Before the alarm is sounded, let's point out a couple of things.
Travis Lulay is close to returning to the B.C. Lions' lineup and if there were any questions about the Montana Kid's importance to this team, they've been answered emphatically over the last month. The Lions' defence has also held up its end of the bargain and if they ever get a chance to operate in conjunction with a competent offence, their quality will show. Finally, the CFL season doesn't really start until Labour Day which means all this might be a distant memory in another month.
So try to remember all that. It's difficult while the nightmarish images of Friday night's debacle at The Dome are still fresh in the collective consciousness of the Lions' faithful but don't give up on this team just yet.
It's possible they'll get better.
After all, it doesn't seem possible they can get any worse.
"It is shocking," said Andrew Harris as the smoke from the tire fire rose around him at B.C. Place. "Yes it is. We were riding high and to lose at home like this is shocking."
Shocking to Harris. Shocking to head coach Mike Benevides. And shocking to the crowd of 25,321 that showed up for Geroy Simon's induction into the Lions' Ring of Honour.
"To say the least it's frustrating and disappointing and it angers you because we had all kinds of things going in the right direction," said Benevides after the Leos' loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
"If these guys need to be pissed off to play, then I guess they should be pissed off from this."
And if they're not, they have an even bigger problem.
In reviewing the events of Friday night, it's hard to conceive of the comprehensive nature of the Lions' ineptitude. The final score - 23-6 - was bad enough. But, if anything, it flattered the home team. Quarterback Kevin Glenn, who looked dazed and confused for most of the night, was sacked six times. As a result, Glenn threw two back-breaking interceptions. The Lions took a surreal 122 yards on 14 penalties, a development which completely killed their field-position game.
If that wasn't enough, they also lost a fumble, all of which amounted to two puny Paul McCallum field goals and a lot of angst in the stands.
"The game isn't that complicated" said Benevides. "You have to execute. You have to make plays. You have to maintain the football. This wasn't good enough at all."
"I think it was shocking we couldn't get anything going, especially after last week (a 41-5 win over Montreal)," said Glenn. "That's the biggest thing."
That win over the Als, however, seemed like a cruel joke by the time the clock ticked down on Friday night. The previous week, the Lions' offence was efficient, diversified and productive and seemed to have cleaned themselves of the inconsistency which plagued them over their first two outings.
But it all came back in horrific fashion against the Bombers. On the Lions' first possession, Glenn missed a wide open Manny Arceneaux on a potential home run and the tone for the evening was set. The Bombers would open a 9-0 lead in the first half before the Lions actually came back with two McCallum field goals - the second occasioned by an inspirational catch and run by Courtney Taylor which should have given the Leos a huge lift heading into the third quarter.
Instead, Glenn threw a room-service interception to Ejiro Kuale early in the second half and any chance the Lions had to seize the initiative evaporated into the night air.
"We just didn't match their intensity," said offensive lineman Dean Valli. "We thought we were pretty hot stuff after last week."
At least that won't be a problem next week in Calgary.
Glenn was yanked after the third-quarter interception but was just as ineffective when he returned. The Lions' defence surrendered just one touchdown and did their damndest to keep their team in the game. But, short of producing 14 points by themselves, whatever they offerered wasn't going to be enough on this night.
"You can't win a game when you score six points," Benevides said.
So, in the immortal words of Mr. Peabody to Sherman, it's back to the old drawing board for the Lions. Last week, they looked like world beaters against the Als. This week they looked like the worst team in the league. Add it up and you get an average team which is probably an accurate assessment of the Leos at this stage of the season.
But average has never cut it for this franchise during the Wally Buono era.
"We definitely wanted to win for Geroy," said Ryan Phillips. "He's a dear friend of mine and we wanted to see him go out on a good note.
"Geroy's going to bleed orange and black., He's a part of us. I wanted to win for him and I feel bad we didn't get it done tonight."
Felt bad. Looked bad. Played bad. It was just a bad night all the way around.
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