With about 1:33 left on the game clock, in the fourth quarter, and the Bombers down 17-16, Zach Collaros went down, and fans held their breath.
After an impressive run for a first down, on a called quarterback draw, Zach decided to slide head first and got hit in the head by the second tackler coming in. While Zach was out of the pocket, to me, it was a late headshot. With a collective sigh of relief, fans exhaled as Zach got up on his own, and walked towards the sideline. The 2022 season and chance at a historic three-peat were still on.
I know, I know, people are going to say quarterbacks should slide feet first. But if you have listened to quarterbacks over the years, some will tell you that they hate sliding feet first as it leaves their head more vulnerable. https://3downnation.com/2021/10/22/dont-expect-cody-fajardo-to-stop-diving-headfirst-when-you-slide-you-cant-really-protect-yourself/
In fact, in 2019 Collaros suffered a concussion on the third play of the first game by doing exactly that, sliding feet first. That hit would put him on the shelf for most of the season, only to later sign with Winnipeg. While you can say it worked out well for him winning two Grey Cups with Winnipeg, I have a hard time blaming Zach for not wanting to slide feet first.
Collaros was pulled (for a minimum of three plays – the requirement when a player comes out due to injury or the spotters call) and Dru Brown entered Friday’s game. Brown would look really good, going three for three passing accumulating 51 yards. Remember, it was not ‘garbage time,’ where a quarterback comes into the game with nothing to play for.
Instead, Dru Brown entered the game with his team down by one, and out of field goal range. Brown brought his team inside of Ottawa’s 30-yard line, for an easy field goal attempt. With 6 seconds left on the clock, Winnipeg went up 19-17.
As of Monday afternoon, it looks like Collaros will be the starting quarterback as he was taking first-team reps in practice. Interestingly enough it was Prukop that was a spectator. https://mobile.twitter.com/DarrinBauming/status/1536762169093652482
While not confirmed, at all, it is my speculation that Prukop injured himself when he slipped going for a quarterback sneak, in the season opener. Another possibility is that Prukop took a really hard hit after he picked up the fumbled snap and ran for a first down. https://www.cflnewshub.com/cfl-news/hard-conversations-following-winnipegs-season-opener-win/?feed_id=1834&_unique_id=62a8b6e4cbb65
Bomber fans are certainly hoping they never need to know the answer to this question (as Collaros started all but one game last season when the Bombers rested him for the final game of the regular season) but if at some point in the season Collaros cannot start, who starts?
Prukop was listed as the number 2 quarterback for the game heading into the season opener and took the short-yardage plays. Yet it was Brown who was warming up on the sideline when Collaros went down.
Yes, Prukop was the player with the highlight video of throwing the ball into the garbage can in the corner of the end zone, but it was not done on one attempt. https://twitter.com/Wpg_BlueBombers/status/1529598193759141889?s=20&t=rvfIVHTEf_m-n8fJNuVTXQ Rather it was like an episode of Dude Perfect where we saw the final outcome after many failed tries.
Others on social media disagreed with me, but through the pre-season, I said that if Collaros goes down, Brown goes in. To his credit, Prukop did make it a harder decision after his second pre-season game where he threw two touchdowns and went 7 of 12 passing for a total of 215 yards. Meanwhile, in that game, Brown threw for one touchdown and went 6 of 14 passing for a total of 86 yards.
The best part about the question of ‘Who starts if Zach can not start?’ is that Bomber fans likely will not need to know the answer this week as Winnipeg’s number one quarterback, and the CFL’s 2021 Most Outstanding Player, Zach Collaros, looks ready to go!