Lulay vs Jennings could be next great BC Lions quarterback controversy

Aug 2 2017, 10:40 pm

It’s been a good news season for the BC Lions so far in 2017.

After six games, BC is 4-2 with both losses coming against the best team in the league, the Edmonton Eskimos. On top of that, they’ve been more entertaining than they have been in years.

With offseason signing Chris Williams set to make his debut, the Lions’ receiving corps is about to get even more potent too.

But who will be throwing them the ball?

The Lions’ undisputed starting quarterback heading into this season, Jonathon Jennings was good through his first three games before getting injured on the first play from scrimmage in Week 4. Throwing for 853 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, he helped BC to a 2-1 record, narrowly losing out to Edmonton in Week 1.

Jennings’ injury looked like it was going to be a crushing blow to the Lions’ offence, but 33-year-old former starter Travis Lulay appears to have turned back the clock in his absence.

The 2011 Grey Cup MVP threw for more than 400 yards in his first two games this season – both wins. He had five touchdowns combined in those two games, and tossed another two last week to go with 259 yards through the air.

Is it enough to earn him extra starts at Jennings’ expense?

That’s a question that would have had you laughed out of the room a month ago, but it’s not such a silly question anymore.

Though Lulay has thrown six interceptions in three games and lost last week in Edmonton, you can’t deny the fact that BC’s offence has clicked with him at the helm.

Lulay’s impressive play in Jennings’ absence lessens the pressure for the youngster to return, and that’s unquestionably a good thing for head coach Wally Buono. There’s no reason to throw the 25-year-old into the fire if he’s less than 100%.

But will Buono give him the keys to the offence when healthy if Lulay keeps this up?

Jennings dressed last game in Edmonton, but as the third-string quarterback. That suggests that he’s healthy enough to play if they need him.

“[Jennings] threw in Edmonton in the warm-up, I thought he did a good job. He threw yesterday,”  Buono said after practice on Tuesday, updating reporters on the young starter’s status.

“I think he’s getting more and more comfortable every day throwing the football, which is important. The big thing right now is just strength, and once we – and he – feels that the strength is there, then we’ll resume.”

That certainly sounds like the comments from a coach who has no reason to rush a player back from injury. Buono has already named Lulay his starter for Saturday’s home game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Great, but what about the other guy?

We haven’t seen the last of Jennings, but the pressure to perform will have risen significantly whenever he returns. Lulay is a viable option to win football games now, much more than previously thought.

If Jennings happens to start off slow – something he has been known to do in the past –  will fans at BC Place be calling for the hook at half time? Will Buono oblige?

Just how long of a leash Buono gives his star QB going forward will be an interesting story to monitor.

While Jennings and Lulay, by all accounts, get along very well, this could turn into a deja vu situation. Remember the intense Dave Dickenson/Casey Printers debates in 2004 and 2005? Certainly I’m jumping the gun with that comparison, but if the backup outplays the starter, who knows?

It’s early, and Buono hasn’t had to make a decision yet. When decision time comes, second guessers will appear, and “quarterback controversy” is a phrase you might hear.

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