Maciocia to the rescue

Eskimos coach Danny Maciocia speaks to the media at Clarke Park Thursday afternoon. (Sun...

Eskimos coach Danny Maciocia speaks to the media at Clarke Park Thursday afternoon. (Sun Media/David Bloom)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Danny Maciocia has jumped to the defence of his entire coaching staff.

Stuck in an ugly rut - losing five of the past six games - the Edmonton Eskimo bench boss doesn't believe his staff is falling down in the second half.

Although the Esks are averaging just eight offensive points per second half per game, Maciocia is holding firm.

"I don't think we have been out-coached in the second half," said the head coach.

"It is not like we (the coaches) come in at halftime and take our stupid pills and then we take the field for the second half."

There have been suggestions around town of the Eskimos failing to make the right adjustments at halftime.

The Green and Gold have blown three halftime leads already this year.

On the outside looking in on the playoff picture in the West Division - and the East Division for that matter - the Eskimos (3-6-1) really can't afford any more second-half stalls.

To help spur the team this week, Maciocia told his players about Eskimo teams in the past.

"Some places you host a playoff game and that is huge," he continued at yesterday's media conference.

"Some places you play for .500 and that is huge.

"The expectations here are different because of the history and tradition."

When it comes to losing games in the second half this year, Maciocia points back to those old playoff-bound Edmonton clubs.

"The good Eskimo teams in the past always found ways to win football games in the fourth quarter," explained the coach.

"It is basically attitude.

"When we are in man coverage - to give you an example - I am going to lock you down and you are not going to throw the ball my way and have my guy make the catch.

"It is also a question of playing smart.

"If you take a look at the third quarter (last game) we kept a couple of drives alive because of stupidity - taking penalties we shouldn't be taking."

With so many fresh faces on the playing roster who weren't here last year - 18 for this game tonight - leadership is also an issue.

Gone are the days of having warriors like Bruce Beaton and Chris Morris on the offensive line.

"When they were here (the veteran offensive line - Morris and Beaton) a lot of people were critical of our offensive line play and nobody understood what they brought to this football team," said Maciocia.

"You can't imagine when Chris Morris - he comes in at halftime, the doctors are telling me to get the sixth offensive lineman ready because he is hunched over and he will not be able to take the field for the second half against Montreal - and we come out from halftime and he is standing next to me.

"And he says: 'I'm going to finish this football game and we are going to win.'

"That, you can't put a dollar figure on.

"That is hard to replace.

"Do we have those individuals right now? We got a few. But the ones that you just mentioned (Beaton and Morris) we haven't replaced yet."

Safety J.R. LaRose - who is a second-year starter - is getting the message from Maciocia.

"We have been crapping the bed and it is time for us to start playing some Eskimo football, stuff that the fans are used to seeing two years ago," he said, referring to the 2005 Grey Cup year.

"Guys need to be accountable and start stepping up and playing."


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