Defence of the offence

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

Media cameras and reporters surrounded Jason Maas, searching for his thoughts on the Edmonton Eskimos' struggling offence.

With his typical class and professionalism, the backup quarterback defended the offensive line and the play of starting signal caller Ricky Ray during yesterday's media scrum next to his locker stall.

Edmonton's weak offensive display during a 16-11 loss to the Calgary Stampeders last Friday has sparked relentless media attention on the green and gold's troubles and quarterback position.

It was Maas's turn to answer 20 questions yesterday.

But when the media scrum ended, Mass had one more clear message.

'REALLY DISGUSTED'

"I'm really disgusted with the fact that I am even answering questions today because I don't see the controversy or problem," said Maas, who guided the Eskimos to a second-place regular-season finish last year before losing his job in the off-season to Ray.

"There isn't a quarterback controversy.

"Both Ricky and I know that Danny (Maciocia, head coach) is going to stick with one guy until he proves he can't do it and I don't think Ricky has gotten to that point."

And Maas didn't stop there.

"I think Ricky is a tremendous quarterback, probably one of the best quarterbacks I have ever been around," continued Maas.

"I see our offence struggling, but not Ricky.

"We are struggling for a variety of reasons and most of it is execution - and that is everyone - penalties and turnovers.

"We are shooting ourselves in the foot."

Make no mistake, Maas would love to be playing.

"I think I can be playing and doing well, but at the same time Ricky is the man and he's doing well," explained Maas, who threw for more than 5,000 yards last year, becoming only the second Eskimo quarterback in history to pass that mark.

SEES THE IRONY

But the second-string passer does see the irony in the situation he finds himself in, with fans clamouring for his return to the field.

"I dealt with it the whole year last year," said the sixth year Eskimo.

"Everyone was crying for Ricky (to come) back (last year) and a couple of media guys (were) saying we would have won the Grey Cup if Ricky was back here last year."

In his regular media briefing yesterday morning, head coach Danny Maciocia heaped praise on Maas.

"There is no bigger Jason Maas fan than Danny Maciocia," said the coach. "If I last the next five or six years here and go elsewhere the first guy I am going to take with me is Jason Maas, whether he is still playing or wants to coach.

"What we need to do offensively is collectively come together and do our jobs and play with the same passion that our defence is playing with and same intensity. If we do so, there won't be as much focus on our quarterback."

And on Maas.


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