Winnipeg woe: Bombers QB Matt Nichols out 4-to-6 weeks

Winnipeg woe: Bombers QB Matt Nichols out 4-to-6 weeks
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After suffering an apparent knee injury in Wednesday’s practice, Winnipeg Blue Bombers starting QB Matt Nichols will miss four to six weeks. According to ( ) Blue Bomber’s Head Coach Mike O’Shea told media, “He is going to be out four to six weeks — we will put him on the six-game (injured list),”

If there is a silver lining for Bombers fans then the early diagnosis & scheduled return time for their franchise quarterback might offer the slightest of solace. There had been a sense of dread for some Blue Bomber fans after Nichols suffered a non-contact injury, before leaving the field with the help of trainers. The fact that he could consider returning this early may be seen as a win by some who had feared something worse like an ACL tear.

The Bombers had already ruled Nichols out for Friday’s pre-season game in BC.  He would of course have been their starting QB for the regular season opener on June 14 vs. Edmonton. Incumbent backup QB’s Chris Streveler and Alex Ross are now in competition for the opportunity to start unless the Bombers trade for a veteran QB. Their performances against BC in the final preseason game will now be scrutinised all the more by coaches and fans alike.

Nichols has arguably been one of the Bombers most outstanding players over the last two seasons & Winnipeg did have an insurance policy in place having signed veteran Darian Durant. Durant’s surprise retirement before training camp however fundamentally altered the Bombers QB depth chart.

In situations like this of course team have to publicly back the players that are already in place. Streveler – who was 10-for-10 last week in a preseason win over Edmonton would seemingly have the current inside edge. O’shea suggests the Bombers are not actively pursuing a veteran QB, again on “I’m not looking,” O’Shea said. “I imagine Kyle (Bombers GM Kyle Walters) is fielding a pile of calls. But we’re pretty happy with what we’ve got.”

You have to wonder though, what happens if Nichols goes down again? Whilst 10 for 10 sounds good from Streveler it was in the pre-season & that doesn’t necessarily translate to regular season play. Winnipeg’s quarterback depth is realistically not that solid behind Nichols now. Alex Ross has attempted just twelve career CFL passes & is suddenly catapulted to back-up status. Chris Streveler, who may have been impressive in the Bombers’ first preseason game, is a rookie from South Dakota with no prior professional experience.

Having no experienced QB as a backup seems like poor insurance for the team long-term. There was a reason after all that the Bombers signed Durant over winter. You have to feel it wouldn’t hurt the Bombers to acquire an experienced QB as cover for Nichols and/or to offer guidance to their younger potential starters. This is a passing league and having a solid QB is essential to be competitive. The Bombers will be keen to get Nichols back. In the meantime they have to explore all the options & if they do find a potential trade partner that will beg further questions about the asking price.

If the team adhere to O’shea’s public comments and Chris Streveler were to become Winnipeg’s starting quarterback in Week 1, I believe it would be the first time a player straight out of college has started at QB for a CFL team to open a season since 1994 when CFL Hall of Famer Anthony Calvillo started for the expansion Las Vegas Posse. Calvillo went  12 of 28, 170 yards,  3 TDs & 0 INT’s  in the Posse’s 32-26 win over Sacramento. Not to mention he had a pretty good career too. The Bombers sure wouldn’t mind Streveler emulating that!


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