Edmonton Eskimos Discipline Issues Start At The Top

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REGINA, SK - NOVEMBER 04: Head coach Jason Maas of the Edmonton Eskimos on the sideline during the game between the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium on November 4, 2017 in Regina, Canada. (Photo by Brent Just/Getty Images)

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. A chip off the old block.

Typically, idioms such as these are reserved for parents and their children. Although in this case, both of these examples could also apply to the Edmonton Eskimos.

Edmonton Eskimos Discipline Lacking

A serious lack of discipline was evident once again in the Eskimos’ 31-23 loss to the BC Lions last Thursday night in Vancouver. The Eskimos took a total of 14 penalties for 132 yards putting themselves in difficult situations throughout the evening.

After Week 9 of this CFL season, the Eskimos hold the league lead both in penalties (84) and yards given up through penalty (895). Not only has the Eskimos lack of discipline been an issue in 2018, it’s actually been a problem for a couple of years.

Jason Maas Takes Over As Eskimos Head Coach

After the Eskimos Grey Cup victory in 2015, then head coach Chris Jones surprisingly left for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Jones left for Saskatchewan to take on a larger role with that organization and took the majority of his Eskimos staff with him. This obviously left a major hole in the Eskimos organization.

Enter Jason Maas. Maas had just finished the 2015 season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Ottawa Redblacks when he got the call from Edmonton.

“I’m thrilled, I’m very passionate about the city and I’m glad to be back,” Mass quipped when introduced as the Eskimos new head coach.

“My goal was always at some point to come back to Edmonton. This is always where I wanted to end up.”

Since the hiring of head coach Jason Maas, the Eskimos have racked up a respectable 27-17 record. Additionally, they have made the CFL Divisional finals in each full season under Maas’ tutelage. Pretty good stuff and hard to argue that type of success.

Discipline Issues Since 2016

That said, a troublesome trend has reared itself during the Maas tenure. A lack of discipline has been a common theme for these Eskimos since 2016. Since Maas’ inaugural season with the club, the Eskimos have led the league in penalties taken (accepted) with 413. An average of 9.39 penalties per game, which is well above the league average of 8.42 penalties taken per game.

Below is a breakdown of average penalties by team per game since the 2016 season. This includes all games in Week 9 of the 2018 season:

Team Avg. Penalties/ Game
Edmonton 9.39
Montreal 9.14
Hamilton 8.82
Saskatchewan 8.74
Ottawa 8.27
BC 8.16
Toronto 7.95
Calgary 7.67
Winnipeg 7.61

 

While Maas has the Eskimos winning, the lack of discipline by his team should be a concern. Following a particularly tough loss at the hands of the Toronto Argonauts back in Week 4 of this season, Maas had this to say when asked about his teams lack of discipline.

“Discipline is holding us back right now.” and, “we’ve addressed it.”

Except that they haven’t. Since that game, the Eskimos have played four times and have racked up a whopping 47 penalties. Quick math has them averaging almost 12 penalties per game over that time. Not good enough for a team that talks about cracking down on discipline.

Lack Of Discipline Begins At The Top

There is enough evidence to suggest that the issues of discipline by this team come directly from the head coach. While nobody would question the fiery competitiveness that Mass embodies, at times his perceived lack of self-discipline can be his own worst enemy.

In 2016, the Eskimos were fined $20,000 by the CFL for failure to comply with a league initiative of a “live mic” game. Maas was also singled out for his part in the defiance by incurring a $15,000 fine from the CFL. At the time, commissioner Jeffery Orridge had some strong words for coach Maas.

“The fact that coach Maas has expressed no remorse whatsoever for what appears to be a unilateral and planned act of defiance is particularly disappointing,”

In 2017, the CFL cameras caught this exchange from Maas to assistant coach Cory McDiarmid:

Then just recently, Maas got into this heated exchange with a Gatorade cooler.


Not great examples of self-discipline for his team and coaches to follow.

The Last Word

Of course, there are many ways to hold teams and individuals accountable from a leadership perspective, and it would be incorrect to assume otherwise. However, it can be extremely difficult for people to follow the “do as I say, and not as I do” philosophy for any period of time.

As mentioned, Maas is a competitor and that is partly what helps make him a good coach. But if you are going to preach discipline, and expect discipline from others, a leader must lead by example.

Penalties continue to pile up for this team, and it looks like the issue starts at the top.

Main image credit:
Embed from Getty Images

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