Let’s get something clear right off the top; I’m a BC Lions fan. Before being a blogger or podcaster, I’m a fan of this team to my core.
Which is why it pains me to write this piece here on 3DownNation.com. I don’t want to rip my team, even though there are many times in my 8 years of blogging about the team that I’ve felt like doing so. Usually after a loss I wait until the next day to write to let a cooler head prevail, but this one burned.
In the end, I pay my money just like you do, and after what I sat through Sunday afternoon at BC Place, it’s time to vent. It was embarrassing for the fans, it was embarrassing for the organization, and if you aren’t embarrassed and pissed off, then there is something wrong. In the almost 40 years I’ve followed this team I have never left a game feeling so frustrated.
The Lions held the ball for just 18:15. No, that’s not one of my famous Twitter typos…18:15. The offence was unimaginative, couldn’t execute the original game plan, and were unable to execute any adjustments that were made. More than that, it was lifeless, with guys moping their way off the field and moping around on the sidelines.
Andrew Harris had 4 carries for 3 yards. He left the building without showering or speaking with reporters.
How can you blame Harris for blowing off steam? In a game where you start your backup QB, starting his first CFL game, you completely abandon your biggest (and at many times this season only) offensive weapon? It hasn’t just been this game either, the run blocking has been horrible for at least 3 games. They aren’t being nearly physical enough on the line, or they simply aren’t capable of doing it.
On one play in the 3rd quarter Harris released out of the backfield and was wide open 15 yards downfield with no one around him and John Beck didn’t even look at him.
Emmanuel Arceneaux who got into it on Twitter with Jovon Johnson of the Redblacks earlier in the week, had another ball thrown his way intercepted simply because he didn’t put up a fight for the ball. You’re familiar with walking the walk, right?
The offence of George Cortez was putrid. Granted there were times when the players on the field were responsible, but by and large this offence has fans thinking life with Jacques Chapdelaine, heck even Khari Jones wasn’t so bad after all.
Jeff Tedford was brought here with the reputation of being an offensive football innovator. If that’s the case it’s time that he display some of that, whether that means he takes over the offence or not. But Cortez doesn’t have the attention of the players, and last year in Saskatchewan his offence was horrible after Darian Durant went down, even though he had two great running backs at his disposal.
Defensively you can’t be too hard on the Lions who didn’t allow a Redblacks touchdown in until the 3rd quarter. But being on the field for 41:45 of the game was simply too much and Burris picked them apart in the fourth quarter. However, the penchant for giving up first downs on 2nd and long continued and when Mic’hael Brooks left the game the seas parted in the Lions defensive line.
Change is Needed
Wally Buono is facing the biggest issues this club has had during his tenure. Have he and his scouting staff done a good enough job scouting players? The Lions used to regularly find diamonds in the rough, but the pickings have been slim the last few seasons. They haven’t built up the Canadian depth on the offensive line, they draft players they never see, and they can’t seem to find dominant defensive linemen despite other teams doing so on a regular basis.
Buono has earned the right to ride this out and certainly can’t be a happy man after what he saw Sunday. In the past he hasn’t been afraid to make a bold move to shake up his locker room and you have to wonder if he’s reached that point now. Whether he makes a change in the coaching staff or cuts a veteran, something needs to be done to send a message to the players and the fan base, that the current results aren’t nearly good enough.
With the Lions dressing the youngest team in the league, many playing the CFL game for the first time, no one was expecting them to dominate. But they did expect there would be progress, growth and at the very least a team that played hard. That has hardly been the case so far, and with two games coming up in Alberta, the Lions season could be on life support in two weeks.
As I wrote a couple weeks ago, it may be time for David Braley to sell the BC Lions. The Lions will tell you that Braley gives them what they need, which sounds fine, but we need an owner that will give them more than they need. At this stage in his life Mr. Braley isn’t likely to invest a large sum of money in something he doesn’t plan to own much longer. His investment in marketing has been poor based on the numbers.
The same face painted fans are plastered on posters on repeat, season ticket prices keep going up for less perks and a subpar product on the field. Sunday’s crowd of 19,833 (not a chance that many were there) is a clear sign that off the field, the Lions have a huge task staring them in the face. It’s something they should have seen happening 4 years ago.
All of the work that Bob Ackles did to bring back fans has been eroded. Many of those fans that came back were long time Lions fans and since then, the team has done little to engage millennials. They refuse to or are unwilling to fight for tailgating, something that young fans would be interested in, even though they have lots around the stadium if they chose to put in the work to secure them for such a purpose. But it’s too much hassle, and they would rather take the easy way out and promote their street party as the place to be.
Under Dennis Skulsky the Lions fan base is dwindling, the numbers don’t lie and many fans feel alienated from the team. Other team’s host fan forums with their season ticket holders. A no-holds barred, tell us what you’re thinking event. The Lions don’t seem to feel the need to give their ticket holders the same courtesy (except ones that don’t renew) and I’ve sent e-mails that don’t even get the courtesy of a reply.
And so this is where we find ourselves. A once perennially competitive CFL franchise that is struggling on and off the field. Every team rebuilds and I’ll be here to ride this one out and all Lions fans should be too. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about this team, not only now but in the future unless some important changes are made.
You and the Lions should be too.