The end of the season always brings a host of questions, today we tackle three question facing the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
1. Chris Garrett or Fred Reid?
When Reid (and Carl Volny) went down with injuries late in the season, Garrett stepped in and proved he belonged. He had 576 yards and four rushing touchdowns in just six games. Extrapolating that is silly, but those numbers, and his ridiculous 190 yards in the East Division Final, show that Garrett deserves to play. Reid is only one season removed from leading the CFL in rushing, but Running Backs break down faster than any other player. It would be wise for Winnipeg to ride Garrett's younger legs for all their worth, which means Reid is either looking at a reduced role or a new role on another team.
2. Buck Pierce, Joey Elliott or Alex Brink?
Rarely does a team get to a championship game and then have questions at the most important position, but that's exactly what is happening in Winnipeg. All three Quarterbacks are eligible for free agency, and the Bombers will have to decide who to keep. Buck Pierce stayed relatively healthy in 2011, but put up the worst numbers of any starting Quarterback in the CFL outside Toronto; Joey Elliott is coming off major knee surgery, but played well in his very limited time on the field; and Alex Brink filled in more than admirably when Pierce and Elliott went down. It's a tough decision for Winnipeg. All three should be brought back, but that might not be possible. Pierce has earned the right to get at least one more chance to lead the Bombers, but it cannot come at the expense of losing Brink and Elliott. One is probably gone, but Winnipeg must try to bring the other one back. Which one that will be is anyone's guess.
3. How big of a void has Doug Brown's departure left?
For the first time in over a decade, Doug Brown will not be patrolling the middle of the Winnipeg Defensive Line in 2012. Brown's Hall-of-Fame career ended when the Bombers lost the Grey Cup. Players like Brown don't come around often, so Winnipeg will have a huge hole to fill. Brown will not be replaced – you don't simply replace talented Canadians such as Brown – but someone will need to step up and take his spot. Winnipeg had the best Defense in 2011, and they had a very talented Defensive Line. They will find someone, but they won't be of the same calibre as Doug Brown, at least not right away.