With two tune up games against West Division contenders to end the season, the BC Lions still have knock, pings and stalls in the engine that need to be addressed. The final game of the regular season saw the Lions drop a 33-16 decision to the first place Calgary Stampeders and here are my thoughts, From the Stands.
The Plain Truth
This team just can’t seem to put together a complete game this season. If one part is going well, two other parts breakdown. The way the Stampeders so easily picked apart the Lions defence Friday was impressive if you’re a Stamps fan, depressing if you cheer for the orange and black.
Whether it was Drew Tate or Bo Mitchell, the results were the same for Calgary, while Kevin Glenn and the Lions couldn’t translate yards into points to keep pace with the Stamps.
Glenn, who had another two drive killing interceptions, took a lot of heat in the section I was sitting in and once again I sat and wondered why John Beck was not given a chance later in the game. This is a guy you may need to use in Montreal and you give him zero time in a game you clearly were not going to win?
Unless Mike Benevides knows something he’s not sharing about Travis Lulay, this approach makes no sense. I get that you want Glenn to get on a roll and get some confidence with the offence, but at the same time, his play has dictated you may have to go to another option when you’re playing for your season next week.
On a good note Stefan Logan showed what he might be able to provide next week and Shawn Gore and Manny Arceneaux looked more involved in the offence but again, those performances didn’t result in enough points.
The defence was solid against the run yet brutal defending the pass. Calgary’s aerial attack routinely found wide open receivers over the middle of the field, partially due to the fact that the new look defensive line the Lions fielded was nowhere near Tate or Mitchell all night long.
After impressing with a solid run of not allowing touchdowns the defence has now allowed 70 points in two games, not exactly the stat you want to see heading into the playoffs, nor are the 19 points for either.
Right Where They Belong
So the Lions now head to Montreal to take on the Alouettes in the East Division semifinal and really they ended up where they belong. Unable to advance themselves any further up the West ladder, the Lions showed the differences between themselves and the contenders in their division. Edmonton and Calgary disposed of them easily, leaving the progress we saw down the stretch against Ottawa and Winnipeg with a solid asterisk.
But this is football, and on any given day in this league, anyone can beat anyone. Let’s not be fooled to think the East is an easy route to take to the Grey Cup. Don’t let anyone tell you that the Lions have simply been playing possum these final two weeks because if they were they deserve an Academy Award.
The same issues that have plagued the Lions all year still remain, and then comes this little gem via Lowell Ullrich from Paul McCallum following Friday’s game.
“We lack a lot of mental focus. We’re not organized. In the real world, there’d be a lot of fired people.”
The concerning part to me in that quote is the “we’re not organized” part. The job of organization belongs to the coaches. This is a 22-year veteran who would seem to be more than qualified to have such an opinion about his organization. Another veteran, Dante Marsh also made reference earlier in the week to the fact that there were bigger problems on this team than what he found himself in the doghouse over.
It doesn’t exactly sound like the Lions are one for all and all for one heading into the playoffs. And unless they can sort some of this stuff out, their season is likely to end in Montreal next week.
Some Positive Stuff
Those that mocked Dennis Skulsky for his guaranteed win night proclamation should now be able to see that the result were larger crowds down the stretch. In the four games prior to the guarantee the Lions averaged 24786 fans per game, versus 30,591 over their final five at BC Place. Many of them were freebies because of the promotion, but the hope is that some of those folks will come back next season.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the game. Post a comment, or hit me up on Twitter @BCLionsDen. Make sure to check out BCLionsDen.ca for all of our Lions coverage and our weekly Pawdcast as well. This week Lowell Ullrich of The Province will join us along with Jamie Pitblado, chair for the 2014 Grey Cup Committee.