Ed Willes just wrote an article titled Willes Musings: Something is Broken Inside the B.C. Lions.
In the article Willes lays the blame on our Leos loss to Ottawa on the 'ambiguity' and 'uncertainty' of the B.C. Lions franchise.
He goes on to discuss the dithering of Braley selling the team, the part time status of Skulsky, and the fact that Buono has one foot out the door as reasons for our Leos shocking loss to Ottawa. As Willes asks: "How do you blow a 25-6 lead over the final 17 minutes at home when your season is in the balance? — but the most alarming was the massive leadership void it revealed in this organization" which Willes lays on as due to the lame duck status of the leadership in the Leos organization.
Yet the notion that Braley was continuing to dither in terms of selling the team, that Skulsky was a part time President, and that this season was likely Buono's last season as HC were well known before the season started and that didn't prevent Willes from predicting a 12 game winning season and our Leos challenging Calgary in the West Final this year.
I'm not surprised that Willes laid out the excuse for our Leos loss to Ottawa as not a problem of coaching. Its the kind of football reporting or analysis we are so used to (outside of a Lowell Ullrich). The old 'the players didn't execute' has been a well worn type of reporting that our press has provided in delivering Buono's message for a very long time as has been their penchant for putting Buono on a pedestal.
When we had a winning record at the start of this season, no reporter mentioned the lame duck status of the franchise as a major issue in winning or losing this season. Braley has been dithering for years in terms of selling the team and Skulsky was part time last season. Before the Ottawa game, Buono said he was considering coaching again next season as he did not want to leave with a losing record. So Buono was not a lame duck coach in the Ottawa game.
We didnt' lose to Ottawa or Hamilton in the game before due to 'incertitiude'. That is just Wlles excuse making for Buono's coaching and GM work this season.
We lost to Ottawa because we didn't run Jeremiah Johnson in the second half of the game, when we had a big lead. We lost because we were unprepared for an onside kick and not the first time this season. We lost because our defense gave up big plays, as they have all season and last year too. We lost because we didn't have a good enough pass rush or our blitzes were not well timed up. We lost because we didn't pre-scout that Ellingson loves to use double moves. We lost because Chris Williams dropped a sure touchdown pass. We lost because we used our challenge call stupidly in the first half and lost time on the clock on our final drive. We lost because Powell is playing right tackle and he took a holding penalty after missing his block.
We've lost games this season because our offensive line is not good enough at pass protection too often. We've lost because our starting tackles are not good enough while Buono put himself in a position of trading Olifioye, a perennial All-Star. We've lost because we get away from our running game, as we traditionally have done in the Buono era. We've lost due to predictable schemes, inadequate game planning, poor play calling, passive defense, and poor punt return blocking.
"Incertitude' has been a problem as has 'certitude'' but not the way Willes sees things. Our problems of incertitude are this. When Jonathan Jennings drops back to throw, he wants the certitude of knowing that he will have enough time to get the football off without being driven to the turf by a missed pass block. He doesn't care whether Skulsky is at the game, what Braley is negotiating or what Buono plans to do next season.
When Sol E. covers a receiver running a crossing pattern, he wants the certitude that our defensive pass rush will soon get pressure on the quarterback. He doesn't want the incertitude of having to cover the receiver right across the field.
Actually there is a lot of certitude on this football team Jennings has the certitude that he will have little time to throw on most pass plays. Jeremiah Johnson has the certitude that he won't get enough reps with the football, even if he is running well. Chris Rainey will have the certitude, when he comes into a game, the play call will likely involve him and that he will be given a rush right up the middle or a quick swing pass that everyone knows is coming. He will have the certitude that a quick pitch so that he can challenge the edge with his speed and cutting ability won't be asked for. He will have the certitude that he won't be asked to rrun a deep pattern because we are waiting for a future date to use his speed.
Chris Williams has the certitude that we don't have a clue how to use him on offence. What he doesn't understand is the incertitude of his play of late but should realize that success brings confidence and a lack of it leads to poor play.
Chris Rainey will also have the certitude that he will be on his own, in terms of a punt return because he has the certitude that there will not be a block that could set him free in space, the reason why he has gone from the CFL's most electrifying and best punt return man last year to having the worst punt average in the league this season.
