When the BC Lions handed out white towels to 10,000 fans Friday night, little did fans know they would be surrendering to the precision passing attack of Ricky Ray and the Toronto Argonauts Here’s how I saw the game, From the Stands.
The Ricky Ray Factor
Just when you think the Lions might be figuring things out and ready to play some consistent football a game like Friday happens. All week long, including on our weekly podcast, people had been praising the BC Lions defence, and with good reason. When the Lions have won games this year, and even when they’ve lost they have been the rock that has kept this team in the hunt for a playoff spot.
But there have been games when the defence hasn’t been able to offset the lack of production from the offence, and when Ricky Ray was on like he was on Friday, asking the defence to bail the team out again was an unrealistic expectation.
Working with most of his starters again, Ray was surgical at picking apart the Lions defence. Screen passes, crossing routes or deep balls, it didn’t matter what the Argos wanted to do because for the most part they did it with ease.
Argos head coach Scott Milanovich and his staff put together an outstanding game plan, a plan that his counterparts on the BC sideline had no answers for. Yes you can point to a lack of execution, mental breakdowns and 131 yards in penalties, but the Lions were outcoached, period. There were no successful adjustments after the first half. The offence under Kevin Glenn continued to sputter along with Mike Benevides refusing to see what John Beck could provide. The defence was unable to adjust and Ray and the Argos continued to do what they wanted.
Too many times this year this team has been unprepared to play which is unacceptable, especially at home where wins by the Lions used to be pretty much automatic.
It didn’t take long for the Lions to show the fans what type of night it was going to be offensively. On the opening drive of the game, aided by a 40 yard pass interference penalty, the Lions were in a position to open the scoring. But Glenn threw behind an open Bryan Burnham, who could only get a hand on the ball, deflecting it into the arms of Alex Suber.
Once again the two and outs piled up and the defence was asked to keep the Lions in the game, but against the precision and execution of the Ray led Argos, it was too much to ask.
The Kito Poblah experiment has produced nothing for the Lions and it’s time to see what others like Whitman Tomusiak and Steven Adekolu can bring to the table.
The Lions aren’t getting enough consistency from their receivers and while Burnham showed what he can contribute filling in for Courtney Taylor, when is the last time Marco Iannuzzi had an impact on a game? Shawn Gore is hot and cold, Manny Arceneaux is keyed on by opposing defences and the Lions are unable to find ways to get the ball to Andrew Harris and Stefan Logan in space.
Sitting in the stands, fans voiced their displeasure over the flags being thrown against the Lions, but they should have been disgusted by the lack of discipline shown by the home side. Torri Williams won’t be having a fun breakdown day when his brutal face masking penalty is pointed out. He’ll also be featured again on a contacting the kicker penalty.
Khreem Smith who should be a leader on this team was fortunate to not be flagged, never mind not tossed for throwing a punch early in the game.
Sure there was a soft roughing the passer penalty on Ray, who seems to be protected more than any other QB in the league, but the Lions were their own worst enemy and the coaches better be reading the riot act this week.
Now things get tough
Friday’s loss was huge missed opportunity for the Lions who now must travel to Calgary to play a cranky Stampeders team that dropped a game to the Alouettes. The following week they travel to Hamilton to play the Tiger-Cats who are playing good football and are undefeated at their new stadium.
They blew the game they had in hand on Winnipeg, and could easily find themselves fighting for their playoff lives once again. The good news is the Lions are 4-1 on the road this season, but this team needs to find consistency, creativity and the ability to adjust if they hope to make any noise down the stretch.
It was nice to hear that the Grey Cup ring of Mike Pinball Clemons was recovered after a fan made off with it Friday. The always friendly Clemons tossed his ring in the crowd for a fan to look at when a woman made a run for it with his valued possession. It goes without saying that Pinball is one of the most genuine, classiest and passionate guys this league has ever seen, so it’s nice that this story has a happy ending.
The woman who took the ring, claims it was a misunderstanding and that she feels terrible about it. That’s a tough story to swallow, but knowing Pinball, he would just flash that trademark smile and give the woman a big hug for returning it. That’s just the Pinball way.
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.