B.C. Lions can’t explain why season is slipping away

Rookie B.C. Lions linebacker Micah Awe says he has little experience to draw from as he tries to understand the dire situation currently facing the CFL club.

Neither do any of his teammates.

The Lions are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the first time in 21 seasons, and both veterans and first-year players alike are having a difficult time dealing with their potential fate.

B.C. (6-8) travels to face the 10-4 Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday needing a victory _ plus losses by the 8-6 Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders _ to stay in contention for post-season play. According to sportsclubstats.com, the Lions’ chance of maintaining their playoff streak is 6.3 per cent.

It could all be over for the Lions by the time their charter aircraft arrives at home Saturday night.

Amid the uncertainty are first-year players like Awe, a well-spoken 23-year-old. Awe said the team is still trying to find an identity 14 games into the season, with no veterans able to help him out.

“One thing I’ve heard from the veterans is that this is the most talented team they’ve been on. I found that very ironic,” said Awe, who played in three college bowl games and had just one losing season during his four-year stint at Texas Tech.

“We’ve always heard the cliche that hard work beats talent. To me, that’s not necessarily true. When talent can’t figure it out, it doesn’t matter. We have the talent. We’re not executing.

“Either we’re really good or really bad and nothing between.”

The downturn in fortunes this season after a posting a 12-6 mark in 2016 has been followed by questions as to whether owner David Braley will sell his team, or if coach/general manager Wally Buono will retire.

Attendance at Lions games is projecting to be the lowest since 2002, with a reported average of 19,953 fans turning out to the seven home games played at B.C. Place Stadium this year.

Buono said getting his team to maintain some confidence down the stretch is as big a challenge as facing the Blue Bombers. Veteran players like receiver Manny Arceneaux point to the lack of a killer instinct. In the Lions’ last game, they gave up a 19-point lead in a 30-25 loss to Ottawa.

“If the guys that’s in it for the long haul show up these next weeks of football, things can work in our favour. But when confidence wavers, just be a man about it and let guys know,” said Arceneaux, one of a handful of veterans who have never missed the CFL playoffs.

As one of 27 players who will be without a contract for next season, Arceneaux warned that some teammates might be more interested in padding their statistics for possible employment elsewhere.

“Maybe there are guys thinking, ‘I want to play in the NFL.’ If you’re not getting the job done here you’re definitely not going to get the job done there,” he said. “You got to be realistic with yourself. A lot of things people rely on is potential. We’ve been relying on potential too long and (the job) hasn’t gotten done.

“It’s kinda sort of a joke to me?(like), how did we get into this position?”

Arceneaux has done his part. He is tied for 10th in league receiving and is on pace for his third straight year catching passes for more than 1,000 yards. Bigger problems for the Lions are inconsistency at quarterback and lack of production along the line of scrimmage.

Jon Jennings is near the bottom of nearly every passing category for quarterbacks this season. B.C.’s offensive line has allowed more sacks than every team but Toronto and have the least combined defensive sacks and pressures, which is also aided by the secondary allowing 29 pass completions of 30 yards or longer.

B.C. has won its last two meetings with Winnipeg, including a victory in last year’s West Division semifinal, each in come-from-behind fashion. A return to that playoff game this year is almost out of the question.

Many different questions about the Lions remain, however.

“This is really where you’re going to see what team this is like in the last four games,” Awe said.

– CP

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.
Lowell Ullrich
Lowell Ullrich
About Lowell Ullrich (180 Articles)
Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.

25 Comments on B.C. Lions can’t explain why season is slipping away

  1. Paul Bomber // October 11, 2017 at 8:17 pm //

    If we can keep the headhunter Awe out of the playoffs, the rest of the league can buy Wpg a beer. Is Montreal and their dirtbag Hebert eliminated yet? Would be great to get through the playoffs with no concussions! Just worried who’s career Awe will try to end this weekend….

    • Micah Awe has acknowledged he has made mistakes, expressed regret and admitted that he needs to rethink how he plays the game. So far he seems to be doing that. Your suggestion that his purpose in football is to “end someone’s career” is not based upon fact and quite frankly a stupid comment.

      • Paul Bomber // October 12, 2017 at 12:30 pm //

        He’s a headhunter. It’s not like it was a one-time thing. He expressed regret ONLY after he got in trouble, so I doubt his sincerity. However, it’s hard to argue with such an erudite and cutting retort as “stupid comment”. Is that from Shakespeare… Richard III or Othello, perhaps?

