It goes without saying that every BC Lions fan would like to see a perfect ending to Geroy Simon’s career. But with news this week that Simon’s agent has asked the Lions to gauge trade interest for his client in lieu of the two sides unable to agree on a restructured contract, there is work to be done if Simon is to end his career in BC Lions orange.
It would of course just be plain wrong to see Superman playing for another CFL club. He has become one of the greatest if not the greatest BC Lions of all time and GM Wally Buono understands what he means to the football fans in this province. With good young talent waiting in the wings, Buono must decide on a role for the CFL’s all-time leader in reception yardage. Simon of course suffered through a season of hamstring injuries and during his rehab the team saw good performances from the likes of Ernest Jackson, Shawn Gore, Nick Moore, Courtney Taylor and others. They also went undefeated in Simon’s absence.
Assembling a CFL club is a constant puzzle that changes on a yearly basis. The salary management system (SMS) is a huge piece of that puzzle and for the better part of his career, Geroy Simon has been one of the higher paid players on the team and deservedly so. No BC Lions player has been more valuable to the franchise, not only for his play on the field but building the Lions brand and entrenching himself in the community. This is what makes Buono’s job so difficult when it comes to what to do about Simon.
From the club’s perspective, the first preference is to have Simon back. From Simon’s perspective, that should happen with an elite receiver’s salary, thus the current stalemate. The club recently rewarded Travis Lulay with a new deal averaging $450,000 a year. Not an uncommon number for the elite quarterbacks in the league. They shed the salaries of Arland Bruce and Byron Parker by releasing them and they hope to get the promising Canadian Shawn Gore signed to a new deal, unless he can find a home in the NFL. But as much as this negotiation is about money it’s also about getting their young players more playing time, while keeping the team competing for a Grey Cup. Simon could definitely play a role with the receiving core, it’s just a matter of what role he would be willing to accept and what he wants to be paid.
While fans get attached emotionally, it’s a trait that Buono can ill afford despite the enormity of the decision he’s facing. He’s always been able to make tough decisions in the past, and he’s usually right when it comes to assessing the talent mix on his teams. Alan Pitts, Jason Clermont, Aaron Hunt, are all players that come to mind as difficult decisions Buono had to present to fans in pursuit of making the right football decisions. Of course there has been an error or two as well. The premature demotion of Angus Reid is a perfect example and to Reid’s credit he sucked it up and proved Buono wrong, racking up back to back all-star seasons since.
Geroy Simon is special and he deserves to be treated with respect and dignity and by honouring his request to gauge trade interest, I believe the Lions are doing just that. I really hope the two sides can come to some sort of agreement and every BC Lions fan gets to see him finish his career they way he should. Fans will be upset if he leaves, no doubt about it. But a new deal has to work for both sides, with the goal of making the Lions the best team they can be.
At the end of the day it’s a problem Wally Buono will resolve one way or the other and judging by his track record, the Lions will be just fine, whatever solution he arrives at and Geroy Simon will always be a BC Lion, one of the greatest of all-time.
Now that the 2012 CFL season has come to an end and I have recovered from Grey Cup (minus the annual cold I get when I come back), I thought I’d just ramble on a bit about Grey Cup and some of the news that’s happened since the final whistle blew on the season. I hope it promotes some discussion!
Congratulations to the Toronto Argonauts on their championship season, and also to the city of Toronto who put on a great party for CFL fans from across the country. Certainly it would have been nice to see more locals involved in the fun, but the fans that do support the Argos are just as passionate as any in the country and I’m pleased to call many of them friends. Here’s hoping the fun and the passion that invaded their city converted a few more into fans of the league and of the Argos.
I thought the game itself lacked drama but full credit to the Argos who were certainly ready to play, while the Stampeders looked as though they left their game in BC Place following the Western Final. Chad Kackert was an easy choice as the MOP and Ricky Ray showed his poise and experience as well. As a neutral fan it was nice to watch a stress free game, but as a Lions fan I was certainly left wondering what might have been.
Everyone knows about the great party rooms at Grey Cup, but some of the lesser known events often tend to be the best. This year, I was pleased to attend the CFL Fans Fight Cancer fundraiser at Joe Badali’s. The event was organized by the eastern chapter of the national fan group and led by Jen Mulder who did a fantastic job organizing a silent auction, raffle prizes, a 50/50 and a live auction. Prizes were donated from businesses and fans from across the country. At last count over $8000.00 was raised for the Wellspring Centre in Toronto, a facility that provides various levels of help and support for people living with cancer and their families. Congrats to all the organizers of this event on its huge success.
The 4th annual Official CFL Grey Cup Tweetup was held at Shoeless Joe’s Sports Bar. The event has become a staple since the original tweetup in Calgary in 2009. Fans that use twitter gathered together to get social and put faces to the Twitter handles. There were lots of prizes and great food, as well as a visit from a few players, the commissioner and the Grey Cup itself.
