Hugh holds faith in Esks' coaches

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

From the top of the Edmonton Eskimo organization, CEO Hugh Campbell is adamantly defending his coaching staff.

Although the reigning Grey Cup champions are off to a rough 1-2 start - including the worse defeat in seven years last weekend when they continued to be plagued by mental breakdowns and shoddy play - Campbell doesn't put any blame on head coach Danny Maciocia or his assistants.

"I am happy with the time (they're spending) and the way they have prepared players," said Campbell.

"I just have to encourage them - like I would the players - to keep at it.

"They can't get frustrated, thinking 'We are not good enough.'

"And I have talked to the coaches this week - individually and to the head coach a lot - and the attitude on the coaching staff is very, very good toward this team."

Campbell is in a very interesting position - more than in past years - as his son Rick is now the defensive co-ordinator.

And it's the defence that has repeatedly been shredded this year.

LAST IN 10 CATEGORIES

Entering Week 4, the Esks are last in 10 of the league's 25 defensive categories, including giving up most rushing yards, most points and overall yardage per game.

It's a complete reversal from last year, when the defence was the toast of the CFL.

But the CEO and undeniable chief of the club believes the bleeding can be stopped if the new players come together with the holdovers from last year.

"To stop the run cold like we did last year, is a team thing," said Campbell.

"Corral the runner, fence him in so that if he cuts out I got him and if he cuts the other way, you got him.

"When you are playing more like individuals and not used to being together as a team, each guy is trying to make that tackle and gets fooled with what direction the running back is going."

Campbell is convinced the Eskimos have the right players and right coaches to turn the ship around before it takes on too much water.

"There is a fine line between making a tackle or catching a pass or making a block," he said.

"I have studied our games and there is nothing that has happened negative that is not correctable.

"If I was looking at the film and saying: 'You know what? We just can't do that - we're either not fast enough or strong enough,' then that is another situation.

'STICKING TOGETHER'

"We are notorious for sticking together and getting out of tough situations and that is what I anticipate happening."

But while Campbell gives the coaching staff a passing grade, Maciocia is personally taking blame for the bad start that has the team stuck in the West Division basement.

"I'm ultimately responsible," said the head coach. "We can all do better (on this team).

"I desperately want to get it right.

"If I didn't care we wouldn't be spending the number of hours we are spending at the office.

"And I'm probably not the most sociable guy when I do get home at night.

"There is hardly any dialogue in my household because when I do get home I am still thinking about how to fix things at the office."

If the Esks claw their way out of their early-season hole tomorrow night against the B.C. Lions, not only will the Maciocia household become a happier place, but also the heat on the entire club will begin to lessen.


Videos

Photos