Meet the Eskimo killer

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

If he pulls it off, it might become known as the Daley Double.

Jim Daley has been a head coach only once before in his career. And he dealt a blow of blows to the Eskimos.

Daley took over the Saskatchewan Roughriders back in 1997 and brought them to Commonwealth Stadium and knocked the mighty 'mos off in the Western Final to take the place of the hometown team in the 'Party In Your Parka' Grey Cup.

All of a sudden it's the same guy who is headed here as interim head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers with a chance to bounce Edmonton from the playoffs for the first time in 33 years.

"I've thought about it," he admits.

"If it's done, it'll be done the same way," said Daley on the phone yesterday. "My focus at the time, back in 1997, and my focus today is the same. Our best chance of success is concentrating totally on our own performance."

The Eskimos' loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Taylor Field Sunday is being viewed in Winnipeg much like the governor calling death row with a reprieve.

Headline in the Winnipeg Sun: 'Back In Business? Or Prolonging The Inevitable?'

After losing their last three, the Bombers sat around on a bye week watching the Eskimos play their worst game of the season to give Winnipeg something they never expected - control of their own destiny.

Daley says it's given new life to his team.

"To be able to come back to practice today, after everything that's gone on, all the rebuilding moves in the off-season, the coaching change seven games in and losing our last three games ...

"To be able to say we control our own destiny is outstanding."

THE PICTURE IS CLEAR

Beat the Eskimos Sunday in Commonwealth Stadium and go back home and beat Khari Jones and the Calgary Stampeders on the final weekend of the schedule and they're in the playoffs.

"Win two, we're in. Don't win, we're out," said Daley. "If we win two games, we don't have to wait for any help.

"It's in our own hands. I think our players are relieved by that. It's a very clear picture. That's the good thing. I think our guys are excited by it."

There are a lot of people outside the city limits of the City of Champions (how about those Bears and those Huskies!) who are fascinated with the situation the Eskimos have managed to end up in going into their final game of the season.

If they lose to Winnipeg, that streak of 32 consecutive years in the playoffs will be left in the hands of the Calgary Stampeders, while the Eskimos and all of Edmonton is forced to spend the final week of the season cheering for Calgary.

Daley, who spent the last few seasons as an assistant coach in Calgary, says he sees the way that would play.

"You don't often see people in green and gold cheering for red and white," he said.

CHEERING FOR THE FLAMES

Edmonton is just getting over spending the spring cheering for the Calgary Flames for the first time in history.

Now this?

Say it won't be so, Joe Fleming.

That would be the other delicious aspect to that game. Winnipeg traded Khari Jones for Fleming, Wes Lysack and Scott Regimbald. You don't think Jones would personally like to kick the Blue Bombers out of the playoffs?

But first things first.

Sunday. Commonwealth Stadium. Eskimos.

"I don't think we can anticipate whether the Eskimos will be down or up," said Daley of the team which has lost four of the last five yet looked like Grey Cup champs beating the Montreal Alouettes in their last game in the big stadium.

"I don't think we want to anticipate anything other than they're at home, their playoff lives are on the line and to expect them to be very, very well prepared and coming out shooting with all weapons.

"Edmonton is a good football team. We'll prepare for the team which played Montreal. We have no reason to expect the Eskimos to do anything but play very well at home with their playoff lives on the line.

"The team which plays with the greatest passion, with the most emotion and intensity will win. Those will be the determining factors."

Emotion? Passion? Intensity?

Forget slippery footballs.

That's what was missing from Tom Higgins's team in Saskatchewan. If the Esks don't get those in play this Sunday there will be a coaching change here next year.


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