New this year was the “Grey Cup Fan March” where fans gathered at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium and carried the Grey Cup through the streets of downtown Toronto and onto the Rogers Centre. I was fortunate enough to be asked if I wanted to carry the Grey Cup for a segment near the beginning of the march, and I gladly accepted the chance to do so. It was a great experience, and the march itself was a success. Fans chanted “CFL” and sang the national anthem with CFL commissioner Mark Cohon marching right along with them. Imagine that, Gary Bettman.
Lions News and Notes
Speculation has begun about how the Lions roster will be altered this off-season. So far it has been reported that Solomon Elimimian has reportedly asked for his release to pursue another opportunity in the NFL.
Jovan Olafioye will also entertain offers from south of the border but has indicated he won’t be auditioning for teams like he did last season. Olayfioye told the Vancouver Sun that if a decent offer with a solid signing bonus doesn’t come his way, he’ll have no problem staying in Canada.
Wally Buono will wait for personnel reports and recommendations from head coach Mike Benevides and will have his work cut out for him when he returns from his annual Hawaiian holiday. He’ll attempt to get Shawn Gore’s name on a new contract, and will have tough decisions to make regarding the secondary, the receivers and the offensive line, which is likely to look quite different next year, especially if Angus Reid retires and Olafioye heads south.
For the first time, people are questioning the role of Geroy Simon who had a subpar year that was plagued by nagging hamstring injuries. Simon is not making any noise about retiring, so one of the biggest decisions the club has had to make in years is looming. Personally I’d like to see him back, possibly in a reduced role and likely a reduced contract as well. Whether that is something he would entertain is another issue. Regardless, Simon is one of the greatest to ever play the game and he certainly deserves some say in what his future holds. I doubt Arland Bruce will be back, and the Lions have shown they have some good talent waiting in the wings in Nick Moore, Ernest Jackson and Courtney Taylor.
Then there is the kicking game, where Paul McCallum showed signs of his age in 2012. His punting, which was his strong suit suffered this past year and his kickoffs and field goal range are starting to deteriorate as well. With Hugh O’Neill looking good the last two seasons in training camp and at practice, the Lions may feel it is time to pass the torch before they lose another kicker they have taken the time to groom. Last time the club chose McCallum over Sean Whyte, now with Montreal, but it could be a different story next season.
Odds and Ends
Anyone find it odd that the furor over Adriano Belli’s move that got him tossed from the Grey Cup game got very little mention from the media compared to Khalif Mitchell? Belli has played on the edge his whole career, but it looks like his penchant for kissing people and his forays into the media world got him a pass. The CFL fined Belli, who is expected to retire but we certainly didn’t hear the comments about “disgrace to the game” from the people that persecuted Mitchell. Speaking of Mitchell it remains to be seen if the Lions will be willing to take a chance with him for another season.
Locker Room Sale
The Lions held their annual locker room sale on December 1st and while there were some good deals to be had it was disheartening to see the prices on game worn jerseys and helmets. These items ranged in price from $250 to $750 depending on the player. Reports from similar events in other CFL cities had these items much cheaper. It’s always sad when the diehard fan ends up getting shut out because the prices are set so high. In 2004 I bought Antonio Warren’s Grey Cup game worn jersey for $150.00. That’s just a pipe dream today.
Thanks to Monique Gendron who provided us with some great videos this year, and I hope she’ll be back to help us out again next season.
Thanks to Lowell Ullrich who approached this blogger two years ago with an idea to add a fan perspective to the Province.com. I’ve had a blast doing post game reports and I look forward to doing it again if they’ll have me.
It was also a pleasure as always to work with Kristina Sinclair and our friends at the Rosedale on Robson and we hope to continue that relationship in 2013.
Most of all, thanks to all of you who followed along with me during the 2012 season. Whether you read the blog, my post game stuff on The Province.com of just follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I appreciate you doing so and always enjoy the feedback.
I’ll make every effort to keep your informed and promote Lions discussion this off-season and hope you continue to check our social media platforms out. I’ll be thinking of ways we can be better and hope to add some quality features and a few more people to our team next season.
Until then, enjoy the off-season and as always, roar you Lions roar!
When the game started Friday night the BC Lions were apparently on Vancouver time as they didn’t start playing versus an eager Calgary Stampeders team until the 2nd quarter. There was no shortage of reasons why the Lions found themselves down 34-0 before they knew what hit them, and here’s how Brian Wawryshyn from BCLionsDen.ca saw it, from the couch.
Short field for the Stamps
The Lions started the game by giving the Stamps a short field, an occurrence that was frequent on the night. Paul McCallum continues to struggle punting the football, and that has to be a concern as the playoffs approach. I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing Hugh O’Neill dress for the Saskatchewan game because you may as well see what you have in him with live bullets flying. The Lions are giving up too much field position of late because of a poor kicking game.
