The vertically challenged Edmonton Eskimos will be thinking big in terms of offence this season.
After a couple years of coming up short, the Eskimos promise to strike fear — or at least make an attempt — into defences under offensive co-ordinator Rick Worman, rather than repeat a stultifying approach woefully short on pizzazz and results.
Bigger has to be better, no?
“We’re going to be the initiators,” Worman said after the Eskimos opened training camp at Clarke Field yesterday. “We’re going to have routes in to throw the ball down the field.
“I’m not going to say we’re going to take what the defence gives us. We’re going to push the ball and be focused on explosive execution. That’s our philosophy — EE is explosive execution.”
At 5-12-1 and out of the playoffs for the second straight campaign, there’s lots of room for improvement.
Much of that improvement will have to come from an offence that was too predictable under Jacques Chapdelaine a year ago.
The Eskimos were second-last in the CFL with 34 touchdowns and third-worst with 371 points as they opted to dither about rather than stretch defences with anything resembling vertical fireworks.
Not enough game-breakers and difference-makers.
“We’re going to read the defence and throw the ball to the appropriate guys based on coverages,” Worman said.
“We’re going to challenge people in man coverage. We’re going to look at what’s going on in zone coverage and be able to find a way to move the ball down the field.”
After missing the end of last season with a shoulder injury, quarterback Ricky Ray didn’t look like he’d missed a beat as he peppered the secondary with pigskin yesterday. He welcomes the change.
“The last couple of years it’s been a lot of underneath stuff, trying to take what the defence gives us,” Ray said. “I think we were worried about just moving the chains too much.
“We got away from trying to hit some big plays. I think that’s what’s been lacking from the offence the past few years. You’ve got to put some pressure on those defensive backs and let them know we’re going to take some shots.”
You can’t swing for the fences every play, but the Eskimos will be far more aggressive. With Ray back in the fold, the Eskimos look like they could have the personnel to pull it off.