WINNIPEG - Coach Tim Burke suggests the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will loosen the leash on quarterback Buck Pierce just a little as they try to spark a lacklustre offence.
Pierce has been a quarterback who moves and while it has cost him — injuries have sidelined him for large chunks of his career — trying to keep him in a bubble hasn't worked so well either this season.
Winnipeg currently sits at 1-2, although so does every other team in the CFL East.
"We're going to rectify that a little bit this week in our game plan," Burke said of the way Pierce has been held in check.
"When he has done some positive things this year he's extended things with his feet and so I think you'll see a little bit more wide open Buck Pierce this week."
It also hasn't been much of a bubble. Pierce was sacked six times in his last outing alone, although Burke points out he's also healthier at this point in the season that he has been in some time.
"He's going to have to be smart about taking hits. He's just going to have to get down on the ground when he needs to."
Keeping Pierce healthy was one of the keys to Winnipeg's plan for success this season but so far the offence hasn't managed to generate enough points to suggest it was the only fix needed.
Burke has trotted out a pretty long list of problems from receivers who don't move as ordered to an offensive line that isn't learning from its mistakes. Then there are penalties Burke says are just plain dumb, such as offsides on kicks.
Burke wasn't ready Tuesday to announce any of the roster moves he has already suggested might happen to try and fix some of these problems, but says he will be ready Wednesday.
"You have to learn from your mistakes," agrees Pierce.
"We're all professionals here and we learn and we move on."
He said a successful offence is all about execution and everyone doing their jobs and admits even he hasn't done his as well as he should.
"I'm not doing what I need to do to put our team in a position to be successful," he said.
"I missed some throws that I usually don't miss. Those things are going to happen, you just can't have them happen all the time."
And he too said taking off the leash would be a good idea.
"Obviously my strength is me moving around and running," he said, "so hopefully we'll see more of that this week."
Meanwhile, after coming away battered and bruised from their 25-20 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last weekend, the Bombers are getting defensive back Johnny Sears into the lineup again.
He'll replace Desia Dunn, out for at least two weeks with a hamstring injury. Sears remembers his last game at the old Ivor Wynne Stadium last year, before he got injured.
Now he's eager to get back on the field in his first start since then, when the Toronto Argonauts visit Friday.
And, if anything, he says his trademark aggressive approach is going to be intensified.
"Oh yeah, I think now it's more, because I've been out for so long, he said after practice Tuesday.
"My last game wasn't even a home game, it was an away game, and it was the end of the season."
It was the end of an unpleasant 6-12 season for the Bombers, who finished out of the playoffs. They got off to a slow start in 2012 and never really recovered.
Sears was also reunited this year with defensive co-ordinator Casey Creehan, who he knew when both we at Eastern Michigan, Sears as a player and Creehan as one of their defensive coaches.
"He wasn't my position coach . . . but we've got a great rapport with each other," said Sears.
"He hasn't changed one bit, still high intensity . . . He makes sure we practice the way we want to play," he said.
"He's a player without the pads."
Creehan's defence has been the one anchor the Bombers have been able to rely on this season as they struggle to stay in games offensively.