Leos/Riders Round 2 - Game Day Thread

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Blitz
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Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:10 am

Our B.C. Lions travel to Regina to play the Riders once again on a Saturday night.

Last weekend, at B.C. Place our Leos jumped to a 30-0 lead before allowing the Riders two late touchdowns but won the game convincingly.

Our Leos have a 5-2 record going into this contest. But the Eskimos are undefeated at 6-0, the Stamps are 5-1, and the Bombers just won another last minute thriller. We have to keep winning and we cannot afford to lose a game against a less talented opponent as the Riders.

Lets have a closer look at this upcoming game between our Leos and the Riders.

Our Leos are averaging 434 yards of offence per game this season. The Ridres offence is averaging 387 yards per game in 2017. There is little difference in both offences passing yds per game this season as our Leos have only averaged only 10 yards per game more passing in 2017.

But our Leos have averaged 106 yards per game rushing this season while the Riders running attack has been mediocre, averaging only 69 yards per contest.

In last week's game, the two big difference makers between our Leos on offence and the Riders on offence were 1) we ran the football very well and 2) we made big pass plays on offence, while the Riders did not, at least until late in the contest.

Our offensive line had an impressive game, with Charles Vaillencourt getting his first start at left guard and then shifting to center later in the contest. Our offensive line of Steward, Vaillencourt, Husband, Fabian, and Palmer provided our quarterback excellent pass protection, only giving up one sack in the game. We had previously given up 17 sacks in our first six games and were tied for last place in the CFL in that category going into last week's games.

But more impressively, we rushed for 202 yds against the Riders - our most impressive rushing game of the season. Whether it was Johnson, Rainey, or Shaq Murray Lawrence, our offensive line opened up holes for our backs to get into the Riders second layer or beyond at times.

Last week's huge rushng attack by our Leos vaulted us back into first place in CFL rushing. We were in 3rd place rushing the football going into the contest.

The improved pass protection enabled Travis Lulay to throw the football downfield and throw the football and catch the football downfield successfully for big plays was a huge difference maker.

Our Leos were a staggering 7-for-9 with one TD on passes of 20 yards or more. The Riders were 1-for-3 on pass plays of over 20 yards.

The question that has to be asked? Why did the Riders not attempt to attack our defensive secondary deep more often, especially with the number of changes we made to our secondary prior to the contest? Is that due to Kevin Glenn? Is it due to MacAdoo's favored ball control style of passing offence? Hard to say.

The Riders passing offence has been effective, overall with Glenn at the controls this season. He's thrown 11 touchdown passes so far in 2017 and twice he has had games in which he has thrown for four touchdown passes. The Riders passing offence has a 55.1 positive play index compared to their opposition's percentage of 52.2.

In last weeks contest between our Leos and the Riders, the average length of throw per pass by our Leos was 13.7 yds. per throw while the Riders only averaged 7.9 yds per throw.

Goes to show that big pass plays - an attacking offence, combined with an effective running attack, can be a huge difference maker.

DEFENCE

Our Leos defense was pitching a shutout in last week's win against the Riders until we gave up a couple of big pass plays towards the end of the contest.

There was a notion that the Riders mostly attempted to defend our offence with a 3 man pass rush - a reason why our offensive line had such a good game protecting the quarterback. No so? The Riders only rushed 3 defenders 17% of the time in last week's game. They rushed four defenders 70% of the time and rushed five or more 13% of the time.

The key to our defense having another successful outing is to not give up big plays. When Brandon Bridge came into the contest and the Riders feeling they had nothing to lose by airing it out, they hurt our pass defense. The best chance the Riders have to beat us in this contest is to challenge our defense deep. Our defense is in the bottom echelon, in terms of giving up big plays.

The key to another successful outing against the Riders is to run the football effectively again while also giving our quarterback good pass protection, like we did last game.

With all of our offensive weapons, including the addition of Chris Williams into our offensive lineup, we have a treasure trove of riches. Open some holes for the running attack to provide balance to our offence and provide our quarterback time to throw and we have so much talent offensively, that we are a difficult offence to defend, in terms of our personnel.

