Turnovers hurting Esks

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

In football, generosity is seldom an admirable virtue.

Over their last two games, the Edmonton Eskimos offence has done its best to get an early jump on Halloween.

Scary, for sure. But, they've been giving treats out to their opposition with alarming regularity.

They managed to get away with it against an equally generous Hamilton offence, but got punished for it in Sunday's shellacking by the Alouettes in Montreal.

The Eskimos turned over the ball five times in each outing and are now minus-six in the giveaway-takeaway ratio on the season.

Whether their newfound tsunami of generosity is merely a symptom or the cause of their season's most alarming setback is open for debate.

The official line is that it was a total team effort and a trend that's correctable.

"We just made too many mistakes and we've got to get them cleaned up," said quarterback Ricky Ray. "We turned the ball over, we're giving up sacks. We're doing all the things you're not supposed to do.

"We've got to eliminate that and get back to where we were earlier last season."

Ray was dinged up in Montreal and backup Jason Maas saw as much action as he's seen all year.

Ray's 14 completions averaged just over 11 yards per gain.

Was that just the brilliance of the Montreal defence in defending the mid-range and long pass routes?

Or, is something hampering Ray's ability to accurately deliver the ball further than 10 yards?

There's been no plausible explanation as to why Ray was taking fewer reps in practice leading up to the Hamilton game. That coincides with the time Ray fired five picks to the Tabbies and, against Montreal, the offence discovered it needs more than a safe short game.

Head coach Danny Maciocia insists Ray is fine and will start in Winnipeg on Friday. Ray was not about to contradict what his coach says.

"I'm fine," said Ray. "I just got rolled up on my ankle there a little bit, but I'm fine and I'm ready to go."

If nothing else, Sunday's five lost fumbles and six allowed sacks helped spread the blame around a bit more.

"We know what it is," said Ray. "We've just got to work on ball security this week and get back to being strong up front. We've got to get back to catching the ball and find open guys. The weird thing about it is it's all across the board. It's kinda interesting - you don't see that too often."

Every team goes through its ups and downs during the season, but Ray's description of a Keystone Kops offence puts the unity of the unit in question.

The Esks are 2-4 on the road, and heading into Winnipeg against a Blue Bombers squad that has put together a two-game win streak.

"It is one game, but it's been kind of a trend over the last three games with the turnovers and the play," said Ray. "It's starting to catch up to us a little bit, so we've got to get it fixed up and turn it around."

Maciocia called an unscheduled team meeting for some film-watching on Monday. Apparently, Maciocia took an appropriately strong tone in emphasizing his disappointment.

"There's nothing positive that comes out of a loss,' said Maciocia.

"We had a stinker. I don't think anybody could have been tougher on them than I was. We are collectively to blame. We had 10 turnovers the last two weeks. That's absolutely ridiculous.

"It's not about what they're doing to us. It's about what we're doing to ourselves."

Total team effort. Or is there a deeper reason?


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