Esks D: bend, don't break
By Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency
The Edmonton Eskimos defence gets the point: don't give up points.
Once at the top of the CFL's food chain, it's a group that has since gone into early hibernation.
The same squad that held opponents to under 19 points a game in the first four weeks of 2011 has watched that average balloon to 29 apiece over their last four.
Despite coming off a loss to the B.C. Lions where they surrendered a season-high 36 points, the Eskimos have still given up the fewest points in the West Division at 190, ahead of the Calgary Stampeders and B.C. Lions at 203 each.
But they are last in the division when it comes to allowing 375 yards a game.
The bend-don't-break formula helped propel them to a 5-0 start, and defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler said he's not about to abandon it anytime soon.
"Since I have been coaching football, which is for 42 years, there has been one defence that didn't bend and not break and that was the Bears that played with the 46 defence and they went after you every dang snap," he said of the 1985 championship Chicago team that terrorized opposing NFL offences. "Other than that, everybody's bend but don't break. Just don't give up touchdowns."
Which is a lot to ask this week against a Stampeders club that leads the West with 13 passing TDs, led by Henry Burris's 2,462 yards through the air Ñ just two shy of league-leader Anthony Calvillo Ñ as Calgary won their last four straight.
"Henry is playing well right now and their whole offence is playing well," Stubler said. "Not only Henry, but everybody else is on the same page.
"Our job is to keep them out of the end zone, it doesn't matter how we do it."