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Follow Me on TwitterRob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at
CFL - Tillman does have a masterplan for the Eskimos
Rob Soria

CFL - Tillman does have a masterplan for the Eskimos
After trading away long time starting quarterback Ricky Ray during the off season and deciding to go with the unproven Steven Jyles as his replacement, it was just a matter of time before Edmonton Eskimos General Manager Eric Tillman had the masses coming for him and that time has now arrived.

Edmonton - July 14, 2012 - Well, it didn't take long for the you know what to hit the fan for Edmonton Eskimos General Manager Eric Tillman. After trading away long time starting quarterback Ricky Ray during the off season and deciding to go with the unproven Steven Jyles and veteran Kerry Joseph as his replacements, it was just a matter of time. That time came this week, after his appearance on Tuesday night's addition of 630 CHED's Inside Sports.

While no one in the right mind will tell you that the Ray deal was a win for the Eskimos in the here and now, it was a trade that Tillman felt this team needed to make moving forward. Be it this past off season or in a year or two from now, it was going to happen and in the GM's mind, the best time to make the move was now. Many look at the deal as Jyles for Ray but in reality, that wasn't the case.

Was the return great? Not at the moment but it wasn't as horrible as think many think. Ricky was a two time Grey Cup winner and has been one of the best quarterbacks to play in the Canadian Football League over the last decade but he is clearly on the back half of his career.

In acquiring Jyles, kicker Grant Shaw, the number two pick the 2012 CFL Draft, which they swapped for the fourth overall pick (Austin Pasztor) and two additional picks (Justin Capicciotti and Ryan King), Tillman is hoping the have some keepers in all that quantity. It was a five-for-one swap that could possibly net Edmonton a very nice return down the road.

Does it making them better now? Of course not but all I've heard come out of the mouths of many Eskimos fans, is how they need to get rid of Ray. He had a poor throwing arm. He wasn't mobile enough. He pads his stats with short passes. All complete nonsense but what more than a few supporters of the Green Gold have bellied about for years. Sometimes that grass isn't greener on the other side, now is it.

Personally, I've always been a supporter of Ray's and felt this organization failed terribly in building a team around his skill set for many a year. That being said, he isn't getting any younger and Tillman saw a chance to make a move that could potentially improve the club down road. He took a chance and it almost guarantees them taking a step back this season but it's far too early to write it off as a terrible move.

The big uproar surrounding Eric's comments on Inside Sports with Dan Tencer, had to do with his response to the host's question on if he could go back in time and do it all over again, would he still make the trade. His answer: "Honestly, I would probably not," Tillman said. "I would have listened to my wife, who begged me not to make the trade because she talked about the fact that we had just gone 11-7 and that we could actually have an off season where I might be semi popular in Edmonton for a change, and to stay status quo."

While I can see how some would take that "sound bite" and run with it, as many have, but if you actually listen to his long winded answer, what he is being accused of is totally inaccurate. All he was referring to was making his life a whole lot easier on a personal level...nothing else. Eric Tillman is no dummy.

He has said it before and actually said again during this interview, there would be growing pains and plenty of them. No one thought this would be an overnight fix but because this teams's defence is as good as it is, they will find themselves in contention for the playoffs throughout the season. So what's the problem? At this stage of the game, can anyone expect anything more?

In my mind, the thing that stood out most in Tillman's interview, was what his expectations are for the CFL's most storied franchise over the last fifty plus years. The Esks GM correctly pointed out that this organization has won only four Grey Cups in the last twenty four years and in his mind, that is unacceptable.

In fact, their struggles go even further back. While they did win the Grey Cup in 1987 against the Toronto Argos, that was their first championship since their historic run of five consecutive titles during the late 70's and early 80's. Meaning the Edmonton Eskimos have won four CFL championships over the past twenty-eight years!!!

Eric Tillman is more than aware of what needs to be done in Edmonton...a return to greatness for this once dominant franchise. He understands and accepts the pressure that comes with being tied to this organization, which is something that has been missing for some time. After all, this is not just any old gig. There was a time when playing for the Eskimos meant you were part of the very best but those days are distant memory.

Edmonton have become nothing more than one of eight teams that have a shot at winning a Grey Cup in the Canadian Football League. While most franchises would be fine with having a legitimate chance at winning every few years, that was never acceptable in Edmonton during the Glory Days and many subsequent seasons. It was about winning and being the best but unfortunately, that mindset was lost somewhere along the way.

If anything, Eric Tillman and Kavis Reed should be given credit for trying to move this club away from the acceptance of mediocrity, that has become the norm in the provincial capital. It will take a little time to fix but time is exactly what fans need to give the Eskimos General Manager.

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