Reflecting on what we have seen from the BC Lions over their first 10 games as well as takeaways from their recent loss in Mosaic against the Roughriders.
CFL First Period All-Star Team (Weeks 1-7)
Previous BC Lions Takeaways:
Week 11 Takeaways
Pass Defense Played well despite the 3 Touchdowns
Jake Dolegala completed 18 of his 29 passes (62%) for 239 yards with 3 touchdowns. 2 of those completions were due to fantastic catches made by Samuel Emilus. Emilus went up for a 46-yard catch despite being covered tightly by Garry Peters. He had another amazing grab for a 37-yard touchdown on a play that looked like it could be intercepted before Emilus flashed to the football. Without those 2 plays the passing numbers would have been 16 of 27 for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Garry Peters and T.J. Lee both had a really nice breakup and both provided good coverage through the game. Bo Lokombo also had a breakup on a short pass in the third quarter.
This game was more an example of excellent play from Samuel Emilus for the Riders rather than an example of poor defensive play by the Lions.
Effective Run Stopping
The Lions’ defense held Jamal Morrow to 59 yards on 16 carries (3.7 average) and he only had 1 play greater than 10 yards which was a 14-yard carry. It was all hands on deck as 8 different Lions players had a run stop in the game. Ben Hladik and David Menard both had 2 quality run stops.
Top Defensive Performances
T.J. Lee – HB
Lee provided great coverage on a deep pass in the 2nd quarter targeting Shawn Bane. He also had multiple tackles on short passes, a pass breakup in the third quarter, and good coverage on another incompletion targeting Shawn Bane in the 4th quarter. He had a great run stop as well in the 4th quarter for a loss.
Bo Lokombo – LB
Lokombo generated 2 quarterback pressures in the 2nd quarter, 2 quality run stops in the third quarter, and a pass breakup.
Ben Hladik – LB
Hladick led the team in tackles with 6. He had 2 quality run stops and also generated a pressure on a passing play in the 2nd quarter. He also broke up a pass play over the middle in the 2nd quarter.
Mathieu Betts – DE
Betts had a sack fumble, a run stop, and a QB hurry all in the 2nd quarter.
Sione Teuhema – DE
Teuhema had 2 QB pressures, a run stop, and another good run tackle.
Tremendous Passing Game
Vernon Adams Jr.26 of his 41 passes (63%) for 455 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception. There were so many big throws in this game. Such as one down the left sideline to to Alexander Hollins for 28 yards early in the game in which Hollins did a great job turning to the ball.
Throwing great balls near the sideline was a common theme in this game. In the 4th quarter, he rolled to his right before finding Hatcher near the right side for a 16-yard completion. There was a great pass to Hollins for 23 yards on a corner route on the right sideline then on the next play, a 30-yard pass to him again at the opposite sideline. Adams also had a couple of nice scrambles for first downs. Hatcher caught a pass in stride just before hitting the right sideline of the endzone for a touchdown.
The longest play of the night was a 78-yard score on a deep route down the middle to Lucky Whitehead.
3 Lions’ receivers put up very big numbers as Alexander Hollins caught 7 of his 9 targets for 161 yards and a touchdown, Lucky Whitehead caught 5 of his 7 targets for 122 yards and a touchdown, and Keon Hatcher caught 6 of his 14 targets for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Unable to Get the Run Game Going
Taquan Mizzell was held to just 2.1 yards per carry on 7 rushes. 8 of his 15 yards came on 1 carry. BC ran the ball 3 times in the third quarter before they did not do any in the last 20 minutes.
Mid Season Reflections
Top Defense in the CFL’s First Half of the Season
There have been some ups and downs but the BC Lions’ defense has been the best defense in the CFL over the first half of the season. No team has allowed fewer points per game than the Lions as they have allowed 187 points in 10 games (18.7 per game).
The BC Lions have played 5 games in which they did not allow an offensive touchdown. Across their 7 wins, they have only allowed 2 offensive touchdowns.
Mathieu Betts has obviously been a star as he leads the league in sacks with 11 over 10 games. He also has 26 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and a knockdown. Even when he is not scattered on the stat sheet he is consistently making an impact and has been generating so many pressures every game.
Sione Teuhema and Woody Baron are tied in 2nd for sacks with 3 each.
I really like the rotation system the Lions are running with. You never know who is going to break out and have a big game regardless of where they are listed on the depth chart. 3 of BC’s defensive tackles have been listed on a Pro Football Focus team of the week at least once, Woody Baron, Tibo Debaillie, and Josh Banks.
