June 26, 2019

The Weekly Say: Is it too soon for concern in BC?

The Canadian Press

TORONTO — The off-season couldn’t have gone much better for the BC Lions.

Veteran GM Ed Hervey was able to pry Mike Reilly from the Eskimos, surrounding him with marquee free agents like Duron Carter, Sukh Chungh and Aaron Grymes.

DeVone Claybrooks was the energetic player’s coach that would light the fire, with a coaching staff of studious CFL minds like Nik Lewis, Ryan Phillips and Drew Tate.

On paper it all looked good. On paper.

In reality the Lions have struggled, starting the season 0-2. In losses to Winnipeg and Edmonton, two of their biggest roadblocks in the West, they’ve averaged 235 yards per game, allowed eight sacks and turned the ball over five times, a CFL-worst in each category.

It’s early, and in the CFL things can change quickly. But as a matchup with Calgary looms — and along with it the possibility of an 0-3 start — is there cause for concern in Van City?

The writers weigh in with the latest from The Weekly Say:

Is it too soon to worry about the BC Lions?

Mike Reilly is trending towards the worst season of his career with a 68.6 rating (The Canadian Press)

Jim Morris: Yes, it’s too early to worry. The Lions are still getting acquainted with each other. BC has also started the season against Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary, three Western powerhouses. There would be more concern if the Lions had lost to Montreal and Toronto. With Saskatchewan, Toronto and Montreal also struggling, the odds still remain very good for the Lions to make the playoffs.

Don Landry: It is. Two games in, the reviews are unflattering and deservedly so. Long way to go, though, with a roster filled with guys trying to familiarize themselves with one another. Now, that’s no guarantee that they will put it together. But it is far too early to conclude they can’t compete.

Donnovan Bennett: No. If they lose to Calgary who is at home and coming off a bye they’d fall to 0-3 and be three games back from top spot in the West. Just to get back to .500 they’d have to go 9-6 to finish the year. The West is too competitive to have a slow start.

Chris O’Leary: The biggest concern should be QB protection. With Saskatchewan 0-2 and Calgary 0-1, BC’s slow start can be made up for but if Mike Reilly is getting sacked seven times a game the season will not be a success.

Matthew Cauz: If Mike Reilly wasn’t so freakin’ tough I would go with a 100 per cent ‘Yes Guy’ (Trademark Jim Tatti). But giving up seven sacks to Edmonton and losing both games by double digits does put me in the ‘trouble is a brewing’ mindset with this team.

Marshall Ferguson: No, they seem to have a fatal flaw on the right side of the offensive line. Not ideal for a pass happy team with a right handed – and expensive – star quarterback.

Fan Poll
Is it too soon to worry about the BC Lions?
Yes, it's only Week 3
No, there's legitimate cause for concern

Are you buying the early Sean Thomas-Erlington hype?

Sean Thomas-Erlington has exploded for 268 combined yards in two games (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)

Landry: I’m definitely on the Sean Thomas-Erlington train. Partly because of his performances in the first two weeks of this season. Partly because he had a game in 2018 where he went off, as well, rushing for 92 yards on 11 carries against Winnipeg, including an incredible hurdle move over safety Taylor Loffler. Guy’s for real.

Bennett: Yes. If he is a stock I’m investing heavy now. He has a great offensive line, a play caller who believes in establishing the run and a worthy Canadian back up which means the ratio isn’t changing any time soon. It’s hard to find a complete running back in the modern era of football who isn’t a specialist. STE can do more than just run. He is a patient inside runner, has enough burst to get outside, has the long speed to make explosive plays plus is an above average pass protector and an elite route runner. Injury is the only potential reason he won’t be on the field for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Ferguson: Yes, I’ve seen it every day in practice. He’s been a sleeping monster for about two years and everyone is just finding out that a quick, powerful back with a low centre of gravity was good enough to surprise many with the Alex Green release.

Morris: For now, yes. He’s added an exciting element to the Hamilton offence. It also should be noted six of his carries have been for 10 yards or more. The one caution is it’s only two games into the season. Things might change as defences get more tape on him and coordinators figure out schemes to stop him. End of season will be a better measure.

O’Leary: I’m buying, in that I want to see more. He’s had one good game and one great game against two defences that by early indications aren’t great. I’m looking forward to seeing him against Calgary in Week 5.

Cauz: This is nothing against Sean who is a fantastic running back … but no. Last year in Hamilton we saw the “Alex Green” era, the “John White resurgence”, the “look out here comes Mercer Timmis” and of course the flashes of glory from Erlington. Gimmie another month.

Fan Poll
Are you buying the early Sean Thomas-Erlington hype?
Yes, he's legit
Not sold yet

Who has the better chance to win the West: Winnipeg or Edmonton?

Andrew Harris helped the Bombers get off to a 1-0 start before a Week 2 bye (Jimmy Jeong/CFL.ca)

Ferguson: Complete toss up for me right now, both are good enough to do it but it’s time to see them play Thursday!!

Landry: Winnipeg. By a slight margin. But before the season started, I’d have given that answer with much greater confidence. So, well done, Edmonton. Looks like you’re in the picture.

Cauz: I’m going with Winnipeg. They feel like the more complete team and, well, I wrote about whether this is “the year” for the Bombers so I gotta stay consistent. Until I flip flop.

O’Leary: Winnipeg. At this point, experience and having a core together for a long time gives them the edge. I can’t wait to see these teams play on Thursday.

Morris: Right now I would say Winnipeg. I like the Bombers’ veteran experience.

Bennett: Neither. Call me crazy but I still think Calgary will win the West when it’s all said and done despite all of the talent they’ve lost on defence. If I had to choose it would be Edmonton. It’s early but they seemed to have bet correctly on every major free agent decision.

Fan Poll
Who has the better chance to win the West?
Edmonton Eskimos
Winnipeg Blue Bombers