Eskimos special teams change aimed at energizing return game

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Jason Maas wants his team to be more dynamic in when returning the football which is the main reason behind firing Cory McDiarmid.

“It just comes down to, on special teams I don’t think we’re good enough. It’s my job to look at everything as a football team and try to make us better, flat out I think we can be better in those areas. It’s a tough decision because I love Cory had him here for two and a half years, hired him. Our relationship is good, nothing to do with that. I respect the man, he worked hard,” Maas said.

“I know Cory would want to keep going and keep working at it and keep trying to make it better, but I have to make a decision what I feel in my gut is right. It makes a statement to your football team, it holds everybody accountable.”

Through 14 games Edmonton ranks last league-wide in both punt (7.5) and kick return (19) average.

“Our return game hasn’t been up to snuff. We’ve done a lot of moving around, a lot of pieces over the last two and a half years to get things better and ultimately it wasn’t getting better. I felt like I needed to do something to make us better. Ultimately I’m hoping this decision definitely awakens our team to the reality that everything matters,” Maas said.

The Eskimos traded for explosive returner Martese Jackson who has three return touchdowns on his resume in September and the return production didn’t improve as Maas believed it should. Edmonton is one of just two teams without a return major in 2018.

“As the years have gone by we’ve tried to get better on the return game. We traded for Martese [Jackson] and you just don’t see the improvement that you’d like to see,” Maas said.

“When you don’t have hope that you’re going to get better that’s where it gets bad. I’m hoping this move will make our field position better. It’s definitely evident to me that we need to be better in the return game. I felt like Cory has done everything he could do here and I just didn’t feel like it was enough.”

Dave Jackson who is in his third year with the Eskimos takes over the special teams coordinator job. Maas feels the Regina native can boost the unit.

“It’s a different voice. He’s been tied to Cory’s hip for two and a half years. learned a lot, but like any assistant coach you have some ideas of your own. He’s got great attention to detail, he’ll work extremely hard, he’s in the building all the time and he’s accountable, he runs some of our meetings already so I know he is capable of that, leading a group,” Maas said.

“I feel it’s just going to be spark. It’s going to make us better. I wanted to go with Dave to see what he could provide for us.”

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