Edmonton - Aug. 22, 2012 - There was no shortage of passengers in what amounted to an ugly and embarrassing loss to the Montreal Alouettes last Friday evening. A flattering 38-25 score line could not mask what was a rather futile effort on the part of the Green and Gold. Dominated in every phase of the game, the match begged the question, “who on this team can make plays?” Enter wide receiver Fred Stamps.
For a team predictably struggling on offence, there is no better time for someone, anyone, to step up and start making an impact. The answer, in theory, should have been newly signed running Cory Boyd. In what many were hoping to be an exciting and positive debut, Boyd’s performance mirrored that of the rest of the team: rather offensive (just nine total yards of offence).
What does this have to do with the veteran Stamps you say? For a team looking for answers, Stamps was to be the go to guy. Instead, he has disappeared almost as quickly as any hope the team had for winning Friday night’s game. The 2012 disappearing act has gone from being a slight nuisance to now more than worrisome. An offence desperate for some leadership needs to be able to rely on its go to guy. Instead the 6-year pro has turned in a disastrous campaign to date.
The line from Friday (4 catches for 73 yards to lead the team) on the surface doesn’t look too bad until one really starts to look at the numbers and at the game film. Stamps has been known as a big play receiver averaging 1,200 yards in each of the last three seasons and almost 15 yards a catch. This season, Stamps is slated to barely eclipse the 1,000 yard mark and is only averaging just over 12 yards a catch. More alarming is the lack of offensive production (just a single touchdown). Even more alarming than that is the lack of big plays fans have become accustomed to. Now all they’re seeing is dropped passes and a player seemingly afraid to receive a ball in traffic.
How much this has to do with last year’s abdominal injury in Winnipeg is uncertain. What is certain is that Stamps isn’t the same. What is also certain is that quarterback Steven Jyles desperately needs Stamps to return to form. He, much like this offence, can ill afford any more sloppy performances. Head Coach Kavis Reed is on record as not questioning the toughness and resilience of his star receiver. However, numbers don’t lie. While one cannot necessarily question Stamps’ heart, one can question whether his time has passed. Is he still an impact receiver? Can he be the same type of receiver he was with Ricky Ray? Any player worth his value can still be impactful with a different quarterback at the helm. No time like the present. Most notably one of the current faces of the franchise.
So who shows up against the Argos? Pre or post Ricky Ray era Fred Stamps. For the Esks’ sake, it had better be the former.