The BC Lions arrived Sunday’s Eastern Final with the Montreal Alouettes as underdogs. They left with their tails between their legs after a dominant 56-18 trashing at the hands of the CFL’s undisputed best team.
The Alouettes showed that they made good use of their bye week, and were a finely tuned machine come game time. The first ominous sign for the Lions came when cornerback Dante Marsh left the game with a knee injury, forcing Jerome Dennis to the corner spot and Lavar Glover to an unfamilar side of the field. Cue the veteran Anthony Calvillo, who attacked the BC secondary for a record tying five touchdown passes on the day.
After the teams traded field goals on their opening drives, a fumble by Martell Mallett set the Alouettes up in the BC redzone. Calvillo wasted little time and went deep to a wide open Jamel Richardson. Another turnove would bite the Lions after Printers threw an ill-advised pass under pressure instead of throwing the ball away and was intercepted. The Als capitalized and just like that it was 17-3 for the home team. So much for silencing the crowd.
Nothing the Lions did seemed to change the momentum Calvillo threw an interception of his own that the Lion could garner any points off at the end of the half. Every time the Lions scored, the Alouettes would match it and then some. Not even a playoff record 105 kick return by Ryan Grice Mullen could spur the Lions on, the Als simply replied with another easy TD drive.
The defense had no answers for Calvillo’s offense, and listening to A.C. speak, that twas the plan all along.
“We had a lot of plays designed to get a shot downfield,” said Calvillo. “We felt that when they went into zone (defence), they sometimes get out of position and that’s how it happened.
“It was crazy, throwing the ball and finding guys wide open.”
The Montreal defense forced five turnovers and with rookie running back Martell Mallett playing with one shoulder, the Als were able to hold him to five yards on six carries. The Lions running game had only 12 total yards all game, which meant the Als could just pressure Printers constantly. For some reason the Lions felt that Ian Smart couldn’t carry any of the load.
The Lions Ricky Foley summed it up.
“They were better than us, that’s it.” “Up front, in the back end, offense, defense, you don’t get beat like that and have too many good parts of the game.”
So, what now?
The Lions are going to have to seriously look at the organization from top to bottom. Wally Buono is safe, but will he choose to move himself upstairs and assume full time GM duties? What will happen to his coaching staff, who at times seemed brilliant, but at others seemed badly out adjusted and out game planned.
There will be changes, and you can start at quarterback. There is no doubt Casey Printers will go into next year as the preferred starter, and that being the case, one of, if not both of Buck Pierce and Jarious Jackson may not be back. My money is on Pierce being released, which is unfortunate. But Lulay has showed promise, and Pierce just can’t stay healthy. The Lions have too much money committed there and will need that to resign some players, and hopefully address some weaknesses in other areas as well as come up with money for Printers on a restructured deal if he’s to be the starter.
In four games this season the Lions were blown out badly. That has to be rectified, and someone has to be held accountable for that. Yes, the team used five quarterbacks this year, but what about the inability to stop the run? What about the last minute cave jobs by the defense. Attendance was down 16%, and the Lions also need to address that. They aren’t off to a great start with another round of ticket price increases on season tickets, and a move to a downgraded temporary stadium next season.
Big decisions face Wally Buono, it will be interesting to see what he does, and how this organization rebounds from a tough year indeed.