As the cool fall weather sets in, the Edmonton Eskimos are feeling the heat. With just four games to go in the regular season for the Eskimos, a playoff spot is anything but guaranteed. In a year where Edmonton will host the Grey Cup, an omission from the CFL playoffs would be absolutely disastrous.
While panic isn’t a word that the Eskimos organization would use, one can certainly hear it in the words of the fan base and local media. All week the talk has been about the importance of Monday’s Thanksgiving tilt against the red-hot Saskatchewan Roughriders. While it isn’t a must-win game for the Eskimos, it is pretty darn close.
After last week’s embarrassing 30-3 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Eskimos had some soul searching to do. Although QB Mike Reilly took the lion’s share of the blame for the loss, it was evident that nothing was clicking for the Eskimos in this loss. With seven total turnovers and only 3 points scored, it can’t possibly get worse, can it?
Western Division Race
It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom for the Eskimos however. While the Esks could be on the outside looking into the playoffs by the end of the weekend, a win on Monday would improve their position drastically.
With a win, the Esks would improve their record to 8-7 and a tie for third place in the CFL’s western division. The Eskimos would then be only two points back of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. More importantly, they would also own any tiebreaker with Saskatchewan at seasons end having swept the season series.
Additionally, with one game left to play against both the B.C. Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the playoff destiny of the Eskimos would be squarely in their own hands.
Eskimos Still Searching For Identity
While a 7-7 record isn’t exactly a terrible season, it is certainly not up to the standard that the Eskimos nor their fans have come to expect over the years. There were a lot of high hopes for the 2018 version of the Edmonton Eskimos and why shouldn’t there be? They have the reigning MOP in quarterback Mike Reilly, a potent offence that can go off at any time, and an improving defence.
That said, this edition of the Eskimos has struggled to find an identity all season. With ongoing discipline issues, injuries to key positions, and perceived questionable coaching decisions the Eskimos have struggled to find a rhythm on the football field.
The latest saga had the organization firing special teams coordinator Cory McDiarmid after last weeks loss to the Bombers. While the special teams haven’t been great all season long, the timing of the firing was certainly curious. With only four weeks left in the season, the special teams’ reigns will be handed to assistant Dave Jackson.
At a time of the season when teams need to be gearing up for the fall playoff push, it seems that the Eskimos are still trying to find their way.
The Last Word
The importance of Monday’s matchup with the Saskatchewan Roughriders cannot be overstated. A loss here combined with a B.C win on Saturday and the Eskimos will find themselves out of the playoffs with only 3 games to go.
If this team cannot find their identity the rest of the way or worse- miss the playoffs, head coach Jason Maas may have to pay the price this offseason. Not making the playoffs or bowing out in the first round will not be acceptable in Edmonton for a team that is hosting the Grey Cup.
With only four games to go, the Eskimos have to get on a roll and it has to start on Monday. If not, it could be a long and difficult offseason for the Eskimos and their fans.
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