Jason Maas is certain that great expectations have nothing to do with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats slow start.
Thanks to the acquisition of Maas from the Edmonton Eskimos and Corey Holmes from the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the addition of Josh Ranek and company through free agency, many pundits were picking the Ticats to be the surprise of the East but so far that hasn't materialized.
"I don't think they did, everyone here was just excited about the season and excited about winning," said Maas. "If we weren't putting in the work, then you can't expect to win, but coming here and working out with guys in the off-season and seeing how badly they want to win, it's just kind of unfortunate we haven't started off better. We're doing all the things we need to do, it's just a matter of them showing up on the field. I don't think the expectations made it harder, or anything like that."
Maas admits going through a coaching change early in his first season at the controls has been tough, but stresses that Ron Lancaster has done an excellent job since taking over from the recently fired Greg Marshall.
"It was definitely unexpected and caught a lot of us off guard," said Maas. "Ronnie has done a great job handling it and re-iterating to us what we needed to hear, that we needed to be professional. One guy got the blame for how we started but we all had a hand in it. We need to get back to basics.
"We've obviously been in every game. We just haven't found a way to win any but one. It's tough and it's hard but with everybody in here, the effort is great. The guys have bought in to what we've been doing, we just need to make more plays and maybe that will be the difference in ball games down the stretch."
Maas also gave props to Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall for the job he's done in helping them become one of the top units in the CFL.
"They're a tough team and they've been on fire, we're going to have our hands full," said Maas. "Defensively, they're a strong group. I know Greg Marshall from being in Edmonton. He's a fantastic guy and is obviously doing a great job over there. He gets his guys ready to play and we know what we have in store for us."
Blue Bombers head coach Doug Berry has a lot of respect for Maas' abilities.
"I've never coached him but I can tell that he's a fiery leader," said Berry.
"He's a great competitor. He's had tremendous numbers in the past in terms of passing the ball. I think he's one of the better quarterbacks in this league."