Eskimos airshow takes down Argos (& ten other thoughts)

There’s that Eskimos’ offence again.

Edmonton’s passing attack exploded in a 41-26 win over the Toronto Argonauts on Friday night. The club started hot with three consecutive touchdowns to begin the game and rarely slowed down, finishing with 508 total yards.

Let’s get to some thoughts:

– Trevor Harris completed 28 of 41 pass attempts for 420 yards and three touchdowns (plus two on the ground). He could have had an even bigger night, missing a few open throws and fighting a couple receiver drops.

The player of the game was Greg Ellingson with 10 catches (six for second down conversions) for 170 yards and two touchdowns. One of Ellingson’s scores, seen below, was particularly sensational.

It was even a true midair catch, not one of those catch-it-then-fall-down-with-style grabs.

– Ricky Collins Jr. caught all eight passes thrown his way for 71 yards and a touchdown, while DaVaris Daniels caught five of eleven for 155 yards. Edmonton’s three American receivers combined for 396 yards, while Canadians Natey Adjei and Tevaun Smith combined for just nine yards.

– One complaint about the offence: their inability to get the run game going until the final drive on which C.J. Gable doubled his rushing yardage from 38 to 76. Fortunately, a run game has never seemed to matter less. Also, the Esks tried shotgun on third-and-one again — which worked, surprisingly — but got called back on a penalty, which should never happen after a timeout.

– The spirit of Mike Benevides lives on. At times, Toronto moved down the field pretty effortlessly, while they struggled to get anything going at others. McLeod Bethel-Thompson only managed 200 yards but went 19-of-26 with two touchdowns, while Derel Walker was held to three catches for 22 yards. Meanwhile, the Argos’ rushing attack put up almost 150 yards, which is a concern with Andrew Harris and Chris Streveler upcoming. But the Edmonton defence was good for four sacks and a respectable 312 yards against.

It was another sub-elite night, but the defence shut things right down when it had to. Toronto’s second half included six drives with two touchdowns and four punts, but only the first of those drives was over two plays. Due in part to the ball-hogging Esks’ offence (almost 12 minutes possession in the fourth), the Argos ran a grand total of six offensive plays in the final quarter.

– Roughing the passer — the Esks took five at home against B.C., three in Toronto, and two in the other seven games combined. Strange.

Against Toronto, the flags on Boateng and Moore were legitimate, while the penalty on Vickers was unfair.

– Edmonton can’t draw holding penalties. Somehow, their sack-leading defence has only drawn six holding calls halfway into the season compared to the league average of 9.1 through nine weeks. Nick Usher alone got manhandled on multiple occasions against Toronto with no flags. On the whole the officials had a fine night, but this is a very peculiar long-term trend.

– When Jason Maas throws bad challenge flags – which the second one probably was – it usually seems to be because the guys upstairs don’t give him a hard ‘no’ fast enough. Multiple times I’ve seen him say “so was it or not?” into his mic before hurriedly throwing the flag. It’s his responsibility as head coach (and his, ahem, impulsive nature doesn’t help) but it’s not all on him. A firm strategy to let some of the closer ones go could be useful, especially early in games.

– Late in the game I noticed all those nice white jerseys had some serious scuffs and stains (except, of course, the one belonging to Trevor Harris). Not even the kicker was spared.

Shout out to the offensive line, doing well even without all-stars SirVincent Rogers and Matt O’Donnell. Halfway through the season, Edmonton has still only allowed three sacks. Left tackle Tommie Draheim left in the first half with an injury, which is hopefully short-term.

– Chris Rainey is terrifying. It seems like he loves playing Edmonton and their not-too-stingy special teams.

– Last week had Bryant Mitchell news from the NFL. This week saw Duke Williams doing what Duke does in preseason action:

Next up is a home date with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who will likely be without starting quarterback Matt Nichols. It’ll be a much stiffer test for the Esks’ offence who will hope to keep rolling, and a near must-win for first place ambitions.

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