Wally Going Forward
They’d be wrong.
Surprisingly, the Leo’s have more holes than most fans care to admit, but I’ll address the top five priorities.
Cauchy Muamba is an enigma. He started the season well enough, peaking mid-season earning CFL Canadian player of the week honours in week 8. From there it was all downhill. Muamba looked out of placed and confused, especially late in the season against Calgary.
The most vital role of the safety is to communicate the coverage responsibilities to the other Backs, and this is apparently where he failed.
Often forgetting his or other assignments and getting torched for long gains. Upside though, he is young and can learn the intricacies of the position. I would suggest that Head Coach Mike Benevides experiment with the spot by placing hybrid LB/DB Lin J Shell at safety.
Shell is fast enough to cover the deep threats and ferocious enough to shut down the run.
2.) Wide Receiver
I know what you’re thinking “BC has a ton of receivers”.
No, not really.
They have a lot of guys that can catch but they have no deep downfield target, especially on the outside. Question marks surround the future of Geroy Simon, and Shawn Gore (NFL prospect) but there is a fine group of moving up in the ranks. Nick Moore, Courtenay Taylor and Ernest Jackson will be the future.
As good as these guys are they most effective 10-20 yards downfield as they are all big physical receivers. After GM Wally Buono released Kierrie Johnson late in the season, BC found themselves without a sure-handed burner that could take the lid off the opposing defence.
Angus Reid will eventually retire. Maybe not in 2013 but sometime soon, and the Lions have failed to address his replacement far too long.
Buono and O-Line coach Dan Dorazio keep trying to shoehorn a Guard into the middle of the line but a true Center is born not coached. Lots of guys are big enough to block, but they have to be smart enough to read a D, a talent that takes years of seasoning going back to college or even high-school days.
The true Center is also a natural leader, able to provide unity amongst the great unwashed. The time to draft a true Center is now. Maybe not a first round pick but definitely a second round option, especially if he is Canadian.
4.) Running Back
Andrew Harris is the greatest dual threat in the League and is poised to have a phenomenal career, but scratch the surface and you will quickly discover the cupboard is pretty bare.
Tim Brown was essentially Harris’ back-up but he is far more effective returning kicks than taking hand-offs, also, like Harris, he is a little undersized.
Stu Foord rarely saw the field in a running back role and Anthony Stewart was released. The Leo’s should look to bring in some thunder to the already existing lightning. Having a large, bruising back will provide a different dynamic to the Offense and will be a more viable option in short yardage situations.
Finding these guys are tough and CFL teams rarely have one solid tackle in their stable where the BC Lions have been fortunate to have the 2 premier book-ends in the game.
Jovan Olafioye has been the best O-lineman in the game for the past two seasons and Ben Archibald claimed that honour the year before. It sounds like the league down south is interested in Jovan so the need to replace him may come sooner than later.
Bringing in a Blue-Chip prospect to learn under Dorazio and Archibald could be very beneficial in protecting QB Travis Lulay.
Of all the accolades earned by Wally Buono as a coach, his greatest accomplishment may be from his role as the Lions General Manager. The talent levels from starters to back-ups are minimal as Buono has been able to find suitable CFL players for over a decade.
This off-season could see some disruptions but thankfully there aren’t many holes to fill as this is a very shallow free agent pool this season.
Cheers, The Bartender