THREAT IS ALL TOO REAL

Eskimos now run­ning the risk of miss­ing play­offs in place of BC Li­ons:

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS - Terry JONES

You can’t blame Edmonton sports fans for look­ing for a bucket of cold wa­ter to throw on each other with the Oil­ers 3-0 start to their NHL season.

James Neal scored four goals Tues­day and a fran­chise-record six in his first three games af­ter get­ting seven all last season with Cal­gary. Con­nor Mcdavid is ob­vi­ously just fine af­ter off-season re­hab with eight points in his three games. Ken Hol­land ap­pears to have im­proved team speed and bot­tom-six for­wards. And play­ers ap­pear to be buy­ing into what head Dave Tip­pett is sell­ing.

With all that in mind, as a pub­lic ser­vice, we hereby present the fol­low­ing up­date on the fail­ing, flail­ing, sink­ing, stink­ing, ex­as­per­at­ing, em­bar­rass­ing 2019 Edmonton Eskimos.

It’s come to this.

With five losses in their last six games, there’s a sud­den fear here that they could lose the rest of their games and watch the B. c. li­ons win the rest of their games and man­age to miss the play­offs. Can you imag­ine that?

Eight losses in their last nine games to miss the play­offs, af­ter go­ing 6-3 and lead­ing the CFL in most sta­tis­ti­cal cat­e­gories to start the season would rank as one of the most colos­sal col­lapses in league his­tory.

In terms of pre­vi­ous col­lapses, the most sig­nif­i­cant was in 1961, com­ing off a Grey Cup ap­pear­ance the year be­fore. It was the end of the Jackie Parker, Johnny Bright, Normie Kwong, Rol­lie Miles era.

The Eskimos opened with a 7-0 record, then only won three games the rest of the way and lost the semi­fi­nal and didn’t re­cover for an en­tire decade.

In 1992, Edmonton man­aged to get off to a 7-2 start and only win three the rest of the way and lose the semi.

There’s hope in their his­tory as well.

In 2015, the Eskimos won their last eight games and ended up Grey Cup cham­pi­ons. And only two years ago, with Ja­son Maas as head coach, there was one of the great­est col­lapse-and-re­cov­ery sto­ries ever. The Eskimos won seven, lost six and then won six in a row, in­clud­ing the semi­fi­nal, be­fore los­ing the fi­nal at Cal­gary.

B.C. au­thored the turn­around of all turn­arounds in 2011. The Li­ons, with Mike Reilly car­ry­ing a clip­board that year, started 0-5 and 1-6, then vir­tu­ally ran the ta­ble at 11-1 and won the Grey Cup.

In the first half of this season, Edmonton quar­ter­back Trevor Harris was trending as the CFL Most Out­stand­ing Player, the de­fen­sive front seven was record­ing sacks at a record rate and the Eskimos and Win­nipeg Blue Bombers were con­sid­ered the top two teams in the league.

Af­ter Edmonton lost 42-12 in Hamil­ton and the Li­ons evis­cer­ated the Toronto Ar­gos 55-8 Satur­day night in Van­cou­ver, you have to won­der as Mike Reilly heads here to play against his old team Satur­day at 5 p.m. at Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium.

Be­fore those two re­sults, be­fore the Eskimos’ skid and the Li­ons’ 29-5 and 40-7 wins over Ot­tawa lead­ing into the Toronto trounc­ing, it was un­think­able.

The CFL def­i­nitely stands for Crazy Foot­ball League this year, and it would be a won­der­ful story for the Li­ons to join the Saskatchew­an Roughrid­ers and Mon­treal Alou­ettes by to­tally turn­ing around their season.

There’s cer­tainly been a role re­ver­sal when it comes to Edmonton and B.C.. Now the Eskimos are in the toi­let, not the Li­ons, who had been the steam­ing pile of fresh fer­til­izer.

Back on June 21, the Eskimos wel­comed back Reilly to Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium with seven sacks and six rough­ing the passer penal­ties in a 39-23 win. Three weeks later in Van­cou­ver, Edmonton won 33-6 with five dif­fer­ent Eskimos reg­is­ter­ing a sack against Reilly.

The wins gave the Eskimos the season se­ries while the Li­ons were off to their se­ri­ously sorry start to the season in which they were 0-5 en route to go­ing 1-10 when the lost on Labour Day to Mon­treal. And it’s come to this. There’s his­tory to be writ­ten here. At the same time that we could be watching one of the most pa­thetic prat­falls of all time, we also could be wit­ness­ing one of the most re­mark­able re­cov­er­ies in the his­tory of the loony loop.

That might sell tick­ets in Edmonton Oct. 26 when all those Saskatchew­an fans flood across the bor­der to be joined by the ones who live among us, but not for the Li­ons, es­pe­cially with the Reilly, Ed Her­vey, etc., an­gles in­volved.

If the Eskimos lose to the Li­ons and B.C. runs the ta­ble, Edmonton would have to get a win against Saskatchew­an in their back-to-back games to end the reg­u­lar season. And the Roughrid­ers have been writ­ing a re­mark­able turn­around tale them­selves since GM, head coach and de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Chris Jones left them high and dry to bolt to the NFL.

At the start of the season the flat­landers flat-lined. Saskatchew­an has won nine of its last 10 and will en­ters the week­end alone in first place in the West.

There, Oil­ers fans.

Did that work?

David Bloom/post­media

Eskimos head coach Ja­son Maas leaves the field af­ter a 30-27 loss to Tiger-cats at Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium on Sept. 20.

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