Survivor Edmonton

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

When the pro and college coaches gather together for the annual coaches convention in Anaheim in January, they should give Danny Maciocia a standing ovation.

Well done, young man!

It's an all-time survival story.

How many times in all of football history has a team of tradition had a coach who missed the playoffs for the first time in 35 years only to earn a promotion to become director of football operations as well as keeping his head coaching job?

How many have followed such a season with the worst record in 38 seasons and missed the playoffs back-to-back for the first time in 41 and 42 seasons? And still stayed employed? In both jobs?

The answer is none.

But he's still head coach and director of football operations of the Edmonton Eskimos.

IT ACTUALLY MAKES SENSE

The stupid thing is that a great deal of this actually makes sense.

Instead of Maciocia's head rolling, the CFL's longtime flagship franchise has decided to tie the can to Jacques Chapdelaine, offensive co-ordinator, associate head coach and head coach in training. Maciocia also fired special teams coach Scott Squires and offensive line coach Carl Brennan.

Chapdelaine's complicated offensive system was ridiculous, especially with a team making so many changes. And his people skills with both the players and the rest of the staff was found to be abysmal.

And when it comes to Squires, his special teams gave up six of the nine touchdowns against in the league this year, four on interceptions and two on blocked punts. There were five blocked punts during the year. See ya.

Brennan didn't get it done replacing longtime offensive line coach Bill Macdermott. The Eskimos gave up the second most sacks in the league.

The problem here is that Maciocia hired them all last year!

He called Chapdelaine the team's most important off-season acquisition and was convinced that Squires, with no previous CFL experience, would be brilliant.

The year before he gunned Ron Lancaster Jr., Dennis Winston and moved Macdermott into a new position.

Now Maciocia has kept his job but sacked six coaches in those two seasons!?

There's also the belief that quarterbacks coach Rick Worman, who sent Ricky Ray to the Eskimos in the first place, is going to replace Chapdelaine. That might mean Maciocia is going to go back to being hands-on. It could, effectively, give him two and a half jobs.

Ricky Ray, who is entering his option year, is a factor here. The most important move Maciocia must first make is to sign the best quarterback in the league to a new contract. By keeping Maciocia, LeLacheur has virtually ensured he'll keep his No. 1 asset, which isn't his head coach.

DIDN'T LOSE HIS TEAM

LeLacheur also accurately read the fact Maciocia didn't lose his team.

Despite the troubles, the Eskimos played hard for their coach and want to continue playing for him. By keeping him, there's not going to be an exodus of free agents.

But how does Paul Jones, the talent scout, stay employed? The Eskimos didn't have one all-star this year and haven't had a CFL award winner since 2002.

LeLacheur 's reasoning with Maciocia was simple.

"This gives us the best opportunity to win in 2008. We need the continuity, particularly at head coach and director of football operations."

Despite the comedy/tragedy, damned-if-he-does, damned-if-he-doesn't, rock and a hard place position LeLacheur is in, I buy that.

"I'm confident that we have a solid foundation," LeLacheur added, however.

Solid foundation?

The only area where the Eskimos are solid is at quarterback if Ray stays. There's no running game and next to no receivers. The defensive line has holes, two of the three linebackers are old and special teams a disaster with a new kicker next year.

The bottom line is that if the Eskimos have six wins including a couple against Calgary by mid-season everybody will look brilliant.

But if they have six losses by Labour Day, the flagship franchise is going to look like a ship of fools.


Videos

Photos