Turnovers and penalties (the Lions took the first 10 of the game) also contributed to the poor field position for the Lions on a night where pretty much anything that could go wrong did.
If that was a preview of what life might be like on the offensive line without Angus Reid as the general, someone find me an anti-aging machine, stat. The Lions offence was clearly out of synch most of the night and it was mainly because the offensive line had no answer for the Calgary pass rush all night long.
There is no point in singling anyone out because as a unit they weren’t good enough. Not only was the pass protection poor the run blocking was awful as well, the five times they elected to hand the ball off to Andrew Harris, whose frustration was evident more than once last night.
While you’re getting me that anti-aging machine, get me some new knees and a new back for Jon Hameister-Ries.
The second start in the CFL career of Mike Reilly didn’t go as smoothly as the first. The previously mentioned offensive line didn’t help his cause, but Reilly looked a little off as well. To his credit he battled back and for a moment you felt that with one more touchdown, the Lions just might come all the way back. They almost got that TD when Reilly connected deep with Courtney Taylor only to have the ball ripped free by a Stampeder defender.
It will be an interesting week at Lions practice. If Travis Lulay doesn’t throw again this week, do we start to get concerned that this injury is more serious then the team is letting on? With two weeks before the Western Final the Lions would like to get Lulay some work, and it would be a month before he had any snaps if he doesn’t play until then. Some anxious times are coming for the Lions and their fans in the next two weeks.
As mentioned above, Harris was visibly frustrated at times in this game. It was the second game in a row that the young star of Lions has been held in check for the most part by the opposition. There doesn’t seem to be any holes open for Harris on handoffs and they aren’t finding him out of the backfield either. The team is going to have to find ways for him to get the ball as they are going to need a solid running game in the playoffs, especially if teams are going to be teeing off on the QB like the Stamps were doing all night.
Seeing some positives
There were some good things to take from the game as well. Geroy Simon returned to the lineup and was somewhat productive, showing no signs of a sore hamstring. Thomas Demarco got in a little work in the fourth quarter and didn’t look to bad, showing some of the accuracy the Lions like in him. Adam Bighill continued his never take a game off attitude and was the best Lion on the field, again.
Of course the fact the Lions did show some pride after getting down 34-0 and almost made a game of it was a small positive. If the Taylor turnover hadn’t occurred who knows what would have happened, but it was just kind of night and the Lions probably didn’t deserve such a comeback.
What does it mean?
It’s hard to take much from this game. The game obviously meant more to the Stampeders who had yet to beat the Lions this season and wanted to plant a seed for the future. BC was obviously not ready to play, and you can only hope the game served as a wakeup call. Coach Mike Benevides was not a happy camper on the sidelines and he’ll make adjustments. This is a veteran group and I expect the Lions will want to bring their “A” game next week against Saskatchewan. If they don’t there could be cause for concern heading into the playoffs.
The BC Lions walked into their final appearance at Hamilton’s historic Ivor Wynne Stadium and were all business, cruising to a 37-17 victory over the Tiger-Cats who were completely outplayed on the night.
Here once again are my much anticipated and often celebrated, thoughts from the couch.
Travis Lulay opened the game like a surgeon, methodically working the Lions down the field and using up over 6:00 minutes before punching it in with his 26th consecutive game with a TD pass. It was almost embarrassing how easy the Lions moved the ball and how many times they converted on 2nd down. It was revealed after the game that Lulay had lost his Grandmother the day before the game and he went out and had best game of the season, proving once again his undeniable leadership.
Here’s hoping Iannuzzi will be okay after that terrible headshot he took from Dee Webb of the Ticats. TSN’s Glen Suitor seemed to think it was more a football play gone bad, but not many were buying that. That is exactly the kind of hit that the league needs to get rid of and Iannuzzi was in very rough shape afterwards and did not remember the hit. It most certainly means another addition to the Lions injured list. Some credit to Webb who reportedly sought out Iannuzzi after the game to apologize for the hit.
Depth and more depth
Despite injuries, the Lions just keep having guys step in. The latest is Courtney Taylor who had a touchdown, a beautiful catch on another that was called back because of a penalty, and other key catches. Shawn Gore had a strong game as well particularly in the 3rd quarter when he was the go to target. Nick Moore was also strong again, while on defence Jabar Westerman and Brandon Jordan filled in nicely again on the defensive line, who at times just had their way with the Ticats at the line of scrimmage.
Andrew Harris had another solid outing picking up two touchdowns and becoming the CFL record holder for yards from scrimmage by a Canadian player. Harris is just getting better all the time. He’s effective whether he’s grinding it out on the ground or releasing out of the backfield. And don’t forget his blocking either as there were several plays where the Lions star was picking up the blitz and giving Lulay the time needed to find a receiver downfield.
