EDMONTON — One win for a franchise as deep in history as the Edmonton Eskimos means, on the grand scale, next to nothing.
The Eskimos became the final Canadian Football League team to record a victory in 2010 when they defeated the B.C. Lions last week, but unless they build off it on Friday night against the Argonauts, it won’t count for much other than two points in the standings.
“When you talk about their team being fragile offensively, we have a fragile football team,” Eskimos head coach Richie Hall said. “We have won one game. It took us five games before we won.
“We have developed some momentum, and all week practice has been good. This is the first week where we are coming off something positive. We need that because the mind is very powerful.”
The Esks raised their eyebrows a bit after TSN analyst Matt Dunigan told a local radio station on Wednesday that they get “a lucky draw” with the Argos, considering Cleo Lemon is struggling. Even if the Eskimos win, Dunigan said, it might not be indicative of what kind of team they have.
“To say we are lucky, I don’t know,” said slotback Andre Talbot, who will face the Argos for the first time since they traded him in February. “Being 1-4 does not sound lucky to me.
“We believe we have the talent to beat any team in this league, but we have something to prove no matter who we are facing.”
One clear advantage the Eskimos have over the Argos is the presence of quarterback Ricky Ray, who passed for 360 yards and two touchdowns in the win a week ago. Where Lemon is learning how to guide the offence and manage games, it’s old hat for Ray, now in his eighth season with the Eskimos and among the CFL’s top quarterbacks.
Ray and the Esks will try to take advantage of a foot injury to Argos defensive tackle Adriano Belli, who is week to week. Eric Taylor, acquired in the Talbot trade, will make his first start for Toronto, taking Belli’s place in the lineup.
Non-import Chris Van Zeyl will be back at right tackle on the offensive line after missing three games with a foot problem.
“That’s what we are hearing, that they have some injuries up front,” Ray said. “That’s where the game is won and lost, on the line of scrimmage. Our offensive line has to create running room for Arkee (Whitlock) and has to give us time to throw. It will be an important matchup for us.”