Eskimos' record lies

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

The more Jonathan Brown watches game film, the more he shakes his head in disbelief.

He'll watch one of Edmonton's playmakers turn a simple pass route into a long gain and then wonders why the Eskimos haven't won more often this season.

Brown sees Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray on film eluding oncoming linemen, engineering late-game drives and posting numbers that are approaching club milestones.

"That's a quality opponent, but it's not reflected in the standings," Brown began yesterday as the Argos put the final touches on their preparations for their matchup today against the visiting Eskimos.

"Ricky Ray is a great quarterback," Brown continued. "He's putting up big numbers, big yards, he's making things happen. We're playing a dangerous team because they have great players in very key positions."

At 5-9 and with time clearly running out, the defending Grey Cup champion Eskimos are perilously close to ending one of the longest streaks in modern football history.

For the past 34 years, the Eskimos somehow have found a way to make the CFL's post-season.

Only this year, the team has found ways to lose.

Brown believes the Argos are in no position to overlook the Eskimos, who play host to the Argos this Saturday in the back end of a home-and-home series.

"You just can't look at their record and people might say that's a bad team, but they're not,'' Brown said. "You never look at an opponent's record, but in the case of Edmonton that's a very good team and a very accomplished team."

The Argos, who are tied with Montreal for top spot in the East, can wrap up a playoff berth with a win today.

The Argos have won three in a row at home and will unveil a backfield that features both Ricky Williams and John Avery.

Head coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons isn't sure how often the former NFL first-round draft picks will play together.

"I'm excited as I am curious to see how this marriage turns out,'' Clemons said of the Williams-Avery tandem.

Williams and Avery have personalities that are different as night and day.

As football players, Avery relies on quickness and cut-backs to gain yards, while Williams is a down-hill runner.

Regardless of who gets the touches and how each player gets used, the Argos have to find a way to develop better offensive consistency.

The team's overall strength continues to be its defence, a bend-but-don't-break unit that is anchored on the defensive line by Brown.

As a unit, the Argos' defence have yielded but six offensive touchdowns in the past seven games.

"Every week and every opponent brings a new challenge," Brown said. "The challenge this week is unique because Edmonton has so many players who can make plays."

The triggerman is Ray, who is closing in on his second consecutive 5,000-yard passing season.

Despite Ray's impressive resume, he hasn't distinguished himself against the Argos.

In five career starts, Ray has been sacked five times, been picked off five times and thrown five touchdowns.

But as Brown readily acknowledges, numbers can be deceiving, much like Edmonton's record.


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