Are The Eskimos as Good as their Record?

Are the Eskimos as good as their record indicates? It’s hard to say at this point. With a 4-2 record after seven weeks of play, one could argue that things are just Eskimo Golden. I’d argue they’re better and here’s why.

Two of the four Eskimos wins have been against Ottawa; a team who very much resembled the expansion franchise they were the previous year. A win against a hapless Saskatchewan team doesn’t mean anything because everyone is beating up on the Riders this year. And a win over Winnipeg, a team that looked poised to make a big splash this year looked very ordinary at Commonwealth stadium.

Four games, four wins but nothing worth getting excited about. As they say, a win is a win is a win – but those wins could have been much more dominant given the listless state of the opposition.

The Eskimos’ first loss of the season was against the Argos in their season opener. It was costly not only on the scoreboard but in the dressing room as well when starting QB Mike Reilly injured his left knee which put him on the shelf for 9-10 weeks. I’m not a big fan of Reilly for numerous reasons but it’s evident he is the heart and soul of the Eskimo offence and in his absence, the offence has been weak.

The second loss came at the hands of the BC lions in Vancouver. A game of missed calls, stupid penalties, and a defence that had no answer to the dual threat of Andrew Harris. He exploited them on the ground and in the air.

After six games played, the Eskimos are tied for top spot in the CFL west division with the Stampeders, who have a bye heading into week 8. Edmonton is in Montreal to take on the Alouettes in a place where they don’t play particularly well. With just three wins in their last 10 visits to Molson stadium, the Esks need to impose their will on the Als in all three phases of the game or this might be the game Edmonton looks back on come November when games matter most.

Use whatever cliché you want, but the Eskimos are up against it if they don’t beat Montreal. They return home to play the Ticats and Argos before turning the corner for the season stretch with the dreaded Labour Day back-to-backs against the Stampeders. Wins against Montreal, Hamilton and Toronto sets them up with a 7-2 record, in which case even losing both of the the home and home games to the Stamps won’t be as painful.

A loss in Montreal combined with another loss to either Hamilton or Toronto, the Eskimos are .500 and leave GM Ed Hervey wondering if his team can even qualify for a crossover playoff game.

Sure, the team has been decimated by injuries, but you’ll never hear the team complain about it. They adapt and move on. And they’ve moved on rather well all things considering. Not many other teams can boast about losing starters at five key positions and still maintaining a winning record.

And as always, a very coy Eskimo Head Coach Chris Jones didn’t deny or downplay the “next man up” mantra his team has unknowingly adopted. When asked about the status of All Star Receiver Adarius Bowan, Jones only said, “We’re day to day with [Bowman] but it doesn’t look good.”

Bowman will not play against the Alouettes, which means yet another rookie will get his chance to contribute. Denel Walker took first team reps all week and was named to the game roster on Wednesday.

The Eskimos are in fact a much better football team than their record states, namely because of the level of depth and the impact each replacement has made along the way. Not many CFL teams can brag about that.