Written by Guest Blogger: Mike Wilson cflinsider.com
The Edmonton Eskimos have been the main wonder of the CFL year so far, starting the season with a 5-0 record. The question down the road into week 6 has been, are the Esks for real? I’m here to officially confirm that they are.
Edmonton stunned the league with their first 3 games in which they dominated the Lions, Rider, and Ti-Cats. Still at that point, nobody was quite sure if these were the Esks we would see all season, or are they just off to a lucky start? The teams they faced currently only have a record of 4-11 and 1-9 if you take out the Ti-cats. The real test was to come when they went into Calgary.
Coming into that game the Eskimos had only won a single game at McMahon Stadium since 2005. Last year, the Stamps pounded the Eskimos 52-5 on Labour Day and just 2 weeks earlier, stomped them by the score of 56-15. These Eskimos weren’t last year’s Eskimos. This time around they had a weapon that has proven to be deadly this year in Fred Stamps. Stamps had 5 catches for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns to help his team to victory.
The Ricky Ray and Fred Stamps tandem has been the best in the league so far. Both lead the league in their respective categories. Ray so far has 1,492 passing yards in 5 games and has the best completion percentage in the league by 4.2%. Also add into the equation that he has a quarter back rating at 118.1 and only a single interception. The only thing he’s not first in is touchdowns and he’s only 1 behind Anthony Calvillio.
His main target Stamps has been just as impressive with 578 receiving yards and a tie for the lead in receiving touchdowns with 5.
After redemption in Calgary the next match was one that showed character as the Esks treaded through adversity to come from behind against the Toronto Argonauts.
Ray and Stamps were expected to produce, although not at the level they have achieved, but one player who has turned out to be a diamond in the rough was Jerome Messam. Messam has run for 274 yards on 55 attempts and fits into the fourth spot as far as the league leaders go. He may not be leading the league but he is providing a stable option for the Esks. The offense has been more balanced than it has been in recent years. Arkee Whitlock was great in 2009, but fell to injures and was beat out of a job this year upon his return.
Whitlock may have been better in his 2009 than Messam is right now, but Messam right now is better than Whitlock right now.
The streak now sits at 5-0 and the next challenge comes in the form of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who have had their own surprising start to the season. The Bombers are 4-1 to start the season and now lead the Eastern Division.
The one of the most deadly offenses in the league will take on arguably the best defence in Winnipeg. The Esks will hope to hold sack leader Odell Willis and improve to 6-0 for the first time in 50 years.
They are defiantly for real, and the rest of the CFL has taken notice. The Eskimos are playing with the compete level, the skill, and the production that their history has suggested.