July 10, 2012
Remedies for the Eskimos offence
By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - What to do? What to do?
Receiver Adarius Bowman is possibly or probably out for the season. That, at this point, is almost like losing half your offence. And that’s half of not much.
Bowman had nine catches for 145 yards in the first two games of the season. The next three receivers have a combined total of 150 — Nate Coehoorn (62), Greg Carr (47) and Fred Stamps (41).
Bowman’s nine receptions were mostly short passes which he extended with YAC yards. Indeed, he has 72 yards after catches. The other 73 were in the air.
Coehoorn has played two games as a starter.
Carr came over from Winnipeg as a free agent and hasn’t managed to mesh yet. He injured an ankle in the 17-1 loss in Regina and is iffy for Friday night against the Blue Bombers in Commonwealth Stadium.
You also have Cary Koch, the free agent from Saskatchewan who has appeared to be wide open on multiple occasions but has caught one pass for six yards.
And you have Fred Stamps ...
With Ricky Ray gone, Stamps entered the season as the face of the franchise. But Steven Jyles hasn’t been able to connect with him.
Stamps was the CFL’s top receiver in 2009 and had 85, 80 and 82 receptions for 1,402, 1,223 and 1,153 yards, respectively, over the last three years, despite missing four games in each of the last two seasons.
That was with Ricky Ray at quarterback. Right now, with Jyles and Kerry Joseph, he projects to have 369 yards on the season.
Stamps loved having Bowman become an Eskimo and have a career year with Ray throwing him footballs — 62 receptions for 1,153 yards — last year.
“They couldn’t double cover too much,” he said.
Ya think he’s gonna see double coverage now?
“I’ve seen it my whole career. That’s something I’m used to,” he said.
Stamps spent most of the pre-season sidelined while Jyles and Joseph each only played for one quarter. He thinks part of the problem is in there somewhere.
“We didn’t have too much time in the pre-season. We’re still trying to get our timing down with the quarterbacks. This is like our pre-season now.”
So what does Kavis Reed do?
He has a championship defence. And 0-2 Winnipeg — a team that has given up even more sacks (8) than the Eskimos 7, is a winnable game at home.
“We have to find a way to get the ball in Fred’s hands,” he said. “And Koch. He’s been running wide open and in a lot of cases was not being found by our quarterbacks.
“We have to play a little bit smarter. We had too many mental mistakes. Receivers weren’t running the right routes at the right depth.”
One thing, the way things went down at practice Tuesday, was to challenge the offensive line.
But the two things, to your correspondent, that are the most important for this very winnable game against the 0-2 Bombers are:
1. Provide the offence with some field position.
2. The quarterbacks have to expand the current postage stamp-sized field they’re working with.
The Eskimos can’t be starting almost every series between their own 4- and 35-yard lines like they did against the Roughriders, with only one on the Saskatchewan side of the 55.
“On special teams we have to catch the ball. On four punts we let it bounce when, if we caught the ball in the air, we’d at least have had two 15-yard no-yards penalties or decent returns,” said Reed.
With the receivers getting as many yards after the catch as they do in the air, it’s ridiculous the small patch of the massive Canadian field the quarterbacks have used so far.
“We haven’t stretched the field,” Reed admitted.
“We haven’t had any explosive plays. We haven’t had a big play. We have to force it. We have to commit to putting the ball in the air vertically. That may mean 50-50 balls,” he said, figuring on either a big gain or an interception that amounts to a punt with a chance of drawing a pass interference call.
It also wouldn’t hurt to see the quarterbacks take a hike.
In a good way, I mean.
One of the reasons Eric Tillman traded Ricky Ray is that Ray is a pocket passer, like Anthony Calvillo, and Tillman likes quarterbacks who can run.
So far Ray has five carries for 32 yards, Jyles four for 24 and Joseph one for two yards.
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