September 14, 2019

Lions on the prowl for continued improvement

Brandon Rutley runs away from a tackle against the Ottawa REDBLACKS in Week 14. (The Canadian Press)

VANCOUVER — A win’s a win.

It wasn’t perfect, but the BC Lions will take it. However, they’re not feeling content with the type of performance they put on the field at BC Place Friday night against the Ottawa REDBLACKS when they won just their second game of the season 29-5.

According to Head Coach DeVone Claybrooks, Brandon Rutley pointed out inside the locker room following their win that 21 points were left out on the field due to key mistakes. Luckily for the Lions, those mistakes didn’t cost them, but that luck may not always be on their side as they look to turn around their 2-10 season.

“It’s about the details, and it’s about when you have an opponent and you have them in a vulnerable position, you’ve got to finish them,” Claybrooks told following the game. “You can’t keep giving them life.


» Recap: Lions air attack comes together in win over REDBLACKS
» Images: REDBLACKS vs Lions
» By the Numbers: View Boxscore
» Watch: Carter gets first TD as a BC Lions
» Morris: Lions paying attention to detail to improve O-line


Quarterback Mike Reilly completed 20 of his 29 pass attempts for the night, passing for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Friday, he would also pass Tom Burgess and Sam Etcheverry for 15th on the league’s all-time passing yards list.

Opting to disregard the accomplishment, the former MOP elected to focus on the continued improvements that the team can be making with the remaining portion of the season.

“It felt really good to get a win at home, a convincing one at that. I think the coolest part was the way that I felt, and I think the way the rest of the guys felt, you could tell that we certainly were not content because there was just a lot of concentration on being happy about a win but also knowing that we left a lot of stuff out there based on some mistakes that we made.”

Reilly addressed the two interceptions he threw, along with a fumble the team committed that put a halt to an otherwise good-looking drive.

Perhaps the biggest improvement by the Lions has been that of their offensive line. Friday marked the first time this season that their line held the defence without committing a sack.

“I thought they played great tonight. They were the game ball recipients tonight,” said Reilly. “There’s been a lot of eyes on them, but when you’re struggling in protection people are going to assume it’s the offensive line. Tonight, it was awesome to be in that pocket and to hear them communicating and knowing that they were picking things up. There was multiple times tonight that we were able to play the style of offence that we’ve been wanting to.”

Reilly added that he had time to get comfortable inside the pocket on Friday against the REDBLACKS. So much so that he had time to advance through to the backend of his progressions on more than one occasion.

“Right before halftime, we had Bryan Burnham get down to the three or four-yard line and he was the last guy in the progression. Duron Carter and I were a fingertip away from a 50-plus yard touchdown where he was on the backside of where I was reading. I thought they did a very nice job and again, it’s not an easy task against a defence that brings the pressures.”

While the Lions continue to work at improving their consistency through all three phases of the game, and ultimately the feeling of their backs up against the wall, whether or not their season can be saved remains to be answered.

“The answer to the question will be answered next week,” said Claybrooks. “If we come out and we play just like we played this week, then it’s great. But if we come out and lay an egg, then it was all for not.”

The Lions will be facing the REDBLACKS next week on Saturday, September 21st. It will mark the back half of a home-and-home series in Ottawa at TD Place Stadium.