Bye-bye blemishes

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

In the middle of a gruelling summer schedule, the bye week is every football player's oasis.

So with a precious break in the season, the Edmonton Eskimos have scattered across the continent, going on holidays, visiting family or just vegging out while seven weeks of CFL combat welts fade to a lighter shade of purple.

The Eskimos coaches have some blemishes to take care of as well.

Hoping to validate a 5-1 record that they'd built with the bones of weak opponents, the Eskimos instead validate much of the criticism that's been levied against them this year with a revealing 25-19 loss to the B.C. Lions on Friday.

So as we approach the halfway mark of what was supposed to be a championship season, Danny Maciocia and his staff will be spending some of this break figuring out ways to make Edmonton look more like a championship team.

"I'm sure the coaches are going to look at this film and have all of these mistakes corrected by the time we get back from this break,'' said receiver Derrell Mitchell.

CAN'T FALL BEHIND

"This is a learning thing, and this lets us know that when you're playing against a good team like B.C. you can't fall behind by 20 points. That's what killed us. We fought back as hard as we could but we just came up short.''

On one hand, it's reassuring for the Eskimos to know they have so much talent that they can show up for one quarter, with a one-dimensional offence, take 163 yards in penalties on the road and still almost beat B.C.

On the other hand, in a measuring stick game that had a huge impact on where they could end up playing the Western Final, they showed up for one quarter with a one-dimensional offence and took 163 yards in penalties.

"We knew it was going to be tough,'' said quarterback Ricky Ray, who dropped back to pass on 42 of Edmonton's 48 plays from scrimmage. "We just didn't come out and play the way we wanted to.''

It was the usual suspects in the B.C. loss. They completely ignored the ground game again. (In retrospect, it seems silly to change running backs and then hand off to the new guy three times in the entire game).

B.C. game-planned for a pass-only offence and when the Eskimos threw it at them anyway, they had no trouble stopping it - holding Edmonton to three points in the first half and shutting them out in the fourth quarter.

Other teams are no doubt watching that game film with great interest, so if the offence doesn't add some new wrinkles, this is going to get old in a hurry.

Penalties, meanwhile, are already a tired act. Some of the pass interference calls were iffy, but when 163 yards' worth of flags are thrown at a team that already leads the league in bad judgment, it's well past the point of blaming officials.

"Those killed us,'' said Mitchell. "When the quarterback puts the ball in the air, you have to make good decisions.''

Now, these aren't fatal flaws that cannot be corrected with a little time, effort and concentration, but the Eskimos can no longer write them off as baseless media negativity, either.

This is the stuff that loses football games, and will continue to lose them football games until they get it figured out.

"There's some things we have to improve on but 5-2 isn't a bad record,'' said Steve Charbonneau. "It's a long season and this team has a lot of character.''

LITTLE DOUBT

With all of Edmonton's talent there is little doubt they'll get it straightened out.

The question is, with Toronto and Montreal next up on the sked, and the undefeated Lions leading the season series 1-0, will they get it straightened out in time to overtake B.C. and host the Western Final? It's something to think about while they soak up the sun.

"You don't want to go into the bye week after a loss like this, but that's the way it happened,'' said Jason Tucker. "But we'll fix it up, we'll get it going the way it needs to be.''


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