Monday, February 17, 2014

Mid-February Roster Analysis: Winnipeg Blue Bombers Quarterbacks

This post kicks off a 9 part series that will be known as the Mid-February Roster Analysis.  We'll start with our home team, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  This one is going to be detailed, so we will look at it in 6 parts (QB, RB/REC, OL, DL, LB/DB, Special Teams) plus an overall assessment of the Bombers roster.

Players under Contract (as of February 17, 2014):

60 (24 non-imports, 36 imports)

15 open roster spots (75 max in off-season, 68 plus non-counters can be brought to training camp).

2014 Draft Picks:

Round          Overall
1                   2
3                   20
3                   26
4                   29
6                   47
6                   48
7                   56


The New Guy in Town-

Drew Willy 27 years old 6'3 215

Vital numbers: 101-147 68.7% completion, 9 TD 5 INT for a 99.1 QB rating in 2 seasons as #2 QB for the Roughriders.  4 rushing touchdowns as short yardage QB.

The Incumbents-

Max Hall 28 years old 6'1 200

Vital numbers: 162-283 57.2% completion, 9 TD 10 INT for a 75.1 QB rating as a CFL rookie, on again off again starting QB for the Blue Bombers.

Justin Goltz 26 years old 6'5 215

Vital numbers: 88-160 55% completion, 3 TD 7 INT for a 61 QB rating in 4 seasons with the Blue Bombers.  9 rushing touchdowns as short yardage QB.


The Blue Bombers have 3 quarterbacks under contract for the 2014 season currently.  The stats very simply indicate where each of these QB's are, and give us enough of a sample to definitively rank them.  

Drew Willy is (arguably, he does have more seasons in the league than Hall) the least experienced CFL quarterback on the Blue Bomber roster, yet he is clearly the best. Willy has shown an ability to make all throws necessary for a CFL QB.  The one area where his game needs to improve is in making pre-snap reads and good quick throws from the pocket, he does have a tendency to hold the ball and statue in the pocket as many inexperienced QB's do.  Willy has shown a strong ability to make throws on the move and move the chains with his legs in his limited CFL career, and compares favourably to Mike Reilly (2013's free agent prize).  Is he ready to take the reins as a CFL starting QB?   

Max Hall had some good games, he had some disastrous games as a CFL rookie.  Most QB's don't hit the field as rookies in the CFL.  Willy and Hall both did, Willy more successfully.  Hall showed a good ability to read a defense after the snap and find the open man.  He didn't show a great ability to get the ball to that open man.  Hall's weak arm, lack of a quick release and tendency to throw at static targets will limit his ability to be an effective starting quarterback.  With more experience, I believe he could top out at a 60% passer with a rating in the 85 range.  Average, but not a bad option as a backup QB.  Is Hall willing to stick around in Canada as a backup beyond 2014 or will he retire to pursue his coaching career at BYU?   

Justin Goltz has been with the Bombers since the last 2 weeks of 2010 when the Bombers had to scramble across North America to fill their QB roster with Pierce, Jyles and Brink all injured.  His stats say it all.  Goltz is not a good passer to put it mildly.  His arm strength is average, his release is slow by CFL standards.  He is a great running QB, and an effective short-yardage specialist.  At this point it seems highly unlikely that he will develop into much more, but as a backup QB, having a guy who can threaten defenses with his legs and maybe make a few throws is not terrible.  Given the outright, passive aggressive hatred the former coaching staff, including the current offensive co-ordinator, developed for Goltz in the 2013 (see Jason Boltus as short-yardage QB), it is somewhat surprising that he is still on the Blue Bombers roster.  Will he make it to training camp?  

Hall and Goltz (not an 80's rock R&B fusion duo) did have to deal with the Crowton offence that was not suited to the CFL game and ultimately the implementation of a more traditional attack by Marcel Bellefeuille mid-season. 2013 did not provide the ideal circumstances for either developing a CFL QB or evaluating one in Winnipeg.   

There has been much discussion and gnashing of teeth when it comes to the Blue Bombers quarterbacking. First, the Zach Collaros sweepstakes.  He goes to Hamilton, Bombers lose out.  Then, due to Collaros joining the Tabbies, the Henry Burris sweepstakes are on, Bombers lose out, the REDBLACKS hand Hank a million dollar contract and alienate Kevin Glenn in the process.  

The last guy available...Drew Willy.  The Bombers make the move to acquire his rights, get him signed before he hits the free agent market and the puns ensue.  

Is it safe to assume that the Bombers landed their 3rd choice of the high profile QB's with at least some CFL experience this off-season?

I don't believe so.  I believe that the Bombers were involved in the earlier sweepstakes because their ideal goal was to acquire at least 2 experienced CFL quarterbacks this off-season, and not just any experienced CFL quarterbacks, ones that have had at least some success in the league.  In that scenario, Willy was always in play for the Blue Bombers, whether or not they acquired Collaros or Burris.

As of today, Willy is the clear starter for the Blue Bombers.  This was announced emphatically by head coach Mike O'Shea at the press conference introducing Willy to Winnipeg.  

However, there is still a lot of work to be done by Kyle Walters on the Bombers QB front.  Kevin Glenn is on the trading block.  Are the Bombers interested?  Acquiring Glenn would fulfill the goal of adding 2 CFL QB's with experience.  It would also create an instant quarterback controversy in Winnipeg and return Glenn to a city that has already tired of his painfully hopeful, yet mediocre quarterbacking once before following the 2008 seasons.

I believe that the Bombers will start the 2014 season with Willy starting, Hall as his insurance and a couple fresh prospects at 3rd and 4th string (practice roster/4 man reserve).

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