Post season Report Cards
As it is time to put a bow on this season and prep for the next, let’s do some employee evaluations as the year comes to close.
Before we sink our teeth into the BC Lions players, let’s first take stock on the guys who remained on the sidelines.
Mike Benevides “A”
Even after a tremendous first year as the man in charge, Head Coach Mike Benevides knows there’s still room to improve.
Capturing the number one rank in the CFL West from week 3 to the final week, the only glaring glitches on his rookie season were the two one sided losses to Calgary.
Motivation and tactical errors lead to the demise of the Lions this season at the hands of the Western Conference Champions from Cow Town.
Bene has a victory over every team in the league and twice beat the eventual Grey Cup Champs the Toronto Argonauts.
Coach Mike handled every situation like a true professional and always presented himself in a calm authoritative manner.
We, as fans, should expect a great deal of success from this dynamic coach for a long time, unless that league to the South of us comes calling.
For Coordinators Rich Stubler and Jacques Chapdelaine they seemed to get along well with Benevides even with some obvious reason for tension, Stubler now calling the D while Chapdelaine is now taking orders from a guy that was his equal for so long.
All three top coaches put on a strong and commanding image and led the Lions to break-out regular season.
Rich Stubler “B”
Stubler took over Bene’s famed Defence and turned in an amazing season putting up numbers never seen before; like 15 quarters without giving up a touchdown.
Failing to contain Calgary’s offence late in the season looks bad on Stubler but overall the D was fearsome and tough to play against.
Jacques Chapdelaine “C+”
Chap’s Offence looked a little too vanilla at times considering the weapons he had, but outscoring opponents 13 times is more science than luck.
I’m sure he’ll be back to build on another successful campaign, but don’t forget he almost left last off-season to coach in the CIS.
The upcoming season should have a few more fireworks if the play-calling focuses more on the major scores instead of just getting into Field Goal range.
Chuck McMann “C+”
His special team squads were persecuted early in the season, most notably on missed FG attempts, but then they made some serious adjustments by limiting Paul McCallum’s range, punting to the sidelines and providing some proper blocking schemes to punt returns.
These allowed for a large upswing in both field position and point totals.
I would like to see even more production from Tim Brown on punt returns but overall this unit was above average as they limited the damages when kicking the ball away.
Carl Hairston and Dan Dorazio should get some large praise for dealing with the issues and injuries of the O and D lines.
Hairston’s D-line was impeccable this season and featured a variety of intense individuals highlighted by CFL sack leader Keron Williams.
Hairston guided his squad through some lean times when injuries and suspensions plagued the middle part of the season.
Dorazio’s O-line was banged up from training to Western Conference Final yet still managed to produce a 1,000 yard rusher and a QB that finished third in passing yards.
Receivers /Running-backs “B”
Another coach that saw a high turnover rate of personnel was Receivers Coach Travis Moore.
Entering the season with arguably the brightest stars in the league, most of Moore’s players missed portions or all of games with damages but their replacements didn’t hurt the team’s chances of success and many new faces proved worthy of increased playing time next year.
Although, with no real down field threat, all of BC’s targets were relegated to the role of “possession” receivers.
Coach Kelly Bates took on two new challenges this year: running backs coach and Draft Coordinator.
As a RB coach we need only to point to superstar Andrew Harris and reflect on the season he had to see coach Bates’ worth.
Unfortunately though there was Harris and then a drop-off of production indicating that the position is very top heavy with no reliable back-up.
As a draft prognosticator, Bates found two gems in Jabar Westerman and Matt Norman, but two selections reverted back to the ranks of the CIS.
I’ll give him a solid grade solely based on Westerman’s nomination for CFL Rookie of the Year.
Defensive Backs “C-“
The only coach who may come under a bit of scrutiny here will be Mark Washington.
On paper, the Defensive Secondary looked like a position of strength for the Leo’s but poor communication and shoddy tackling led to the defense being victimized by the “big” play, especially late in the season.
The upside in this unit is that they have the unique blend of youth and veteran leadership and both mistakes can be corrected.
The deepest talent pool wearing orange and black this season belonged to Adam Bighill and his marauding band of LB’s.
And to think Bighill had to fight James Yurichuk every day in training camp for his starting spot.
All three back-up ‘backers could start for every other team in the league and one (Solomon Elimimian) will try his luck in the NFL next year.
Let me hear your feed-back on the coaches faced with guiding our beloved Lions. Who would you keep or who would you make walk the plank?
Now’s the time to get on your soapbox.
Cheers, The Bartender