If Khari Jones can keep improving his scheme, as he has recently, with new screen plays and using our backs out of the backfield in the passing game with new routes to exploit linebackers, it makes our offence more difficult to defend.

But, overall, its been our offence that has been the strength of this 2017 Leos team so far. We're second in points scored, second in passing yards, first in rushing, first in rushing touchdowns. If we can not to be too predictable, cut down on the interceptions and improve our pass protection, as we did last game, we will have a championship caliber offence.

But on the defensive side of the football, our Leos have to settle on a pass secondary and we also get a better, more consistent pass rush without the blitz. Perhaps even more so, Mark Washington needs to step up as a defensive coordinator.

Our Leos defence ranks 5th in terms of points against, 5th in quarterback sacks, 5th in terms of giving up yards, and 5th against the pass. We've done a better job this season against the run (2nd) and our defense has done a better job of creating turnovers in 2017 so far. But overall, our pass defense has not been good enough, we've had too many missed assignments, and we've been beaten deep too often.

The Riders did not challenge us deep last week, until near the end of the game and when they did, there was no evidence that we had shored up this aspect of our defense.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Ty Long has given us the quality of kicking and punting that we've needed so far this season. He leads the CFL in punt average (46.7 yds per punt). We're not a heck of a lot better in our kick return success either. He's also been solid overall in the field goal kicking department while also showing a strong, accurate leg on long field goal attempts.

But our punt return average his this season is a woeful 7.8 yds per punt return - worst in the CFL. The Stamps, for example, have an average punt return of

We're not a heck of a lot better in our kick return success either. Our special teams return game may not be the difference maker in a contest against the Riders but its likely going to come into play when we play elite teams so far this season such as the Stamps, Eskimos, and surging Bombers.

WRAP

Our Leos need to go into Regina motivated and excited to play. This is an important game as the Stamps, Eskimos, and Bombers continue to play very well.

Go Leos!!
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

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WestCoastJoe
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Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:25 am

Excellent read as always, Blitz.

Detailed analysis. :thup:
John Madden's Team Policies: Be on time. Pay attention. Play like hell on game day.

Jimmy Johnson's Game Keys: Protect the ball. Make plays.

Walter Payton's Advice to Kids: Play hard. Play fair. Have fun.

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BC 1988
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Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:42 pm

Lalji on 1040 today said it's looking very likely JJ10 will start Sunday, since TL was "banged up" with bruised ribs last game. JJ10 took starters reps at practice.

B.C.FAN
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Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:10 pm

BC 1988 wrote:
Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:42 pm
Lalji on 1040 today said it's looking very likely JJ10 will start Sunday, since TL was "banged up" with bruised ribs last game. JJ10 took starters reps at practice.
Yes, that looks like a good bet. Here's more detail:
Jennings takes his turn as the Lions’ healthiest quarterback

Also, LU reported that Foucault and Husband are still in concussion protocol so newly acquired guard Andrew Jones took starters reps in practice.
Lions’ Jennings looks set to return

I thought the reshuffled O-line looked great after Husband's injury Saturday with Vailancourt at centre, Steward at LG and Antonio Johnson at LT. Those are not easy switches to make. Only Steward has previously played his new position.
"I think [Fred Fateri] was like a lot of people who watch football, hockey or any professional sport on television. They sit there and think they could coach better than the professional. Some people really think that." - Bob Ackles, The Water Boy

Blitz
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Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:17 pm

BC 1988 wrote:

Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:42 pm
Lalji on 1040 today said it's looking very likely JJ10 will start Sunday, since TL was "banged up" with bruised ribs last game. JJ10 took starters reps at practice.

Its certainly looking like Jennings will start. I believe Jennings would have started this game anyway.

But Wally, coincidentally is being able to avoid another 'tough decision'. Foucault had a tough game against Edmonton, was splitting reps in practice with Vaillencourt, and then came under the concussion protocol review.

Lulay's sore ribs avoid the quarterback controversy that might have ensued had he started Jennings with Lulay healthy. Wally had that duping grin on his face when he was interviewed on Global this evening regarding the quarterback starter situation this Saturday.

Lulay likely has some soreness in his ribs but he finished the game last Saturday and seemed to be fine after the game. Had Jennings still not recovered from his injury, Lulay would probably have started this game and we would never have even known he had some rib soreness. No MRI was done on the ribs.

