Could a repeat be in the future?
The Lions are the 2011 Grey Cup Champions. It was an amazing season, and everyone who was a part of the organization should be very proud. However, now comes the hard part.
Defending the title. It’s hard in any sport, but particularly in the CFL, where teams tend to go up and down faster than in many other professional leagues.
In no particular order of importance, here are the five things the Lions need to do to defend their title next year.
1. Shut Arland Bruce Up (Keep Travis Lulay)
Very few CFL quarterbacks have any success in the NFL because of all the rule differences and the depth of competition.
Lulay would be better off staying in BC, and BC would be MUCH better off if he stuck around. No one wins if he jumps ship.
So Bruce, keep your mouth closed.
And Lulay, do the smart thing and stick around in BC.
It’s a nice place to live and you could win a bunch of Grey Cups in front of adoring fans.
2. Start training camp early
The Lions have been plagued by terrible starts the past two years. They had a near perfect second half this year, but a little bit of bad luck could easily have kept them out of the playoffs altogether. Enjoy the offseason boys, but come back two weeks early, start training and get in the zone for the first few games.
Teams that start 0-5 rarely win championships, but its even more rare that they repeat.
3. Keep key players around
The Lions have several important players who have opportunities to play elsewhere next season. It’s crucial that the nucleus of this team stays together.
These guys had a special season together, the chemistry they have on and off the field will be hard to re-create if there are significant changes.
4. Buono needs to take a few lessons from Pat Riley
Pat Riley, a former NBA player and now famous NBA coach and executive, once said that defending a title was much harder than winning one because of the “Disease of More”. Everyone wants more playing time, more money, more benefits and less stress.
Its easy for a championship team to get soft and lose early in the playoffs the season after.
Buono needs to come back to this team full of strategies for getting them motivated and keeping them in top gear for at least the first half of the season.
At that point he can re-evaluate and slow them down to preserve specific player if need be.
5. Find a running game
The one big hole in the Lions team this year was lack of a running game.
It’s true that the Lions don’t need a spectacular running game when they have Lulay, but it would be helpful to get a big strong runner who can pound for some yards when BC is having an off night passing.