Reports Sunday evening are indicating that former BC Lions receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux has a signed a 2 -year free agent deal with his former team. Neither the club or the player has officially confirmed the deal, but several reputable sources are now reporting the contract is done.
Arceneaux spent the last two seasons trying to find a home in the NFL, but spent much of his time on the practice rosters of the Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins and most recently the New York Jets, who released him just prior to last week. Over his two season with the Lions, Arceneaux caught 130 passes for 1,972 yards and 12 touchdowns before trying his luck down south.
The Lions were considered to be the front-runner heading into the process, not because BC was his last CFL club, but because the import receiver had a strong connection and mentor type relationship with general manager Wally Buono. He also has a strong connection to several current BC Lions players, as well as the offence of coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine. The departure of Geroy Simon means that there will be a prime role available in training camp,
Earlier this weekend it was speculated the Lions offer to Arceneaux was low and that the Toronto Argonauts were the front-runners to land him. Silence fell over the weekend and twitter users began to speculate what the outcome would be, with Arceneaux playing along and even admitting to The Province’s Lowell Ullrich, ““I was just messing around. Seriously, I didn’t know what was going on.”
In the end both the team and the player got what they wanted and if it wasn’t already, the battle at receiver during training camp will be one to watch.
- Talk over, Arceneaux signs tw0-year Lions Deal – Lowell Ullrich (The Province)
- Lions, WR Arceneaux agree to terms on 2-year, 280K deal. (TSN.ca)
A few weeks ago we brought you a story on the off-season training regimen of veteran corner back Dante Marsh. Marsh has carved out a nice career in BC, but it started because of dedication and a will to realize his dreams.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are always young players who are starting their journeys and trying to get where players like Marsh have travelled.
One of those players is 23 year old Jordan Linnen, who has played the last four seasons with Langley (formerly Surrey) Rams in the BCFC. Two years ago, Linnen caught the eye of the BC Lions and they invited him to their training camp. He even got his first taste of pro football when he dressed for an exhibition game.
Linnen fell in love with the game in the 8th grade but didn’t really feel it was something he wanted to pursue as a career until his junior year.
As every professional athlete would tell you, Linnen says he’s had to make sacrifices as he chases his dream. “I’ve had to make a lot sacrifices in various areas of my life to pursue my dream of playing professional football. One area that I have had to sacrifice most in is my personal life and being able to do things with my family and friends,” said Linnen. “Football and training both take a huge time and monetary commitment. Thankfully throughout the years and process, my family and friends have sacrificed and supported me fully.”
“I gained a lot of my knowledge and experience at several positions in the secondary. I was fortunate enough to have coaches and former players around me that I could take away little things from and apply them to my game,” says Linnen. “I was also fortunate to be able to go up against some of the best receivers and running backs in the country week in and week out. Over those four years, I also learned a lot about myself as a person with dealing with different adversities, issues and responsibilities that come from playing junior football.”
His time with the BC Lions didn’t hurt either and showed Linnen what lies ahead if he can make it to the next level. “It taught me what it took to be a professional both on and off the field as well as the discipline, structure and commitment it took to become a professional athlete,” he said. “I was fortunate to be on a team with a lot of veteran leadership especially at the defensive back position. Having that experience and knowledge alone helped me tremendously in furthering my skill set as a DB.”
Linnen says the veteran core of the Lions was more than willing to take him under their wing. “Some of the key players that helped me most were Davis Sanchez, Dante Marsh, Geroy Simon, JR LaRose and Cauchy Muamba. To this day, I still maintain great relationships with and talk frequently to these guys to continue to develop and better my craft.”
Playing in his first exhibition game was a special moment for Jordan and he got his pro debut off to a rocking start with a big hit on special teams.
“It was an unbelievable experience and one of the most memorable moments of my life. I remember a day or two before the game, thinking to myself how I envisioned my first play in the CFL. I told myself that I wanted to run down the field and make a big play on my very first play so when it happened it was a kind of surreal feeling. My heart was beating heavy and my adrenaline was going. After that play, I settled in and realized I was just playing football.”