The Lions were deploying the thirty defence for much of the night, and were even lining up seven tight up to the line of scrimmage at times. Injuries to Khalif Mitchell and Eric Taylor and the addition of Solomon Elimimian have given the Lions the option to tinker with their look on defence and it could have played a big role in the lack of success the Ticats had, seeing as they likely hadn’t seen much of that look on film.
The cover teams had one breakdown that led to a Hamilton touchdown, but they held Chris Williams in check. Tim Brown responded after that breakdown with a massive return of his own that must have just deflated the Ticats. Brown finished with 142 return yards on the night and also contributed on offence filling in for Harris.
He has taken plenty of heat over the years, so it’s only right that when things go as well as they did on offence tonight he should get a lot of credit as well. I though the Lions offensive game plan was brilliant and was executed at a high level tonight. The Lions owned second down and receivers were open all night long.
Bye Bye Ivor Wynne
It was the final game for the Lions at Ivor Wynne Stadium, which will be torn down at the end of the season. Plans were unveiled today for the new stadium and it looks as though it will be a great new facility for the people of Hamilton. I was fortunate enough to see a game there for the first time this year and it was a great place to watch a football game.
Friday Night Tweets
@GeroySimon: That was a BULLSH$&T hit by D Webb!
@CraigNichols2: Why is Iannuzzi walking so far? Is there not a golf cart at Ivor Wynne? #BCLions #Ticats #CFL
Geroy summed it up quite nicely. The hit has no place in the game. And Craig also had a valid point; Where was the cart to take Iannuzzi off the field? He pretty much had to walk around half the field and he was still badly dazed.
@dantemarsh: ANDREW HARRIS BEST RUNNING BACK IN THE CFL…PERIOD… CHUUUUUCH!!!
I’ll go with that.
As Angus Reid had said earlier in the week, it was time to see what type of statement the Lions would make at home against the Calgary Stampeders. The Lions defended their home turf in impressive fashion on Saturday night, giving their fans plenty to be thankful for on this holiday weekend. Here’s my take from the stands.
I thought Travis Lulay did a beautiful job executing the game. He was without a lot of experience in his receiving unit with Simon and Bruce out, but Lulay got all the receivers involved. On the first drive alone he used Andrew Harris, Nick Moore, Kierrie Johnson and Shawn Gore. When he needed to pull the ball down and run with it, he did. When Lulay is spreading the ball around and using his legs, the Lions offence is so much better.
Welcome Back Andrew
Andrew Harris got involved in the game early and that certainly set things up for the Lions to have better success passing the ball. His first two touches set the tone, and his carry in the dying seconds of the 1st quarter was Harris at his best, bursting through the line and carrying defenders on his back.
Harris outperformed Jon Cornish head to head for the second time this season and proved that the Lions offence is much better when he is heavily involved.
The defence had a strong game despite the injuries up front. I thought Khreem Smith stepped up and his fourth quarter sack of Kevin Glenn was a big play at a big time. Dante Marsh had another strong game and Ryan Phillips had his best game in a long time. His interception was a big play, because if he missed it was likely six points for the Stampeders.
The Lions did a great job containing Jon Cornish once again, holding the Stamps star to 61 yards on 10 carries.
Nick Moore once again did a nice job filling in for Geroy Simon leading all Lions receivers with 5 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown, and really he should have had a second in the third quarter. Courtney Taylor showed why the Lions have kept him around with a couple of nice catches and also drew a key pass interference penalty.
On defence, despite some rookie aggression that was quickly reined in by Anton McKenzie, Brandon Jordan had a nice game. He was getting good push and his big frame and speed were impressive.
Let’s just state the obvious right now. When Angus Reid retires he’s going directly into the Lions Ring of Honour. Is there a bigger warrior on this team? Not only did he subtly call his team out to make a statement this week, but he left the game with a reported knee problem only to return later, this despite already playing with a bad ankle. His absence was felt in the 2nd quarter when an Adam Baboulas snap sailed over the head of Travis Lulay with the Lions in the red zone, stalling the drive.
Are Vancouverites starting to get it? I have to say the crowd of 31,347 was into the game last night and not only near the end of it. With bigger crowds coming as we hit the final two home games, BC Place is going to be a very tough place to play if the fans can play a role like they did Saturday. When the Lions play like they did last night and the place is hopping it makes for a great environment.
Fans agree, the crowd was into it last night:
@Canuck_4_Life: 13th man in full effect last night at #bcplace for the #Feast4First
@GrandMasterC: #BCLions D and the crowd @bcplace coming up huge here! #Feast4First #CFL
@BigBen604: WOOOOW!!! LOVE this ENERGY in BC Place!!! Its ELECTRIC!! Amaaazzing atmosphere!!! #BCLions #Feast4First #GetLOUD”
A shout out to the Lions rookies:
CJDixon71: @BCLions gettin it done with the rookies. That’s the way we roll. #clinch #Feast4First #BCLions #CFLonTSN
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, enjoy the games on Monday and rest of your long weekend!
