Esks reeling after thumping

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

MONTREAL -- After equalling the second most-lopsided loss in the Danny Maciocia era as head coach on Sunday, the Edmonton Eskimos face three key questions before playing in Winnipeg Friday.

1. When will the offence wake up and get back on track?

Once a high-powered machine, the Green and Gold's offence was downright offensive in Sunday's 40-4 loss to the Montreal Alouettes. The 36-point loss equalled the second largest margin of defeat since Maciocia became Eskimos head coach to start the 2005 campaign.

If you go back over the last two games, Edmonton has scored three offensive touchdowns in eight quarters.

Only one of those majors has come through the air.

In the first half on Sunday, Edmonton didn't get over midfield until there were 18 seconds left in the second quarter. Proud of being able to stretch teams with deep passes this season, the Esks didn't have one pass attempt of 20 yards or more until exactly 30 seconds left in the second quarter against Montreal.

Of course, the offensive line didn't make it easy for quarterback Ricky Ray to set his feet and have enough time to let those patterns develop on Sunday.

"Teams aren't playing us as much man to man," said Ray on what he is seeing from opposing defences. "They are playing a little bit more zone coverage, but still, we have seen zone all year long.

"We've got to get back to our mindset of trying to make some big plays - and that starts with executing first."

In that department, the offence has to stop shooting itself in both feet with fumbles and penalties.

2. Will the defence return to better fundamental football by Friday?

The Eskimos defence missed tackles left, right and centre against the Als. In just the first half on Sunday there were seven missed tackles.

The culprits included Lenny Williams, Jason Goss, Dario Romero and Siddeeq Shabazz.

3. How effective will the defensive game plan be this week for Winnipeg?

The quick passing game by Montreal pivot Anthony Calvillo - which relies on timing - ripped apart the Esks defence. It seemed like Edmonton defensive co-ordinator Rick Campbell had no answer for it.

The Esks wanted to make Calvillo hold the ball longer than he wanted to. But the Green and Gold weren't able to confuse the veteran quarterback and force him to hold the ball longer than required.

Montreal had a staggering 570 yards of total offence. That is the most given up by the Esks this year.

In fact, in the previous seven games, Edmonton's worst defensive performance was 402 yards against.

When the team arrives in Winnipeg for Friday's game (6 p.m. MT, TSN, CHED) it will be facing another quick passing offence with Kevin Glenn at quarterback.

"If I was the offensive co-ordinator for Winnipeg, the first thing I would do is copy Montreal's blueprint," said veteran Edmonton defensive back Jordan Younger.

"(Montreal) has a lot of read routes - combination routes, where receivers have choices of going in or out, break it off or take it deep. Whatever we guessed, we guessed right, they (went) left.

"We didn't have any answers (on Sunday)."

The Esks had better find the right answers to every question and problem by Friday.


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