Not only did Linnen get to dress for that game, he also got to be part of the Grey Cup win that season, with the team and on the sidelines.
“It was an unforgettable experience that most aspiring athletes only dream of and yet I was blessed to experience it at such a young age. Some pros play an entire career without being able to experience a Grey Cup. Not only the game but the entire week leading up to the game, was filled with memorable moments and experiences like media day, practices and team dinners. The game itself had an unexplainable atmosphere like nothing I had ever experienced before. I am forever humbled and grateful for being forwarded the opportunity to be a part of that team.”
Of course, Jordan would like to get another shot with the Lions, who have told him they would like to see improvement in his speed and more consistency in his playmaking. Linnen says he’s worked hard in the off-season to work on his flaws and hopes to get another invite to training camp in June. He says other CFL teams have shown some interest but doesn’t know if anything will come of it.
Despite how hard he has worked, Linnen knows there are no guarantees and he plans to finish out his remaining years of CIS eligibility if no offers come his way.
Football teaches young people so many great values in life; not only about the game, but about hard work, discipline and teamwork. Whether Jordan Linnen gets to where he dreams to be or not has yet to be determined, but the qualities football has instilled in him will be with him through the rest of his life.
Our thanks to Jordan for taking the time to speak to us! You can follow his football journeys on Twitter, @WhoIsJLinnen
Becoming a professional football player involves possessing the talent and is the result of hard work. Remaining a professional football player is just as hard and at any given moment you could be out of a job if someone works their way past you into the lineup and it’s up to you and nobody else to prevent that from happening for as long as you can.
Entering his 10th season with the BC Lions, Dante Marsh is just as hungry as ever to succeed at his craft. The end of the season doesn’t mean the end of Marsh’s job and the club’s all-time leader in tackles knows the off-season is time for him to get better to try to stay at the top of the depth chart. Simply put, longevity doesn’t come easy.
Dante recently spoke with BCLionsDen.ca about his off-season workout regimen.
Marsh’s off-season duties don’t just include staying in shape for the next season. The off-season is a chance to spend time with his family in Atlanta. A typical day starts early as Marsh gets his kids off to school and eats a solid breakfast. Each morning consists of a serving of egg whites, oatmeal, dry toast and yogurt, followed that by a regimen of pre-workout supplements.
Marsh says diet is a major part of his daily routine. “I try to stick with chicken, fish and ground turkey. No soda and I try limiting fried and processed foods. My only vice is sweets sometimes but hey if I deviate that just means I have to work out even harder. But you have to have cheat days or you will go crazy.”
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are “explosive” days, focusing more on weights, squats, dead-lifts and leg press. Marsh also does a lot of resistance training and core work and spends a lot of time strengthening his abs and hip flexor for the rigors of the long season ahead of him.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are heavy field and track days where speed and one on one drills are the focus. “These days are grueling they have been known to cause vomiting no matter how good of shape you may think you’re in”, said Marsh.
Lastly, Marsh is a proponent of stretching and feels it can add speed and agility in addition to keeping him flexible. Other activities like pool work, sand pits, tire jumps and running hills are mixed in to keep things fresh and challenging.
Marsh is not alone when he works out, keeping company with the likes of Milt Stegall, Byron Parker, Carlos Thomas and Darian Durant, among others in the Atlanta area.
Saturdays and Sundays are pretty much off days, with Sunday being a church day. Even so, he will sometimes go to the gym Sunday evening to get and early start on his week. “I love working out, it’s my happy place at the gym or on the field and I just love training and being competitive”, Marsh said. “I feel like I have gotten better with time because I still have the mentality of a first year player still trying to make the team every year. I don’t want to be good I want to be great”, says Marsh. “You have to develop a mindset that you will not be denied. By just by changing your attitude you can do things you never thought possible.”
