CFL - Eskimos need to lose one more, after backing into playoff spot
By Rob Soria
In a season that has likely been as frustrating for the Edmonton Eskimos, as it has for their fans, the Green and Gold had Christmas come early on Thursday night, as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, inexcusably, dropped a 43-40 decision, to a severely undermanned Toronto Argonauts side.
Edmonton - November 2, 2012 - In a season that has likely been as frustrating for the Edmonton Eskimos, as it has for their fans, the Green and Gold had Christmas come early on Thursday night, as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, inexcusably, dropped a 43-40 decision, to a severely undermanned Toronto Argonauts side.
With a playoff spot already in the bag, the focus for Kavis Reed heading in tonight's final regular season game, has to have changed. Most notably, the need for his club to drop their fourth consecutive game to the Calgary Stampeders.
Nothing against the Argonauts or the Montreal Alouettes, if the Eskimos somehow find a way to finally beat their provincial rivals in tonight's season finale, it should all but seal the fate of Reed, his coaching staff and General Manger Eric Tillman.
For this year to have gone the way that it has and for this organization to be handed the gift that they were from the Tiger-Cats, screwing this one up would be unforgivable. What's that saying again, something about not looking a gift horse in the mouth.
Winning the final addition of the season's Battle of Alberta, would likely ensure Edmonton would have to face to potentially face both the Stamps and B.C. Lions in the post season. Whereas a loss guarantees them a date against Rick Ray and Argos in the East Semi-Final, is there really a decision to be made here?
Seems pretty simple as to what needs to happen here but there are still a few issues that need to be ironed out. Most notably, their quarterback situation, committing to a running game and resting those with some bumps and bruises.
Coach Reed announced late last night, that the Eskimos had apparently changed their original mindset and decided to go with Matt Nichols as their starter, instead of veteran Kerry Joseph. Giving the young man some extra reps heading into the playoffs is a sound decision but in all honesty, having Joseph at the helm for at a quarter in tonight's game, would probably be the best case scnerio.
With the weather and field conditions being less the favourable, pounding the ball on the ground would be the most logical approach. Meaning, with Hugh Charles likely still out of action with a knee injury, this would be the perfect opportunity to not only use Jerome Messam as the focal point of the offence but also work in Cory Boyd as much as possible. Would it really be such a bad thing, to see the Eskimos running backs end up with 25+ touches between them?
Focus number three, seems pretty obvious...sit JC Sherritt. The Eskimos MVP has been playing with a bad knee for weeks and needs a rest. His 119 tackles are twenty-three better the Lions Adam Bighill and his five interceptions trail only teammate Joe Burnett, who leads the way with six. He already surpassed the club mark of 117 tackles, set by Willie Pless in 1998, and is just just ten tackles shy of matching the league record of 129, set by Toronto's Calvin Tiggle in 1994.
While surpassing Tiggle's mark would be a tremendous achievement for the twenty-four year old, it would be the worst thing possible for the team. Simply put, the Esks linebacker has been nothing short of outstanding this season but for these guys to have any hope of winning a playoff game, regardless of the opponent, a healthier Sherritt is a must.
The difference between going 8-10 or 7-11, in the grand scheme of things, is minimal at best. However, that one win could very well be the difference between the Edmonton Eskimos advancing to the final four and giving themselves a shot at reaching the 100th Grey Cup...as unlikely as that may seem, to fans of the Green and Gold
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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