Hey, don't be sackin' that offensive line, says Joe McGrath
By JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, EDMONTON SUN
Lost in the public outcry over the Edmonton Eskimos' meltdown against Winnipeg last week is this rather unflattering statistic: the Green and Gold gave up five sacks to the Blue Bombers.
But the widespread thought in the Eskimo dressing room is simple: don't think of blaming the O-line for every sack.
And for that matter, don't even think of pressing the panic button.
Yes, the Esks are in the bottom half of the league's statistics for giving up sacks this year, but head coach Danny Maciocia believes his newly formed crew is doing just fine.
PLAYED PRETTY WELL
"Overall, our offensive line has played pretty good," said Maciocia.
"We had 300-some-odd yards through the air (last Thursday) and got our running game going to some extent in the second half."
As usual, tackle Joe McGrath didn't mix words on his review of his crew's performance.
"Everyone thinks that because the line gave up five sacks they played crappy," said McGrath.
"If you look at the whole game film and break it down, we played very well."
In fact, the five-man O-line crew actually believes only two of the five sacks were their fault last week.
"Two of those sacks we gave up is because we got beat on the O-line and the other three came when (quarterback) Ricky (Ray) was running around on bootlegs or shovel passes," said centre Tim Bakker.
In other words, the Winnipeg secondary deserves a lot of credit for some of those sacks.
"A few of the times I tried to scramble out of (the pocket) without seeing stuff down field and that is not an offensive line issue," said Ray, who also got caught behind the line scrimmage at least once on a shovel play that was counted as a sack.
"When it comes to sacks, you have got to look not only at the offensive line, but also look at the quarterback and running backs as well."
TWO SACKS A GAME
The most recent Winnipeg game not included, the Esks are only giving up an average of two sacks per game this year, which is almost identical to last year's number.
Coming into this season, there was plenty of fear in Eskimoland.
The feeling was that the revamped O-line would be a major weak spot with the retirements of Kevin Lefsrud, Bruce Beaton and Chris Morris.
But so far, guard Dan Comiskey believes the line is on the right path to significant success.
"I believe in this offensive line and I believe we have the capabilities to be one of the best in the league, if not the best," he said.