Our defensive backs have had the certitude that our pass rush (8th in the CFL) will not get to the quarterback with any haste because Wally did not address our rush end position in the off-season.
When we play each opposing team, there is an incertitude of what their game plan will be. There will be a lot of certitude about our game plan.
But perhaps the most 'certitude' that one can expect about our B.C. Lions is the 'certitude' that Wally will blame the players for not executing, the media will write their artickles 'delivering Buono's message unquestionably, and the press will give Buono a free pass in terms of his coaching and management decisions.
I buy that there is something broken inside our B.C. Lions. I didn't see that to begin this season but something happened between our huge victory over the Riders and the game following, when we were unprepared to play and quit during the game.
But I don't buy the cool aid that Willes is seliing. We lost to Hamilton and Ottawa and we have lost too many games this season because we didn't address what we needed to address, during the off-season, and our coaching staff has also not provided the game planning, schemes, and play calling that has been required to win. The players have basically said so this season and Lulay's comment that that everyone needed to look at themselves, including the 'staff' made that abundantly clear.
If Wlles wants to really learn what is broken, he needs to look at the issue in much more depth than making broad generalizations that really are not the major issue that is causing us to lose games. Great play for periods of time during a game and then poor play during other periods of time in a game are a reflection of coaching and not uncertainty regarding the franchise.
The major issue as to why we blew a 17 point lead against Ottawa is not Braley's sale of the team, Skulsky's part time work, or Buono's status, especially when Buono said he was considering returning as Head Coach next year.
No player was thinking about those things during the game. No player was thinking those things when we had a 17 point lead as they were not thinking those things when we gave up the lead. No player was thinking those things on the successful final drive, until Powell took his holding penalty.
Its time for Willes and others to put the spotlight on where it needs to be shone and what they have ignored for far too long. Our strategies are outdated. Our game planning, play calling and game management are inadequate. Our coaching is simply not good enough.
Willes is deflecting from the biggest problem, no different than Wally does. In fact it wouldn't surprise me that Buono's influence is part and parcel of Willes article.
But Willes does get one thing right. There are still fans who really care. Count me as one of them.
Here is Willes article
Willes Musings: Something is Broken Inside B.C. Lions
It was always understood that the B.C. Lions faced a degree of uncertainly off the field this season, but any concerns about the front office were offset by an overriding confidence in Wally Buono.
Buono, after all, had always held things together for owner David Braley and, in May, the Lions had the look of a championship-calibre team.
There was an emerging franchise quarterback in Jonathon Jennings. There was an elite receiving corps. There was a defence that might have been missing Adam Bighill, but was still good enough. In this space we set the over-under on the Lions’ season at 12 wins and wrote their year would come down to beating Calgary in the Western Final.
Uh, you may be aware that a few other issues have popped up over the last five months.
It’s now evident that something is broken inside the Leos. Saturday’s loss to Ottawa was shocking on a number of levels — how do you blow a 25-6 lead over the final 17 minutes at home when your season is in the balance? — but the most alarming was the massive leadership void it revealed in this organization.
It starts at the top with Braley’s incessant dithering over the sale of the team. It’s in the board room where president Dennis Skulsky is here on a part-time basis. It’s in the general manager’s office where Buono is likely in his last year and goes right down to the field where Buono is also coaching in what’s likely his last year.
All that incertitude has now found its way onto the field. I mean, how do you build trust and confidence in a team’s direction when the franchise’s key positions are manned by lame ducks? How do you sell your vision to the players and the fans when everyone is aware you’ve got one foot out the door.
B.C. Lions head coach Wally Buono, left, protests a call. DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS
The Lions have a number of problems, but they can’t begin to address them until they put an end to this organizational ambiguity. I have the utmost respect for Buono and he’s fully deserving of every accolade he’s earned in an incredible career. But he also knows how this works. This isn’t about his 272 career wins or the five Grey Cups as a coach or the Halls of Fame to which he belongs. This is about 2017 and this franchise’s future.
That said, it’s interesting to monitor the reaction to the Lions’ travails this season. People are frustrated. They’re angry. They’re exasperated. But they’re not indifferent and that says something. There’s still a connection to this team in this province and while that relationship has been strained this season, it still exists. It will be hard to win those fans back. It would be almost impossible if they stopped caring.
"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)