The best team in CFL football last year was the Toronto Argonauts. They defeated the Calgary Stampeders to win the Grey Cup. And yes, Calgary was last year's second best team.Toronto deserved to win and Calgary deserved the opportunity to play for that 100th Grey Cup ring.
But the team that played the best for the longest was the BC Lions.
What the Lions accomplished last year was remarkable: they set franchise records for defensive excellence, finishing first in fewest points allowed, net yards allowed, fewest passing yards allowed, fewest rushing yards allowed, most quarterback sacks, and lowest second down conversion rate.
In six of eight major defensive categories they were the best in the league.
On offense they were tops in four of eight major categories, including fewest sacks allowed and best second down conversion rate. When it comes to a football season, the BC lions had a pretty good one! They just didn't win their last game.
Football is an odd game in that it is a single event. In baseball, basketball, and hockey the best teams are usually revealed because of the number of games played. You can't play 82 games of football similar to hockey and basketball and you certainly can't play 162 games like baseball! And then to add playoffs; it's physically impossible to play that much football.
That is why "state of mind" is so important in football; you get one shot and that is it. BC had theirs and blew it; Calgary made it happen.
New year, new team, and forget the past right? I'm not so sure. I think you can be motivated as much by adversity from the past as clarity and optimism for the future.
The Lions should let the lost opportunity of the Western Final burn a bit. There is a good chance they will get back there this year; so as the saying goes: if you don't learn from the past you're bound to repeat it.
BC can use last year's 34-29 loss at home to Calgary all season long if they wish. Both positive and negative reinforcement works, just in dramatically different ways.
In terms of personnel there is not much to suggest improving with the Lions. Even in his 40s, kicker Paul McCallum had a great year going 44-52 on field goals. They have more players with the balance of youth and experience than any other team.
It really is a game of focus and concentration all season long, anticipating those key dates: November 10, November 17, November 24. Playoff football.