lions

Lessons from the Lions biggest game yet

Yes, I know

Travis Lulay needs to step up and make use of the offensive weapons available to him. Yes, I’m also aware that Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill are superstars at the linebacker position.

I’m also well aware that the only B.C. kicker to have a better career than Paul McCallum was the original Vancouver “Lu”.

Set all of that aside for a moment. What did we learn about the rest of the roster in Saturday’s grudge match against the Stampeders?

The pass rush needs to step up

Khreem Smith had the definition of a clutch performance against the Stampeders. He was a consistent presence in the backfield and buzzed around like a mosquito, irritating Kevin Glenn throughout the game.

Unfortunately the Lions pass rush has not been as consistent throughout the season as Smith was in this game. It’s not like the Lions rushers lack talent. Eric Taylor has provided some pressure from the inside, but he’s more important on run defense and should not be the leading sack-getter for the Leos.

Keron Williams has had a presence as an interior and exterior pass rusher throughout the years and Jabar Westerman has done some good things too. Neither of them have been particularly impressive this season though.

bc-lions-vs-calgary-stampeders.jpg

The Lions contained the Stamps ground game this time around. (Photo: calgarysun.com)

Despite some flashes at times from the aforementioned, as well as special teams player Brandon Jordan, this season there really hasn’t been the kind of pressure that characterized the Leos defense in previous years.

It’s time for Smith to continue what he started this game, and for the other rushers to step up the way Smith did in this massive showdown with the Stampeders.

The offense needs to mix up the game plan

Travis Lulay has not made use of the weapons provided to him thus far this season. It’s always difficult to gauge whether this is primarily a function of Lulay’s play, or the play-calling of the coaching staff.

The Lions offense has been at its best so far this season when they mix up long and short passes, as well as handing the ball off several times to Andrew Harris. The offense works when many receivers get into the game.

It’s also at its best when players like Marco Iannuzzi and Shawn Gore get the ball in end-arounds and handoffs. I’d like to see Iannuzzi get at least 2-3 handoffs next game, and perhaps some more creative plays to kick-start the offense.

Lulay needs to gamble on some downfield throws, sprinkle in some screens and trick plays, and do what they can to keep the opposing defence guessing.

The defence has a gameplan

Despite only a limited pass rush best exemplified by Khreem Smith, this game did not resemble the opening game of the season, when the Stampeders put up over 40 points on the Lions defence.

Jon Cornish did not run wild all over the Lions defence, and they held the Stamps passing game in check just enough that the Stamps felt as if they had to rely on Cornish.

While the MOP candidate did average 4.8 yards per rush for his 73 yards, he did not top 100 yards in the game and 4.8 yards per looks pretty good when compared to the over 7 yards per carry he is averaging on the season.

Several key questions were answered by this past week’s performance. The defence has adapted and shut down a key player for the opposing offense.

At least two players stepped up to provide a pass rush. The few rushing attempts given to Gore and Iannuzzi continued to average over 10 yards per attempt.

Moving forward, it would be great to see more gambling on offense.

Perhaps this is the result of having a defence-minded head coach, but the offense has been far too conservative thus far. If the d-line won’t provide a pass rush, it’s time to turn to guys like Lin-J Shell to provide some pressures in creative ways.

Overall, the defense has been more consistent through the past two weeks. Now it’s time to tweak the offense and there’s no reason the Lions should not be among the top contenders come playoff time.

Let me know in the comments what you’re looking for the Lions to do moving forward.

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