Always next year…
With the 2013 CFL season now officially in the bag and the Grey Cup circulating through Saskatchewan……
There were a number of changes made by the BC Lions prior to and during the 2013 season that were supposed to all but secure a deep playoff run, and possibly hoist the 101st Grey Cup.
Unfortunately that playoff run was short lived and the only cup hoisting in the Lions den will that of which holds a holiday beverage.
However, Lions fans should not fret. The season was far from a bust, as the pieces are in place to hopefully make 2014 a lot more memorable.
The emergence of Andrew Harris. Although he has had various levels of success during his four-year career with the Lions, this season launched Harris into the category of “superstar” as he was constantly the team’s go-to guy.
Although last season Harris posted career numbers of 1,800 yards (combined rushing and receiving) and 11 TDs, his numbers this year weren’t that far behind with 1,500 yards and another 11 visits to the end zone. Harris has made it a lot easier for fans to forget the departure of Geroy Simon (who is now sporting a Grey Cup ring that makes it a lot easier for him to forget BC…..hashtag take a mulligan on that one Wally!).
The Leos defensive crew was the driving force for the club this season, leading the league in allowed yards per game with a total of 339.4 (Montreal was second with 339.7). This is the second straight season in which the d-men have led the league in keeping their opponents’ progress down the field to a minimum.
Solomon Elimimian, Adam Bighill, Keron Williams and Anton McKenzie provided leadership for Rich Stubler’s defensive strategies. While the vets made their presence known, the biggest impact may have come from rookie cornerback Cord Parks who ranked fourth on the team with 64 tackles and lead the squad with six interceptions.
3rd and long
The Lions’ season finished two weeks before what was hoped, and now questions of what needs to be done in the offseason begin.
Was Travis Lulay the right choice to go with as playoff QB after only about a half game of action following six weeks off with a busted shoulder? Is there a future for veteran Paris Jackson, who after being demoted the last few seasons, proved to be an important piece in the Lions final game. Is Thomas Demarco the answer as a backup QB or will Wally Buono look for another pivot?
Offensively, the Lions were fourth in the CFL with 504 total points, including 49 trips to the end zone and a not-so-impressive 32 field goals.
The defense more than held their own this season, but if the team wants to have a chance at participating in the 102nd Grey Cup on home field, the offensive group is going to have to step up their game in a big way.
Over the next seven months, Buono, coach Mike Benevides and the Lions roster will need to see some changes, either mentally or physically if they hope to represent in the battle for Earl Grey’s trophy.