Eskimos GM defends his struggling team

Eskimos GM Danny Maciocia, seen here in a file photo, is defending his struggling team. (QMI Agency...

Eskimos GM Danny Maciocia, seen here in a file photo, is defending his struggling team. (QMI Agency file photo)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:31 PM ET

If the Edmonton Eskimos keep sinking, Danny Maciocia sounds like he’s planning on going down with the ship.

The Eskimos general manager sounds like he’s going to keep thinking there’s a good football team here and a good head coach at the helm.

Tuesday was Maciocia's turn to take the stand in the Great 0-4 Inquisition of 2010 and he didn’t sound like somebody ready to pull the trigger and fire his coach if the Eskimos should match their record from 1965 and lose their first five games of the season by falling to the B.C. Lions Friday.

With Eskimos president and CEO Rick LeLacheur making front-page news reading the riot act and not guaranteeing the employment of his coach or general manager or even himself past 10 p.m. Friday, push has to come to shove. But Maciocia doesn’t sound like somebody ready to push Richie Hall from the edge of the cliff.

Not that he’s pretending all is well with this football team which is 4-11 since last Labour Day, doesn’t show up for the start of games, has lacked emotion and character, consistently allows their quarterback to be sacked, routinely drops passes, frequently fumbles footballs, regularly throws interceptions, can’t score in the red zone, constantly takes penalties and has been outscored 50-7 in fourth quarters.

And not that he questions LeLacheur standing up and putting the entire organization on notice.

“He has every right to say what he said. A lot of people are unhappy and rightfully so. Unquestionably the time has come where things have to change and change quickly.

“I admire what he did. To come out and say he would fire himself ... it’s like he’s taking one for the team. I think he did.”

And Maciocia said there’s nobody here that doesn’t understand how it works.

You don’t win. You’re fired.

But fire the coach five games in?

“If we make that kind of a change, is that going to protect the quarterback any better?” he asked on the first day of change where offensive lineman Joe McGrath was the first starting member of the Eskimos to be thrown under the bus with several more to follow if the team doesn’t show up Friday.

Maciocia himself was looking at needing to provide a home playoff game and finish ahead of Calgary, both for the first time since 2004, to keep his job security past the end of the season even with a decent start.

“It’s never fair. We all know what we signed up for. Of the last 11 Super Bowls, eight were won by coaches who had been fired somewhere else before they did it,” he said.

And he says he stands by Hall.

“I know he’s a good coach. I know the players like to play for him. I know he’s a defensive guru.”

LeLacheur, more than anything, questioned the lack of emotion and the lack of physical football from what he sees as a very soft team so far.

And Maciocia said the old Edmonton Oil Kings captain has that bang on as well.

“This is a game of emotion and is based on physicality. When the ball is kicked off in this game there is going to be a collision. We have to get it out of our head to counterpunch. We have to take the first punches.”

But all that said, Maciocia is standing behind the players he picked and the people he picked to coach them.

“I still believe in the players and the coaches,” he said.

“I’m dumbfounded a little bit. The talent is there.

“Talent is a given. Character is a choice,” he then suggested. “We have to start showing it in everything we do. In how we act, how we walk, how we eat, how we dress ...

“We know what we’ve got here. But we’ve got to get it going.”

The big question is whether he’ll fire Hall this weekend if the Eskimos make it eight losses in their last 14 games at home and what would then be five of the last eight home losses to Wally Buono’s B.C. Lions alone.

Logically it would make sense to do any firings, coach or GM, double-barrel or single barrel, after the Aug. 15 game in Calgary. The Eskimos have a full two-week break in there before playing host to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Aug. 28.

But if the Eskimos remain lacking in emotion and physicality, still fail to show up for the first quarter and quit for the fourth quarter, drop more passes, throw more interceptions, take more penalties, don’t score from the red zone again, etc., a 10 p.m. firing this weekend would work for most everybody sitting in the stands.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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