CFL - Eskimos fans get their wish, Nichols set to make his debut
By Rob Soria
After hearing it, for what must have felt like an eternity, from the majority of Eskimos fans and Edmonton media, Kavis Reed finally gave in and anointed Matt Nichols as his starting quarterback in a must-win situation on Friday night in Calgary.
Edmonton - September 28, 2012 - After hearing it, for what must have felt like an eternity, from the majority of Eskimos fans and Edmonton's sports media, Kavis Reed finally gave in and anointed Matt Nichols as his starting quarterback. The fact that the Esks are currently riding a four game losing streak and facing what is almost a must-win situation on Friday night in Calgary, likely made the decision a rather easy one for the Eskimos head coach.
With the Green and Gold now in a dog fight for their playoff lives, what would be reasonable expectations for the rookie QB? There has been a whole lot of talk and press given to a guy who has thrown all of seven passes and has basically, orchestrated one drive during his time in the Canadian Football League. It was a drive that featured two Edmonton touchdowns, both wiped out via penalty, and ultimately ended with Nichols being knocked out of the game with a concussion.
Not much to go on there and yet the calls kept coming for the 25 year old to takeover the reigns of the Esks floundering offence. Much of the noise made by those wanting to see Nichols get his shot, came as a result of some less than stellar play from both Steven Jyles and Kerry Joseph in recent weeks. At this point, there is nothing to lose...making the decision a no-brainer.
To his credit, Kavis Reed has stuck by his guns. The idea was to go with the Jyles/Joseph tandem as long as possible and work Nichols in as the season progressed. One could argue that there were definitely opportunities for Reed to insert the former Eastern Washington standout into the lineup much sooner than Game 13 but that wasn't the plan. Obviously, they felt he wasn't ready and saw no need to rush him along, just for the sake of doing it. In the long run, that decision may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
As things currently sit, there is no real pressure on Nichols. Edmonton has fallen into last spot in the West, courtesy of their four game slide, and are clinging to a playoff spot via the East crossover. Yet, when one considers their recent struggles and combines that with an injured list that seems to grow at an alarming rate on weekly basis and the fact that the ineffective Jyles/Joseph duo are the only replacements should Nichols fail to get the job done, the pressure will be minimal.
Let's be honest. The majority of Eskimos fans have already written this season off...making now the perfect time for Nichols to takeover. If he comes in and turns things around and manages to get these guys safely into the playoffs, then he will be the hero. If the team continues their downward spiral over the next six weeks and fail to make it into the post-season, no harm done. They were already headed in that direction and this way the kid gets some valuable experience to carry into next season. It's a win-win situation for both the club and player.
Fans may have wanted to see Matt Nichols at the helm weeks ago but in the organization's mind, the time wasn't right. You can agree or disagree with that decision all you want but at the end of the day, it's about the long term good of both the player and the team. Some may look at him not getting a chance to start sooner as Kavis Reed not showing confidence in the young man's abilities. When in reality, it was the complete opposite. He was waiting for the right moment and that moment has arrived. Now lets see what the kid can do.
Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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