The B.C. Lions experienced a horrific season considering the expectations heading in 2017. They ended the campaign dropping nine of their last 11 games, which led to the franchise to miss the playoffs for the first time in 21-years. The last time B.C. failed to do it, two of the greatest sports movies were released the same year in Space Jam and Happy Gilmour.
Wally Buono stepped down as General Manager to focus on his final season as Head Coach. The team brought in Ed Harvey to run the show behind the scenes.
First on the priority was to see if quarterback Jonathan Jennings is the future out West. The 25-year-old raised eyebrows throwing 19 picks and taking a few steps in the wrong direction. It may be a bit early to say, but 2018 could be different for Jennings thanks to some key additions in the trenches.
Lions Offence Will Be Different
It did not seem to matter who was under centre for B.C. between Travis Lulay and Jennings, both were felt pressure right off the snap. The offensive line allowed 143 QB pressures and 49 sacks last season, both league highs. No matter the level or how talented the quarterback is, they need an offensive line in order to be successful. The men in the trenches are the heartbeat. The wide receivers and running backs feel the effects if the line is off in anyway.
Harvey needed to solve the issue up front to give his pivots a fair shake. He made a massive splash snagging tackle Joel Figueroa away from the Edmonton Eskimos. During training camp, a gift fell on his lap. The Montreal Alouettes released Jovan Olafioye after just one season. It opened the door for the 30-year-old to come back to the team he spent his first seven seasons with. He played in 127 consecutive games in that span, not missing a single game right from his rookie campaign in 2010. Those two massive men solidified the tackle positions and added a much-needed confidence.
Another key difference marker is the of new offensive coordinator Jarious Jackson. The man who won three Grey Cups as a player, two of them with the Lions bring a new mentality. A much-needed face-lift to a unit that looked unorganized. He was a key part in Mike Reilly’s return and MVP performance in the 2015 Grey Cup. Who knows if Jackson does a great job, he could be the next Head Coach in B.C. after Buono retires.
The offence was rolling in the first game despite being against the league-worst Alouettes. Jennings completes 20-of-24 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Those are not eye-popping numbers, but it showed the efficiency he was missing all of last year. The offence was a balanced attack. Seven different receivers posted two or more grabs and the ground attacked average over 5.5 yards per carry.
A much-anticipated line improvement and a new, fresh set of eyes to call the plays is exactly what the Lions required. This is the exact formula needed for a team to become playoff bound once again.
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