HAMILTON - It’s not takeoff that the Edmonton Eskimos passing game has trouble with, it’s landing.
Specifically, touching down on the 20-yard strip of turf behind the goal line that turns the pigskin into six points on the scoreboard,
Quarterback Ricky Ray hasn’t thrown a touchdown in three of his last four outings, aside from a pass to Andrew Nowacki and to Adarius Bowman on the way to a 35-7 Labour Day victory.
“We missed early with (a drop by) Jerome (Messam) early in the game and just missed Fred (Stamps) in the corner right after that,” Ray said of the 30-20 loss in the rematch last Friday. “Another drive, they brought some pressure and me and Fred had a little miscommunication on a route.
“Just little things like that that kept us off-track.”
But those little things are fast becoming the norm instead of the exception for Ray, who suddenly finds himself stuck one touchdown pass away from 200 on his career.
They have been spread out over the 148 CFL games he’s played during nine seasons, giving him an average of 1.34 per game.
But the 0.50 TD passes he’s averaged over the past four games have slowed down the blistering pace he set early on in 2011, throwing 11 in his first six games — five of which the Eskimos won.
Since then, his 1.83 average has dropped back down to 1.30.
But it’s not just Ray whose point productivity is on the decline recently. The entire offence has just four touchdowns to show for their last four games — three of which they have lost.
Besides Ray’s two tosses, backup Kerry Joseph was brought in each of the Labour Day outings to plunge in a QB keeper from one yard out.
Prior to that, the Eskimos offence was held out of the end zones in Montreal and at home against B.C. before the bye week.