The Edmonton Eskimos are bunkered down for the rest of the regular season.
Defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler’s latest announcement to the media is that he will not be taking any media questions over the final week of league play, heading into Friday’s finale against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
It’s an understandable move, if not strategic, considering his defence is coming off of two weeks where an almost catastrophic letdown at the end of one game was followed by a massively sluggish effort at the beginning of the next.
But head coach Kavis Reed said his assistants aren’t burying their heads in the sand over things that have happened as much as they are refocusing on preparing for what is to come.
“It’s more, I think, for him to focus,” said Reed. “It’s one of those things where I think he doesn’t want to get into the ifs, ands or buts, he wants to just focus on football.
“Rich is a football purist, he’s a pure football coach. He’s going to die on the football field, so I respect his request.”
Even if it means all the questions fall on the head coach.
“If Rich decided not to talk to the media, that’s his prerogative,” Reed said. “I’m not going to hold a knife to his throat and say he has to, but I guess he thinks I’m a better voice than him.”
The thing is, no one really has an answer as to why the league’s top defence, which has allowed the fewest points all season heading into Game 18, had such a lapse to put their side down 14 points in a game where they could have wrapped up first place.
“Our defence gave up plays against B.C. B.C. executed very well,” said Reed. “We did not execute.
“Fundamentally, B.C. defeated us in some respects. Our defence was our defence from about the third series to the second-to-last series. Then B.C. made some plays again.
“I expect that our defence is going to be prepared this week.”
Like they had been three and four games ago, where they appeared to be peaking with some dominating performances — ones that might have come a little too early.
“No, I think they’re still ascending,” said Reed, pointing out that B.C. only scored touchdowns on three of their 16 offensive drives on Saturday. “I don’t think that that’s an indictment that our defence is going in the opposite direction.
“Our mistakes weren’t mental. Our mistakes were fundamental, technical mistakes that are extremely correctable.”
Quarterback Ricky Ray said the offence didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, either, going two-and-out in between B.C.’s opening touchdown drives.
“That was just one of those games where we just couldn’t get on top of them,” Ray said. “They came out and got off to a good start and just held the lead the whole game.
“Whenever we inched back, we just couldn’t make enough plays to get on top of them and put pressure on them. The did a good job of holding the momentum the whole game.”
LIONS FINED: B.C. Lions defenders Khalif Mitchell and Keron Williams have been fined undisclosed amounts for comments criticizing the officials in Saturday’s game against the Eskimos.
IN AND OUT: RG Greg Wojt (ankle) didn’t practise Tuesday after leaving Saturday’s game early with an injury to the same ankle that kept him out the previous three weeks.