The defending Grey Cup Champion Edmonton Eskimos make their inaugural trip to BMO Field for their first meeting of 2016 against the Toronto Argonauts in Week 9. After squeezing out a win against the Montreal Alouettes in a Week 8 defensive duel, Edmonton looks to grab another win and move to .500 on the road.
Edmonton Eskimos vs Toronto Argonauts
Edmonton’s Offensive Woes
In their last three games the Eskimos offence has had trouble finding the end zone, scoring a total of three offensive touchdowns. Quarterback Mike Reilly has thrown one touchdown pass and rushed for one score with Calvin McCarty accounting for the other touchdown on a 2-yard run. Meanwhile Edmonton’s defence has returned two interceptions for crucial touchdowns in those games while also forcing opponents to take a total of three safety’s after pinning teams deep in their own end.
The Eskimo’s most reliable scorer as of late has been Sean Whyte. Whyte has been responsible for 21 points in Edmonton’s last three games. The break down of scoring for those games, where Edmonton has lost twice and won once, is:
Sean Whyte: 21/66 points or 31.8%
the defence: 18/66 points or 27.3%
the offence: 27/66 points or 40.9%
What this means is that although Reilly has passed for 901 yards in his last three games (1 touchdown, 2 interceptions), Edmonton is leaving crucial points on the field if they are forced to settle for field goals. The Green and Gold are one game below .500 and are coming off of a win against the East Division’s last place team after losing to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Ottawa Redblacks in the weeks prior. If the Eskimos were able to have scored touchdowns on some of those drives instead of settling for field goals those tight games might have turned out in their favour and they wouldn’t be a below .500 team.
Edmonton’s Offensive Hopes
Edmonton’s run game is relied on minimally with the bulk of the offence going through the air. Reilly has the benefit of the CFL’s top two receivers on his squad, in the duo of Derel Walker and Adarius Bowman. Both pass catchers have proven to be complete receivers who can get open and gain extra yards after contact by bouncing off of tacklers, making them miss altogether or going through them.
The pair of Walker and Bowman have near identical stats, lineup together on the same side of the field by Jason Maas, and the two can easily give opponents headaches as deep threats and crisp short route runners.
This pain for opposing secondaries is amplified with their ability to evade coverage when Reilly uses his feet to buy time for them, often resulting in big plays. It’s worth noting last year in his only game against the Argos Walker had seven catches for 164 yards and a touchdown helping the Eskimos to a 38-15 win at Commonwealth Stadium.
Edmonton will have had a long week off coming into the game Saturday afternoon at BMO field. When the ball is finally kicked off at the exhibition grounds; a total of nine days will have passed since their home game against the Als. Edmonton has a defence that has been on the rise in recent weeks. They have given veteran CFL passers Henry Burris and Kevin Glenn a handful. The Eskimos offence is also just waiting to explode on an unsuspecting team.
Vega vs the Argonauts?
Saturday also marks the first chance of action in 2016 for recent Eskimos free agent signing Jason Vega. Vega showed up for practice with the team for the first time since being signed Tuesday. He is ready to make an impact if called upon.
The Eskimos signed Vega as a result of an injury to defensive end Marcus Howard suffered during the win against Montreal. The 29-year-old adds more veteran leadership to the Eskimos. Vega played two seasons in the CFL with the Bombers. He also had a brief one-year stint in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys in 2013; befored returning to the Bombers for 2014. Last season Vega was a member of the Argos. He played in seven games and is set to possibly debut against his old team. In his previous four CFL seasons Vega had a total of 86 tackles, 19 sacks and 3 forced fumbles.