Lions Defeat Riders at home, but Still Have Room to Improve

Last Friday night (August 7th) was a good character win for the Lions. Defense and special teams played with emotion, a huge key to our victory. Kick returner Ryan Grice Mullen was excellent and will be hard to remove when Ian Smart gets healthy. Best game by the defensive line and linebackers so far this year.. Martell Mallett was unstoppable and deserved his last-minute TD. Buck managed the game well with just one pick in the first quarter on a throw he'd probably like back. The offensive game plan was sound and forced the Riders to make tackles all night and winning the battle for time of possession. To me the BC offensive looked a lot like the West Coast offense of the Bill Walsh-led San Francisco 49ers, with early motion thrown in for good measure. This game just may be the game that gets the grand piano off Buono's back and gives the team the confidence they need to be consistent and win going forward.

But a few familiar problems persist and must be corrected. The BC offense was successful but we seemed to be protecting the offensive line by running and using quick throws, which require only one-and a-half seconds of pass protection. All game long I was hoping for play action and a few balls thrown deep. If the DBs get burned deep early, the way our wide side corner was twice, they'll have to back off a bit and that would open up our underneath game to Simon and Paris Jackson. Perhaps Offensive Coordinator Dan Dorazio still lacks confidence in his offensive line's ability to provide the three or four seconds of protection necessary to throw deep.

While Grice Mullen ran the kick returns very well, we continued to take penalties on the punt and kickoff return teams, losing about 55 yards of field position on just one of three or four infractions. To their credit, that problem seemed to be corrected at halftime. Jerome Dennis and Rolly Lambala were able to freeze the kick returner and make tackles deep in the Saskatchewan end.

Our one short yardage offense continues to be an adventure. This is probably because they simply don't practice it enough, clearly a correctable problem. We have two other QBs who could run the sneak. I mean, how hard is it to wrap the ball with both hands and play to the whistle. As Ed Willes suggested in this morning's PROVINCE newspaper, "How about sending our best back (Mallett) behind our best lineman (Jimanez)? Jarius also missed a throw to Geroy that might have been a TD with a better, more finessed throw. Memo to Jarius: Every throw doesn't need to be thrown full force; learn to take a bit off of it every now and then. Finally, the idea is to throw the ball to the black and orange jersey, not the green and white one!!!!!!!!! Geez Louise. Memo the Dorazio: we were successful sending Mallett jumping over the pile in Edmonton. Why don't we keep doing that until someone stops us?

Sean Whyte continued his excellent play, doing all three jobs effectively and picking up three long snaps off the turf and getting the punt away with defenders all around him.. He will be hard to take out of the lineup, when a healthy Paul McCallum is available in September.

Finally, kudos to Defensive Coordinator Mike Benevides and the defense, who harassed Durant all night long and forced him to run for his life and make bad throws all night long. A true 60-minute effort. I have to believe having Dave Ritchie on the sidelines and former BC greats Norm Fieldgate, Tom Brown and the great Willie Fleming at the game gave the boys some extra incentive to succeed. We do need to fix that coverage breakdown that give Saskatchewan two easy TDs.

Next week we play the hapless Argos, who were terrible in a 27—0 suckfest against the Alouettes. I see no reason why the guys cannot repeat that defensive intensity all night long against the brutal Boatman from the Center of the Universe.

Dooger, in soggy Surrey

There's always room to improve but it was a great first step. My only real complaint was how our lines were playing. Once that is permenatly fixed, we'll be good to go!

Coach Buono and his staff produced a real character win last Friday against Saskatchewan and have a lot to build on for the next game in T'rona. That sound you've heard recently on Team 1040 and TSN recently is the bandwagon jumpers leaping back on board, after jumping off in desperation a week earlier. It is the yoyo syndrome at work.

Memo to Vancouver's fair-weather football fans:

Anyone can support a team during good times. The measure of your worth as a Lions fan is how well you support your team when they're struggling. Honestly, did anyone out there expect the Leos to bust out with four or five wins in the first third of the season, given the major re-building and change of player leadership that took place during the off season and training camp? This team, In my opinion, will now continue to get better and better each week. Sure there may be a few bumps in the road, with Calgary and Montreal being so dominant. But that is expected with so many new players getting used to three-down football and finding their way in a new city.

Wally Buono is clearly the best coach in this league and you will find no better coordinators than Dan Dorazio and Mike Benevides. These guys are working 18-hour days to put a successful AND entertaining product on the field, so cut them a bit of slack and save your boos for the Blue Jays and Mariners. Dave Ritchie's presence will further solidify the defense.

Rookies Martell Mallett, James Yurichuck and Adrian Emmanuel Arceneaux are already effective and will be that much better come November. Daren Heerspink, Dean Valli and Bobby Singh will create that much-needed cohesiveness on the left side of the O-line. First year defensive tackle Jeremy Gibbs is a stud in the middle. Treston George, Ricky Foley and Darren Toney have improved each week. When Paul McCallum returns we'll have more depth at kicker than anyone in the league. The reacquisition of fiery linebacker JoJuan Armour has solidified the Mike linebacker spot. If we choose to play a 4-3-5 javy Glatt could excel at outside linebacker.

We already have more depth at quarterback than anyone in the league. Just think how Montreal would suffer if Anthony Cavillo went down. Buck is essentially still a second-year QB and has an excellent upside. Jarius brings a spark and can stretch the defense when called upon. He just needs to be a bit more conscientious with ball security during short yardage situations and he'll be fine. I would love to see him line up as a tight end or running back. With his size he could knock down DBs like bowling pins.

After a tough start Ryan Grice Mullen has been a special teams standout. He' ll get more and more touches on offensive as the season progresses. He may have the biggest upside of any of the new Lions. (Yes I know he played a few games for us last year, but he is still essentially a CFL rookie.)

To conclude: Take the long view. Don't obsess over a few early bumps in the road. That philosophy works really well, whether you're a sports fan, beginning a new job or running a business.

Dooger, Forum Posting Hog

Wally never needed to get vindicated. HIs career speaks for itself.

Good to see some fans showing positive pride instead of negative whining. In pro sports, the average team loses roughly half of the time and fans acquire a love-hate relationship with their home teams.