It’s said in Edmonton that there’s two seasons: Winter and construction season. Edmonton didn’t really get winter but trust me; it’s more than being made up for by amount of construction that’s been going on this summer. Even though it can be an aggravating process for drivers, it’s all about improving how we get around our City.
Okay, let’s relate this now to football.
The Edmonton Eskimos are now 1-0 after a 19-15 season opening win last week over the Toronto Argonauts at Commonwealth Stadium.
Many expected the script to play out like it did last Saturday. The defence would lead the way, and they did. CFL Defensive Player of the Week J.C. Sherritt and his team-high 11 tackles along with some other strong performances turned out to be a major factor in the win.
Offensively, only 296 yards and 19 points, nothing that will blow football fans away but it was enough that night.
The man under the spotlight, was new starting quarterback Steven Jyles. He was 21 of 36 for 236 yards passing, zero touchdowns, and one interception but head coach Kavis Reed wasn’t in the mood to analyze his pivot.
“I’m not going to psycho-analyze Steven and his performance or over-analyze it”, Reed said.
“He did what he needed to do to help us win a football game. The biggest thing as a coaching staff is that we need to pay attention to what Steven Jyles is able to do and to make sure we keep accentuating those things. Not to get into what everyone wants to see but what we need to see from Steven is what we need to do.”
What Jyles did do effectively in the first half was make good decisions. He has a very strong arm and very good mobility. He stayed in the pocket and controlled the football. He made the low percentage plays for the most part which produced first downs. He didn’t turn over the ball which is another big plus. It was the first time Jyles had the benefit of Fred Stamps, and Adarius Bowman to work with and he says it was a good start.
“I’m satisfied to say it’s our first ball game together”, Jyles explained. “In camp we were missing receivers here and there throughout camp. Then I played one quarter or a quarter-and-a-half in pre-season and we didn’t have a chance to establish any drives. For us to go out and manage the game I’m satisfied.”
In the second half, Jyles started to face more pressure from the Argos defence which created one-on-one opportunities down the field.
He didn’t connect on any deep shots which could have put the football game out of reach. Part of it was the lack of accuracy from Jyles and part of it was the Argos’ defensive backs played Eskimo receivers very tight.
A couple of throws went the way of Fred Stamps who caught just four passes for 21 yards. You have to wonder if Stamps is still getting used to game speed as he was limited to just one series in the pre-season. Adarius Bowman was the game’s leading receiver with five catches for 110 yards says when get a chance to take shots down field, you need as an offense to cash in more often than not.
“Getting that first win gave us the opportunity to go back and watch film and Steven can see those things, and I can see those things”, Bowman said.
“Just getting the timing with us and know that I run a route different than Fred (Stamps), Fred runs a route a little different than me, it’s just timing. You got to capitalize on your shots when you get them but I think that’s going to come with timing and he (Jyles) got a little more better this week.”
Nineteen points will not suffice for 17 more games. You can’t expect 40 points, or maybe even 30. With the Eskimos defense, perhaps mid-20’s might be all you need.
That being said, the Eskimos could’ve eclipsed 30 points last week. They left way too many points on the field by missing deep shots and settling for field goals. Grant Shaw accounted for 13 of the Eskimos 19 points and was named the CFL’s Special Teams Player of the Week.
The good news from last week is that Jyles and the offence showed they can move the ball. The first half was very balanced between pass and run. The offence didn’t show enough consistency through execution. The win gave the Eskimos some breathing room with the offense. A loss might have had a City in panic mode putting more pressure on a developing program which is a work in progress.
Now, the Eskimos face a big test this week as they visit the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday who hammered the Ticats last week 43-16. The game will be played at Mosaic Stadium, probably the most hostile of environments to play.
So, how that construction going boys?NOTES
: Offensive lineman Greg Wojt will be out on Sunday with a leg injury, Brian Ramsay will play right guard while Dylan Steenbergen will get the start at right tackle. Wide receiver Matt Carter left practice early on Thursday with a leg injury and will not play. 2012 first round draft pick Shamawd Chambers will make his CFL debut. After missing the season opener with a hip injury, defensive end Julius Williams may make his season debut. Rashad Jeanty would come out of the lineup. Its Eskimos one and only visit to Regina this season. Edmonton won all three meetings in 2011.