Quarterback questions loom for B.C. Lions following pair of losses


B.C. Lions quarterback Jonathon Jennings, back left, watches as quarterback Travis Lulay prepares to pass before a pre-season CFL football. (Darryl Dyck/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

SURREY, B.C. — Jonathon Jennings is frustrated with how he’s been playing so far this CFL season, and his poor start may be leading to a quarterback controversy in Vancouver.

The B.C. Lions No. 1 pivot has yet to throw for more than 200 yards this CFL season, and he was 15-for-24 for 105 yards with two interceptions in Winnipeg on Saturday as the Blue Bombers trounced B.C. 41-19.

"I’m very disappointed. I didn’t play up to my standards at all," Jennings said. "Back to the drawing board once again. There’s no excuses, just got to find a way to get it done."

This season’s start is a far cry from Jennings’ breakout year in 2016, where he made 371 completions, passing for 5,226 yards.

"It seems crazy because I look back at 2015-2016, I played tremendous and then you get here and it’s just baffling for everyone," the 25-year-old said Monday.

"This is just a bump in the road. I think it’s part of my growth."

The quarterback is a pivotal position for any team’s psyche and confidence, said Lions coach Wally Buono.

"Quarterbacks go through tough spells," he said. "At this point, (Jennings) isn’t playing his best football. We know that and I think he knows that, too."

Buono added that he hasn’t yet made any decisions about who he’ll start this weekend.

Coaching staff are looking at various options for correcting mistakes and improving the team’s play following the Winnipeg game, he said.

"The game Saturday wasn’t good football, especially in the first half," Buono said. "(Winnipeg) had a shot in the arm by the return of their starting quarterback (Matt Nichols) and they played like it. And we didn’t play at the level we should have."

It was Nichols’ first game of the season after he injured his knee in training camp. He completed 16 of 29 pass attempts for 162 yards, including a touchdown toss to Darvin Adams.

The loss in Winnipeg saw the Lions fall to 1-2 on the season. The teams are set for a rematch in Vancouver on Saturday.

Whether B.C.’s veteran quarterback Travis Lulay could step in to take over the No. 1 role in that game remains to bee seen, Buono said.

Lulay hasn’t played yet this year after having off-season knee surgery.

"He’ll definitely be in the lineup. What his role will be is to be determined," Buono said.

Lulay expected to have a weekly check-in meeting with medical staff on Monday and said he’s feeling close to being able to handle a full workload.

Lately he’s been working on conditioning, but said he also has a role in keeping his teammate in check.

The 34-year-old said he’s supporting and pushing Jennings, and always being direct and honest with him.

"We’ve always had that relationship where we can just openly, bluntly talk about where we can improve, what you did well. So it goes both ways," Lulay said.

He added that he feels for Jennings because there’s always an extra spotlight on a team’s quarterback.

"We gotta be able to have big broad shoulders because we carry a lot of the load," Lulay said. "When we win we probably take more of the credit. When we loose, we probably get more of the blame. That’s just the nature of our spot."

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