BC’s run-stopping has been insane and they have limited their opponent’s starting runningback to 1 yard per carry or less in 2 separate games.
BC has been fortunate to not lose only one-man game to any of their starting linebackers due to injury. All 3 of them have been excellent this season. They have been a very good trio closing in quickly on receivers in short passes in addition to taking up passing up lanes, and contributing run stops. They’re a big reason why teams often struggle to put up points and yards against BC.
Bo Lokombo leads the team in tackles with 54 and also has 2 sacks, 3 knockdowns, and an interception. Ben Hladik is 2nd in tackles with 50 and also has a sack, an interception, and a knockdown at middle linebacker. At cover linebacker, Emmanuel Rugamba has played very well and is 3rd in tackles on the team with 38, has 2 sacks and 1 knockdown.
In my opinion, Garry Peters has been the best cornerback in the CFL this season. He leads the team in interceptions with 3 so far this season in addition to his 30 tackles. Peters Island has been a no-fly zone as he 8 knockdowns and has often provided tight coverage on incompletions throughout the season. Multiple of his pass breakups have come in the endzone.
Jalon Edwards-Cooper has played well on the other side at corner, T.J. Lee and Marcus Sayles have been a great halfback duo and Quincy Mauger has played excellent at safety.
It is a complete defensive unit with very few weaknesses if any at all.
Correctable Defensive Scheme
There have been a couple of times in the season where BC has been burned. In the image below you see Garry Peters lined up against 3 receivers against Calgary with no help near him. The halfback and the safety likely needed to shift closer to that side of the field as on this particular play Calgary made a very easy passing play.
There was something very similar to this in the loss to Winnipeg in which Peters was lined up by himself against Dalton Schoen and Kenny Lawler. To no one’s surprise, Collaros threw the ball to the receiver that Peters did not go with so it resulted in a 34-yard play for Kenny Lawler.
Vernon Adams Jr. Has Been Elite
In 8 games played Vernon Adams Jr. has completed 168 of his 240 passes (70%) for 2,325 yards and 16 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. 6 of the interceptions came in the loss to Toronto.
The Lions are in good hands with VA under center who is 2nd in the league in passing yards and first in passing yards per game. Among starting quarterbacks with 3 or more starts he is third in QBR as well as yards per attempt behind only Chad Kelly and Zach Collaros.
Receiving Room Has Been Fantastic, Great Depth
In his second CFL season, Alexander Hollins has been absolutely elite. He spent a couple of years in NFL systems before joining the Lions last year during which he played in 4 games and had 13 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. This season he has completely exploded maximizing the opportunities presented to step into a bigger role during times in which other key receivers were injured. He has 48 receptions, 715 yards, and 4 touchdowns and is 2nd in the CFL in yards.
Keon Hatcher in 7 games played has caught 42 passes for 657 yards and 3 touchdowns. Hatcher is 4th in yards in the CFL.
Lucky Whitehead is third on the team in yards with 413 in 8 games played. Dominique Rhymes is the team leader in touchdowns with 5 over 6 games played and has 316 yards.
Justin McInnis has been great when elevated into a starting role which has happened 7 times so far due to various injuries. McInnis has 338 yards and 2 touchdowns on 21 catches. Jevon Cottoy has looked like a lokomotive often catching short passes and then picking up a lot of YAC just running people over on his way to 318 yards and a touchdown over 28 catches. Ayden Eberhardt has also looked good in his 2 starts earlier in the season when called upon catching 5 passes for 69 yards.
Taquan Mizzell Has Been Very Good in CFL Rookie Season
Mizzell has had a couple of quieter games more recently but I really like the way he runs. He has 470 yards on 97 carries in 8 games so far over his rookie CFL season. He has also added 19 catches for 124 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. James Butler left a big hole in BC’s offense when he signed with Hamilton and I believe Mizzell has done a very good job as BC’s new starting running back.
Great Play From Special Teams
Sean Whyte has been amazing and has made 96.6% of his field goals. He is 13 of 13 from 40-49 yards and ½ for 50+. No one has been more accurate kicking field goals than him so far this season.
Stefan Flintoft has averaged 47.4 yards per punt over 63 punts. His average is not far behind Cody Grace who leads the league for Calgary at 48.8 yards per punt.
Terry Williams has been very good in the return game as well. While he might not be among the league leaders statistically he has had quite a few returns that have certainly passed the eye test.
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