EDMONTON - They say defence wins championships.
But right now, the Edmonton Eskimos would settle for winning a game.
While offensive mistakes have been blamed for an 0-3 start to the season, the defence has had a much better start to the season.
“It’s hard to beat any team in the CFL when you’re only averaging one touchdown per game,” said middle linebacker Maurice Lloyd.
“I don’t care if you’ve got the best defence in the league, I don’t care if you’ve got the best offence in the league, this is a team effort. It’s not a one-sided game and right now we haven’t been able to put all three phases together.
“We haven’t even been able to put two phases together.”
While the defence has not exactly been perfect — allowing an 83-yard run by Wes Cates last Sunday in Regina, as well as 37-yard touchdown reception by Andy Fantuz, who got past the coverage uncontested — they have done enough to put the Eskimos in a position to win in the past two weeks.
Lloyd came into this week second in the league with 20 tackles and was tied for second overall with three sacks —two of which came last week against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on his way to being named Gibson’s Finest Defensive Player of the Week.
“In my eyes, I always want to be a great player. Until something else comes about, I’m going to just keep giving it everything I’ve got,” Lloyd said. “I’m getting coached by one of the best linebackers in the CFL, (Dan) Kepley, you know? This is the universal linebacker school, everybody came here from (A.J.) Gass to Kepley to people before them. This is the place you want to learn how to play linebacker.”
It has been a more driven and determined Maurice Lloyd who has been wearing the No. 47 green and gold jersey this year, after a 2009 season that didn’t live up to anyone’s expectations after three successful seasons in Saskatchewan.
“Last year, I had pressure on my back with everything else,” Lloyd said.
“But my biggest thing really is I just want to come out here at the end of any game and I want them to know that the ol’ Mo Lloyd is back.
“I’m not trying to come out here trying to be fancy, I’m out here on a mission and that mission is to be the best.”
And so far, he is on the right track, leading a defence that has been sorely missing its other leader, Dario Romero.
The veteran defensive tackle has been out since the preseason with an ankle injury and will make his first start of the season Saturday.
Still, the Eskimos have allowed the fewest first downs, 55, behind Calgary’s 52, as well as the fewest passing yards thanks to a much-improved secondary and some good pressure up front.
However, there is still room for improvement considering the Eskimos have allowed the most rushing yards so far this season with 500, while Saskatchewan has allowed a league-low 274.
“I never feel that an offence can beat us,” Lloyd said.
“No offence came out here these last three weeks and just outright beat us. What happened is we beat ourselves. I felt good, we just can’t finish.”