This situation certainly makes the change back to Jennings 'easier' and avoids Wally having to deal with any potential quarterback controversy in the media and fan base.

So, its Jennings, as I expected as our starter for Saturday nights game, even before the Lulay sore ribs announcement by Wally.

I certainly never anticipated that Lulay's arm would be so recovered and even stronger than ever, that his poise in the pocket would have improved so dramatically, or that he would play so well in all facets of his position.

In fact, no other CFL teams were interested in Lulay when the opportunity was there. But Lulay has proven to everyone, including himself, that he could play and in fact play, very, very well. Its a great comeback story.

I'm a huge Jennings fan but how could one not be very impressed with Lulay's play the last four games. I'm going to be sad when I see him on the sidelines. Its too bad there are not two starter positions for this present quarterback situation.

Based on the new quarterback rating system, Travis Lulay has the best quarterback ranking in the CFL, ahead of Mike Reilly and Bo Levi Mitchell. Those kind of stats, over the past four games, makes It difficult to have him sit down.

But then again, I remind myself that Jonathan Jennings, over 18 games last year, in his first full season as a starter, had a 102.1 quarterback efficiency rating, completed 67% of his passes, many of the very difficult type, and thew for 5, 222 yards and 27 touchdowns.

I guess one could say, that of the best CFL quarterbacks in the league, right now one would have to say that Bo Levi Mitchell, Mike Reilly, Jonathan Jennings, and Travis Lulay would be the top four quarterbacks in the CFL and we have two of them on our roster.

Looking forward to the game on Saturday night. I hope we can give Jennings better protection that we gave him during his starts before he got injured. He was under severe duress most of the time.
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

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WestCoastJoe
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Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:19 pm

I expect neither JJ10 nor Lulay are at a full 100%, although close. Stay healthy, Guys.
John Madden's Team Policies: Be on time. Pay attention. Play like hell on game day.

Jimmy Johnson's Game Keys: Protect the ball. Make plays.

Walter Payton's Advice to Kids: Play hard. Play fair. Have fun.

TheLionKing
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Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:22 pm

I guess Vaillancourt will be our starting center on Sunday and Andrew Jones at guard.

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Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:43 pm

TheLionKing wrote:
Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:22 pm
I guess Vaillancourt will be our starting center on Sunday and Andrew Jones at guard.
Dillon Guy if he had decided to join the Lions might have got that start instead of Jones. Jones does have a lot of experience (and girth lol) so he might be the better short term choice.

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Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:48 pm

Thanks Blitz, you were mentioning the QB rating system. Here's a point-form excerpt lifted from the CFL.ca staff's report if anyone's interested in the assorted details and didn't see the article:

HIGH QB RATINGS

-- Net offence this season is currently at 756 yards per game – the second-highest since 1991.
-- Quarterback efficiency rating has grown four years in a row and is currently at an all-time high of 100.6.
The interception rate in the CFL (2%) is the lowest it’s ever been in the CFL at one in every 49 pass attempts.
The rate in the 1990s was double – 4%.
-- Three QBs have a rating over 90 (using the CFL’s new Quarterback Rating System known as QUAR, out of 100).
Travis Lulay sits at 94.9, Mike Reilly at 94.5 and Bo Levi Mitchell at 90.5.

-- League-wide QUAR rating is 79.8, compared to 68.6 last season.
-- This season, games are averaging 624 passing yards per game – a 30% increase from 2014.

Blitz
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Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:29 am

Thanks for the excellent post Grid Iron Ernie.

Quarterbacking has never been better in the CFL, overall. Quarterbacks are now trained in the passing game in college, mostly in spread style or pro style offences that have complex passing attacks.

West Coast Joe wrote:
I expect neither JJ10 nor Lulay are at a full 100%, although close. Stay healthy, Guys.
Wally will go back to Jennings as his starter. He learned or I think he learned from the quarterback controversies he mostly created in the Dickenson/Printers, Pierce/Jackson sagas, as well as upsetting Dickenson in the 2006 Grey Cup scenario by giving Pierce some series in that game. The 2009 and 2010 seasons were not without headaches at quarterback either.