The BC Lions knew going in that Mosaic field is hostile territory, especially when you allow the home side to get a lead. The Lions had a sloppy and inefficient first half and dug themselves too big a hole, falling 27-21 to the Riders. Here is how I saw the fourth loss of the season, from the couch.
The Weston Dressler Show
I’m not sure how you game plan for the Riders and aren’t prepared for a heavy dose of Weston Dressler. The talented Rider receiver is going to make his plays, but it seemed at times he was a forgotten man by the Lions defence. Cauchy Muamba had a front row seat for the show and had a tough night but there were other miscues as well. Muamba is starting to be a target for opposing offences and the Lions may need to address that soon.
The play calling was very suspect at times in this game. The Riders had three starters missing from their defensive line, although with the pressure they got you wouldn’t have known. Despite that, the Lions rarely ran the ball and Andrew Harris didn’t even get a touch until 4:00 into the second quarter. Then with the game on the line after a successful onside kick, the Lions go deep twice with 1:18 left on the clock, failing on each attempt. The funny thing is Harris had 8 carries for 78 yards which says he maybe should have been a bigger focus in the game plan, especially with pressure Lulay was under. He has to be a bigger part of the offence, especially when you lose your two best receivers to injury.
Riders Offensive Line
While Lulay was under constant pressure in the first half, the Lions defensive front was for the most part held at bay. The Lions dressed one less defensive lineman (Mitchell) to get Solomon Elimimian into the lineup, so you have to wonder if that had an effect fatigue or continuity wise. I thought the Riders clearly won the battle in the trenches overall and when you do that you generally win football games.
Solomon Elimimian was credited with one tackle on the night. At times there looked to be a little confusion between himself and Bighill when they were on the field together. For his part Bighill had another solid game with 13 tackles. Some are wondering if the Lions should have upset the apple cart but Elimimian is a solid player, and hopefully as things progress the unit will get tighter. Overall there was sloppy tackling by the Lions as a defensive unit, and that is going to have to get better in a hurry with Jon Cornish coming to town.
Marco Iannuzzi and Kierrie Johnson
Both receivers stepped up when Simon (Hamstring) and Bruce (Concussion) went out. Johnson who led all Lions with 75 yards on the night made a key catch on 2nd and 25 while Iannuzzi had two TD’s on three catches. Paris Jackson also showed he can still contribute and had one called back on an iffy offensive pass interference call. If Bruce and Simon can’t go next week the Lions should have the depth to get by for a week or so with Ernest Jackson and Nick Moore also available.
The Lions are likely hoping that Tim Brown will be ready to go next week after a shaky debut by Anthony Stewart. The rookie bobbled a couple of punts and didn’t show too much on the ones he caught. First game jitters sure, but the Lions can’t afford to risk turnovers on special teams down the stretch.
The Right Decision
Arland Bruce (@RUNAKORETH) tweeted after the game to thank the doctors of the BC Lions for following the proper procedures in regards to the concussion protocol. Reports during the game suggested Bruce wanted back in but he was shut down by the team. Earlier in the day Buck Pierce took a hit to the chin, left the game and returned, only to leave again. I’m not suggesting I know the situation in Winnipeg or that they did something wrong, but kudos to the Lions staff.
Really, for the first time this season the Lions are facing a little adversity. The offence is inconsistent and they may enter next week’s first place battle with the Stamps without their two top receivers. All of a sudden their comfortable lead atop the West division isn’t so comfortable. It will be interesting to see just how they respond next week against the surging Stampeders.
The BC Lions came into Edmonton on a roll and snuck out with a 19-18 win over the Eskimos. It was a tale of two halves with Edmonton controlling the first and the Lions dominating the second. Here is how we saw it, from the couch.
A Tale of Two Games
The best way to describe this game is that each team won a half of football. The Lions just got one more point when all the dust had settled. The Eskimos defence was able to get good pressure on Travis Lulay in the first two quarters. While they didn’t record a sack they often hurried the Lions QB forcing him to throw the ball away or miss his targets. While the Lions offence was out of sync, the defence was again steady, although they gave up the only major of the half.
In the second half the Lions defence cranked it up and the offence got on the back of Andrew Harris. Lulay once again showed his leadership and poise leading a much more efficient attack.
You know your defence played pretty well when Fred Stamps has just one catch for eleven yards. Adam Bighill continues to send a message that he isn’t going anywhere as a starter in coming weeks. His pursuit of the ball and spying of the QB was brilliant.
Eskimos Game Plan
The Eskimos seem to have a good game plan when it comes to playing the Lions. In the first half Jyles had good protection and went 12-13. His throws were crisp and on target. Hugh Charles is a nice weapon and Kerry Koch had some very nice receptions including one that will be on the year end best of reel.
Their defence was getting good pressure without three starters. The tide changed in the second half after the Lions started to control the line of scrimmage. It was a similar game plan to what the Eskimos displayed in the first game between the two teams in Vancouver. Regardless, the Eskimos have given the Lions a lot of problems this season.
