October 19, 2008
It's time to play Monday Morning Quarterback one day early.
With the Edmonton Eskimos facing a critical game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday afternoon in Regina, here are some points to ponder.
RUN, ESKS, RUN
The Eskimos' run game is nothing short of terrible right now.
Starting running back AJ Harris had five carries for nine yards in Friday's loss to the B.C. Lions.
That's an embarrassing 1.8-yard per carry average.
In comparison, the Lions gave the ball to tailback Charlie Roberts 20 times in the same game for 102 yards.
"Our running game definitely needs to get better," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia.
With two regular-season games left and a strong possibility the Esks will be last in the West Division by the end of today's Riders' game against Hamilton, Maciocia needs to start non-import Calvin McCarty at tailback and sit Harris.
McCarty has a slightly better average per carry through the year - 5.9 yards to Harris's 5.6 - and gives the Esks a chance to dress another import elsewhere by sitting Harris.
Maciocia needs to get Jim Davis back on the field.
Tied for the team lead with six sacks, Davis could be very valuable against Saskatchewan.
If Harris came off the roster, Davis could be activated as an extra defensive lineman that can play end or tackle.
Davis won't say it, but he's clearly steamed at being a healthy scratch last week to get Fred Perry back.
Maciocia needs to tap into that energy.
If the bench boss doesn't sit Harris, Brandon Guillory needs to come off the roster to get Davis in.
Yes, Guillory had four sacks in two games earlier this month. But he didn't bring his A game in Friday's loss.
Exposed on the run - yet again - he let Roberts scamper for 15 yards on one play and failed to record a sack.
"He was average," said Maciocia on Guillory's performance Friday.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Defensive back Jordan Younger has to pick up his game.
There are four or five plays that define every game and Younger was the focal point of one of them in Friday's 43-28 Edmonton loss to the B.C. Lions.
The Eskimos' cornerback had a great opportunity to turn the tide of the game with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.
The fifth-year CFL veteran watched a B.C. pass bounce right off his body - although his hands were in position to make the diving interception.
If Younger had made the play, the Esks would have had the ball at midfield with a 28-23 lead.
Instead, the Lions kept marching down the field to score a touchdown - and never looked back on their way to victory.
"I catch that ball (and) the game might be different," said Younger. "I just didn't look (the ball) in. I am a professional football player. I get paid to do this. So, I got to catch that ball."
Momentum can play a huge factor in a game. The Esks would've had it on their bench if Younger had put the offence back on the field.
Edmonton safety Siddeeq Shabazz needs to be more disciplined.
The second-year Eskimo took two penalties on Friday night- unnecessary roughness and roughing the passer - after being tossed out of the game in Vancouver on Oct. 10 for allegedly throwing a punch.
Shabazz denied throwing the punch, but the bottom line is that his penalties are hurting the club.