However, with both Jennings and Lulay talents, quarterbacking right now is the last of my worries.

I'm more concerned with our offensive and defensive lines. Last game was by far our best game of the season, in terms of quarterback protection, quarterback time to throw, and opening up holes for the running game.

Obviously, the only change to our offensive line lineup for the Riders game was the insertion of Vaillencourt at left guard.

But later in the game, Cody Husband got hurt. Wally and Dorazio then shifted Vaillencourt to center (heck he was starting his first game as a left guard and he only had 2 starts at right guard in his rookie season last year...and they were in our first two regular season games.

Then we shifted Steward to left guard and inserted Antonio Johnson, a right side offensive tackle to left tackle. That meant inserting Shaq Murray Lawrence (who had been cut and brought back just before this game) as our starting tailback, taking Johnson and Rainey out of the lineup at tailback.

Quite frankly, I didn't get it. First of all, we protected Jas Dhillon out of training camp and attempted to put Zver on the practice roster..and lost him.

Dhillon was supposed to be our backup center. But with Dhillon hurt (not sure how he got hurt), why not insert Gacusana at left guard or backup center?

To make four changes to the offence because your center gets injured, including taking out your starting tailback doesn't make sense to me.

Its the same type of thinking that has happened, when we've experienced an injury in our defensive secondary. Simple is usually better than whole sale juggling of players and positions.

At least, if inserting Johnson into the game, why not go with three International receivers at that time in the game, say taking Nick Moore or Chris Williams out of the lineup, and going back to Iannuzzi and Shaq Johnson, like we did for our first 6 games of the season.

It all seemed to work out towards the end of the Riders game but if Husband had been hurt earlier in the game, playing Shaq Murray Lawrence at tailback all game and losing out on Jeremiah Johnson and Chris Rainey's contribution does not seem like a wise choice.

So now we've signed Andrew Jones, who was released by the Riders and earlier we signed Gacusana, Calgarys' 5th round draft choice, who was released by Calgary at the end of training camp. Obviously we don't believe Gacusana is ready to step in as a depth lineman. It seems like a waste to have lost Zver, a 2nd round draft choice to be in this situation. Obviously, someone wasn't thinking at the end of training camp.

On the defensive line, this is how our sack totals line up:

Craig Roh - 4 sacks
David Menard - 2 sacks
Josh Shirley - 2 sacks
Maxx Forde - 1 sack
Bryant Turner Jr. - 1 sack
Mic'heal Brooks - 1 sack
Dequin Evans - 1 sack
Andrew Hudson - 0 sacks

When one looks at those stats, our leading sack leader is our boundary defensive end. Tied for second is David Menard, our rotational boundary defensive end.

The position we should be getting the most sacks from is our rush end position. Shirley leads that position with two sacks. Evans had 1 sack before getting injured. That is not good enough production from that spot.

We've gotten twice as many sacks from the boundary defensive end position than the rush end position.

We also are not getting enough penetration and sacks from inside, at the tackle position. Even though he only has had one start and been a rotational defensive tackle most of the time, I think Maxx Forde has been our best defensive tackle. He has had the most consistent penetration of our defensive tackles and he hustles behind the play on pass plays.

I would hate to see Foley take the spot of David Menard. Preferably he would be used in a rotational role with Josh Shirley starting. Longer term, my hope is that we can pick up an NFL cut for the defensive end position. Frank Alexander also looms long term and quite frankly, I think he could be an upgrade on Brooks.

I read, at times, when Brooks play is mentioned that he gets double teamed. He doesn't always get double teamed and so do Ted Laurent, Micah Johnson, Zack Evans, Almondo Sewell and they get consistent penetration.

With quarterbacks playing so well, as Grid Iron Ernie points out astutely, its more difficult to blitz these days and when you do, you'd better do it effectively.

Therefore the four man and three man pass rush are finding more favor. Edmonton is not doing anything complicated to say the least....just simple zone defense most of the time but they get a very good pass rush on most pass plays.

