ULLRICH: Right time for Lulay move, just ask Wally

There’s so many other more logical ways when in search for some pithy analysis about the move to start Travis Lulay for the B.C. Lions once again.

A call to Matt Dunigan or Giulio Caravatta. A close look at the numbers, or perhaps, the medical charts. Contract status. Marketing. Plenty of ways to start the debate.

You could do all that, or you could just leave it to Wally Buono to provide instant analysis on the morning after he was forced to tell Jon Jennings for the second time in his young CFL career that he needs to watch for awhile.

Here’s Buono, once again in Canadian Football Hall of Fame quote form, asked by the Winnipeg Free Press why he pulled the trigger on the move just three games into the season in advance of Saturday’s rematch against the Blue Bombers.

“You were at the game last week, weren’t you? I’m not that smart and you’re not that dumb. Most people aren’t surprised; most people aren’t questioning the decision. Most people are saying, ‘if they’re a BC Lions fan, what took you so long’? ”

Make no mistake, TSN is missing out if they can’t get the retiring coach away from his grandkids for the odd stint on the panel next year.

There’s definitely been an element of the Lions fan base who had been saying much the same thing about Jennings almost since the day he threw four interceptions in a game last August in Saskatchewan.

If the decision-making by Jennings wasn’t getting him down, it certainly seemed as if it was having an effect on everyone else. Ever since the 41-8 loss to the Riders, Jennings arguably hasn’t been the same, unable to beat any team other than Montreal or Winnipeg.

Jennings had cut down on interceptions but it also had the net effect of limiting his effectiveness with the number of shorter throws he was making as he tried to adapt to a new scheme under offensive coordinator Jarious Jackson.

So the coach had to make a move and can only be thankful the Lions have a viable alternative under contract, which again points out the value of depth at the position.

There’s still a reasonable chance that Jennings will be needed before the year is out, based on injuries sustained at the position and by the quarterback who is replacing him.

But neither Lulay nor Buono are of the opinion the new quarterback behind centre is being rushed back and the Lions are in desperation mode before Labour Day.

“Shoot, it’s time,” Lulay said, explaining how he had gone from describing himself from being 90 per-cent ready to fully committed in a matter of days. “You don’t put a plan in your head, you just got be ready when the opportunity calls and the team needs you. It’s funny the timeline worked out for me.”

Just like that, nearly 10 months of rehab work that is never seen in the outside world is dismissed until Lulay is asked whether he ever doubted he could make it back to start a third time in his Lions career.

And it is only then when it becomes clear that no matter what lies ahead, Lulay is ready to face the future, because should he suffer a major injury for the fourth time Jennings will be needed by the Lions yet again. With this team, it’s just how things roll.

Lulay spent almost half his off-season rehabilitation following late September ACL surgery without a contract as a pending free agent. It provides perspective Jennings can only hope to achieve, albeit with fewer injury setbacks.

“When you hear someone say they tore they ACL you just think, in 10 months he’ll be back. That’s how you view it on the outside. But when you’re that person, you know what that next 10 months entails,” said Lulay.

“I’m at a stage of my life that stuff doesn’t overwhelm me. If I was done (last year) I was done and I was OK with it. But when I sat down (to sign a new contract) there were no guarantees. It’s funny: When you start to turn the corner (in rehab) you start to remember …. there was a time when I couldn’t jump over a line with my foot.”

Only one thing remains for Lulay, and it’s the one thing that hasn’t happened to him since Branden Dozier and John Bowman of the Alouettes met him seconds into the quarterback’s last game for the Lions in September.

Lulay hasn’t even come close to taking a hit since the injury, which means no accurate analysis of the decision to change quarterbacks can be rendered until he does, unless of course his team has a coach who can also serve as an analyst.

Buono thought for weeks that one of the biggest obstacles facing Lulay would only be eliminated when he takes a shot from an opponent. It’s something that never happened once to Matt Nichols when he made his return from injury for Winnipeg last week against B.C. and was a source of embarrassment to the Lions every bit equal to their inability to throw for 200 yards.

“ I hope Travis gets hit early so he knows he’s ok,” said Buono. “Matt Nichols must not think he’s OK because he didn’t get hit, so I think Travis is going to be at a huge advantage.”

Analysis like that you can’t get anywhere else.

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.
Lowell Ullrich
Lowell Ullrich
About Lowell Ullrich (179 Articles)
Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.