For their part, the Lions must agree. “We’re blessed with a veteran secondary made up of individuals who take enormous pride in their craft and Dante’s work ethic has been his calling card since day one”, said head coach Mike Benevides following the veteran’s contract extension.
Marsh ends by reciting his motto, “How can they beat you, if they can’t out work you?”
You can keep up with Dante Marsh this off-season on his social media platforms:
Take a look at some of these photos and videos of Dante Marsh, on the grind!
Dante works on footwork and speed.
Don’t try this at home.
The BC Lions announced a contract extension for nine year veteran cornerback Dante Marsh on Wednesday and it would be a tough to find anyone who questions that move. Marsh has been consistently solid in his nine years patrolling the corner of the Lions secondary, and has become a leader on and off the field.
Lions’ fans that witnessed Marsh’s first game as a Lion, might not have been so sure he would be around nine years later. Now a seasoned CFL veteran, Marsh was given a harsh introduction to the CFL that night, but his confidence in himself and his work ethic have carved out a nice place in Lions and CFL history that could find him on the Lions Ring of Honour / Wall of Fame, if not the hall itself in Hamilton.
With two Grey Cup rings on his resume, Marsh is part of a solid core of players that are the leadership brain trust in the Lions locker room. That leadership group has been instrumental in the two championships during Marsh’s tenure, and has allowed young players coming in to be given an example of how to be professionals.
When Khalif Mitchell went off the rails a little last season, it was Marsh that spoke out to let the young defensive lineman know that he better shape up or be prepared to ship out.
“I’m not going to have someone ruin what we‘ve built around here,” Marsh told the media at the time.
The leadership group of the club will be challenged again this year after the departure of Geroy Simon, who of course is now in Saskatchewan. But the torch is in good hands, making the contract extension for Marsh just as valuable off the field as it is on it.
As a friend of this site, we’re glad to have Dante back for a 10th season. He’s partnered with us in the past to raise money for CFL Fans Fight Cancer, another one of his solid attributes.
Dante talks to Lions fans about his extension:
Marco Iannuzzi back as well.
The Lions also announced an extension for Canadian receiver Marco Iannuzzi this week. Iannuzzi oozes potential and along with Akeem Foster, Shawn Gore and Paris Jackson, gives the Lions great non-import depth at the position heading into 2013. Look for Iannuzzi to play a bigger role and build on his 30 catch, 353 yard, 5 touchdown season a year ago.
When it comes to days at the office, Wally Buono can certainly say he had a great one as free agency opened across the CFL on Friday. After the firestorm of the Geroy Simon trade, it had to be a feel good day out in Surrey. Here is a recap and some thoughts on today’s activity.
The Lions started the day by announcing the re-signing of veteran receiver Paris Jackson and an extension for Korey Banks. As Lowell Ullrich of The Province tweeted, the extension for Banks was just part of the annual off-season routine for the Lions and the veteran defensive back.
The Jackson signing was news simply because there is a notion that after two years of accepting a lesser role, Jackson and the Lions are indicating that he’ll be given every opportunity to use his experience and get back on the playing field. Jackson had asked for his release from the Lions, but his leadership among the receiving corps could be the reason why the Lions had second thoughts, especially after the departure of Geroy Simon.
With those signings out of the way, the Lions turned their attention to their most high profile free agents. Free agency began with the news that Solomon Elimimian had decided to remain in the CFL. Farhan Lalji from TSN modified partner Dave Naylor’s tweet by saying Elimimian would not be signing in BC.
That set off some excitement on Twitter, with fans of other teams wondering how Elimimian would fit into their team’s plans. Shortly after that, reports began to surface that the Lions had re-signed Elimimian, though it took a while for all sides to finally confirm. The Lions had Elimimian take a medical prior to the deadline, and obviously feel there are no serious issues there. It’s believed that Elimimian received a similar deal to that of Adam Bighill, who he will have a whole training camp to get in sync with heading into the 2013 season.
