Esks need to find fire

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos have dug themselves a hole to start the 2010 season, but history shows all is not lost.

Surely the Eskies didn’t script their Grey Cup home turf defence with an 0-3 start.

If they win it all at Commonwealth Stadium this season, the Eskimos wouldn’t be unique in erasing early woes.

The 2001 Calgary Stampeders lost their first three games, finished at 8-10 (with an overtime loss point) and then swept through the playoffs for their fifth championship.

Those Stamps were breaking in a new starting quarterback (Marcus Crandell) to a veteran team. The Eskimos are hurting themselves.

The Esks’ awful play over the first three games could be nothing more than key mistakes at crucial teams that could easily be fixed.

Like most teams who struggle, the Eskimos could just as easily have won their first three this season.

In the opener against the B.C. Lions, an early turnover inside scoring range derailed the first drive. Two dropped touchdown passes sunk the team in Week 2, and then two fumbles on would-be scoring drives hurt them Saturday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Eskimos have a second hurdle to cross, though. No host team has won the Grey Cup since B.C. in 1994.

This week’s trip to Winnipeg to face the 1-2 Blue Bombers is crucial. There is no precedent for a team going 0-4 and having a successful season.

Opening drive

TSN has had a great influence on the CFL and now it can claim to have directly created a player. As a DB with the Edmonton Huskies a few years ago, Grant Shaw watched TSN’s Kick for a Million where contestants try to hit from 50 yards out. Shaw figured it wasn’t that hard.

“I was just doing it for fun with a couple of buddies,” said the Toronto Argonauts kicker. “We thought, ‘Let’s see if we could win a million dollars.’ I went 4-for-5. So maybe this was something I should look into.” Shaw has hit 9-of-11 field goals for the Argos and the team released import Justin Medlock to give him the job permanently … K Sandro DeAngelis is having some real struggles in his new gig with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. After missing two more field goals Friday, his average at Ivor Wynne Stadium is now 50% (10-of-20). If not for Damon Duval missing twice as well, DeAngelis might be in danger of losing his mantle as most accurate kicker in CFL history. DeAngelis started this season at 83.8% for his career, while Duval was at 80.9%.

Endzone toss

There were two uncharacteristic signs of frustration this past week from CFL players who would normally be up for the Lady Byng Award if the league had one. Montreal Alouettes SB Ben Cahoon got steamed at former teammate Davis Sanchez during the Als’ win over the Lions. Stamps RB Joffrey Reynolds stepped on Toronto Argonauts LB Jason Pottinger after getting tackled on a short gain. “There is no excuse on my part. It was bad judgment by me,” Reynolds said ... Roughriders RB Wes Cates leads the league with 317 yards rushing and is well on his way to 1,000 after being the only starting CFL back not to reach that mark last season.

Extra points

Since 1954, the Argos have only once won the CFL rushing title (Michael Jenkins in 2001). Cory Boyd will be in contention after back-to-back 100-yard outings ... Ticats RB Marcus Thigpen needs just one rushing TD to become the first player to score five different ways in one season. In the first two weeks, he scored majors on a kickoff, a punt return, a missed field goal and a reception. If he scores on a fumble, he would set a record no one will ever touch.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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