Carrying the Load
Andrew Harris carried the offence on his back with 103 rushing yards and 78 through the air. In the second half he was amazing, especially with second and third efforts that at times just bowled over defenders. His big run to set up the Simon touchdown was the turning point in the game. Harris had to carry the full load with the injury to Tim Brown, who may not be in the lineup when the Lions face Saskatchewan next week.
Is it just me or was the Simon TD the same play call that Joe Burnett picked off for a TD in Vancouver? Gutsy call if so.
All eyes were on Khalif Mitchell, in the stadium, on the field and on TSN, where he seemed to be the topic of the night. Mitchell was simply having his way with the Eskimos offensive line between the whistles. But the attention was once again cast his way for his antics after the whistle and before the snap. Mitchell was seen for what appeared to be throat slashing gestures on three occasions. He claimed after the game that he was making a cross. Mitchell and teammate Khreem Smith also had words on the sidelines and teammates intervened.
Mitchell is an all-star defensive lineman. When he is on his game he is a force that is hard to contain. He was on Twitter after the game asking fans what they thought of TSN’s constant attention on him. If he would cut out the animated stuff and just let his play do the talking he would be getting attention in a totally different way. I get that he’s a unique guy and likes to play with passion, but there comes a point where you need to represent yourself and your teammates in a certain way. Away from the field Mitchell is a totally different person, on it he needs to learn how to reign himself in a bit.
I asked for some comments during the game on Twitter using the hash tag #fromthecouch and here are a few, with my two cents in response. I’d like to make this a regular part of the blog.
@Greasy_Munky: Champions do not simply prevail, they fight…ALWAYS! Lulay has given BC a comfort last had only with Dave Dickenson. #FromTheCouch
I wouldn’t say I was ever comfortable with Dickenson like I am with Lulay, just because of the durability difference between the two. More than giving them comfort Lulay has given them consistency at the position, which is huge in developing an offence.
@AviewFromABroad: @BCLionsDen @Bighill44 & @andrewharris33 were spectacular tonight. Ugly or not, a win is a win. #FromTheCouch #bc
@BClionsuperfan: Even when they don’t get the breaks the #BCLions still find a way to win #FromTheCouch
Absolutely, and the Lions made the better adjustments at half time. Steven Jyles didn’t complete a pass in the 3rd quarter. Good teams know how to win and the Lions have a veteran leadership group. That was the difference tonight. As far as getting the breaks, I was surprised that they overturned the Banks fumble recovery, as I didn’t see enough evidence to suggest Charles had the ball when he was down. As I said above I think they got the Johnson call right, for the same reason. That said this league really has to look at what constitutes intentional grounding, as one I thought should have been called on Jyles wasn’t, leaving them in position for a field goal which they made.
@MissLilDvl: Proud of KJ right now!! And noticing it’s taking 3 & 4 guys to take him down!!! Boy’s HUNGRY!!! #FromTheCouch #WildWest #BCLions
I thought Kierrie Johnson had a nice return to the lineup. He was certainly a focus of the offensive game plan at times and was getting behind defenders. When Brown went down he filled on kick returns as well. His fumble was unfortunate, but I think they got that call right.
Next up for the Lions is another western division battle against the Roughriders of Saskatchewan. Enjoy the rest of week 13 everyone!
It was BC Day in British Columbia and it turned out to be the BC Lions day in Ontario in a hard fought 18-9 victory over the Toronto Argonauts. Turnovers and defence were the stories of the game, and the Lions won on both counts, moving their record to 4-2, good for interim sole possession of first place in the CFL’s West Division.
Here’s how I saw it, from the couch.
The Argos lost this game in large part to turnovers and they started early, with the Lions cashing in 10 points off two early interceptions thrown by Ricky Ray. Byron Parker looked to have the first interception for the Lions secondary this season and his 10th career pick six, but a bad offside call on the Lions wiped out what would have been a sweet return to Rogers Centre for the former Argonaut. Dante Marsh ended up getting the first pick for the unit with Toronto moving the football. It was a key moment in the game.
While the offence struggled to get into a rhythm for much of the game, the defence went blow for blow with Argos, and for the second straight game, didn’t allow a touchdown by the opposition offence. They were also responsible for all four Argo turnovers. The Lions got solid pressure on Ray for much of the game, and kept Cory Boyd in check with just 23 yards on 8 carries, which was a key considering they were without defensive play caller Anton McKenzie. Rookie Jabar Westerman has a nice game for the Lions with a sack, two tackles and a forced fumble and may be the answer for when Khalif Mitchell serves his pending suspension.
