There was much more that was notable about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' season-opening 24-16 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Friday than just the planking touchdown celebration, and perhaps one of the factors from it that will have the largest impact on this season as a whole is a quarterback issue that came from an unexpected direction. Heading into the game, most of the questions were about if the Bombers' Buck Pierce could survive as a starting quarterback given his injury history. Coming out of it, the shoe was on the other foot, as seemingly-entrenched Hamilton starter Kevin Glenn (pictured above taking a hit from Winnipeg's Doug Brown Friday) was pulled for backup Quinton Porter down the stretch.
It seems that Glenn wasn't happy at all with the decision. As Mark Masters writes, he apparently saw it as an insult:
"Getting pulled, first game of the season, it just felt like a smack in the face," Glenn said. "I felt disrespected. He's the coach, he makes the decisions, but I also have feelings. I have an opinion. I'm not ? questioning his decision I'm just telling you how I feel."
Glenn thought he could have masterminded a comeback, too.
"I think I could have. That's what this game is about. This game is about overcoming situations or odds that aren't going your way. I've been doing this for a long time and I've always had to do that."
Of course, the move didn't work particularly well. Porter (seen at right during a June 13 pre-season game) went four for seven for 40 yards with one interception, which wasn't much better than Glenn's spectacularly poor performance (18 of 31 for 187 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions). Also, the Tiger-Cats didn't score a single point under Porter. Thus, as Drew Edwards points out, there's still quite a good chance that Glenn will again be under centre when the Tiger-Cats are back in action next Saturday against the Edmonton Eskimos despite head coach Marcel Bellefeuille's quotes that he wouldn't make a decision on his starter until looking at the tape.
Still, it's remarkable that there's even a hint of a quarterback controversy in Hamilton, as much of the focus this offseason was on Glenn's development, Porter adjusting to his role as a backup and how the Tiger-Cats were supposedly ready to challenge Montreal for the top spot in the East. None of that's necessarily off the table, of course, as Glenn could still go on to a great season, Porter could be an excellent backup and the team could pull together to give the Alouettes a run for their money. This is a small sample size, but it is notable just for how much things have changed in one week of action.
The loss certainly wasn't all the fault of either Glenn or Porter, though. As Josh Smith pointed out over at Blogskee Wee Wee, there were plenty of mistakes by the receivers. Maurice Mann had a good night, hauling in nine passes for 120 yards and a touchdown, but no one else got over 36 yards through the air, and Arland Bruce only made two catches. The protection from the offensive line wasn't the greatest either, and the run game wasn't as strong as it could have been; Avon Cobourne picked up 75 yards on the ground, but it took him 15 carries, an average of just 5.0 yards per carry. He did add another 36 receiving yards, though. There were issues on the defensive side as well, with some huge completions given up, and the special teams weren't anything spectacular.
Thus, there's plenty of blame to go around for this one, and it's not all on the heads of Glenn and Porter. However, their poor showings certainly didn't help. We'll see soon if the Tiger-Cats are able to turn things around and prove that this was a one-game anomaly, or if there are bigger issues with their team than we realized. Regardless, though, much of their success or failure this year is going to be thanks to the play of their quarterback, whether it's Glenn or Porter who starts under centre.