August 19, 2019

Need to Know | August 19

Winnipeg Blue Bombers #82 Drew Wolitarsky, Winnipeg Blue Bombers #17 Chris Streveler. Winnipeg Blue Bombers #12 Sean McGuire during Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs. Visiting BC Lions at IG Field August 15, 2019 (Photo by: David Lipnowski)

The backdrop, the tone, and the message all felt and sounded so very much the same.

Yes, there was a very real sense of déjà vu when Chris Streveler met with a mob of media following Winnipeg Blue Bombers practice on Monday as the club’s new starting quarterback, with Matt Nichols officially moved to the six-game injured list with after being slammed to the turf in last Thursday’s win over the B.C. Lions.

Streveler is once again the man of the moment, just as he was just over a year ago when he stepped in to start the 2018 season after Nichols was felled with a knee injury just days before the opener.

“It’s just about our team continuing to go out and execute and try to win games,” began Streveler on Monday. “It’s not about me. It’s about the team. My job is to just step in and try to continue putting wins together and moving the ball offensively. We’re just working on trying to do that.”

Yet, it’s here where the details have changed substantially for Streveler and the Bombers.

Rewind to a year ago, and Streveler was the first fresh-from-college quarterback to start a CFL game dating back to Anthony Calvillo for the Las Vegas Posse in 1994, and the first campus-to-the-pros QB for the Bombers since John Schneider in 1968. Back then, he was essentially just keeping the starting QB seat warm until Nichols could return, which he did a month into the season after Streveler and the Bombers had gone 1-2.

The Bombers had time to salvage their season upon Nichols’ return and while there were ups and downs, the squad qualified for the playoffs with a 10-8 record and won its first playoff game since 2011 before being ousted in the West Final.

Streveler steps into a decidedly different situation now. The Bombers are 7-2 and atop the West Division and while the loss of Nichols undoubtedly stings, the expectations now are that Streveler & Co. will do more than just tread water.

“I expect him to go out there and win us a football game,” said Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea after practice on Monday. “He’s quite capable. We give him a lot of snaps in games because he’s a good quarterback and he’s proven that. He stepped in as a raw rookie and played three games right off the hop and acquitted himself quite well. We like our guys.”

During his press briefing, O’Shea said Nichols will be further evaluated in four-to-six weeks and that the veteran pivot will not need surgery. Nichols, FYI, attended practice on Monday in shorts and a T-shirt, but it was Streveler and Sean McGuire who handled all of the reps.

A third pivot will likely be added within the next week or so and O’Shea would not confirm whether that QB would need to have CFL experience.

“We’ll see,” he said. “We’re looking at that and evaluating that and seeing what’s available.”

Regarding speculation the Bombers reached out to Kevin Glenn, O’Shea said ‘We would have called a bunch of people.’ And, just FYI, contrary to one report, Glenn’s decision to remain retired was not because the two sides could not agree on a price point. In fact, the two sides did not get to the point of even discussing the financials of a possible deal.

In any case, it will be the Streveler Show for the next month and a half and this will be a glorious opportunity for him to take the next step in his maturation, much the same way similar circumstances are unfolding across the CFL with Nick Arbuckle in Calgary, Cody Fajardo in Saskatchewan, Dane Evans in Hamilton and Vernon Adams, Jr. in Montreal.

“There’s definitely a lot more comfort there,” said Streveler. “I’ve played in every game since I’ve been here… all those experiences, through camp this year, every rep you get in practice, you just continue to learn from that and grow. Any experience you get, hopefully you learn from it and continue to get better.

“I would think that compared to my first couple games last year I’ve had a lot more experience and feel better about that.”

Streveler threw for 11 TDs against just five interceptions last year, while also finishing second to Andrew Harris on the club in rushing, adding 10 scores along the ground. He’s proven to be particularly adept at running the short-yardage package and will need to now establish himself as a passer. That first test will come Friday against an Edmonton Eskimos defence that is statistically the CFL’s best

“Obviously it’s going to be a little bit different,” said Andrew Harris. “Matt’s definitely our No. 1 guy and brings a lot of different leadership qualities and is just an overall great quarterback.

“It gives Streveler an opportunity to step in and see what he’s got. It’s going to be a bit of a different dynamic on offence. Next man up… we’ve got to move on from this and still try and accumulate yardage and do the other great things we do still. I’ve got full confidence in Streveler and I know the rest of the guys on offence do as well.”

With the Bombers returning to practice Monday for their first session in advance of Friday’s date in Edmonton with the Eskimos, here are some other items to help get you up to speed in this week’s NEED TO KNOW…


The Bombers do like rookie QB Sean McGuire, who will move up from No. 3 to backing up Streveler this week in Edmonton. He was solid enough in the preseason to beat out Bryan Bennett for the third-string gig, but has not thrown a regular season pass.

“I look at it the same –  stay ready so you don’t have to get ready kinda thing,” said McGuire. “They do a great job of preparing me here. Mentally, I’m way further along, obviously, than when I first got here. It’s maybe a couple reps here and there more.

“I feel ready and I feel mentally prepared. My job now is to support Chris and do whatever I can to help us win.”


Nichols is one of the most prepared, most studious QBs in the CFL and that knowledge will be important for Streveler and McGuire in the weeks ahead.

“Matt’s got a huge role,” said Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea. “That role doesn’t change, it’s the same role he’s had in the past. Even when he’s starting he has a role, we call it ‘learn best by teaching.’ So, his role doesn’t change whether he’s on the field or not.”

“He’s a great resource,” added Streveler of Nichols. “Even when he’s playing we stand at the back and talk about things. We watch film together every morning. That’s not going to change. In practice he’s standing at the back and I talk to him after almost every rep when I come out. In the morning we get together and watch film and bounce things off each other… I can’t say enough about his leadership when it comes to stuff like that. I know it can’t be easy for him being out and having to sit back and watch, but he does a great job of continuing to help me and Sean just learn and see what’s going on. I can’t really say enough about his leadership in that aspect. He’s been awesome.”

Asked about the mood of Nichols since the injury, O’Shea said: “Very positive. Professional. Very upbeat.”


The Bombers have more players in sick bay than just Nichols. RT Jermarcus Hardrick did not practice on Monday – Darrell Williams and Na’Ty Rodgers took turns in his place – while DBs Mercy Maston, Chris Humes and Brandon Alexander are also on the shelf.

Among the other walking wounded are WR Darvin Adams, DE Craig Roh, DE Jackson Jeffcoat and OL Cody Speller.


The Bombers added Rodgers, mentioned above, and LB/DB Nick Taylor on Monday.

Rodgers (6-5, 300, Houston), rejoins the Bombers after attending training camp last year. He then joined the Montreal Alouettes and suited up for 10 games.

Taylor (5-10, 165, Florida International) made 14 starts for the Eskimos last year, registering 14 tackles and one sack and suited up for three games this season before being released. He has 35 CFL games to his name, including 17 with Ottawa over the 2016-17 seasons.