There are a lot of questions being asked in Vancouver these days about the B.C. Lions.
How can a team this talented be 2-3, posting just three wins in its last 13 outings? Why does the team continually melt down in the second half? Are Wally Buono's days there numbered?
One thing that isn't being questioned is the intensity and competitiveness of its quarterback, especially after his late-game fireworks last week.
On the tail end of the club's latest self-destruction in a 29-28 loss to Saskatchewan, a furious Dave Dickenson punctuated his second endzone pickoff by hurling his helmet across the turf at B.C. Place.
Was he mad at A) the receiver who did little to break up the interception, B) Antonio Warren who missed an earlier block that prompted Dickenson to cough up the ball after being violently blindsided, C) his coaches for failing once again to make second-half adjustments, or DD) as in Dave Dickenson?
"I was more mad at myself than anything," said Dickenson, who has thrown four picks and 12 majors.
"I thought the guy on the left jumped and I had a potential free play, so I threw it up there. Throwing the helmet was a snap reaction to a game I personally felt I just threw away. I'm not happy I did it and I'm hoping I never do it again. Eleven years and I still have a fiery streak in me. It was tough to sleep that night."
Given the club's 11-0 start last season, expectations are still high for a club Dickenson and Buono still feel has all the tools to chase the franchise's first Grey Cup since the two former Stamps reunited on the coast. However, early injuries to starters Jason Clermont and Tony Simmons left Dickenson with two rookie receivers to break in, which has set the offensive juggernaut back a notch. Not much though, Dickenson said.
"I personally feel like offensively we've played pretty good football -- we just haven't won 'em," said the 33-year-old, who controls the Lions' fate now that Casey Printers is vying to be an NFL benchwarmer.
"I've made a couple throws I'd like to have back but, for the most part, we've scored enough to win games. Last year, we had the same type of close games but we were winning, so people thought everything was great. To me, the line is so small."
The dispersal of the Ottawa Renegades combined with key free- agent signings league-wide helped bolster every CFL squad, increasing parity to the point no club is able to overcome critical miscues like the ones Dickenson authored last week to blow a 23-10 halftime lead.
"There's no dissension here -- not on offence for sure," he said.
"The coaches are disappointed the way we've lost games. We feel we're the ones giving away the games and making mistakes -- it's not a characteristic you want for your team. They're frustrated because the effort is great and we feel like we've got the talent."
As good as his regular-season record has been, Buono acknowledged this week he could be facing the axe unless his club starts winning. Especially if he doesn't eliminate the team's second-half collapses.
"I do think this year it's more of a problem. Other than our opening game, we have been a first-half team," said Dickenson, whose club has been outscored 80-42 in the final two quarters.
"When you're ahead and doing well, you don't make any adjustments but maybe we have to predict what they're going to do before it starts to happen. Maybe we should come up with some 'what-ifs.' "
Like, what if the Leos drop to 2-4 at McMahon tomorrow night?
The helmet, he insists, will stay on.