How 'bout those Esks!

With the final score on the scoreboard at Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Jason...

With the final score on the scoreboard at Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Jason Maas walks off the field, head down, after Saturday night's game against the Toronto Argonauts. The Grey Cuy champs fell to 7-7 -- and questions are being asked. (Edmonton Sun/Darryl Dyck)

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 3:00 PM ET

Terry Vaughn: Done? Or not getting it done?

Jason Maas: Why can't this guy win?

Tom Higgins: Is he losing his team?



Questions. The Eskimos have just invited them. Lots of them. And bring 'em on. They deserve to have to deal with every last one of them.

The Eskimos, by dropping a stink bomb at home against the Toronto Argos Saturday night, invited everybody to question their identity and question their character.

Higgins: "It was one of those games which left you questioning almost everything you do. You start questioning your coaching. You start questioning your players' ability."

Coaching is something you don't deal with until a season is over. But why is it with Coach of the Year Higgins that he always seems to be one loss away from the team and the town turning on him?



Maas is also an enigma. The numbers say the guy is having a terrific season taking over from Ricky Ray. Except the numbers which matter most beg the question: Why doesn't he get it done in the big games against the tough teams?

He's 1-5 against teams with a winning record. He hasn't grabbed the big games by the throat.

The guy had a pass efficiency rating of 112.0 going into the production of Saturday Night Lifeless at Commonwealth Stadium, a 26-17 loss, which left the Eskimos at 7-7.

Maas turned the ball over twice in the first two series of the season opener in Montreal. He went all the way to Game 13 with the grand total of six turnovers and then tossed three interceptions against the Argos.

MAKING A WISH

"I wish we were playing that Hamilton game tomorrow," said Maas of putting the Argo game behind him.

Maas, to his credit, pointed the finger at himself when the media came into the dressing room, playing the blame game after the Eskimos played their shame game of the season.

And what about Vaughn?

He may be the biggest mystery of all.

Through parts of the season, the guy has been playing a bit battered and bruised. But he declared himself healthy going into the Argo game.

Lemme see if I have this right, now. You're missing Ed Hervey and Brock Ralph. Darrell Mitchell missed the second half of the previous game and had to be heroic to play this one. Somebody who flunked Football 101 would know to double cover go-to guy Jason Tucker. That leaves Terry Vaughn.

Thirty-three yards doesn't do it.

Vaughn has had nine straight 1,000-yard seasons in the CFL, including 1,558 yards last year. Suddenly, with four games to go, he's 248 yards short of 1,000. That's 62 yards a game. He's only had four games all year where he topped 62 yards.

"It's really not a big deal," says Vaughn of the 1,000-yard thing. "It's already my record. A lot of it is due to my health through the majority of the season. I wasn't able to do what I do."

If he's still hurt, is he hurting the team by playing? Or is he healthy and just not getting it done?

"One, or the other and I won't say it's either," was Higgins' strange response to that.

"Probably a combination of the both," he then offered.

CHOOSING HIS WORDS

Pausing to choose his words, Higgins finally settled on challenging Vaughn.

"We need him in the stretch run. I know he'll give it everything he has to give us."

While the Eskimos have had a lot of problems with injuries this year, it's hard not to think that their biggest problem is mental.

They win the Grey Cup and have the 0-3 Fat Cat start to the season. They win three to get even and tell themselves they're great again. They lose two more, get those back, and make it a four-game winning streak, convincing themselves they're the toast of the town again.

Well, you know the sorry story. They've now lost two more in a row, they're 7-7 and have had so many brain freezes they should be sponsored by Slurpee.

With three interceptions, a fumble and a turnover on downs when Maas failed to convert a third-and-three-inches situation, the Eskimos had five turnovers against the Argos Saturday. When you combine the numbers from their eight-fumble, five-turnover game in Toronto, the Eskimos have donated 10 to the Argos. They've plain and simple turned over two games to Toronto this season.

You have to credit former Eskimo defensive coach Rich Stubler for putting together the template on how to stop the Eskimos offence for all others to borrow this season.

But this defending Grey Cup championship team is collectively so fat-headed that you wonder if Argo coach Mike Clemons simply talked them out of it with his "they just had an extended pre-season ... now we're seeing the team we expected to see" blow-smoke-up-their-ass stuff that seems to work every time with this bunch. It's a team that likes to believe they're better than they have really given themselves reason to believe.

One thing is for sure. Next to nobody in Edmonton is going to be blowing more smoke up their posterior the rest of this season after that debacle.


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