Method in madness?

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 3:27 PM ET

There was a time back in the '80s, when Hugh Campbell was coaching his five-in-a-row Edmonton Eskimo glory gang, that the coaching staff spent 15 games setting up one play.

For the first 14 games, the first play of every game was Jim Germany off tackle. Until this season there was nothing more predictable than the Eskimos' first play way back then.

See where I might be going here?

Cal Murphy, the offensive line coach of that team, reminded me of that the other day when he was telling an NFL scout that story.

Murphy was telling the story about your correspondent sitting at the back of the press conference giving he and offensive co-ordinator Joe Faragalli a tough time about running that same first play every single game and how the two shushed me.

JOINT NEWS CONFERENCE

Back in those days, both coaching staffs went to the same press conference. And Murphy whispered to me that they'd spent the season setting up the bomb for the first play. And damned if Warren Moon didn't throw the home run ball for a first-play touchdown.

Which is a long way to get to the point here. But 15 games into the season, hasn't Danny Maciocia put himself in position to do the same sort of thing?

It's beyond belief that Maciocia intentionally spent the season being so unbelievably conservative to set up this day.

It's beyond the realm of possibility that he's refused to run one single gadget play, stuck with the take-what-they-give-you philosophy and his ridiculously predictable offences to get to this game.

But might it not have the same effect?

If Maciocia, just this once, decided to go into a game and send in plays which were the exact opposite of what he's been calling in the same situation all year, wouldn't his chances for success be greater?

Especially early?

Which gets me to the other point.

The one thing I don't understand more than any other about this 5-10 team this year is why they don't show up for games.

Not the 2 p.m. games.

Not the 7 p.m. games.

Not the 8 p.m. games.

This one is at 1 p.m.

What are the chances they'll show up for this one?

This is a team which has scored the grand total of 58 points in first quarters this season. That's 3.8 per first quarter.

Four times they've been shut out.

Once they managed a single. Four times they've managed a field goal. Not once have they scored more than 10 points.

"We've been slow starters coming out of the gate, especially offensively,'' said the head coach/offensive co-ordinator yesterday.

"That was one of the messages I gave them today. We've got to play the first drive like it was the last drive every game.''

LOOK OUT!

Look out for the Ricky Ray broken play?

The quarterback says if there's ever a game to show up and put points on the scoreboard in the first quarter, this is it.

"On offence we have to have the mindset to go out there, be confident and make plays.

"I think there has been so much negative stuff happen to this team this year that we almost go out there waiting for something bad to happen at the start of the game.

"We haven't been able to break loose early. We've had a lot of penalties early to put us in bad situations and the offence hasn't been able to dig ourselves out of them so we've left the defence in bad situations.''

The best chance the Eskimos have today is to get away from being beyond belief predictable early. It's all set up.


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