This B.C. Lions team sure has a way of testing your emotions, or maybe it was simply the fact they were playing one of the real contenders in the CFL. Whatever the case, the Lions were dominated from start to finish by the Edmonton Eskimos, and it wasn’t pretty. Here are my thoughts, From the Couch.
What a Letdown
The game was billed as a playoff preview and the Lions still had an outside shot at second place in the West Division. But you never would have guessed it by the display put on by the Lions and should they return to Commonwealth Stadium in two weeks, there was no aspect of their game that led you believe the result will be much different.
Hey, any given Sunday right? Don’t hold your breath.
It was discouraging to see the Lions were unable to rise to the occasion. Sure second place was a bit of a longshot, but you at least wanted to see an effort that let the Eskimos know that should the two teams meet in the playoffs, it would be a fight. In the end it looked like contender versus pretender.
The Lions stumbled from the first whistle and once again didn’t appear to be ready to play. The penalty parade continued and the lack of execution on offence was once again evident. Why can’t this team be ready to play? Why can they not make the in-game adjustments to counter what other teams are doing? Chris Jones schooled his counterpart on Saturday and the efficiency and determination of his team was impressive, two traits that have been missing from this year’s edition of the Leos.
No one is saying they don’t care. Trust me, this is what these players and coaches do for a living. They care more than we the fans do, but clearly there is a disconnect somewhere that is allowing these types of efforts to surface too often.
Offensive Struggles Continue
The Lions managed only a field goal as their offence once again failed to produce. Ernest Jackson who had two strong games versus Ottawa and Winnipeg was blanked by the Eskimos. Manny Arceneaux had no impact and the running game was unproductive as well.
The Eskimos did an outstanding job of covering the Lions receivers, leaving Kevin Glenn with few options, and when that happens Glenn is not an effective quarterback. Even short to medium range passes were not an option. John Beck didn’t fare any better in relief.
The Lions’ receivers have shown they have the talent, so why do we see it so sporadically? Is it all execution or is Khari Jones’ offence simply not good enough? It seems plays that other teams make regularly are a task for the Lions. Sure, we can point to injuries to key players, but so can the Stampeders, Riders, Argos and almost every other team in the CFL. The bottom line is, offensively, the Lions have not been good enough for a variety of reasons.
In contrast, Mike Reilly and the Eskimos have the ability to make things happen when there is nothing downfield. He has a running back in John White that is consistently productive and receivers that find ways to get open. Those two elements of the Eskimos offence make them very tough to defend, even for a good Lions defence.
A Tale of Two Defences
Both the Eskimos and the Lions are solid defensively, and while the defence allowed a lot of yards and 37 points the biggest difference is the Eskimos have a balanced offence that forces teams to be aware of multiple facets. Their defence didn’t have to worry about Glenn running the ball when his receivers couldn’t get open, and when you combine that with a struggling running game all they had to do is sit back, contain and cover.
With the defence constantly on the field, it was too much to ask (once again) to shut down the balanced offence of the Eskimos. This wasn’t Ottawa or Winnipeg, this was a legitimate Grey Cup contender and the Lions simply couldn’t compete.
Solomon Elimimian set the league tackles record, but that was the only high for the Lions on the night. Unfortunately the Lions can’t bottle the fire this guy plays with and spread it around.
It appears the Lions will lose Adam Bighill with what is being reported as a broken arm and while they do have a capable replacement with veteran Jamall Johnson, his loss was just another insult to injury on Saturday.
What were your thoughts on the game? We’ll have more on this week’s Pawdcast, and you chat Lions and CFL football with me @BCLionsDen on Twitter.