Buono sees no need to change Lions' coaching staff

The Canadian Press

8/19/2010 8:14:08 PM

VANCOUVER -- Both teams are struggling with 1-6 records, but the B.C. Lions won't follow the Edmonton Eskimos path and make coaching changes in an attempt to fix its problems.

"There is no need to make changes in the coaching staff," Wally Buono, the Lions coach and general manager, said adamantly Thursday. "There is nothing wrong with what we are doing.

"What's wrong with what we are doing is the player's inability to execute what we are doing."

The Eskimos named Tim Prinsen as offensive line coach Wednesday after Jeff Bleamer was fired. Mark Nelson was hired as linebackers coach to replace former CFL star Dan Kepley, who abruptly quit.

Late last month the Eskimos fired general manager Danny Maciocia after the team's only victory, a 28-25 win over the Lions.

Buono understands that when things go bad in sports it usually costs the coach their job. That's why he called Edmonton head coach Richie Hall this week to offer some encouragement.

"Here is a young guy that is going through hell," said Buono. "Do we want to lose all our young coaches because everybody is willing to dump on people?

"Everybody is so willing to see people fail and they enjoy seeing people fail."

Buono wasn't specific on what he said to Hall.

"The point is I felt for him," said Buono, who is in his 21st season as a head coach and eighth in B.C. "I picked up the phone just to say hello."

Buono leads all CFL coaches with 236 victories. But with B.C. riding a six-game losing streak some fans are starting to wonder if the team needs a change at the top.

Lions owner David Braley said Buono's job is safe.

"Wally is the general manager and head coach," Braley said in a telephone interview from his office in Hamilton. "He's going to stay in the position and he has my complete backing and trust.

"When he's ready to step down from coaching and be a general manager only he will advise myself ... and we will deal with it then."

Braley says he's "disappointed we've started off in the manner we have" but said there's time to turn the team around.

"You don't get too high when you win and you don't get too low when you lose," he said. "You've got to go out and fix the problem."

The 135 points the Lions have scored this year are the least of any team in the CFL. There have been calls to replace offensive co-ordinator Jacques Chapdelaine.

The Lions most recent defeat was a 37-13 loss to Saskatchewan last Thursday. With the team not playing again until next Friday, the players were given a week off while the coaching staff regrouped.

"We spent a whole day together talking about a million things," said Buono. "Then I met with the offence, I met with the defence, I met with the special teams.

"I talked about certain things. Then we took a day or two to reflect. Now we are in the process of moving forward."

Buono expects "four or five" new players in camp when the team resumes practice Friday.

B.C. announced Thursday that defensive lineman Jonathan Brown, who spent six seasons with the Toronto Argonauts, and linebacker Chase Bullock, who played with the UFL New York Sentinels last year, have been added to the roster.

Quarterback Casey Printers, who suffered a knee injury in B.C.'s second game of the season, has made progress and could start when the Lions return to action against the Calgary Stampeders.

"I've been very impressed with Casey," said Buono. "He did not go home (during the bye). He stayed here, he's rehabbed, he's watched film.

"He's been on the practice field with the receivers. He is taking this very seriously."

This is the first time in Buono's career he has started a season 1-6 and he's never lost six games in a row.

Buono thinks the bye week will help the Lions refocus and prepare for the remainder of the season.

"I think it was a very positive break," he said. "The bye hopefully gives us a chance to create some momentum.

"You get healed up refresh the mind, maybe change some things you are doing both from a philosophical point of view and structural point of view to help the players to maybe be more disciplined and execute better."