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ULLRICH: For B.C. Lions, it’s going from bad to worse

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Consider this a multiple choice quiz that is guaranteed to create as much of a challenge as the B.C. Lions generated during their 41-19 beatdown by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Saturday:

At the moment, the Lions are…

a) A hot smouldering mess.

b) A raging tire fire.

c) A team without a starting quarterback.

d) Equal in wins with the Montreal Alouettes. When do they next show up on the schedule by the way?

The correct answer, of course, is all of the above. And in keeping with custom, we offer up points to ponder as a new CFL season continues to unfold as the last one ended.

It’s time: there was not a proclamation from Wally Buono after the game as to whether Jon Jennings will continue behind centre because they don’t make out the lineup card until an hour before the next game.

Nobody who has spent more than a minute watching this team, however, would be oblivious to the fact Jennings at minimum will have to sit down for awhile. Quarterbacks with a 37.7 passer rating don’t normally get too many more chances, which was the relevant number associated with Jennings’ performance against Winnipeg.

The problem, of course, is that Travis Lulay is not completely healthy. And as TSN 1040 analyst Chris Burns noted after the carnage was over Saturday, Lulay should only be inserted a week after he declares himself good to go.

There’s also a bigger picture to be considered when it comes to Lions pivots, and when Buono let Jennings continue to flail away and was pulled only after gifting his second interception to Adam Bighill, a few things became more than apparent.

Lulay’s injury history is, of course, no secret and to give him back the offence a second before he says he is completely recovered from October knee surgery represents a huge risk.

If Lulay goes down again, and history suggests the possibility, the Lions will have no choice but to go back to Jennings later this season. Cody Fajardo might still get a start during the interim as the Lions wait to change quarterbacks but is not a long-term option. That was reinforced when Jennings was still given a chance to figure out the scheme of offensive coordinator Jarious Jackson in the fourth quarter of what had become a 28-point deficit.

In short, Buono holds the future of two quarterbacks in his hands with the choices he and his medical advisors must make in the days ahead, and can’t afford to lose Jennings mentally.

Then Buono has to decide whether the paying customer will take much more of a quarterback in Jennings, now 3-15 against the Bombers, Eskimos and Calgary in his young career, because even though Buono isn’t the GM anymore doesn’t mean he won’t think like he still has the job.

Sure enough, the Lions hadn’t yet packed up and headed to the airport Saturday when the first suggestion appeared on social media as to whether Ed Hervey should now take a run at Johnny Manziel.

Not buying: The exit of Buono at the end of the season had always seemed as if it was destined to hatch another subplot as to whether his successor next season was already on the Lions coaching staff.

But at this rate, there’s no way either Jackson or defensive coordinator Mark Washington could be considered when the time comes when Hervey has to find a replacement for the head coach because not many would be buying what either is selling right now.

Jennings simply looks lost in the new scheme implemented by Jackson, though by no means can he blamed outright for the inability to generate yardage. Washington had been given an early pass having been asked to implement eight new defensive starters, but as they did in Edmonton the Lions fooled nobody wearing blue uniforms in the first half Saturday as the Bombers ran and passed almost at will.

A bright spot? This took a couple of minutes but a couple were found: The work of tailback Jeremiah Johnson (13 carries, 80 yards rushing), plus the fact the Lions special teams haven’t yet drawn a return penalty in three games. Who says it’s always bad news?

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About the author

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.

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