THREAT IS ALL TOO REAL
Eskimos now running the risk of missing playoffs in place of BC Lions:
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?
Eskimos head coach Jason Maas leaves the field after a 30-27 loss to Tiger-cats at Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 20.