ULLRICH: One big QB move all it took to jumpstart Lions

U

Change one player and look what happens to the B.C. Lions. Yep, that move to insert Winston Rose for Marcell Young worked wonders in their 20-17 comeback win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers all right. OK, there was one other move that might have helped contribute to this edition of random post-game thoughts.

Seeing orange: They alternate using Whitecaps blue with the translucent lighting at B.C. Place Stadium depending on the tenant but they might want to consider keeping the tint Lions orange for a few nights in honour of the red-headed quarterback who officially returned home Saturday.

Travis Lulay has always been more than a cerebral signal-caller for the Lions even though his injury chart has made them seek out younger talent to groom over the years.

But if his first game in nearly a year can result in 326 passing yards and operate an offence designed by Jarious Jackson that was being questioned when Jon Jennings was behind centre, try thinking what might happen when he shakes off all of the rust apparent during a few stages of their 20-point rally Saturday.

Don’t think the stadium by False Creek isn’t Lulay’s house? Check out his career record as a B.C. starter at home: 26-9.

“That’s (a win) you remember for years,” Lulay understated on TSN 1040 afterwards, a nod towards the rehab that comes after ACL surgery and the natural doubts cast about his future.

“There were a couple of throws I was off that had maybe some juice. You know you have to take some hits but I didn’t think about it. man, I tell you what, it’s better to correct mistakes after a win.”

It’s hard to fathom where the organization would be if the Lions hadn’t finally shown some defensive resolve in the second half. But with Lulay escaping the night unharmed, it could be fair to start wondering what the Lions might do to alter their quarterbacking stable now that he showed Jackson’s offence indeed can produce results.

As 3Down Nation reported last week  there’s no need to make a hasty move, as the Lions are easily able to maintain both quarterbacks within the salary cap .

General manager Ed Hervey also said on 1040 last week he wasn’t giving up on Jennings. However TSN sources have already indicated the Lions might be open to moving on from the 25-year-old for the right offer.

It’s hard, mind you, to think what teams like Montreal and Saskatchewan, to name two clubs that don’t seem to have settled on quarterbacking, would have that would interest the Lions (OK, they might be able to find room for Duron Carter or Naaman Roosevelt).

Remember too, the Lions dealt their first-round pick in the 2019 Canadian college draft to move up this year. But that’s for another day. On Saturday, Lulay gave them their dignity back.

Words become deeds: This one won’t likely gain much traction until it can be verified, but TSN’s Farhan Lalji reported a little exchange between Hervey and Odell Willis can’t go unnoticed as to what it might have done to turn a 17-point halftime deficit into a fairly thrilling comeback win.

Word is when Hervey came down to the Lions sideline in the fourth quarter, he suggested to the Lions defensive end that he wasn’t brought in from Edmonton just to take up space. At that point, the Lions defensive line was closing in on its third straight game without a sack.

But that was roughly around the time when Willis just so happened to crank up his game. He matched Solomon Elimimian’s turnover on downs in the third quarter with a sack of his own on Bombers quarterback Chris Streveler. Willis then helped create a two-and-out on Winnipeg’s next possession with some serious heat and was a factor on the Bombers final offensive series, in which Davon Coleman was unlucky not to be credited with a strip sack a play before Anthony Orange intercepted Matt Nichols that enabled the Lions to complete their comeback.

If the Lions’ season starts to gain some traction, they might remember the fourth quarter as the time it began to turn around.

They’re human too: Then again it will go in an opposite direction for the Lions if they can’t find some way to stop the run, as the defence watched an opponent rush for 100 yards for the third straight game.

And it is guaranteed to never get better if they manage the clock as poorly as they did to end the first half of a game in which two members of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame had unfathomable miscues.

Bombers coach Mike O’Shea won’t be unhappy to see the back of B.C. Place. The coach who tried a 62-yard field goal which ended the 2016 division semifinal unhappily also went for the jugular Saturday. Leading 17-10, O’Shea passed on the percentage chip shot field goal for Justin Medlock and instead watched Streveler get sacked by Willis.

Wally Buono created an even greater uphill climb for his team at the end of the first half when he failed to take a timeout with 17 seconds left, and the Lions left without points, marking the first time in nearly eight seasons they were blanked in the opening two quarters at home.

“I’m going to take the blame. I was going to time out. I didn’t. I thought we had time to get the play. Next time I’ll call a timeout,” said Buono, who if nothing else proved the winningest coach in three-down history has shortcomings.

IN SHORT: Despite the win, the Bombers left with the season-series tiebreaker on the basis of a better points for/against ratio in the two games with the Lions… Buono said Jeremiah Johnson, who finished the game on crutches, had turned an ankle and as such the Lions will more than likely turn to Brandon Rutley when they play on the road against the Ottawa Redblacks Friday. Chris Rainey had 246 all-purpose yards and was a mainstay in the backfield offensively for the Lions when Johnson went down but was hobbling at the end of the game, as was OL Joel Figueroa.

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.

3DownNation is a website dedicated to covering the CFL and Canadian football.




Recent Posts