Therefore, its more critical than ever that our Leos be able to get a consistent pass rush from our defensive line. We're getting that from Roh/Menard at boundary defensive end but we need improved play from the rest or different personell. I would love to see us go with Forde and Luke and forgo the second International tackle position right now. That would allow us to dress an extra International defensive back (and that would get us away from too much juggling in our secondary due to injury as well as enable us to utilize a dime back for situational reasons.

It will be interesting to see how we use Foley. Certainly he could take Hudson's spot, who has basically not made much of a dent to our lineup, even though he has been with us since the start of last season.

We have the second best offence in the league. As I mentioned in the opening post of this thread, where we need to improve most is on defense and punt blocking. A good pass rush can make a huge difference to defensive success.
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

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Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:00 am

Sacks are one measure of a defensive line's performance, but coaches look closely at QB pressures and other stats. Here's a full list of stats for our defensive line to Week 7, ranked by defensive plays made (tackles, sacks, pressures, pass knockdowns, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries and tackles for loss):

Roh 27 (10 tackles, 5 sacks, 9 pressures, 3 tackles for loss)
Evans 21 (8 tackles, 1 sack, 9 pressures, 1 forced fumble, 1 knockdown, 1 tackle for loss)
Brooks 13 (9 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pressure, 2 tackles for loss)
Forde 11 (5 tackles, 1 sack, 2 pressures, 1 forced fumble, 2 knockdowns)
Shirley 10 (4 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 pressures, 1 fumble recovery)
Menard 7 (2 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 pressures, 1 forced fumble)
Turner 7 (3 tackles, 2 pressures, 2 knockdowns)
Hudson 2 (1 tackle, 1 pressure)
Luke 1 (1 tackle)

Roh and Evans have been the most effective at pressuring the quarterback. Of Evans' 21 defensive plays, 19 were recorded in the first three games when he was healthy. Forde has been impressive while starting the past three games. Luke has been almost invisible as a rotational DT.
"I think [Fred Fateri] was like a lot of people who watch football, hockey or any professional sport on television. They sit there and think they could coach better than the professional. Some people really think that." - Bob Ackles, The Water Boy

Blitz
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Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:07 am

Forde's numbers are impressive, when one also considers he only has one start and his other games have been in a rotational role. It certainly provides substance that he should be starting over Bryant Turner. But if Luke is not able to play at a decent level, then it makes it difficult to go with Forde and Luke at tackle and use the International roster spot somewhere else....I would prefer it to be a dime back position.

Considering that Menard has been in a rotational role and Shirley had a number of games in which his reps were limited, I'm happy with their play as I am with Roh's play this season.

By the way, where did you get the stats from B.C. Fan? They provide the kind of information that really gives a bigger picture.
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

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Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:49 am

Blitz wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:07 am
By the way, where did you get the stats from B.C. Fan? They provide the kind of information that really gives a bigger picture.
For reasons that escape me, the league has always kept many of its most interesting stats well hidden. This year it's using a dropbox. Here's a link:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/848xcto61...L%20Stats?dl=0

Looks for Team Stats\BC\#7

I've had mixed success when copying and pasting the link. If it doesn't work, you can find it in the fourth post in this thread at Riderfans:
http://www.riderfans.com/forum/forum/ma ... love-stats
"I think [Fred Fateri] was like a lot of people who watch football, hockey or any professional sport on television. They sit there and think they could coach better than the professional. Some people really think that." - Bob Ackles, The Water Boy

Blitz
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Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:03 pm

B.C.FAN wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:49 am
Blitz wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:07 am
By the way, where did you get the stats from B.C. Fan? They provide the kind of information that really gives a bigger picture.
For reasons that escape me, the league has always kept many of its most interesting stats well hidden. This year it's using a dropbox. Here's a link:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/848xcto61...L%20Stats?dl=0

Looks for Team Stats\BC\#7

I've had mixed success when copying and pasting the link. If it doesn't work, you can find it in the third post in this thread at Riderfans:
http://www.riderfans.com/forum/forum/ma ... love-stats
Thank you B.C. Fan! You are always so resourceful!!
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

maxlion
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Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:37 pm

The combination of a rusty and less than 100% qb and a patchwork offensive line does not bode well for this game. If the riders play a half decent game, we could be in trouble. A good performance on special teams could be a difference maker.

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