Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia must feel like he's living in a pressure cooker, with the temperature rising every day. Through the Esks' current three-game losing streak, some fans have been calling for his head - and the media is now starting to turn up the heat.
But while the 2-5 club has equalled its worst start in 34 years, the players and upper management believe the growing heat directed at Maciocia this early in the season is unfair.
"It's unfair, but I understand it," said Eskimos president Rick LeLacheur. "I totally understand the frustration level of fans when you lose three times in a row and two of those at home. It doesn't happen very often."
HAVEN'T LOST CONFIDENCE
But the Green and Gold hasn't lost confidence in Maciocia.
"We have not given up on this season, on the coaches or the players," continued LeLacheur.
Maciocia is repeatedly being drilled by fans and the media for risky defensive play calling and a stagnant offence, which is producing just 17 points per game on average - second worst in the league.
However, the head coach isn't cracking under the pressure.
"I understand how it works: When we win it's because we have tremendous players ... and when we lose, the coaches are terrible and they're brutal," said the bench boss. "And that's fine."
What really matters to Maciocia is how he's received in his locker-room - and the coach knows he still has incredible support.
"We love Danny," said defensive leader Singor Mobley. "He's a good coach. We like the way he approaches things. He lets us control our own locker-room, but he tells it like it is.
"He's straightforward and honest and that is what every player wants from a coach."
Added OL Dan Comiskey: "He's our captain on this ship and I don't give a (darn) what anybody else says about him. I believe in him."
MUSIC TO MACIOCIA'S EARS
Those words are music to the coach's ears.
"I will tell you something, that is all that counts because people will come up with their own theories," said Maciocia. "The fact of the matter is - I hate living in the past, but I feel like I need to say this - take a look at this football team: the last four years we have been to three Grey Cups and won two. There is no other organization in the CFL that can claim they have been to three and won two."
And while Maciocia rarely brings up his past accomplishments, he also rarely uses injuries as an excuse. But, understandably, he can't resist under the public heat.
"This organization is not built on excuses, but take a look: we have got Rashad Jeanty in Cincinnati, we have Cedric Scott who failed a medical, we have got Steven Marsh and we don't know if he is ever going to play again," he said yesterday. "We could have actually said we have nine-gamed (A.J. Gass and Will Loftus)," he continued, referring to the fact each veteran could have been placed on the nine-game injured list to start the year. "Kelly Wiltshire has been injured, Randy Spencer hasn't played a game for us yet. But we have to find a way to turn it around with people that are healthy and available to play."
For Maciocia, he hopes that starts Friday against Saskatchewan.