The news got even better when the Lions announced (before Elimimian was confirmed) that they had signed 2012 most outstanding offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye to a new deal. It was widely known that Olafioye would explore his options in the NFL, but after last year’s experience and the lack of a real commitment by anyone this year, he appears to have made the decision to carve out a nice career here in BC. That’s great news for the Lions (and for Travis Lulay) who would have had a big hole to fill on the offensive line, particularly with the question marks at the guard spots heading into training camp. In fact the only downer on the day was the fact the Lions weren’t able to add any depth for the offensive line, thanks largely in part to teams re-signing their own players and the crop being rather thin this year.
The Lions also plucked defensive lineman Julius Williams from the Edmonton Eskimos to add to their stacked defensive line corps. Williams, listed at 6’2 257 pounds, is entering his third year in the league and was deemed expendable by Edmonton GM Ed Hervey after his club signed Odell Willis away from Saskatchewan moments after free agency opened. Williams has compiled 25 tackles and 7 sacks over his 24 regular season and 3 playoff appearances. The signing could give the Lions two Williams as defensive ends, with all-star Keron the other bookend.
The Lions did lose James Yurichuk to the Toronto Argonauts on Friday. The Ontario native chose to sign in his home province rather than re-up with the Lions and you can’t blame him. His work on special teams will be missed, but Yurichuk wasn’t going to see much playing time behind McKenzie, Bighill and Elimimian.
Defensive back Cauchy Muamba also entered the day as a free agent but as of this blog had not signed with anyone yet.
So all in all it was a great day for the Lions and their fans and who knows, there could be another tweak or two in the coming days.
We’ll leave the last word to the boss:
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!
It was a night of accomplishments for the BC Lions on Friday night. Travis Lulay got the work he needed to and seemed to emerge no worse for wear. Andrew Harris got the yards from scrimmage lead back from Jon Cornish. They closed out the regular season with a win while their defence added themselves to the club record book for the best 18 game season ever. Here is I saw this exhibition type game, from the stands.
All eyes were on the face of the franchise as he returned to his starting role behind centre. Lulay took a shot early on the shoulder on a tackle from James Patrick and it survived the test. He went 9-14 the rest of the way and his passes looked crisp and accurate for the most part. Lulay played just over a quarter before giving way to Mike Reilly. While his consecutive touchdown streak ended at 26 games, I’m sure he’ll take the successful test of the shoulder over that streak any day. So will his coach, teammates and the fans.
The Lions didn’t escape the mean nothing game unscathed and the state of the offensive line remains the primary concern of this blogger heading into the post season. Dean Valli left the game in the first quarter with what appeared to be a knee injury and if he can’t go its slim pickings at guard. Jesse Newman is having a horrible time out there and has knee issues of his own. The Lions are hoping that Jon Hameister-Ries will be ready for the Western Final, but just watching the man walk the sideline makes you realize that may be wishful thinking.
On the post game show they indicated that the Lions are looking at the logistics of flying Matt Norman in for the Western Final which would be tricky with his school schedule, but that they should be able to bring him in should they reach the Grey Cup. A healthy body on the line would certainly be a welcome addition.
Courtney Taylor and Nick Moore may give way to Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce for the Western Final, but both had strong games in relief again and Ernest Jackson and Shawn Gore were even better. For a team that at the beginning of the year had questions about the future of its receiver depth, the future looks pretty bright, as does the present.
We’re not going to take anything away from the defence, but it should be at least noted that the Riders were resting Darian Durant, Chris Getzlaf and the always dangerous Weston Dressler. Now that we have that out of the way; this Lions defence is the best in team history for a reason.
J.R. LaRose had a nice game at safety, and the defensive line did a great job all night long. At one point I decided to focus on Khalif Mitchell and it’s just amazing how much he gets double teamed and held. Adam Bighill picked up another interception and added another eight tackles to his regular season total.
Regardless of other issues, the fact remains that defence wins championships and the Lions are going to be very tough to beat with this group.
