Playoffs or Rebuild? - As the Offense goes so do the rest of the Eskies.

In 2016 the Edmonton Eskimos were 5-4 going into the Labour Day game before getting beat-up twice 45-24 and 34-28 to go 5to a 5-6 record. The Esks lost again the week after the Labour Day home and home to the Riders 26-23 in OT to slide to 5-7. The Esks then went 5-1 down the stretch to finish 10-8 and cross-over and winning the Eastern-Semi Final 24-21. Many Esks fans were impressed with the turn around after the Esks were raided by Chris Jones departure.

In 2016, Mike Reilly to Adarius Bowman and the emergence of Derel Walker and Brandon Zylstra was the big offensive story and on an offensive first team it was everything. In 2017 the Esks continued to build with Zylstra as a starter the Esks went 7-2 before Labour Day. Duke Williams emerged, and Walker returned to get the Esks to 12-6 after another beat down by the Stamps 39-18 and then 25-22. The Esks quickly sank to 8-5 before going on a 4-1 run including a victory over the Stamps late in the season 29-20 led by Zylstra and Walker before winning the Western Semi-Final over Winnipeg. Many Esks fans were impressed with the progress even if the Eskies were not in the Grey Cup.

As 2018 started Esks fans had big expectations for the team. Maybe a 13 or 14-win season and challenge the Stamps for the top spot in the West. Then it happened the Offense choked. First against the Argos in week 4 where they only scored 17 points and only 1 TD. Then it happened again versus Toronto, but the Esks ended up winning. In week 9 the offense once again failed, this time in the second half of the B.C. game where they only scored 3 points all half. Finally, the Hamilton game in week 11 where the offense put up ZERO points in the second half to limp into Labour Day with a 6-4 record. Will the Esks drop two against the Stamps come Labour Day 2018? Most likely putting them at 6-6 going into the stretch drive.

The bigger question is can the Eskies overcome adversity like they did in 2016 and 2017 to revive their season and make the playoffs?

After Labour Day the Esks have Winnipeg twice more, Ottawa twice, Riders once and B.C. Lions once. It is conceivable that the Esks offense chokes twice down the stretch and then split the other four for a 2-4 record in the last 6. Maybe they get it together like in seasons past to go 4-2 or 5-1, but only if Zylstra returns to give the Esks a spark which is unlikely to happen. The Esks have to look within and make hard choices on offense or the Esks are sunk. To go 2-6 from here on in would put the Esks 8-10 maybe even 9-9 if they can steal one. The problem is they will need at least 10-8 to make the playoffs and that might not be possible.

It’s gut check time and this version of the Eskies either finds a way to win now or it all gets blown up with the departure of Maas and the three to five-year rebuilding of the Esks can start.

All that being said the only team in better shape than the Eskimos is Calgary. So is Coach Jason Maas really doing that bad a job?


his game time decision making sucks at key moments.

as he said himself, lack of team discipline is on him

how responsible is he for assistant coaches efficiency or lack thereof

in spite of the offensive production, the play calling leaves something to be desired

Bene’s D just plain sucks.

I believe this has a lot more to do with Brock Sunderland than Jason Maas as the Eskies made a curious choice to reload parts of the defense post Ed Hervey while creating a leadership void. A void that is coming back in discipline and gut check issues on offense.

Now full disclosure, I am a Jason Maas fan … when he throws headsets I defend him … when he chooses to go for 3 instead of going for 7 I defend him. Why, because I doubt any of his critics would have anywhere near the record he does given the same challenges he had to overcome.

Oh and before anyone goes there this team was gutted in 2016 with the loss of Aaron Grymes, Otha Foster, Willie Jefferson, Dex McCoil and the injuries to both Pat Watkins and the season ending injury to John Ojo. Yet, just through Maas switching to an offense first philosophy the Esks hung in for a 10-8 season.

Having typed that, I think the departure of Carson Walch and the subsequent choice of Coach Maas to make himself the OC was a bad one. I believe Jordan Maksymic should have been promoted to OC with Maas having total control as the HC over the offensive game planning and that the Esks should do immediately. It is clear the Esks are hurting on offense with 2nd half adjustments and they have tunnel vision on the vertical stretch when blitzed.

A new perspective would help in both the scripted plays and the adjustments. It would allow someone to focus on the discipline issues and the effort level issues at times. Now to Maas’ credit he is trying to address the discipline issue, but I believe if he had an older team that would each other accountable he would have less fires to deal with.

Now keep in mind I have said many times if Hervey had to go I wanted nobody else other than Sinderland as the Esks G.M. I believe Sundy has made a lot of decent moves from Coling Kelly to Da’ Quan Bowers to the C.J. Gable trade.However, I credit Torey Hunter with a hand in many of these finds and this way some of these moves were prescripted. All Sundy had to do was not mess up the contract negotiations in 2017 on most F.A.'s. Hence 2018 was the first real year of Sundy putting his stamp on the Esks and he decided to purge all the older Hervey signed players. However, he decided to this even with the departure of Hunter to the B.C. Lions to restock the shelves and this has been a bigger blow to the Esks than most realize.

