Terry Jones: Eskimos have reason to feel good about themselves
Combine a 4-0 start with a couple hundred hugs from special needs kids at Monday Morning Magic and what do you get?
It would be difficult for a team to return to practice feeling much better about themselves than the Edmonton Eskimos will at the unusual time of 3:45 to 5:30 p.m. Monday.
In the morning the Eskimos tradition of players spending the morning lifting and accompanying those special needs kids between the ages of three and 12 on the midway rides. It’s a wonderfully emotional experience, especially for a first-year player and builds team bonding and unity like few other events during the season.
The tradition was interrupted four K-Days ago when the combination of head coach Chris Jones and general manager Ed Hervey refused to change the morning practice schedule of the team to continue the tradition.
That wasn’t going to happen again with the exit of Jones to Saskatchewan and the off-season dismissal of Hervey as the board of directors were determined to return the Eskimos to being the user friendly franchise it used to be.
This year the Eskimos returned to opening their dressing room after practices and the access and change of general managers and, well they’re 4-0.
Indeed the scene when the Eskimos return from the midway to return to practice should be as uplifting as the experience.
The Jason Maas team will be going into Friday’s biggest game of the season prior to Labour Day against the B.C. Lions with that 4-0 record and the suspicion that a special season will about to unfold if they can win this football game.
With the Lions wild and crazy 45-42 victory over Winnipeg on Friday, they’ve won four in a row. An Eskimos win would give Edmonton the season series against the 0-2 at home and 3-0 on the road Lions.
For the Eskimos the numbers are getting interesting.
At 4-0 the EE may have a long way to go to match their record for wins from the start of the season — 10-0 by Jackie Parker, Normie Kwong, Johnny Bright, Rollie Miles and the three-in-a-row team back in 1955.
But win this game and the Eskimos can contemplate matching the seven in a row to start 1961 and will have equaled the five in a row to start both 1980 and 2011.
Dating back to last year, the Eskimos have now won six regular season games in a row. The team record is 14 from Oct. 16, 1954 to Sept. 26, 1955. The 2015 Grey Cup Eskimos won their final eight straight regular season games. The last time, prior to that, the team won six in a row, was the Grey Cup year of 2003.
Likely, there would be an outbreak of Grey Cup fever right now if it weren’t for a few teensy weensy, itsy bitsy bits of business.
So far, this team insists on not showing up for the start of games or at least showing up without an offensive game plan. The plan mostly seems to be to wait for quarterback Mike Reilly to bring them back in the fourth quarter to pull the game out of the fire in the final minutes.
I mean, how do you get out of the gate at 4-0 and have scored 107 points and given up 75?
The team has scored 12 points in the first quarter and 39 in the fourth quarter.
Winning four straight games by the combined total of 12 points appears to be a team record according to EE stats man Brian Desjarlais.
In the Grey Cup run of 2015 the Eskimos had a four-game stretch where they won four games by 14 points. The first four games in 1976 Edmonton won by a combined total of 15.
The team record for five games, if you are wondering, is 19 points dating back to 1976.
Friday in Hamilton was the third game where the team has trailed after the first quarter. But their record in games in which they’ve been behind early, obviously, is 3-0.
Last year when losing after the first quarter they were 4-5. During the 2015 Grey Cup year they were 7-3. Prior to that they were 3-4 in 2014, 1-7 in 2013 and 3-5 in 2011.
So there is all of that.
But mostly there’s the good feeling around this team that no matter what happens, no matter what starter gets injured and who might be up next, they’re going to find a way to win.
Those hugs on the midway and one more win to start the season could be huge.
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