It wasn’t especially good, but it was more than good enough.
A sloppy offence and a suffocating defence pushed Edmonton to a 26-0 win and their first shutout since a 24-0 win over Saskatchewan in 2014.
Corey Chamblin was Riders coach https://t.co/MdupTYF0Nu
— Brian Desjarlais (@UncleBD) July 26, 2019
– Edmonton’s first drive. What a weird mess. From the Toronto 20-yard line, Martese Jackson looked like the intended target (and would’ve been wide open) but he slipped coming out of his break, leaving Trevor Harris to scramble and instead throw an interception at the goal line. But then. Then Jason Maas won his first challenge of the year, with pass interference putting the Esks at the two. But second-year running back Shaq Cooper promptly fumbled and the Argos recovered. Another one of those microcosms for the offence: great you got to the two, not great you didn’t score.
– Cooper finished with 128 rushing yards and 48 receiving yards. He has fantastic athletic ability, but you can tell he doesn’t have a lot of game experience. The Esks – mercifully – only tried a couple screens, and Cooper was a big reason they didn’t work out. On one he narrowly missed a Harris pass that ended up being ruled a lateral, recovered by Toronto, and another time he went to the right out of the backfield instead of left, leaving his QB to throw it away (with a possible assist to Greg Ellingson). At 26 years old he’s the heir apparent to C.J. Gable and the league does seem to be favouring speed backs rather than strictly power backs. To be clear, Gable is 100 per cent still the guy.
– In the receiving department, meanwhile, seven players caught between two and six passes and were pretty evenly spaced between seven and 82 yards. That’s the Eskimo offence nowadays.
– The Eskimo defence had another totally dominating night. Four sacks, five turnovers, only 185 yards against and the big zero on the scoreboard. There were a couple blemishes, of course – allowing two conversions on second and very long, a long Argo drive late in the second quarter – but as the final score indicates they powered through. Hats off to you, gents.
– Thursday’s early game had me wondering if or when a team had cleared 40 minutes in time of possession. Calgary finished with a 37-23 edge over Ottawa, but Edmonton went and beat them by just over a minute. Speaking of which, I will confidently say Jason Maas had a better coaching day than Rick Campbell. It had to be Calgary, didn’t it Rick.
– Ah, Derel, we miss you. Mr. Walker was pretty much the only catalyst for Toronto, but even he was held to five catches on 11 targets. A big part of that? Defensive back Josh Johnson, who is having a fantastic year and after three or four knockdowns on the night finally got his interception in the fourth quarter.
– Money Hunter is steering too close to the 2018 role played by current Lion Chris Edwards: he takes *a lot* of penalties. Edmonton took 85 penalty yards total and Hunter was responsible for 30 of them, including an objectionable conduct.
– Sean Whyte got back on track with two converts and a perfect 4-for-4 field goals, including a 47-yarder.
– Apparently you can challenge an illegal block in the back now. Gonna need a list of things that are and aren’t challengeable because I’ve been feeling lost lately.
– We’re left wondering in Edmonton what exactly this team is. If the old “defence wins championships” slogan holds, the Esks are in splendid shape. The offence is taking its time figuring itself out. Having a lead is a big contributor but finishing a shade under 300 passing yards with no passing TDs leaves one wanting more.
Next up we’ll see the 4-2 Eskimos on the road against the 4-2 Stampeders for a rare early Battle of Alberta. That should be a lot of fun.