Eskimos continue to disappoint; thoughts on Edmonton’s loss in Hamilton

After sneaking past Ottawa, it’s back to cliff diving.

In addition to seeing the Esks completely outmatched by Hamilton in every possible way, C.J. Gable, Josh Johnson, Tevaun Smith and Greg Ellingson all missed time to injury.

It’s not that they’re losing, it’s how they’re losing. 42-12? Very disturbing.

Pretty much. But I’m gonna give it a try, so let’s get right to it.

– Arjen Colquhoun, Anthony Orange and Josh Johnson are three all-star calibre defensive backs and SirVincent Rogers and Tommie Draheim are starting calibre left tackles. All out to injury, which is the last thing this struggling team needs right now.

And yet, injuries might not even be among the top five problems with the team. It’s baaaaad.

– The good news for Edmonton is they only need to win once or B.C. to lose once and they’re in the playoffs. With the way the schedule works, even if the Esks lose out B.C. isn’t likely to win out; the Lions would have to beat a Saskatchewan team that likely has everything to play for in Week 19. More complicated: if Edmonton loses twice to Saskatchewan (which is necessary for them to miss the playoffs) then Calgary is likelier to have something to play for against B.C. in Week 21.

And breathe.

– An eight-play touchdown drive without a play longer than 13 yards to start for Hamilton and a game total of four plays over 20 yards, the short game and the long game defence were both lacking for Edmonton. No Ticat had a standout performance on offence, but every single one of them had a good one.

Points are a little bit misleading regarding the defence; of the 19 first half points, one touchdown came on a very short field and of the 23 second half points, six came from short fields and six more off an interception. But only needing 20 or 30 yards doesn’t make a point worth less. On top of that it was another week with no forced turnovers.

The Eskimo defence needs to take another step forward after stumbling backwards. They haven’t had so many injuries at once that personnel was or is a huge issue. So I’m casting a pointed look towards defensive co-ordinator Phillip Lolley, who needs to come up with something.

– Logan Kilgore. Three interceptions, but only one of them really deserving blame – the convert attempt, good on him for at least getting the ball out there; the pick-six, Tevaun Smith had to catch that; the deep shot to DaVaris Daniels, a ghastly play that Kilgore is having serious trouble eliminating from his repertoire.

He was 15-of-17 in the first half for a very respectable 164 yards, but he slowed down drastically in the second half despite playing catch up on the scoreboard. Simply put, he fails to strike any fear into the hearts of defences. The same themes: for the most part he shows a good passing brain, but not a good passing arm. You could say he hasn’t been *that* bad but he also hasn’t been good with four straight games now between 220 and 245 yards. He also made two other sloppy practical decisions on Friday, running out of bounds at the three-yard line on second down and throwing it away when he could have fallen forward for a couple yards.

Trevor Harris wouldn’t fix all the problems, but there’s a major drop off without him.

– So many flashes of excellence and yet so totally lacking overall. In response to Hamilton’s long opening drive, Edmonton spent 11 plays driving all the way inside the Ticat 10-yard line… but had to settle for a field goal. It took until the third quarter to post a two and out against a very good defence… but they only scored 12 points. Three sacks for… five sacks against.

Certainly many of the players weren’t good enough – Monshadrik Hunter continues to have his struggles in the secondary, multiple receivers committed very bad drops – but there are too many mistakes from the entire coaching staff, even a simple thing like not trying a deep throw on the last play of the first half.

I don’t know if they thought Kilgore limping was an issue, but the Esks were at their 52-yard line down 16 points. You have to give it a shot. I would also highlight Hamilton’s pick-six, where on second and 16 it seemed like the only direction was to throw a pointless five-yard slant to Smith, who had the ball go through his hands and returned by Richard Leonard.

Back to the players one more time, that also might have been the worst game of tackling since Edmonton’s injury-ravaged 2017 season. When you have three guys right around the ball carrier and still allow another 12 yards… man. Literally everybody has to be better. The problem, obviously, is how? And at this point it seems like the coaches are asking the same question.

– In contrast to the rest of the team: consistently good. That’s the way I hadn’t yet described Christion Jones as a kick returner. Again, that automatically makes him the best the Esks have had in many years.

On the flip side, cover teams were spotty along with punter Hugh O’Neill having a much worse game than last week. His average saved only by a poor punt that got a few great bounces. Sean Whyte was at least a quiet two-for-two.

And the last special teams note: Godfrey Onyeka, in particular, needs to stop taking holding penalties on kick returns. ‘Every game’ isn’t an exaggeration.

– As much as Henry Burris was gushing about C.J. Gable, the guy averaged just over four yards a carry. It’s by no means an injury to celebrate, but it’s possible that Shaq Cooper being forced into the lineup would turn out brilliantly for the Esks. Maybe not Tom Brady/Drew Bledsoe brilliant, but a badly needed jolt to a unit desperate for game-breaking ability.

Next week is a home showdown with the B.C. Lions that probably turns out to be much more interesting than it should have been, unless Toronto pulls one out on Saturday. The Esks are looking more lost than a penguin at the North Pole but there’s no time like the present to figure it all out.

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