A rocky start to the season by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League has resulted in a staff shakeup. The team’s president, general manager, offensive coordinator and quarterback have all been replaced.
Del Norte High graduate Buck Pierce may benefit from the changes.
Pierce started the Bombers’ first four games at quarterback before suffering an abdominal injury in Winnipeg’s 35-19 loss to the Toronto Argonauts on July 19. Pierce completed 66 of 108 passes (61.1 percent) for 854 yards, with two touchdowns and five interceptions, prior to his injury.
He has since sunk as low as third on the depth chart, bypassed by fellow Winnipeg quarterbacks Justin Goltz and Max Hall. However, the Winnipeg Sun newspaper reported Monday that Pierce may again be tapped to start for the Bombers against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Saturday in Guelph, Ontario.
If Pierce does get the start, a new coach will be calling the plays.
Winnipeg fired offensive coordinator Gary Crowton on Sunday after the team dropped to 1-6 overall with a home loss to the Tiger-Cats on Friday. Crowton oversaw an offense that ranked last in the CFL in scoring in 2012 (20.9 points per game) — his first season with the team — and thus far in 2013 (21.9 points per game). Marcel Bellefeuille, a former Tiger-Cats coach hired one week prior by the team as a “consultant,” has been promoted to offensive coordinator under Bombers head coach Tim Burke.
Winnipeg’s executive suite has also received a makeover. General manager Joe Mack was fired on Aug. 9, with CEO Garth Buchko resigning that same day. Current GM Kyle Walters and CEO Wade Miller carry interim tags; when the Bombers will name permanent replacements for both executive positions is unknown.
For all the disappointment in Winnipeg — the Blue Bombers have lost their last five games — plenty of ground could be made up against Hamilton. The Tiger-Cats (3-4 overall) are in second place in the CFL East Division, two games ahead of Winnipeg. The Argonauts (5-2 overall) presently sit atop the East standings, with the Montreal Alouettes (2-5 overall) in third place.
For Pierce, the opportunity to prove his health is valuable. He has started 66 games in his career and left 25 of them early due to injuries.