July 28, 2011

Mullin: Lions reeling heading into Week 5

Jim Mullin

“You have to be able to get a point.”

That was part of a Korey Banks rant to a local radio station after the Lions’ 39-31 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last Friday night at Empire.

Before Banks could get off the field, a microphone was pointed in his face, and he pointed a finger squarely in the direction of the offence after the team plummeted to 0-4.

The next day, Banks took it upon himself to set things straight. He called TEAM Radio to clear up the issue but was still dealing with the aftermath at Monday’s practice.

“It’s not our job to be too critical of the next man,” Banks said.

“They aren’t the guys who write our cheques. We just say whatever we have to say to each other. These are my 50 brothers. Whatever we say to each other should help the team to get better. Sometimes you have to put your ego in your back pocket. We’re a close-knit group. Definitely, losing games can be a divider. I’m not saying we’re divided. But the attitude is different. It puts a lot of pressure on everybody. That’s just natural.”

It’s been a bad week for Mr. Banks.

For those of you watching the TV version of the BC-Hamilton tilt, you would have witnessed football etiquette faux pas 101.

After the defence stumbled out of the gate and allowed a 14-0 leadt for the Tabbies, Banks returned a Kevin Glenn fumble back to the house for a TD.

He punctuated the play on the sideline with a throat slashing motion that is as passé as bell bottoms and platform shoes. The league got around to dealing with that on Wednesday, fining Banks. 

By the end of the week, he wasn’t all that talkative anymore.

Banks and the BC defence are well aware that the CFL head office will not only be curtailing gauche celebrations, but also clamping down on excessive hits on quarterbacks.

Toronto’s Ejiro Kuale was ejected and fined for being the latest to launch himself at the head of Winnipeg quarterback Buck Pierce.

“I don’t think it’s our intention to get Buck out of the game,” Banks said.

“We’re not even focusing on that. We treat Buck like every other quarterback in the league. The key to winning is: Get to the quarterback. But we don’t do head-hunting or anything like that.”
What is clear is that the Lions have started out flat offensively and defensively in all four of their games, and have been forced to piece together comebacks which have fizzled in the dying seconds of three of their games.

A large part of that is the failure of the new 30-defence designed by defensive coordinator Mike Benevides. The Lions have surrendered an average of 438 yards per game, which is by far the worst in the CFL.

While most of the ire on call-in shows and internet boards has been directed at Jacques Chapdelaine’s offence, we have yet to see how it would operate if the Lions had a lead at any point in a game in 2011.

It was good to see that following in the footsteps of Otis Floyd and Carl Kidd, Banks bared his emotions to his team mates. However, that tone would be best bottled up for the player introductions and not a post-game venting.

All eyes in the Lions scouting department are cast south where Emmanuel Arceneaux is taking his NFL shot with the Minnesota Vikings. The third-year receiver is one of the last to use the option year window rule between the CFL and NFL, so the Lions will wait patiently.

Arceneaux heads out to his first day of training camp today. All NFL teams will be in a rush to evaluate staff, so the Lions are hoping that the obvious talents of the 23-year-old slip through the cracks.

“My time in the CFL has helped me understand the gift that God has blessed me with,” Arceneaux said. When you train for football, whether it’s the CFL or NFL, it’s the same. You do cone drills, speed ladders, routes, weight training, film study, etc.”

In two seasons with the Lions, Arceneaux hauled in 130 receptions for 1,972 yards with 12 touchdowns.

With running back Jamal Robertson struggling in practice this week with a strained achilles, expect kick returner Tim Brown to get at least a few reps at tailback.

He’ll be in a rotation with sophomore CJFL grad Andrew Harris.