When Sundy made the choice to go younger the Esks lost a lot of leadership that was not replaced and that is in part is why they are faltering. In 2014 and 2015Chris Joneshad guys like Odell Willis and Adarius Bowman who rallied behind him and put the locker room straight. Yes, Reilly and Sherritt did the same, but each group had a leader that led to a tight veteran ladened responsible group that held players accountable. However, the Esks are thin this year with leadership and Maas just lacks the veteran help to rally the Esks under him.

So it is not really Maas or Reilly or Sherritt, it is the lack of help for these leaders that means the Esks will continue on their undisciplined and losing ways. It is time for Sundy to step in and give Maas what he needs to be successful and for Maas to realize he cannot do it all by himself by promotingMaksymic.

and yet the Esks are 28-18 in the regular season and 2-2 in the playoffs, wonder how that happened after the defense was gutted 2016?

Reilly playing like MOP doesn’t hurt, along with all the great receivers they have over the last few years.

Offense has outplayed the D during the last 3 years. Shouldn’t be hard to see that.

I don’t understand how any team with Mike Reilly at QB and J.C. Sherritt at MLB can be said to lack veteran leadership.


Nope that is not what I said … what I literally said was, “the Esks are thin this year with leadership and Maas just lacks the veteran help to rally the Esks under him.”

I also said, “each group had a leader that led to a tight veteran ladened responsible group that held players accountable.

Finally I said, “So it is not really Maas or Reilly or Sherritt, it is the lack of help for these leaders that means the Esks will continue on their undisciplined and losing ways.

In football to have two or three locker room leaders for entire team of 56+ players will NEVER work. A football team is made up of a set of groups or corps. They are more or less cliques that have de facto leaders that due to play and/or personality create an identity for that corps. These leaders hopefully have a sense of maturity, humility and a drive to win.

Leaders often rely on veteran captains such as Sherritt and Reilly to keep down things like locker room beefs and holding slackers accountable. Maas and coaching staff rely on the 4 to 6 captains to communicate issues and enforce team standards set by the coaching staff. However, without the leaders and enough captains the communications breakdown. The 2015 Esks had I great group of of captains and corps leaders, but specifically on the defense there was a major erosion of those leaders.

Let’s go through each corps and play who is the leader?

Secondary - Aaron Grymes, fairly quiet leader by example whom I doubt will hold others accountable vocally. Big penalties and it does not look like it will stop anytime soon.

Linebackers - JC Sherritt, vocal leader who leads by example and then holds others around him accountable. Probably the most accountable group of the bunch, but Chris Edwards has been inconsistent all season?

D-line - Almondo Sewell, fairly quiet leader by example whom I doubt will hold others accountable vocally. Where has Alex Bazzie been all season? Can Sewell get him going and will this crew hold themselves accountable on penalties?

O-Line - Justin Sorensen, fairly quiet leader by example whom I doubt will hold others accountable vocally. Can be vocal occasionally, but normally not. Lots of penalties and very little accountability exposes the void of leadership.

Running Backs - CJ Gable, fairly quiet leader by example whom I doubt will hold others accountable vocally. Not much mentoring going on here and without Gable pass protection is hurt.

Receivers - Derel Walker, fairly quiet leader by example whom seems to lack the maturity to hold others accountable vocally. Massive void here and it is likely why this corps disappear and fail on execution at times. When the game is on the line these guys have to get open.

QBs - Mike Reilly, a great leader on and off the field both by example and vocally. Reilly has NOBODY to mentor like Lulay did for him accept for Zach Kline who is buried on the practice roster.

Special Teams - Blair Smith, a fairly quiet leader by example and then holds others around him accountable.

Plenty of good players who lead by example, but are not all that talkative that will hold other players accountable and now it all rolls up under two players Sherritt and Reilly who are also used as quasi coaches. That means Sherritt and Reilly do not have the cycles to fill any voids, especially due to Walch’s departure. Reilly and Maas are off in a corner talking game plans meanwhile the receivers are inventing TD celebrations rather than figuring how to get open when the game is on the line.

Ahhhhh, so you’re saying what’s lacking are not senior officers, but instead the centurions or in modern day military parlance the sergeants!

Indeed, indeed. Sad and silly but very true.


Exactly, in business if you have a young group of workers you need experienced supervisors and middle managers who are strong communicators. Who are teachers and can share their experience to help guide the young workers development while holding them accountable for bad choices. If you don’t a young worker could get hurt or worse and certainly a business could be impacted competitively.

The Esks this season have gone younger in many areas. Great idea, but no leaders to coral and teach the young ones is having a negative effect. A mix between youth and experience is required to be legit contenders at home in the Grey Cup. The thought must have been that the 2nd and 3rd years would be mature and experienced enough. That some 2nd and 3rd years would emerge to become leaders.

The Esks are trying to be the Stamps, constantly able to reload without impact. However, they have to remind themselves that balance is the key.