Stuck in a tailspin

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

Things seem to be going from bad to worse for the Edmonton Eskimos.

Friday's 34-17 loss to the B.C. Lions kept the Eskimos in the basement of the CFL West standings.

And it left defending Grey Cup champions asking a lot of questions.

Questions they are struggling to come up with answers for.

"I know (the fans) are frustrated just like we are," said Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray. "But we are trying everything we can to play hard and hopefully we will get it turned around."

RAY WENT 15-OF-24 FOR 135 YARDS

Ray had a tough day Friday as the offence continued to struggle. He was 15 of 24 passing for 135 yards with a touchdown. He was eventually relieved of his duties with the game out of hand late in the fourth quarter by Jason Johnson.

On the ground the Eskimos weren't any better as the team managed just 60 yards. Troy Davis, who carried the bulk of the load, gained 45 yards on 12 carries and scored a late touchdown.

The loss dropped the Eskimos to 2-5 on the season - their worst start in 34 years.

"At 2-5, the season isn't over," said Eskimos wide receiver Trevor Gaylor. "We definitely need to pick it up, but don't count us out."

Maybe not yet.

But with the Saskatchewan Roughriders coming to town on Friday, another loss would put a playoff spot in serious jeopardy.

As it stands, the Eskimos are having a hard time identifying their problems.

"I wish I had the answer - and if I did, I would tell the whole team," Gaylor said. "Luck isn't on our side. We are not performing. We can't get 12 guys on the same play to play well. That's the whole thing."

You can add bad penalties to the list as well.

Against the Lions, the Eskimos took 14 penalties for 116 yards.

"We keep making the same mistakes, week in and week out," said receiver Mookie Mitchell. "The penalties, the breakdowns, the execution. It is going to be tough to win games if we keep playing the way we are playing. The only way you can fix that is going out and playing smart."

Things seem to be unravelling quickly for the Eskimos, who are now on a three-game losing skid.

"We are still optimistic," said Eskimos receiver Ed Hervey.

"It seems like every week it is the same old thing - something good happens and (then) we get a penalty or we stall.

"But I think overall, we are giving our best effort and if we can eliminate some of the dumb mistakes I think we can contend. As long as we believe in the coaching staff and one another, we will come out of this."

Believing in the coaching staff and each other might be the biggest challenge.

DOWNWARD SPIRAL AFTER WINNIPEG LOSS

The downward spiral began when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers scored a 100-yard touchdown on the last play of the game three weeks ago to pull out a late victory.

At the time, the Eskimos gambled on a blitz and were burned by Milt Stegall.

Against the Lions, the Eskimos gambled on a second-and-29 and were burned again - this time by Geroy Simon on a 92-yard touchdown reception.

But according to linebacker Quincy Stewart, the team is still sticking together.

"Oh yeah," Stewart said. "A lot these guys have played together before and I have been through tough seasons. And the one thing you can't do is fold."


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