombers are considering a change at right tackle as Shannon Boatman was taking first-team reps in the spot that Jordan Taromina has occupied since Week 1. LaPolice wasn’t ready to commit to Boatman just yet, but we’ll monitor the situation throughout the week.

* Four Blue Bombers ran into difficulty with airlines and were unable to make it back to Winnipeg in time to be on the field: LB/DB Jonathan Hefney, DE Jason Vega, LB Henoc Muamba and DB Alex Suber. Members of the media asked LaPolice was upset or disappointed that a few players didn’t get back in time and he blamed the airline, so don’t expect any discipline for them.

* As far as injuries go, LaPolice said he expects Suber to be ready to play this week but safety Ian Logan (who did some running) remains a question mark. He’s a possibility but depends on how the next few days go. Linebacker Brandon Stewart did some running with Logan and is making progress but LaPolice basically ruled him out for this week’s game.

* If Logan is unable to play, there are two scenarios the Blue Bombers will consider: Jovon Johnson or Dan West could start there.

* DT Bryant Turner was back on the field after missing the last game to attend his grandmother’s funeral in Alabama.

* RB Chad Simpson and WR Chris Matthews haven’t fully healed yet and were spectators for most of practice and their status will be updated as the week moves along.

* Non-import FB James Green was signed to the practice roster and would be an option to help offset the loss of S Brady Browne on special teams. Green said he suffered a broken foot during an offseason workout and had been working three jobs before rejoining the team. He’s excited to leave the “real world” behind and return to the gridiron.

The Blue Bombers are back on the field Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m., following the Winnipeg Rifles 2012 Prairie Football Conference opener, which kicks off at 10 am at Canad Inns Stadium.