Inspector Gadget

Esks coach Danny Maciocia would rather have QB Ricky Ray hand off the ball on a second-and-one...

Esks coach Danny Maciocia would rather have QB Ricky Ray hand off the ball on a second-and-one situation than go for a big play. (Sun Media/Jordan Verlage)

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

What we're dealing with here is the most exciting and entertaining form of football on the planet. If you allow it to be.

The three-down rules, the wider, longer field and the fact you need actual athletes to play the game in the CFL and that quarterbacks are forced to throw the football 30, 40, sometimes even 50 times or more a game, make it such.

The infuriating thing, in 2008, is that you have this great game being spoiled by eight boring, conservative, coaches who go out of their way to unplug the built-in electricity.

Danny Maciocia is one of them. But he's no different than the rest.

MILQUETOAST

They're all the same. None of them much likes the idea of football being fun, even in a league that was invented to be a tonne of fun.

Something as simple as a fake punt was the story of a football game and maybe a football season here Saturday night as that fake - the first of a season that is now 14 games old - turned into a wild and wonderful 31-point second quarter for the Eskimos.

The coaches in this league drive me crazy.

Writers who have had the misfortune of sitting beside me covering CFL games in recent years will tell you it's true.

Anytime there's a second-and-one situation, I go nuts.

To me, in this league, that's a free play. And nobody runs it. I've seen it run once this year, a few days after Ron Lancaster died, perhaps in his memory. And it worked.

Second and one? Go for the big play. If it doesn't work, you still only need a yard and you start with the defence a yard off the ball.

Lancaster used to make a living with that play.

OK. True. He had George Reed at running back. The Eskimos, while they appear to have terrific new talents at running back in A.J. Harris and Calvin McCarty, don't have a guy they can count on to get a first down on second and three (which is why they need to make a trade deadline deal Wednesday for Jesse Lumsden from Hamilton). But we're talking one yard. Danny Maciocia should be able to put on a helmet and go out there himself and get a yard.

Free play. But none of these guys think that way.

The CFL was invented for the option play. But how many times do red zone-challenged teams with mobile quarterbacks ever run it?

Back when the Eskimos were winning five Grey Cups in a row, Hugh Campbell used to have The Play of the Week.

He'd put in some wild and wacky play that the players couldn't wait for him to call during the next game. He did it not to entertain the fans but to try to keep the players interested in practice and not get stale for games.

The Eskimos are currently dealing with half a team full of players who have never played more than 10 games a season, much less 20 plus playoffs and perhaps struggled through the the past four games as a result.

You don't think putting in some fun football plays wouldn't help cure their condition? If one play can have such an effect on this team as that one did Saturday night? Offensive co-ordinator Rick Worman and special teams coach Noel Thorpe should be empowered to produce many more of them.

UNION RULES?

But don't count on it. It's like the coaches' union has put out a memo forbidding fun football. I'm serious. You should hear these guys talk. They call them "gadget" plays and use the term in a derogatory way.

With these coaches, there are going to be people who get their names engraved on the wall beside the Jackie Parker room as 25-year season ticket holders who may never see a flea-flicker play, much less a reverse flea-flicker, a Statue of Liberty, a swinging gate, a fumblerooski, a Bomberooski (ask your grandfather about that old Winnipeg-invented play), a running back pass play, a wide receiver pass, fake reverse, end-around reverses, running back direct snaps, the hook and ladder, the centre handoff, the old sleeper play, the River City Relay, the Mississippi Miracle or any other fun football play.

And Edmonton is all excited and delighted about a simple, stock, ordinary, common, run-of-the-mill, garden variety, every day fake punt?

Sad, isn't it?


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