For the greater good

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Good isn't good enough.

The Eskimos have a defence designed to be great. So far it's only been good.

Come on? Like the only part of the Eskimos which is working needs to get grief?

Hey, think about it. One of the reasons Edmonton is struggling on offence is that Hugh Campbell, Paul Jones and the football brain trust created a talent overload on the defensive side of the dressing room.

Offence sells tickets. Defence wins football games. But the defence hasn't been winning football games lately. And that's the point.

"In order for this team to get to the next level, it's important for the defence to take the next step to get to that level," says defensive back Donny Brady.

"We do feel we're good and we do feel we can take it to another level."

Head coach Danny Maciocia says it's not a large leap they're looking for from the defence now.

"We're really close. It's more a step than a jump."

This is a team which made an unheard of number of changes going into this season and has been paying the price for that. But it's two thirds of the way through the season. It's time to be all you can be.

OVERLOAD OF TALENT

The overload of talent on defence has left the Eskimos in a good position in terms of depth, with plenty of people around to replace defensive linemen Steve Charbonneau and Rashad Jeanty, who Danny Maciocia declared unable to go tomorrow against the undefeated B.C. Lions. They are likely to be replaced by Randy Spencer and Antico Dalton, while Tim Fleiszer can play anywhere along the line.

And, again, the Eskimos defence has been good. Edmonton leads the league in fewest yards rushing and fewest yards total offence, fewest passes completed against, lowest pass percentage against and average points against per game.

But while they once dominated some of those categories, they no longer do. And while they once led a vast majority of defensive categories, they're now down to nine of the 25 categories on defence.

The Eskimos have dropped to fifth place in the number of plays allowed from scrimmage. They're not the two-and-out, turn-the-ball-over-to-the-offence-in-great-field- position team they were in the first third of the season.

"You always go into a game wanting to dominate," says Malcolm Frank. "We've been making mistakes and taking penalties. We have to eliminate that.

"We still think we can dominate. One of the things we haven't done is create turnovers. When you do that, that is field position."

The Eskimos are traditionally a top giveaway/takeaway team. Two thirds of the way through the schedule they're a minus four. Only three teams are below them.

"If the offence goes two-and-out, that's what we need come back and force the opposition offence to do it, too."

Frank also says the defence has to take more ownership on special teams.

"Two thirds of the players on special teams are defensive players," he points out.

But the big thing, he says, are the penalties.

"We can't have somebody make an interception and have the officials call it back because somebody has jumped off-side. That's happened to us a lot lately."

The Eskimos led the league in sacks by a bunch at the start of the season.

Joe Montford says it's time to reclaim the lead in that category, which now belongs to Calgary.

"We have to get back to getting quarterbacks rattled. The rest of the guys on defence feed off that."

He also says it's time to get the turnovers which pressure generates.

"We understand the importance of a big turnover."

BRUTAL RECORD

Montford says the Eskimos defence has a brutal record lately in reacting to turnovers the other way.

"We haven't held them to field goals. When they get a turnover, we've been giving them touchdowns.

"We have to knuckle down and go out there and not give up seven points."

Good isn't good enough.


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