September 28, 2008
Reasons to navel gazeEskimos have few bright spots to ponder after dropping three of last four games
The fall of the Edmonton Eskimos has been rather quick and ugly.
Three defeats in their last four games, the Esks only victory in this stretch has been against the hapless Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Dissecting the Green and Gold's second straight loss on Friday in Winnipeg brings few reasons to smile and plenty to frown upon.
Here is the good, the bad and the ugly with Edmonton's struggling club in the CFL ...
Ricky Ray's throwing arm: The Esks starting pivot has surely put to rest any suggestion that he has some sort of injury that is hampering his play.
Ray threw for 434 yards in Friday's 30-23 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Maurice Mann: Nothing can replace the chemistry Jason Tucker had with Ray, but Mann is showing he can make critical receptions for the Esks.
Seventy-eight yards on six receptions, Mann also added a touchdown on Friday night.
Dressing room attitude: At 7-6 in the West Division, the Esks aren't in panic mode at the moment.
That is a good sign.
"I don't see much panic in any of these guys. I would hope not. That would worry me (if I did)," said Edmonton receiver Kamau Peterson, looking around the locker-room.
Of course, if the Esks get blown out against Winnipeg on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium (5 p.m., CHED, TSN) or drop their next two, then it's time to panic in Eskimoland.
Taylor Inglis: Usually very dependable on long snaps, Inglis put one on the ground on Friday night. That has put him on the hot seat with special teams coach Noel Thorpe.
"We got to fix it. He's got to snap. It is what he does. His job is to put it on the hip of the punter," said Thorpe in a very serious tone on Inglis.
Last-drive offence: Edmonton had a chance to tie the game with one last drive on Friday - but the offence wasn't in sync.
The Esks had great field position at their 49-yard line with 1:06 left.
But what summed it all up was a third-down play with 13 seconds left.
Ray didn't take a shot at the end zone from the Winnipeg 41-yard line.
The Esks didn't throw the ball on a sideline-route to stop the clock.
Instead, the offence fell apart - with Ray throwing nowhere near a receiver to end the game on a short route away from the sidelines.
That last-minute drill has to be worked on in practice.
Edmonton's run defence: In the last three games, the Green and Gold have given up a total of 524 yards on the ground.
In comparison, in the three-game stretch before this trio of tilts, Edmonton had relinquished 280 combined rushing yards.
Against Winnipeg on Friday, Edmonton allowed the Bombers to gain 5.8-yards per carry.
Special teams coverage: Jason Armstead's punt return for a major on Friday was a black eye for the Esks.
Siddeeq Shabazz missed the tackle that would have kept the return to a handful of yards.
Armstead proceeded to weave his way through the rest of the Eskimos coverage unit - while two Edmonton players were hammered on wicked legal blocks in the process.
"The bottom line is we didn't make a play and we needed to," said Thorpe.
Offensive turnovers: The offence has fumbled the ball at least once in each of the last five games while Ricky Ray has thrown six interceptions in his last four games.