Longtime CFL coach Paul LaPolice doesn’t think that former CFL turned NFL quarterback Chris Streveler gets the credit he deserves as a passer.
“I do think he gets somewhat of a bad rap,” LaPolice said on The Rod Pedersen Show. “This is a guy who hasn’t played a lot of football and was very productive for us. He had 21 touchdowns his first season. He had ten throwing touchdowns his first season.”
LaPolice was the offensive coordinator in Winnipeg in 2018 when Matt Nichols went down with a serious knee injury in training camp. Streveler started the team’s three games of the season, completing 54-of-86 pass attempts (62.8 percent) for 570 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.
The rookie out of the University of South Dakota also produced on the ground over those three starts, rushing 22 times for 183 yards and two scores. LaPolice feels his abilities as a runner have led people to overlook what Streveler can accomplish through the air.
“He runs so well, people just say, ‘He’s a runner. He’s a Taysom Hill.’ But the game has certainly changed in the NFL. You watch the guys down there in the NFL aren’t the statues anymore. That’s not what’s getting drafted. They want guys who can create with their legs,” LaPolice said.
Streveler is now the backup quarterback with the Arizona Cardinals behind former No. 1 NFL draft pick Kyler Murray. There was speculation early in the week that Streveler could start for the team on Sunday if Murray was still suffering from a lingering leg injury.
If called upon, LaPolice believes his former quarterback would be ready to make an impact in his first NFL start.
“I would expect a very prepared football player. When he started for us as a true rookie — the first in 25 years in the Canadian Football League — what was interesting with him is he played three games and then Matt Nichols came back, but you still saw Chris Streveler in the building the same amount as he was a rookie starter,” LaPolice said.
“He still worked hard every day, he still prepared, so I think he’s going to be prepared for whatever they built in the game plan for him. He’s not somebody who has not been able to absorb the information on the week-to-week basis.”
LaPolice acknowledged that the NFL poses extra challenges for quarterbacks. Streveler has never attempted a pass in the league, which will come as a disadvantage whenever he makes his first career start.
“In the NFL, the windows are smaller, the field’s smaller, and they’re just so much faster, so the windows open and close smaller. But [the Cardinals] also would not make him the No. 2 if they felt he didn’t throw the ball well enough to win games,” LaPolice said.
“He has no (NFL) reps yet and he hasn’t seen the true speed of the NFL football players and all those things, but he’s explosive and dynamic himself so I think if they build him the right package, I’m sure he can be effective.”
Now the head coach of the Ottawa Redblacks, LaPolice knows how to game plan and helped Streveler achieve early success in his career. How would he ensure the quarterback achieved success in his first NFL start?
“I’d just make sure that he’s put in position to get the ball to play-makers. It doesn’t have to be downfield throws. It could be screens, it could be other things,” LaPolice said.
“I’d get him involved in the run game and I’d make sure we had a decent play-action game to get behind him because if he is playing, they’re gonna say, ‘Stop the run.’ So you have to give him opportunities to push the ball downfield.”