B.C. offence sputtering along
Consistency missing: Lulay and Co. are not exactly firing on all cylinders this season
Theories, there are plenty of theories.
In the absence of Geroy Simon, a leader has yet to emerge from the new group of receivers.
No? Then how about the old standby, the play-calling has grown stale and predictable. Or maybe you want to blame it on the newly formed offensive line. Or maybe it's the running game and Andrew Harris. Or maybe it's the passing game and Shawn Gore. Or maybe they need another new jersey.
It's hard to say.
But, in the end, you don't have to be Don Coryell to identify the source of the Lions' offensive malaise because, well, it's been the same story since the forward pass was introduced to the game.
"I'm the trigger guy," said Travis Lulay, shortly before the team flew to Montreal Tuesday for Thursday night's game against the Als. "I feel the weight when we're not doing well. I mean, we all do. But being the quarterback you want to be the guy who makes the engine go."
And right now that engine isn't exactly firing on all cylinders.
While the Leos aren't at a crisis point with their offence just yet, the group's production has been an issue through the first seven games of the season and was again a sore point in the 26-22 win over Calgary Saturday night. On the team's first possession, Lulay went 4-for-4 for 74 yards, highlighted by a 40-yard touchdown pass to Harris.
For the next 55 minutes, he was a ghastly 12-of-24 for 149 yards and three interceptions. True, the Lions won the game on defence and special teams but the plain fact is they're not going to win too often when their quarterback looks like Luc Tousignant.
For Lulay, the Stampeders game also marked a low point in what's been a mediocre start to the season. While the Leos are 5-2 and he gets a passing grade on game management, he's yet to throw for over 300 yards in a game and sits in the middle of the pack in most of the league's quarterback metrics. Thus far, the B.C. offence hasn't held up its end of the bargain and while they maintain they're close to a breakout performance, the faithful are still waiting.
"Our identity is very, very clear," said head coach Mike Benevides. "We're a team that's going to run the football and be multiple in our formations. Our quarterback is going to execute and he'll find opportunities for explosive plays. We've seen all those pieces. It's just a matter of putting them together."
Sounds simple enough. So why hasn't it happened? "We're ready to get better," said Lulay. "To be honest, we've been a little frustrated over the last couple of weeks because we're really close. I know you're not there until you do it. But we remain a confident group."
Which means they don't discourage easily.
Lulay, as ever, takes the criticism in stride. When the litany of offensive shortcomings was recited to him on Tuesday, he nodded his head and said, simply, "All that's fair." He remains an exemplary role model and shares more with the Sedins than hair colour.
But you can also make the case he hasn't been the same quarterback since the 2011 when he was the league's most outstanding player and the MVP of the Grey Cup. Then, he looked for all the world like a franchise quarterback.
Now? Well, you pull for the guy because he's a quality individual. But he has to convince his team and the rest of the league he's still the quarterback who led the Lions to the league championship two seasons ago.
"It's going to come," said Benevides. "We've seen it. What we want to see is longer stretches of it. Let's have a game where we see it from the first drive to the last drive, and not just flashes of it."
As for the identity crisis within the offence, Lulay said it's all pretty simple: "I do believe when we're at our best, we use all our guys, we run the football and we take our shots when you're there. It's just the consistency hasn't been there and I know it starts with me."
Ends there, too.
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