17 Comments on ULLRICH: Right time for Lulay move, just ask Wally

  1. Oh boy hope he’s ready

  2. Replacing Johnny Jennings with a scarecrow would be an upgrade for BC.

    At least the scarecrow won’t throw any ridiculous INTs.

    • Many Handles 7 ARSE 51 MUST be BANNED // July 14, 2018 at 4:33 am //

      Replacing ARSE 51 with a scarecrow would be an upgrade for 3DN.

      At least the scarecrow won’t throw out any cartoonishly braindead comments.

  3. The only senerio that I see Jennings remaining a Lion at the start of the 2019 season is if Hervey does NOT sign Mike Reilly when he becomes a free agent in 2019 AND Travis Lulay does NOT retire.
    In other words, if Ed Hervey signs Mike Reilly when he becomes a free agent in 2019 and Travis Lulay decides to remain an active player in 2019; Lulay becomes the backup to Reilly. If Travis retires to become a QB coach or offensive co-ordinator in the CFL, then Jennings will be the backup to Reilly next season.

    • It makes ZERO sense for the Lions to waste a roster spot with Johnny Jennings. The guy is hopeless. Definitely not a pro level QB.

      WTF would BC keep a proven failure like Jennings arlund as the clipboard holder?

      Do a bit of scouting and go get a QB like Chris Streveler to be a back up.

      • Is the only sentence you know “not a pro level quarterback”?

        His stats for 2015/16 prove you wrong. Simple. He has clearly regressed and is suffering a confidence crisis and is not a starting QB right now, but that does not make him “not a pro level quarterback”. You know SFA about the game and SFA about quarterbacks and yet you continue to pollute this place with our noxious fumes.

    • Wow. Why would the Eskimos not re-sign their franchise quarterback in Mike Reilly? That’s some wild speculation there.

  4. Evil Empire // July 14, 2018 at 12:08 am //


    Mike Reilly won’t be a free agent. They’ll extend him at some point this season. You obviously are convinced he’ll become a Lion. You’re dreaming, and are going to end up very disappointed. Ask Rider fan about counting on getting an Eskimo QB.

    His chemistry with his receivers in Edm is something he’s not going to be willing to lose. Friendship ( with Lulay ) is one thing. But, this is Pro Football.

    • Many Handles 7 ARSE 51 MUST be BANNED // July 14, 2018 at 4:39 am //

      Offensive Coordinator NEXT year ? Holy crap Batman. Some people never heard of working their way through the ranks. Some people really don’t have a clue how things really work but man do they like to talk like they do.

      • The current (Jurious Jackson) and previous (Kahari Jones) offensive coordinators that the Lions have had have NOT done a good job. Doubtful that Lulay would be anointed the OC next season but Lulay has been a BC Lions since 2009 and for the last several seasons has taken on a mentoring/coaching role for Jennings. Lelay certainly could not do any worse if he were to become the OC of the Lions next season compared to the jobs Jackson and Jones have done in the position.

    • Evil you are forgetting several important considerations: Reilly’s friendship and connection with Hervey; Lions will pay Reilly more; better climate and city in Vancouver compared to Edmonton (sorry comment not a put down of Exmonton; just the honest truth and fact); better stadium; the connection that Rielly has with Eskimos receivers can also be established with the current Lions receivers. You will be the one likely disappointed when Reilly becomes a Lion, but thanks for your reply.

  5. Best move for BC. Love Jennings but Lulay is a serious QB. Unfortunate that he can appear to be made of glass. With out injuries he’d have been an unbelievable pivot.

  6. Colour me green // July 14, 2018 at 11:01 am //

    Lulay will be injured yet again. Get use to Jennings. Same situation here with Riders.

  7. True Green // July 14, 2018 at 12:55 pm //

    I hope Chris Jones does not go after Jennings when the Lions inevitably release him!

  8. Paul Bomber // July 14, 2018 at 2:12 pm //

    Woah-Woah-Woah – stop right there, 3Down!
    Wally on the tsn panel? Pah-lease! They already have enough patronizing, annoying walking egos (hello hank burris). Although nothing an extra 5 minutes of buffer on the pvr can’t fix.

    • Ed Ellis // July 14, 2018 at 3:04 pm //

      Paul – you gotta admit… it would be funny to have him there occasionally, biting his lip like its a sunflower seed, then just interrupting the panel with some off the wall Wally-ism.

    • Bono would be an upgrade over Burris who is annoying to listen to and contributes NOTHING to the panel discussion.

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