Banged up Edmonton Eskimos Defence Puts on Show in Week 2

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If you thought the Eskimos defence would stumble against the Lions on Friday night, you could be forgiven. Heading into the game the Eskimos placed linebacker Don Unamba and cornerback Anthony Orange on the six-game injured list.

Orange and Unamba were two of the Eskimos key defensive signings in the off-season in Brock Sunderland’s attempt to revamp a defence that struggled throughout the 2018 season.

Losing them forced the Eskimos to play Tyquwan Glass at halfback while Brian Walker slotted in at strong-side linebacker. In the CFL, Glass has limited experience with the Montreal Alouettes last season playing nine games in the Alouettes’ secondary.

Walker is an interesting substitution as well. Walker’s natural position is defensive back and he hasn’t played in the CFL in two years, last with Winnipeg. Making the practice roster as a defensive back, Walker found himself starting his first ever game at linebacker.

The combination of injuries and out position replacements had Eskimos fans on twitter worried. Would Mike Reilly make quick work of the secondary in his homecoming?

Defensive Line Dominates

It turns out that you can’t shred an opposing secondary when you are being pummelled into the turf, and that’s the fate that befell Mike Reilly throughout the evening.

The Eskimos defensive line turned up the pressure on Reilly and delivered a performance for the ages. They sacked Reilly seven times throughout the game, including an impressive three sacks on second down and one on third down.

No matter what adjustments the Lions made, the Eskimos defensive line overcame them. Mike Moore’s sack below highlights the impressive level of dominance the Eskimos established over BC’s offensive line.

You can see B.C. try to move the Eskimos line to the right side of the field and give Mike Reilly an option to run free of the pocket. Moore just powers through the blocks.

The Eskimos pressured forced Reilly to make hurried throws all evening. Reilly could not quickly get set and deliver massive strikes downfield, in turn buying the depleted Eskimos secondary precious time.

Given the opportunity to read and adjust to plays, players who are clawing their way into playing time like Tyquwan Glass can make an impact. And that’s just what Glass did, picking off Reilly in a play that arguably swung the momentum of the game permanently in the Eskimos favour.

Reilly finished 14 of 27 for 149 yards passing. It was one of his worst performances in his entire career. The depleted Eskimos defence had adjusted, applied extreme pressure, and gave the Eskimos the opportunity to win the game.

Cannot Rest on their Laurels

The Eskimos will face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on the road next week. While Winnipeg’s offensive line is superior to B.C.’s, it’s still an average group. However, the Eskimos can be certain Winnipeg’s coaching staff took note of Friday’s performance. The Blue Bombers will adjust and sacks will not come anywhere as easy as they did Friday.

But there is hope. Two games into the season, this Eskimos defence has set itself apart from many of its predecessors. They are aggressive and willing to take risks in the secondary in order to deliver pressure. It should be a fun game to watch.

Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images