The Edmonton Eskimos' 42-10 win over Winnipeg Friday will undoubtedly change much of the conversation around the team, and that's understandable. The Eskimos were very impressive on several fronts, especially on the defensive side of the ball, and it's easy to see a dominant win that moved them to 2-1 on the year suggesting to many that their problems are over. However, at this point, that still seems to be going too far, especially considering that they played the struggling Blue Bombers and still had major offensive issues. A win like this is a good sign for the Eskimos, certainly, but it doesn't necessarily mean they've answered all the questions that arose from last week's 17-1 loss, and it should be regarded as one data point rather than a clear indication this team's ready to contend for the Grey Cup.
That may seem like an awfully negative take on a 32-point win, but even the greatest regular-season performance imaginable would still be just one contest out of 18, and this was far from the best the Eskimos could have done. Yes, Edmonton went on a ridiculous to start the game and led 35-0 at the half, but 18 of those points came off Winnipeg turnovers, and several of those were more about the Bombers' ineptitude than any particular brilliance from the Eskimos. Winnipeg also went through three quarterbacks on the night, with Buck Pierce and Alex Brink both getting hurt. Even more troublesome, the central Edmonton issue of quarterbacking was far from solved; sure, Steven Jyles threw for 272 yards and a touchdown, but he only completed 15 of 27 passes (55.6 per cent) on the night and threw two interceptions, and although Kerry Joseph was a perfect three-for-three for 102 yards and two touchdowns in limited action, 76 of those yards came on a short pass that Hugh Charles turned into a long touchdown. It was better quarterback play than the Eskimos received in last week's horror show, but that's not saying much, and they'll need more than this against tougher teams.
Of course, there's a lot to be optimistic about for the Eskimos as well. The defence was phenomenal for the second-straight week, recording one interception off of each of Winnipeg's quarterbacks and picking up plenty of points off of turnovers. The only quarterback who had any success against them whatsoever was Bombers' third-stringer Joey Elliott, who finished with 11 completions on 18 attempts (61 per cent) for 192 yards and a touchdown with one interception, and most of his snaps came long after the game was already decided. The Edmonton defence simply humiliated the Winnipeg offence, and although the special teams gave up plenty of return yards to Deon Washington, they also forced him to fumble twice (the first one of which was picked up by former Bomber linebacker Clint Kent and taken for a touchdown that gave the Eskimos a 7-0 lead).
Edmonton's players, coaches, management and fans can be quite happy with the performance here overall, and perhaps even more with how it will change the tenor of the conversation from last week's debacle. They'll need more passing offence to win consistently, though, and they can't assume this game shows everything's all right. Friday's win is an important step for the Eskimos, but there's still a great deal of work to do before they get back to contender status.
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