Esks' Tillman takes the rap

Eskimos quarterback Steven Jyles is hauled down during Sunday's CFL game in Regina. ( Davie...

Eskimos quarterback Steven Jyles is hauled down during Sunday's CFL game in Regina. ( Davie Stobbe/Reuters).

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:22 AM ET

REGINA - When the final gun sounded, Eric Tillman walked to the centre of the press box where the Edmonton writers were stationed and symbolically took the gun and pointed it at himself.

The general manager who arguably made the worst trade in Edmonton Eskimos history, dealing quarterback Ricky Ray to the Toronto Argos, said "all the pitchforks should be aimed in my direction."

He did everything but bend over for that purpose.

"After a loss like that you know you're going to take heat. So put it on me until we right the ship. It's an 18-game season but at this point it lies with me.

"Until we take a significant step forward and prove ourselves, it should be directed at me."

Ya think?

Through two pre-season games and two regular-season games, the Eskimos quarterbacks have yet to throw a single solitary touchdown pass!

None. Nil. Not a one.

This day they didn't get close enough to even sight the end zone.

"We were atrocious of offence. The blame rests 100% on my shoulders," said Tillman, leaning further into the punches he knew were going to be coming after this one.

"You need to look no further than at the guy with the bad hair," said the redhead.

"It's a long season. But clearly we need to be significantly better. We had a championship level defence but struggled on offence and special teams. Special teams is separate. To say this was not a Picasso on offence would be the understatement of a lifetime."

What happened this weekend is exactly what Edmonton Eskimos fans dreaded for the last seven months.

The day the trade was made, your correspondent compared what you were about to experience this season with what Eskimos fans watched in the 1960s.

Great defence. No quarterback.

In the case of this particular game, it would be an insult to the team of the '60s to make that comparison.

I'm not sure that the defence could play much better football. But the Eskimos scored one point! And the punter was trying to put the ball on this side of the goal line not the side where you get a point for a single.

How is Tillman's trade working out so far?

Ricky Ray led the Toronto Argos to a thrilling 39-36 win over the Calgary Stampeders in their home opener with over 400 yards for passing this weekend. He's 59-for-79 for 705 yards and a 74.7% completion rate with a 103.6 quarterback efficiency rating.

Steven Jyles was given the hook at 7:32 of the first quarter and replaced by 38-year-old Kerry Joseph.

Jyles went back in for most of the second half until he was replaced by Joseph for the final three minutes in which the score went from 7-1 to 17-1. Jyles was 10-for-19 for 91 yards. He is now 31-for-55 for 56.4% and 327 yards and a quarterback efficiency rating of 66.2.

The Eskimos defence played dynamic football for 58 minutes, holding the Roughriders offence to seven points.

Tillman says when Ray went to Toronto the Eskimos wished him well and they meant it.

"It would be immature and small to do anything otherwise," he said.

It's only be right for Tillman to take the blame. It's his fault. What was out of place was downstairs in front of the Eskimos dressing room, head coach Kavis Reed decided to put it all on himself.

"It is my fault. It was poor preparation on my behalf," he said saying pulling Jykes twice was on him.

"The opportunity I allowed him to have or didn't allow him to have," he said.

"A lot has to change," he said. "A lot of evaluation has top happen in the next 24 hours."

This is a head coach who, after Jyles did nothing in the home pre-season game, said a decision as to which quarterback would start the season was "to be determined."

Methinks he's back to that.

"Right now there is no question we have to evaluate the situation."

Can you imagine this team with that defence and Ricky Ray at quarterback?

Apparently it's more important to be able to afford to pay to have 17 players on the injured list, most of which are as healthy as Calgary's touchdown horse. No need for such an animal in Edmonton this year.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

 


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