Commonwealth Stadium hasn’t been kind to the BC Lions in recent years, more specifically, since Mike Reilly became their quarterback via a trade that makes Lions fans wonder what could have been.
Friday night was no different, as once Reilly and the Eskimos swung momentum in their favour they steam rolled the Lions the rest of the way, pounding them along the ground and throwing on them at will.
Five thoughts on the latest loss to another Western division rival.
Mike Reilly, CJ Gable and momentum killers:
The Lions started the game strongly, putting together solid drives to build up a 14-2 lead. But that should have been a 19-2 lead considering Ty Long left 5 points on the board with two missed field goals.
Then in the second quarter came a challenge for pass interference on Marcell Young on a ball that was thrown 3 to 5 yards out of bounds. Instead of being forced to punt again, Jason Maas won the challenge and from there Mike Reilly and the Eskimos offence started to roll.
The Eskies grabbed the momentum from there and didn’t give it back. Reilly started finding open receivers in the Lions secondary and CJ Gable ran the ball down the Lions throat. When your defence is getting hammered by the run it’s energy draining and demoralizing.
Even when the Lions pulled to within 11 with plenty of time left, the defence allowed the Eskimos to drive the field and score on the very next series.
Where was the run defence:
Through two off-season games and week one it looked as though the Lions had improved their front seven.
CJ Gable begs to differ.
Gable romped for 165 yards on the Lions defence who couldn’t bring him down on first contact all night long. Once he got to the second and third levels of the Lions defence the results were similar. The Eskimos made sure to block up Solomon Elimimian (who still led the team with 10 tackles) and the interior of the defensive line had a rough night.
To beat the Eskimos, you need to make life miserable for Mike Reilly, and while the Lions got to him a couple times, he had far too much time to find open receivers. The Lions, clearly lost the battle in the trenches, on both sides of the ball.
On the other side of the ball the offensive line started strong, protecting the quarterback and opening holes for Jeremiah Johnson, but like the rest of the Lions game that changed too. First down production dried up leaving the Lions in 2nd and long too often, and penalties wiped out drive extending plays.
Jennings was only sacked once, but holes for the running game, which the Eskimos have had issues with in their first two games, disappeared.
Primary concerns in the secondary:
I hate piling on players, and look if they weren’t talented they wouldn’t be in the league. But when the Lions signed Marcell Young every single Eskimo fan I know essentially said, “good luck with that!”
Young had some rough moments against the Alouettes in week one, but Friday in Edmonton he was victimized badly by his former club but he wasn’t alone either. Ed Hervey’s revamped secondary has some work to do, and it should start by starting Winston Rose at Young’s corner spot against the Bombers next week. Rose contributed a pick after replacing Young, and also filled in nicely for him in week one when Young experienced cramping.
Wally Buono has often said, “If you can’t do the job, I’ll find someone that will”. Considering they yanked Young on Friday, perhaps Buono has seen enough.
TJ Lee, who is considered the leader of the group also had a tough night.
In his preseason conference call Wally Buono made reference to maybe taking more chances in his final year of coaching. Obviously part of that was tongue in cheek, but Friday night he wasn’t in that frame of mind. With 5:03 remaining and down by 17 points, the Lions were at midfield facing a 3rd and 13 and Buono chose to send out the punt team and it resulted in a single point.
Facing that situation, you need to tell your offence to go get you a first down, because quite frankly the Eskimos were having their way with your defence.
There isn’t reason to panic…yet. The Lions now head into Winnipeg to face the Bombers and once again the goal is the same. Get a road victory against a Western opponent. It’s the first of a back to back against the Bombers, who have a young QB who is taking the league by storm and who will be looking to avenge their week three loss to the Ticats.
It’s time to see what this team is made of. Friday night wasn’t anywhere near good enough to change their status in the CFL West. We’ll leave you with Coach Buono’s comments.
?“I think we’ll know more about what kind of team we are next week.”@CoachBrillo knows his squad must execute better in order to have long-term success this season ? ?#WeAreTheLions pic.twitter.com/7dTaGH1TVH
— BC Lions (@BCLions) June 30, 2018