With the two early gifts from the Argos the Lions were able to cash in on their first two offensive possessions. But success was infrequent after that and I don’t believe the offence had a first down in the 3rd quarter (I could be wrong). Andrew Harris found the running tough, and Travis Lulay was under solid pressure from the Argos defence, making effective receptions sparse as well. Lulay was 18 for 27, but many of the completions were short passes that left the Lions with several two and outs. Lulay did find newcomer Ernest Jackson for a key 51 yard strike to the one in the fourth quarter, but the Lions needed four cracks, including an offside call on the Argos to get into the end zone.
The Argos held Andrew Harris in check for much of the night, but July’s Top Canadian ripped off a couple important runs in the dying minutes to help seal the deal for the Lions.
The previously mentioned Jackson had a strong debut performance and may have laid claim to the receiver opening that Nick Moore failed to grab hold of in his two game audition.
I’m not sure the break could come at a better time for Paul McCallum. There is something just not quite right with the veteran kicker. While the team did a good job containing Chad Owens, McCallum’s punting continues to be inconsistent and has to be a concern at some point. Tim Brown continues to leave a long field for the offence, but he isn’t getting a lot of blocking in front of him, unless my untrained eye isn’t seeing him miss the holes.
The Lions kept McCallum from trying a 46 yard field goal, no doubt in part because of Owens waiting to return the kick if it went wide or short. But it’s worrisome that the team doesn’t have confidence in their kicker’s leg on anything over 40-45 yards. Some in Lions nation are wondering if there is a way to get two kickers on the roster if this continues.
@andrewharris33: Wasn’t pretty, but we stuck together and got the win! 4-2… #BCLions #33Nation
Stick together they did, particularly on a late headlock tackle on Harris that went uncalled. Rolly Lumbala and Harris were not pleased after the final whistle.
@LionFan15: #BCLions I guess it’s a safe bet that Ernest Jackson just leapt over Nick Moore on the depth chart for good. #CFL
Agreed…for now. Jackson has a lot to offer; size, speed and strength. I wouldn’t rule out Courtney Taylor getting a shot at some point as well, and Kierrie Johnson will be back at some point.
@GlennLove20: Just had my first game. What a great experience, but I still have a lot to improve and learn about this game. Great win for the #BCLions.
New BC Lions linebacker Glenn Love comments on his first CFL game experience.
@Heatbagger: Dominant closing drive to end the game for BC. Suitor saying BC wasn’t dominant. They only gave up 3 FG’s on the road, yup they suck. #BCLions
Well, I would say the game was pretty even. The Lions created more chances because of the turnovers, and that was the difference. Kind of agree with Suits on that one.
Until Next Time
It’s a bye week for the Lions and there is much to work on when they return, but at 4-2 the Grey Cup champs are in a good position to start the next phase of their season. Here is hoping that fans come out for a rare afternoon game in BC Place against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on the 19th. Enjoy the break everyone!
The BC Lions needed to get a win in the CFL’s West Division after dropping their last two games to Saskatchewan and Edmonton respectively. After a shaky first half full of mistakes and penalties, the Lions got going in the second half to win convincingly. Here are my thoughts, from the couch.
TSN showed the pregame speech of coach Mike Benevides where he stated to his players, “It is time, its time, it is time. It is time that we play like the team that we know we are, it’s time that we play a complete game, it’s time that we win the field position battle, it’s time for us to score a ton of points…it’s time for us to show everybody who we are.”
The Lions offence must have thought he was talking about the second half, because the first was filled with penalties and stalled drives. The defence was doing their part, but for the most part the first half was a write-off for both teams offensively until the Lions connected on a late touchdown to Akeem Foster.
If the Lions were going to win this game they were going to have to shore up their special teams, especially with Larry Taylor returning kicks. They did just that, holding Taylor to 54 yards on 4 kick returns and to just 17 yards on 2 punts. Although I was a little irritated with the effort of Khreem Smith on the opening kick-off when he just stood there watching Tim Brown try to fend off three Stampeders before the whistle had blown.
Paul McCallum seems to have found his form again after kicking four field goals, the longest from 45 yards. Hopefully the next time he faces a 44 yarder at home, they’ll let him take a crack.
Some genius on Twitter tweeted this: “Lulay just looks nervous to me. Missing open guys, didn’t sense the pressure there, almost fumbled. #BCLions #CFL”.
Ok so it was me, and right after that Lulay got his game going. The fact is that for much of the first half, Lulay didn’t look sharp, but he stuck with it and slowly found his game. By the end of the game he looked like the MOP he was last year. He didn’t turn the ball over and managed the game down the stretch very well.
Lulay used spread the ball around nicely, particularly in the second half, with Bruce and Simon playing key roles, unlike last week. At the end of the night, 30-37 for 315 yards and 3 TD’s was a solid night’s work for the Lions pivot.
In Lowell’s chat on Friday on TheProvince.com, I brought up the play of Akeem Foster. Foster had a key touchdown at the end of the first half, and Glen Suitor indicated that Foster had been injured coming out of training camp. He had a strong game, leading all Lions receivers with 5 receptions for 72 yards. If Foster can find the form he showed last year before getting hurt, the Lions are going to have an impressive stable of Canadian receivers, which will allow them valuable flexibility with the ratio in other areas.