Lumbala had a couple of nice carries tonight and it sure would be nice to see a larger offensive role for him, because I think he can contribute. He’s a big load when he gets going and you would think he could be utilized more in short yardage situations, as well as down near the end zone.
One Last Thanks
On a non-football note, I want to send out one last thank you to our veterans who were saluted at halftime Friday night. The Lions do a fantastic job of this annual salute each year, and no matter how many times I watch it, it reminds me of how fortunate we are to live in such a great country and to enjoy the freedoms that we do because of these men and women.
Off To the Playoffs
I can’t believe the regular season is done and the playoffs are upon us. The Lions have set themselves up to play one game for a chance to defend their title in the 100th Grey Cup. I really hope that the fans in this city and province come out and pack BC Place on November 18th because this team deserves the support.
Until the Western final, take care and 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.
There is nothing like having depth when it comes to assembling a football team and the BC Lions proved theirs once again last night. Mike Reilly steered the Lions to a 39-19 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos to punch their ticket to the 2012 Western Final and I’m pleased to present my first place clinching thoughts, from the stands.
After the interception on the first series, Mike Reilly took command of the team and settled in. I thought he made some hasty decisions at times, but that’s being extremely picky on my part. The Lions couldn’t have asked for more from their backup QB who showed all he has the tools to play. Watching his mannerisms on the field one might have thought Lulay was in the game. The offence sputtered a little in the third quarter, allowing Edmonton to stick around, but again I’m being picky. It was a very impressive performance by Reilly. Not only did Reilly prove that he has the skills to play, he also reinforced that no one in this league finds and develops quarterbacks in this league better than the Lions.
I thought the unsung hero of the night was Tim Brown. Not only did Brown have a great night returning kicks, he was a force on offence as well, particularly on some nicely executed shovel passes. His 23 yard run at the end of the game was a nice way to cap a strong game in which he racked up 268 all-purpose yards. With the Eskimos doing a good job of containing Andrew Harris, Brown’s contribution was solid and well schemed by Jacques Chapdelaine and the Lions.
Mike Reilly, Nick Moore, Courtney Taylor, Ernest Jackson, Maurice Evans, Brandon Jordan, Jabar Westerman, Patrick Kabongo, Jesse Newman. All depth guys who have stepped in for starters in the last few weeks and the team hasn’t missed a beat. The Lions now have the chance to get some guys healthy the rest of the way, but they’ll also have some tough decisions to make as it will be really tempting to keep some of these guys in. One could even argue that the offence has been more productive in the last three weeks then it was earlier in the season. Regardless as some of the players on this team near the end of their careers, it leaves you with a good feeling about the future.
Stubler Let’s Em Loose
The Lions defensive pressure was relentless last night. It left them vulnerable to the long pass at times, but for the most part it had the desired effect. Eight sacks were racked up and Kerry Joseph completed just six passes all night long. When the defence wasn’t busy sacking Joseph, they were shutting down Hugh Charles, rendering the Eskimo offence a non factor for most of the night.
Shawn Gore is quickly becoming the Lions go to guy on 2nd down. His clutch catches haven’t come without a price either as for yet another game he took another big hit when he was sandwiched between two Eskimos in the fourth quarter. Akeem Foster also contributed which was nice to see. His 47 yard reception after the Reilly interception on the first series was important in more ways than one.
Proud Papa Phillips
Ryan Phillips had more than one chance to get an interception for his newborn son and finally got one in the fourth to really put a nail in the coffin of the Eskimos. Phillips had to be shocked after Cary Koch’s highlight of the year candidate catch, but he had a strong game overall and has been really noticeable the last two weeks.
Home Field Advantage
Lions fans are really starting to get it and the crowd of just over 30,000 were again a factor. It’s getting loud on defence, and not just at the end of the game. Imagine what type of advantage the Lions could have at home if it continues to improve, or if we can add another 20,000 people for the Western Final. I just love this time of year as the playoffs approach. The crowds get bigger, the fans get into it, and I just can’t wait for November 18th.