Changes on the way for Eskimos

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

So, where do you go from here?

For the Edmonton Eskimos, that's a major question after they completely collapsed and gave away a seemingly sure win on Thursday night against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

But in the aftermath of Milt Stegall's 100-yard game-winning TD catch on the final play, there are several other in-depth questions floating in the air in Eskimoland.

How will this club rebound after another demoralizing loss?

When will the offence get on track, especially in the first half?

And maybe most importantly: Is it time for significant changes in the secondary after another ugly night at the office?

To no one's surprise, Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia isn't ruling out the possibility of changes for Friday's game against the undefeated Montreal Alouettes.

"We're going to sit down as a staff and look at all personnel and see what we want to do," said the coach, who could activate NFL veteran Roosevelt Williams and/or shuffle existing starters - like Keyuo Craver and Reggie Durden - to different positions in the back end.

Without a doubt, the most glaring mental breakdown came on the final play Thursday when Craver and Malcolm Frank couldn't stop Stegall - but the secondary also imploded on Winnipeg's first touchdown drive of the game.

After another blown tackle on Stegall, which produced a 45-yard gain, halfback Shannon Garrett was flagged for pass interference in the end zone on the next play.

That directly led to a one-yard TD plunge by Kevin Glenn.

PASS INTERFERENCE CALLS

"It's unbelievable how many pass interference calls we're taking," said Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia.

"We're taking way too many."

The Esks had four on Thursday night, including three by Reggie Durden.

Just in the last two games, Edmonton has been flagged for nine interference penalties.

And over the first five weeks of the season, Edmonton is third worst in the league for yards allowed through the air.

But the secondary is not the only problem - and Maciocia has a simple message for his team, which has a share of the West Division basement at 2-3.

"There is no substitute for hard work," he said.

"That is what it is going to come down to.

"Basically, everybody has to start doing their job."

The offence certainly isn't getting the job done in the first half, as the Esks are averaging just 7.4 points over the first 30 minutes.

"It's mind-boggling," continued Maciocia.

"We have a quarterback throwing for so many yards but it's not translating into points.

"Take a look at that first drive (Thursday night), we kill ourselves with a dropped ball. And there are times when you make a throw or catch and you get stripped.

"We are killing ourselves when we are moving the ball."

Penalties also continue to haunt the offence.

And Ricky Ray - the highest paid pivot in the league - is just as frustrated as his coach.

"We're not getting just beat by other teams - we're beating ourselves," said Ray, who's averaging a stunning 360 passing yards per game.

"It's like we're playing against two teams out there. If we continue to make mistakes like this we're going to play some pretty ugly games."

The defending Grey Cup champions will sit and stew about the latest loss until Monday - when the team returns to the practice field again.

FINISH LINES: Maciocia could also shuffle his secondary next week by moving new starting safety Jonte Buhl to a different position and bringing 10-year veteran Kelly Wiltshire back to his old spot. But the coach was pleased with Buhl's effort Thursday.


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