Bombers QB Nichols out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery
This is definitely Chris Streveler’s team now.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have lost No. 1 quarterback Matt Nichols for the rest of the CFL season after he underwent shoulder surgery on Thursday afternoon.
Nichols had been out since Aug. 15, when he was injured during a game against the B.C. Lions.
Nichols tried a course of conservative rehab over the next six weeks in hopes of returning to the football field this season, but the Bombers medical team eventually determined that surgery would be required.
Streveler, who has been the Bombers starting quarterback since Nichols went down, will be at the controls the rest of the way, starting Friday night when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats pay a visit to IG Field.
The Bombers are 2-2 with Streveler behind centre and 9-4 overall.
Streveler has brought a great deal of excitement to the offence, rushing for a league-high 314 yards and seven touchdowns over the last four games, but he’s not exactly lighting it up in the passing game.
Streveler has not thrown for more than 186 yards in any of the four games.
Just 24 and in his second CFL season, he has been looking more and more comfortable with each start, even if there are a few blips, like a costly interception last week in a 38-37 loss to the Montreal Alouettes.
“As a young player, especially at quarterback, anytime you get practice reps and game reps you continue to learn from those,” Streveler said Thursday, before the Bombers made the announcement about Nichols.
“I felt like every week I’ve continued to take steps in terms of identifying things and getting through progressions. I should be able to continue to take steps forward.
“I’ve got some help from some great coaches and great teammates that have made that process just that much easier. I’m really thankful for all those guys that continue to push me every day and help get the most out of me and help me progress forward. There are a lot of great guys on this team.”
The Bombers were 7-2 with Nichols at quarterback and were looking very much like Grey Cup contenders. While they are still a strong three-phase team, with a great running back in Andrew Harris, the league’s best defensive line and stellar special teams, the Bombers miss Nichols’ veteran leadership and his ability to read defences and make accurate throws.
At the time of his injury, Nichols was leading the CFL with 15 touchdown passes against only five interceptions.
Streveler has thrown five touchdown passes and six interceptions and continues to struggle with his accuracy.
But he makes up for that with a serious fire for the game and for running the football with a linebacker’s mentality. He has proven to be effective, especially over the last two games.
The loss in Montreal, in which the Bombers blew a 24-point lead has not been sitting well with Streveler.
“A lot of guys kind of intentionally left that sour taste in their mouth to motivate them to have a great week of preparation,” he said. “So, that was important for us. “It was a tough loss, so we watched the film — it’s tough to watch but you want to learn from those mistakes — and flush it and move on. That’s what we did and we had a great week of preparation.”
The Bombers have been dressing only two quarterbacks since Nichols went down. Rookie Sean McGuire, who has taken only a couple of snaps in the CFL and has not thrown a pass, is the backup.
While they tried to get through the season without signing an experienced quarterback to back Streveler up, the Bombers may have no choice but to look for one now.
Fan appreciation day helps Bombers get over sting of meltdown in Montreal
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers awoke last Sunday morning, still trying to make sense of the previous day’s nightmare, and dragged themselves into IG Field for film sessions to dissect an epic collapse in Montreal.
It wasn’t pretty and it can’t have been fun.
Everyone was upset about blowing a 24-point lead and losing 38-37 to the Alouettes and everyone was having to watch all the things they did wrong in contributing to the meltdown.
A short time later everything got a little more warm and fuzzy.
“It was actually what I needed,” offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick said. “I felt the love from the fans and I’m ready to give it back.”
Hardrick and his teammates were taking part in the Bombers annual Fan Appreciation Day at IG Field and there was a huge turnout. It helped turn a morose day into a happy occasion.
“The fan appreciation day that we just had was a total credit to the people of Winnipeg, a lot of hard-working people came out that are still proud of the team, proud of what we’ve done this year and know it was just one game,” Hardrick said.
Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said all the players got a pick-me-up out of the fan session.
“We basically leave the film room and within 15 minutes are upstairs, so they go from literally not feeling good at all and they get up there and the fans are extremely supportive and just so happy to be there.,” O’Shea said. “It can’t help but make the players feel better and have a greater understanding of what they have going on here, not only with the team but in the city, with the community. I think it was pretty impressive for a lot of guys.”