Paper Tigers!

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:09 AM ET

If the game was played on paper, there would be no point watching the Edmonton Eskimos and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

On one side of the ball is the dominant Esks' defence, ranked No. 1 in the CFL in virtually every category -- fewest yards surrendered on the ground and in the air, least amount of points per game, most quarterback sacks, fewest touchdowns allowed and fewest points allowed.

On the flip side, there's the Ticat offence, so lowly they've almost disappeared completely.

The Cats are dead last in the league across almost the entire offensive board -- fewest points, fewest touchdowns, least number of first downs, fewest yards, lowest average offence per game. No surprise that they have yet to hit the win column in four games, then.

"I'm tired of playing teams that haven't won a game yet, because it's scary," said Esks head coach Danny Maciocia. "(Hamilton) is a team that went 9-8-1 and had a better record than we did last year. It's just a question of time before they snap out of it and we just hope it's not this week."

LICKING THEIR CHOPS

It would seem logical that the Eskimo defensive corps are licking their chops, savouring the opportunity to tee off on a wounded intruder on their turf.

"They're a good offence," said Esks linebacker Singor Mobley. "It's just been dropped balls here and there that have put them in the situation that they're in.

"Our philosophy isn't going to change any. We're going to keep pressuring the quarterback and cancelling the run."

Chalk up the Esks' defensive shutdown to a new mood.

"It's our attitude," said Mobley. "We want to swarm the football, everybody running to the ball. Our coaches have put in an aggressive scheme.

"... When you're forcing teams to do what you want them to do, it's a good feeling."

Eskimos players are saying all the right things. They maintain that Hamilton's offensive line will be a tough one to break and that Troy Davis provides them with a solid running game.

Still, there's a sense that they'll be able to storm the Tiger-Cats frontlines and put the clamps on Danny McManus, the most stationary target of all the league's quarterbacks.

"I prefer to play a team that's struggling because they're really hungry," said rush end Rashad Jeanty.

As teams around the league have caught on to Jeanty's sack attack, they've altered things up to double-team on the quick-footed 230-pounder. But that opens up holes at the other end of the line where Joe Montford is waiting.

"It's a big compliment that offences have noticed me," smiled Jeanty. "If they double-team me then you've got Joe and other guys in one-on-one situations, and we love those."

But the Tiger-Cats are still 0-4 for a reason. Somehow or another, they'll be trying to break out of that skid.

FARED PRETTY WELL

Floundering teams have fared pretty well of late around the league -- both Winnipeg and Ottawa knocking off Montreal, and the Bombers coming close to an upset at Commonwealth Stadium -- and that makes for some unnerving times on the sidelines.

"There are no gimmes," said Maciocia. "You have to actually show up. It doesn't matter to me who we play, we have to play to our level."


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