Breaking down the Jason Maas field goal decision and other thoughts on the Eskimos loss

Photo Scott Grant /
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Did they deserve to lose? Eh, not especially. Did they deserve to win? Sigh. No they did not.

The Esks had their chances against Winnipeg but the cliché of a storyline holds: they couldn’t finish.

Edmonton takes their first loss of 2019 by a score of four touchdowns to seven field goals, 28-21.

– Let’s start with the big one, shall we? Just like last time (yes there’s a last time), down 10 points and driving head coach Jason Maas kicked an arguably premature field goal on first down with two minutes left then kicked off deep, trusting his defence to make a quick stop. Last year – October 19 in BC, in case you thought I was joking – you could make the argument that the defence was shaky and trusting in them was a suspicious decision. This year the defence has been generally excellent and they did exactly what was asked of them at the end of the game, forcing a two-and-out on command and earning excellent field position to boot. The main point of the early field goal is you avoid an onside kick attempt.

I don’t really think this is an argument that will be won either way, but I will say I agree with the decision – although I’m still on team “take one end zone shot first”. The risk there is a sack or an interception, weighed against the reward of a TD or a pass interference call. The time management is very delicate because either way you need to score twice, and you want to optimize the amount of time you have.

After all that, I might’ve been disappointed if the Esks had scored a late TD and then kicked the single point to tie rather than go for two. If you’re going to try to play the percentages, you might as well go all-in and take your approximately 65 per cent shot to win on the spot with the convert rather than go for a 50-50 shot at overtime.

Somewhat ironically, when Maas elected to kick the field goal to go from 13 to down 10 in the middle of the fourth quarter I criticized him for his two faults (excessive loyalty/stubbornness and math) and then that beautiful mess happens.

– Questionable coaching decisions aside, the Esks very well may have won if their receivers hadn’t dropped four balls in the dying minutes. Matt Dunigan was keying in on how gassed the crew was, which is fair enough – 77 offensive plays to 41 and 36:20 time of possession to 23:40 are insane numbers, with a fourth quarter heavily tilted in the Esks favour – but you’d hope they could still do the most straightforward part of their jobs. Andrew Harris even did his best to play double-agent with a fumble to keep the game going just a little longer.

In a lot of ways it’s a surprise to see the Esks lost, but of course the numbers don’t tell you the whole story. Edmonton did a few too many stupid things and couldn’t recover thanks to a few more stupid things.

Well encapsulated. Frustrating was the game’s keyword, but it wasn’t without a lot of positives.

The Blue Bomber offence was Lucky-Whitehead-or-bust, with Harris being contained all night. Unfortunately it was just enough for Winnipeg to earn the W.

– Speaking of stupid things, both teams messed up an “and 1”, though Edmonton’s was worse. Unofficial rule No. 2 of the CFL: never *ever* go shotgun on third and 1. (Rule No. 1: it’s not over until it’s over.)

– There’s lots of talk amongst Esks fans about the need for a deep threat receiver. DaVaris Daniels has been scratched for two weeks and one would hope that a Week 4 bye means he’ll be ready for next game.

– Sean Whyte, 7-for-7. Money.

– Edmonton really needs to stop with the needless penalties on kick and punt returns. Their field position is bad enough without them.

– 15 total penalties for 139 yards. I promise I don’t enjoy saying it over and over again. It seems like it finally did enough damage to cost the Esks a game and they have to be better. The good news is the only turnovers this week came on downs, so ‘penalties and turnovers’ was really just ‘penalties’.

– Trevor Harris got sacked for the first time this season right at the end of the first half. It was a good run, but one sack in three games isn’t bad at all. Winnipeg seemed to manage more pressure than Montreal or BC, as expected.

– After a bye next week the Esks travel to BC for an early rematch with Mike Reilly and the Lions on Thursday, July 11.

Mike Ludwig enjoys math, chess, and football, all of which are kind of related. He lives in Edmonton and does not endorse Rod Black's metaphors. Follow him on twitter at @CityOfChamps14.