What can the Lions expect from Vernon Adams?

This weekend, the BC Lions will be starting their fourth quarterback in as many games. Vernon Adams Jr is the latest player to take the key role after he was traded ahead of the bye week following injuries to both Michael O’Connor and Nathan Rourke.


As every fan knows, a change of quarterback can have a huge impact on a team’s chances as well as the football game odds. Right now, fans and bettors alike are trying to assess what impact Adams can have on a BC Lions team that is in a strong position.


After finishing with a losing record last season, the Lions are now 8-3, good enough for second in the West Division and they have a game in hand over the chasing Calgary Stampeders, but Adams has been given a tough task to get up to speed.


The Lions have a wealth of offensive talent, and their playbook is extensive. Normally, a new quarterback is given two months of training camp to absorb a new playbook, but Adams has had to familiarize himself with the essentials in the span of two weeks.


Part of that process has been to slim the playbook down, at least initially, allowing Adams to work his way into a position where he feels confident. It’s quite a task, but the signs are that he is rising to the challenge as the Lions prepare for their return to action.


Before last week’s game in Montreal, where the Lions started Antonio Pipkin, Adams had just had a week of practice with the team, although he did play in three first-half series, going 1-for-3 for 17 yards and leading one drive that came to an end with a fumble.


Adams certainly has the pedigree to succeed with the Lions. A former starter with the Alouettes, he helped them to make consecutive playoff appearances, following a run of four years without any postseason action. But he can’t take much time to get up to speed as the Lions are under pressure from the chasing teams, with the Saskatchewan Roughriders also closing in along with Calgary.


For the Lions receivers, this is another shift in quarterback style to adjust to – their fourth in four games. Rourke had a distinctive lightning-quick style, while Pipkin played in a smoother fashion. Adams offers an athletic way of playing the position, happy to navigate in the pocket or run it himself.


While he has the credentials, Adams may be a little rusty. In fact, he hasn’t played major minutes since Week One and since then he has thrown a total of 10 passes, including his time with Montreal and the Lions. He won’t be given much room to find his rhythm either. There are plenty of strong defenses in the league, including at Calgary, where Shawn Lemon is once again terrorizing opposing offenses.


Yet, it would be fitting if Adams were to lead the Lions to the playoffs, after almost becoming a Lions player seven years ago. Back in 2016, he was rated as a great prospect, potentially the next great CFL quarterback. NFL scouts had rated him as too small and unreliable to be a factor in the NFL, despite his successful college performances at Oregon and Eastern Washington.


One way to prove them wrong was to make his name in the CFL, and that was originally going to be with the Lions, who held his negotiation list rights. However, negotiations broke down and at the time, they could afford to be choosy with Jonathon Jennings regarded as their future. So, Adams was traded to Montreal in exchange for a first-round pick. The deal did not go according to plan for either team and now Adams is back and in the position of being the Lion’s big hope as they aim to make a Grey Cup challenge.


Given their recent form and the tough schedule ahead, Adams will have to live up to that billing from the start. Two defeats in a row have allowed the chasing pack to catch up. With back-to-back games against Calgary and two more against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers also coming up, Adams will be under pressure from the start.


He will also have some help from the Lions defense, which has conceded the fewest points in the CFL, even allowing for the number of games played. If the defense continues to perform at that level, Adams has a great opportunity to boost his reputation in the CFL and beyond.

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