      • Paul Bomber: look no further than your own team’s safety as one of the worst “headhunters” in the CFL – since you are seeing fit to call the behaviour out, review the conduct of Winnipeg players. Last season, Loffler almost took Arceneux’s head off. Since you’ve acquired the skill at knowing what intentions these players have, I expect you’ll know what Loffler was intending when he played the body and not the ball on a defenseless receiver in the end zone.

  2. Things have not worked out as planned. The Lions are simply being outplayed and out coached. Time for new ownership to save this once proud franchise and for that owner to bring in young new leadership from top to bottom. Simple as that.

    • My God. Out coached how? Amazing how people jump on a rumour like blind sheep and beat the snot out of it.

  3. Blackhawk89 // October 11, 2017 at 9:17 pm //

    Much like Toronto the lions could go 18-0 and score 40 points per game and nobody will show up it’s a lost cause in these 2 cities nobody cares about the cfl outside the small regular fanbases

    • Funny you mention Toronto and Vancouver, but in reality the CFL is not drawing all that well in Montreal either. I’m essence it’s struggling in the three largest Canadian cities. Makes no sense to me as a CFL fan, but you can’t argue the facts. Have the major cities outgrown the CFL? Is it NFL envy? Not sure but if the league loses the three largest markets, I can’t see it lasting. Sad but true!

      • Blue Rules // October 12, 2017 at 10:22 am //

        Perhaps its time CFL looks at smaller markets, 500,000 ish metropolitan areas, Quebec City, Kitchener/Waterloo, London & Victoria BC, Montreal has found an answer of sort, reduce costs and play out of a university stadium (about 20,000). In the 80’s everyone wanted 50/60 thousand seat stadiums, costs are way too high.

    • oceanvista // October 11, 2017 at 10:41 pm //

      @Blackhawk89, You’re wrong to lump Greater Vancouver in with Toronto and say it’s a lost cause if they go 18-0 and score 40 points. People want an exciting team here. Wally’s teams play pedestrian, risk-averse football. No gadget plays, onside kicks, few blitzes etc.

      While it’s certainly not Regina or Winnipeg, even Ottawa, the appetite for the CFL is bigger here than Toronto. It’s just that it’s an extremely high cost of living out here. Not a lot of disposable dollars, and people clearly are not willing to pay top dollar for middle of the road product.

      • Vancouver may not be Toronto but the interest in the CFL and the Lions is slipping away. Vancouver is filled with Seahawk lovers.

      • So why do they of to Canuck games? They are not even middle of the road.
        And…How do you explain lousy attendance when we did play exciting football? JJ lit it up and we still had to shut down the upper bowl last year.

  4. The problem with the Lions start with Buono and the coaches. We know that Jon Jennings is not a good qb, very inconsistent, maybe in a few years he can be an elite qb. offensive line, defensive line and defensive backs are horrible. Major overhaul is needed during the off season. They need to take a lesson from Calgary. They know how to find talents and manage a team well. Maybe it’s time for Buono to go so we can get some fresh blood in there. Look at Winnipeg and Saskatchewan, they do much better than the Lions under new coaches and new players.

    • So other than the coaches,all,of them, the Offensive Line, Defensive Line and Defensive backfield, they are a good team? Lol

  5. Where is the super Scout?

  6. Aging defense and a young QB who has plateaued already?? Someone has to finish last.

  7. Im a Ticats fan living in BC and dont even try and compare Toronto to BC in fan base. There are lots of Lions fans. It is just as mentioned the cost of living here and the fact you have a lot of choices as to where to spend your entertainment dollars. When the teams losing no one wants to pay $40 for parking $50 to $100 for. Ticket and $10 for a beer. If the team is winning it is less of an issue. Game times are also an issue. Ticats played here and start time was 8:30pm on a Friday night? League needs to schedule better for all teams.

    • No one also wants a full pat-down upon entry, a closed roof in dry weather, non-stop advertising throughout the game and to be told when to “make some noise”. Then we have to look at the latest Lions ugly uniforms with the tramp-stamp logo. And the Felions outfits are looking worse too.

    • Hey Garney (great name for a Ticats fan), what about people flocking to see Canucks? If you’re a fan of a team, you’ll find room for them in your budget – my gosh, there’s only nine or ten games a year, compared to hockey and soccer. Scheduling might impact somewhat. Still, other factors at play it would appear.

  8. Garnet, agree with most of what you are saying but the cost of living and choice of things to do are problems exist in Toronto as well.

  9. TouchDownBC // October 12, 2017 at 8:28 pm //

    Another Loss coming saturday….Bluebombers 35 BC 0

  10. Lions 29 Bombers 15

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