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Lions GM Wally Buono 'shocked, devastated' by playoff loss to Alouettes

11/17/2014 09:31 EST | Updated 01/17/2015 05:59 EST
SURREY, B.C. - B.C. Lions general manager Wally Buono never saw it coming.

Head coach Mike Benevides called the performance "very, very disturbing."

A little more than 24 hours after the Montreal Alouettes embarrassed the Lions 50-17 in the CFL's East Division semifinal, Buono and Benevides met the media on Monday to begin the autopsy on a season that started with the promise of another Grey Cup in their backyard and ended with a resounding thud.

"Was I in a state of shock (Sunday)? Yes," said Buono, choosing his words carefully. "Would I ever would have imagined that would have occurred? No.

"What did I learn about our football club? I learned the fact that we're not good enough and I learned the fact we have to do something about it."

As was the case throughout much of 2014, B.C.'s offence was unable to get anything going against Montreal, which will take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East final on Sunday.

"I was just so confident that we were going to go out and really play well and win a tough, close game on the road," said Buono. "This is devastating. If it's not devastating then you weren't committed, you weren't 100 per cent in."

Kevin Glenn, who started 18 of the club's 19 games this season in place of the injured Travis Lulay, was completely ineffective against the Alouettes, throwing for just 64 yards and two interceptions before getting the hook.

"When you have that kind of loss there's going to be a lot said and a lot of attention, and rightly so," said Benevides. "To lose in that manner is very, very disturbing and certainly disappointing and all the adjectives you could come up with."

In his three years as head coach of the Lions, Benevides has a record of 33 wins and 21 losses, but is 0 for 3 in playoff games. He was promoted from defensive co-ordinator to head coach after Buono moved into the front office on a full-time basis following the Lions' Grey Cup victory in 2011.

When asked if Benevides would be back in 2015, Buono responded with: "Are any of us going to be back?"

Benevides said job security wasn't a concern, but added the 9-9 record and the crossover playoff spot wasn't good enough.

"There's no doubt this business is about winning and I'm clearly aware where that's at," he said. "When I look at it, my goal is always to find a way to improve and get better and that's still where my focus is. But I'm clearly aware of where we're at — very disappointed."

The Lions dealt with a number of injuries on offence throughout 2014. Lulay played just one game, running back Andrew Harris and wide receiver Courtney Taylor were lost for the season, and the offensive line was beat up for long stretches.

Despite those losses and a defence that had played well for much of the season, but also gave up 70 points and more than 1,000 yards over the last two weeks of the regular season, Buono said he was already making plans to face Hamilton with a shot at the Grey Cup on the line.

Instead, the players will meet on Tuesday for a final time before cleaning out their lockers.

"That team should have been good enough to execute better (against Montreal)," said Buono. "That team should have been good enough to be able to have a very competitive game. At the end of it ... they didn't.

"I think they were well prepared. Montreal didn't surprise me. They didn't surprise me in what they did, they just executed it better."

The Lions will have to make a decision on what to do with Lulay and whether or not it can count on him to be healthy after he re-injured his surgically repaired shoulder in his only start of the season.

"The quarterback position of any team is critical," said Buono. "Travis is the kind of guy that I believe you should be willing to not make a quick decision (with)."

B.C. finished fifth in total offence with 353.1 yards per game, but was just seventh in the passing attack (232.4 yards per game) and fourth in rushing (102.1 yards per game)

Glenn — who was acquired from the Ottawa Redblacks at the draft as an insurance policy — finished second in the CFL behind Ricky Ray with 3,918 passing yards to go along with 17 touchdowns.

But he also threw 17 interceptions — plus two more in the playoff debacle — and never really looked comfortable, often making critical mistakes in the red zone.

"I'm disappointed for (Glenn) because I have a tremendous amount of respect for him," Benevides said of the impending free agent. "Kevin's been a soldier for 14 years. He's won a lot of football games.

"He's a heck of a warrior — a character guy."

The Lions had point totals of 17, 16, 16, 9, 7, 7, 6 and 3 during the regular season, going just 1-7 in those games, which has led to questions about first-year offensive co-ordinator Khari Jones' job security.

Neither Benevides or Buono elaborate on the future of any players or coaches on Monday.

"I feel good about our roster," said Benevides. "It's like anything else, it's a matter of getting the group together, working hard in the off-season and coming up with a vision of who we need to be.

"We overcame some challenges and other ones we did not."

A former player and coach, Buono said the blowout loss in Montreal didn't hurt more than any other, even with the Grey Cup set for B.C. Place Stadium in less than two weeks, a game the Lions will now watch like everyone else.

"The hollowness, the emptiness always feels the same," he said. "This is my 42nd year in the Canadian Football League and I've had seven happy endings.

"The game was very, very disappointing. I don't think the score is relative to the disappointment. I guess the score is relative to the embarrassment, to the anger, but not to the disappointment."

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