Despite the win, the Lions would be wise to put some more emphasis on playing with control. Khalif Mitchell, already under the watchful eye of all, took an unnecessary roughing penalty early in the game and Anthony Reddick was fortunate that a very late and uncalled for shot on Kevin Glenn was not flagged. Although most of their penalties were in the first half the Lions still need to clean up that part of their game.
The Lions secondary still don’t have an interception, but it was nice to see Byron Parker cause a key turnover on a play that could have swung the momentum Calgary’s way. Deep in Lions territory, Parker punched the ball out of Johnny Forzani’s hands and Ryan Phillips recovered the fumble. It turned out to be the turning point of the game, because the Lions marched the ball down the field for a score. The Lions defence failed to register a sack on the night.
Adam Bighill picked up his first career interception and just continues to impress with his closing speed and effort, leading the team with 6 tackles on the night.
The Lions completely shut down Jon Cornish who finished with -1 yards on the night. They held the Stamps to just 29 yards rushing.
@Nightowlsinc: Most importantly, we know now that the #BCLions can win if Coach Benevides doesn’t wear a hoodie.
One of the world’s great questions answered.
@Rikester13 “@rlestage: Looks like 2010 happy feet version of #Lulay is showing it’s face #BClions #CFL” 30-37 315 yds 3 td’s #toughcrowd @TravisLulay
Pretty sure that tweet was in the first half, Mike. Don’t worry, we still love ya!
Thanks for reading everyone. If you enjoy this kind of stuff give us a follow on Twitter, @BCLionsDen and I’d love to see your comments here!
Ok this wasn’t exactly from the couch it was actually from the bar, fringe benefits of being a fan rather than an unbiased journalist. Some great CFL fans were in town from Montreal, and it was great to watch the game with them and a few others. It reminds you why you love this game and the fans that follow it.
It’s been awhile since I’ve had to blog about a loss, so here it goes.
Mistakes were the order of the day and the Lions were their own executioners on this day. Lulay, throwing into double coverage for a key interception, the veteran McCallum missing two field goals, and of course special teams allowing big returns again. Both defences battled hard and without those Lions mistakes the score is different. The Riders offence didn’t produce a lot, but as a team they made fewer mistakes and capitalized on the ones the Lions made.
Losing this game wasn’t the worst thing in the world. The Lions last had won 14 of their last 15 heading into Regina, so a little wakeup call might do them some good. The talk of 18-0 can be thrown out the window and we can talk about 17-1. (I kid). Seriously though, sometimes a loss can refocus the troops and I expect the Lions to be hungry next week against Edmonton.
In addition to the special teams issues the Lions offence has yet to reach peak efficiency this season. One drive they look fantastic, the next few they look ordinary or sub-par. Injuries to the offensive line have likely impacted the running game to some degree, and if you listened to the pregame show you would have heard that in addition to Jesse Newman having a setback with his knee, Dean Valli may have had similar bad luck this past week.
Kierrie Johnson’s injury no doubt hurts, and you have to feel sorry for him after it looked like he may be on his way to a breakout year. The Lions do have some options to plug in with Ernest Jackson and Nick Moore each having good training camps and on the practice roster. There wasn’t much success for either Geroy Simon or Arland Bruce on the day and the Lions must find away to get those two more involved. The Lions appear to have dodged a bullet with the early reports that Simon dislocated a finger rather than breaking one.
With a good Edmonton defence in town next week, better consistency will be needed in all areas on offence.
No hoody, no win?
Just throwing this out there; Coach Benevides wasn’t wearing his trademark grey hoody…discuss.
Is it any coincidence that Paul McCallum has missed a few field goals and shanked a few punts this year with a new long snapper and a new field goal holder?
The big play of the game was of course the missed McCallum field goal that lead to the Tristan Jackson return for a touchdown. By definition of the rule the block that sprung Jackson certainly could have been called a clip, but it was close. Even so, there were still 110 yards between Jackson and the end zone. Paul McCallum summed it up best on Twitter when he retweeted and commented on this submission:
“@Glenbuchat2: @BCLions @PaulMcCallum4 it was a blatant clip that sprung Jackson free. Should never have been a TD” If so it is what it is.
Tweets of the game
@ LadyApriil: Saskatchewan rough riders have the ugliest and scariest mascot ever… I’m pretty sure Lions eat gophers! #BCLions #Win3BC
Take that Rider fans!
@CanuckClay: Holy smokes! Was that Kierrie Johnson or Ben Johnson? What a great catch and run! @bclions #win3BC
Great question, too bad we’ll have to wait another 6-8 weeks to see more.
@geroysimon: Finger is good to go! I have 9 others that work fine. Making adjustments to win next week.
Well there you go; the silver lining in every cloud makes an appearance. I feel better already.