Dave Campbell has been on the Eskimos beat since 2004. He’s entering his seventh season as the Eskimo colour analyst for 630 CHED broadcasts. He also hosts The Points After Show, an openline post-game show. Follow Dave on Twitter @Dave_CHED.
It’s been a little difficult to fully figure out how the 2011 edition of the Edmonton Eskimos operates on a weekly basis.
After racing out to a 5-0 start, the team has only won two of their last eight contests leaving them with a mediocre 7-6 record. With just two since July, one would have to believe that they would be fighting tooth-and-nails for a spot in the post-season.
However, thanks to similar inconsistencies by the Calgary Stampeders, a 1-6 start by the B.C. Lions and a dreadful year from the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Eskimos are in a position to win the CFL West.
The Esks currently sit in third in the West, but have played one fewer game than the Stamps and Lions. A win on Monday vault them into a three-way tie for first place.
The Green and Gold play the 4-9 Riders on Thanksgiving, where a win will see them lock up at spot in the post-season.
Achieving that will be a big step forward for the club, who has come under some tough times in recent years. Their next goal would be to achieve what they set out to do at the start of the season, host a playoff game for the first time since 2004.
The formula to capturing first place and – to a lesser extent second place – is to win about half of your road games and most or all of your home games.
Well, the 2011 season hasn’t exactly stuck to any formula. Almost half of the games this season have been won by the road team and the Eskimos have lost three-straight games at Commonwealth Stadium after winning their first three.
They should be left in the dust with a record like that but nobody in the West has a winning record at home making it a three-horse race for top spot.
This is the time of the season where you want to be playing your best football and the Eskimos are struggling to do that.
In August, the Eskimos lost three games in a row after their undefeated start. However, during the losing streak, the Eskimos were bitten by the injury bug. The offence lost receivers Fred Stamps, Adarius Bowman, Marcus Henry, Jason Barnes, and offensive lineman Aaron Fiacconi who’s out for the season with an injured shoulder.
Now, however, the offensive line has been revamped and playing consistently along with running back Jerome Messam, the passing game has been playing catch-up however; Stamps, Barnes, Henry, and Bowman have only been back together for two games.
Quarterback Ricky Ray has struggled to find the chemistry with his receivers and vice-versa. Monday will be the third game back together for a healthy offensive unit and considering they’re playing a suspect defence that has given up 82 points in their last two games, failure to move the ball down their throat and score points would give people a major reason to be concerned.
Defensively, this team has been very consistent. They have a good pass rush with Julius Williams and Marcus Howard. Special teams-wise, where would this team be without Jason Armstead? Offensively, they need better results from Ray and they need to unleash the run game more.
At this point, it’s safe to say the Eskimos will make the playoffs. They have five games left: two against the Riders, and will also go up against the Blue Bombers, Argonauts, and Lions.
Winning four of those five games is a very realistic possibility, which will be more than enough to secure a home playoff game and even first place in the Western Division.
“It’s not how you start, its how you finish.”
NOTES: Linebacker T.J. Hill has been activated from the nine-game injured list. He’s missed the last four games with a neck injury, he’ll play on Monday. Linebacker Greg Peach returns after missing last week’s game with a knee injury, linebacker Mark Restelli comes out.
The Eskimos named Len Rhodes as their new President and CEO this week. Rhodes has extensive experience in the world of sports marketing, sponsorship, and sales. He’s held high-ranking positions with Reebok-CCM and Molson.
On Monday, the Eskimos will induct former linebacker Larry Wruck and kicker Sean Fleming to their Wall of Honour. Wruck played 12 seasons for the Eskimos and is the team’s second all-time leading tackler with 647.
He won two Grey Cups in 1987 and 1993. Fleming is the club’s all-time leading scorer and sits second in team history in games played. The 16-year veteran won three Grey Cup Championships in 1993, 2003, and 2005. Wruck and Fleming will become the 27th and 28th members to the Eskimos Wall of Honour.
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|