Expectations were high for the 2018 edition of the Edmonton Eskimos who were predicted by many CFL pundits as Grey Cup contenders and even Grey Cup favourites.
Instead the Eskimos will have to give up their locker room to someone else on November 25 when the Grey Cup game is played on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium as the team failed to make the post-season finishing with a 9-9 record and last place in the Western Division.
LISTEN BELOW: Dave Campbell and Morley Scott speak with Ryan Jespersen about the uncertainty around Edmonton Eskimos coaching staff and players after a disappointing end to the season
The biggest question on Sunday for Eskimos general manager and vice-president of football operations Brock Sunderland was the future of head coach Jason Maas. Sunderland says the team is in an evaluation process over the next day or so.
“Right now we’re in the very first stages of evaluating the organization from head to toe,” Sunderland said.
“Today and tomorrow we’re going to go through all the player exit interviews and then Jason and I are going to get together on Tuesday night and we’re going to collaborate on what we think went wrong and what we feel can fix it and then we’re going to go from there.
“The wounds are fresh and we’re all disappointed and making a knee-jerk reaction or a decision based on emotion I don’t think ever goes well.”
Listen below: Eskimos GM and V.P of Football Operations Brock Sunderland
The Eskimos started the season 5-2, but stumbled the rest of the way winning only four of their remaining 11 games. The team held a 6-3 record at the half-way mark of the season but became just the second team out of 57 teams who have held that record to miss the post-season.
The Eskimos lost six straight games on the road to end the season, held a minus-11 turnover ratio between the Labour Day rematch and their last meaningful game against the B.C. Lions on October 10, and we’re ineffective on offence in the second half of games.
Head coach Jason Maas held a 22-14 record prior to this season and was signed to a two-year contract extension along with Sunderland back in May. Missing the playoffs in pro sports will always breed questions. Maas says he wants to come back but he needs to know whether that’s going to happen soon.
“I don’t want to think or expect anything, I mean this is what we do and we’re evaluating,” Maas said. “I feel a certain way and I want to be back obviously, I signed on to be here and be a coach and I want to see it through.
“Beyond that I don’t want to worry about it, I’ll let the guys who are going to make those decisions make them. We’ll talk about it and we’ll discuss everything that happened.”
Listen below: Eskimos head coach Jason Maas
The other pressing issue is about the future of quarterback Mike Reilly, who is a 2019 pending free-agent. Reilly and a number of starting quarterbacks who have agreed not to sign a new contract until the CFL and the players association agree on a new collective bargaining agreement — which is set to expire on the opening day of training camps in mid-May.
Brock Sunderland says he has had multiple conversations with Reilly about a new contract. As far as Reilly is concerned, he says he will take his time considering all of his options over the next couple of months or so. Reilly says his time as an Eskimo to this point has been very positive.
“I’ve loved my time in Edmonton so far to his point,” Reilly said. “It’s been a privilege to play for the green and gold and every time that I get to put that jersey on I feel a tremendous amount of pride. Playing for this City, playing for the teammates we have in that locker room, playing for the coaching staff, and playing for this organization.
“I have nothing bad to say about Edmonton and getting to play for the Eskimos.”
Listen below: Eskimos QB Mike Reilly
An interesting and dramatic off-season is underway in Edmonton.