Not so Special Performance Leaves the BC Lions in Tough

Jonathon Jennings

The BC Lions were in complete and total control of their game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Saturday evening at BC Place Stadium. The Lions were playing well on offence and defence, building a 23-6 lead by half-time, before their special teams performed a collapse that would let the Bombers back in the game.

A few morning after thoughts for your Thanksgiving Sunday reading.

Jennings Continues to Impress

Yes he threw two interceptions, but Jonathan Jennings was outstanding in the first half. There is still a lot of growth to occur, but you have to love the way he stands in there and delivers passes on a rope. It’s been a long time since the Lions have seen this type of talent at QB and fans should be very excited about the future.

There were of course, some blips. An intentional grounding call that should have been thrown out of bounds, an interception that was on Jennings and one that looked like some miscommunication between himself and Manny Arceneaux, and of course the Lions not being able to sustain drives in the second half.

I saw a tweet following the game that Jennings accomplishments should be ignored because the success has come against the Riders and Bombers. Funny that neither Mike Reilly nor Bo Levi Mitchell had the same success against the Bombers defence, who have played pretty well all season.

Let’s give the kid a little credit shall we?

The Manny Show

Earlier this season, both online and on our podcast I’ve had some criticism of the way Manny Arceneaux competed in some games. But over the last few weeks Manny has definitely elevated his game, whether it’s the change at QB or the result of more passes being thrown his way, he’s become a force to be reckoned with. His stiff arm of Demond Washington in the first half will be on the year’s best highlight reel package, and it’s good to see the Manny Show getting rave reviews once again.

Special Teams

Last week following the win over the Riders, special teams captain Jason Arakgi refused to give out a game ball, saying the squad’s performance simply wasn’t good enough. If the Lions had managed to win last night, that game ball would have been withheld again.

Two missed converts, a blocked punt, two turnovers and two fake punts allowed will not win you many football games, and quite frankly it lost this one for the Lions.

Something has happened to Richie Leone and he needs to get it figured out or the Lions may as well just use the talents of Jennings and go for two after touchdowns. The towering spiralling punts have disappeared as well and the Lions might want to give the ball to Anthony Fera next week who has been biding his time on the practice roster, and is a more natural field goal kicker than Leone. It worked for the Bombers this week with Lirim Hajrullahu relegated to punting only and newcomer Sergio Castillo going 5 of 5 on field goals, including a 41 yard winner. Whether the Lions have the ratio flexibility to dress two import kickers is another story.

Chuck McMann had better figure out the issues real quick because his job may depend on it.

The Officiating

I hate whining about officiating, and the Bombers certainly know what it’s like to have a game taken away by a botched call, but the blatant pick by the Bombers Troy Stoudemire on the game tying touchdown and the non-call is mind numbing. Just as they apologized to the Bombers for a bad call a few weeks ago, you would hope the league would at least acknowledge the fact their officiating crew blew another one Saturday night.

There was also the phantom holding call in the fourth quarter that eliminated a huge play from Jennings to Bryan Burnham.

This is the play-off stretch and fans and the teams expect that the officials will be on their game during a period where every point is crucial to teams battling for their lives. It’s simply not good enough and Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge needs to take a long hard look at improving this aspect of games not only for the fans, but especially for the players who work too hard to have their livelihood affected by ineptitude.

The Attendance

Another Lions home game, another crappy scheduling job for the Lions. With Thanksgiving weekend and the Canucks home opener across the street at the same time as the football game, another disappointing crowd was at BC Place. Last night’s result won’t do much to bring fans back, and this season combined with the last two at home have created a storm the Lions need to weather. Jennings certainly gives Lions fans hope for the future, but the team has a lot of work to do this off-season.

The Lions have not raised season ticket prices for next season but really a small decrease in price would have been a nice gesture. There is a cheaper season ticket available but at the same time, there is a lot more to be done. What you’re seeing at Lions game is the core group of fans with few outside that core coming to games.

The Final Four

The Lions really missed an opportunity to secure a play-off berth with this loss. They do have a game in hand on the Bombers, but they have to travel to Edmonton next week, come home to play Hamilton, go to Toronto to play the Argos before finishing at home against Calgary. The Bombers have a home and home with Ottawa and finish in Montreal.

Can they do it? We’ll soon find out, but they have certainly made it very hard on themselves.