Monday Morning Long Snapper

Summing up the Bye Week

Montreal won..again. Hamilton beat a charging Toronto to move four points up on Winnipeg for the final playoff spot in the east. Western Canada took cover from the smoke of a thousand forest fires. And the turmoil continued within the Esks organization. A loss to their provincial rivals was followed by the resignation of Dan Kepley from his position as linebackers coach. The move was a little bit of a shocker as Kepley oozed Green & Gold. The very next day, the team relieved offensive line coach Jeff Bleamer from his duties with the club. The moves must have been planned to some degree as the Esks announced replacements the very next day with the addition of Mark Nelson and Tim Prinson to the coaching staff. Apart from the changes to the coaching staff, the Esks decided not to make any other changes, like any additions or subtractions to the roster, during the bye week.

The Coaching Change

Make no mistake about it, the change of two assistant coaches is a significant move. In any sport, coaches play an integral role in the development and success of the team. Playing sports is all about confidence, and if a coach was not getting the most out of his players, it may very well be a confidence issue with the players. Professional athletes are under tremendous pressure to succeed, and if a coach is not properly managing them, it becomes nearly impossible for the players to execute at the highest level. I’m not saying the Kepley or Bleamer were sapping the confidence of players, but the addition of two new coaches should give their players a little bit of a boost. Adding the two assistant coaches is a significant move and could very well be one of the keys to turning around the Esks season.

…but speaking about player changes, how about that return game?

Kelly Campbell compiled 303 yards returning kickoffs and punts against the Calgary Stampeders last week. He scored on a punt return and posted a very impressive 32.4yards per return on punts. He’s essentially the third option the team has used in the kicking game this year after Skyler Green and Jamaica Rector. With Tristan Jackson coming back to the lineup after Labour Day, one has to wonder if Green’s time on the roster is limited. Both Rector and Campbell are capable receivers while Jackson has never not proven that he can take a kick back for the Esks. Green meanwhile was used as a receiver in the pre-season, but it looks like the organization wants to go in a different direction when it comes to catching passes from Ricky Ray, otherwise why bother to bring back Tremayne Kirkland and insert him into the lineup.

What can Esks fans expect in the coming week?

With Saskatchewan coming to town this weekend for a game that the Esks would love to win, you can expect the excitement level for the game to increase as the week progresses. After averaging 31,763 fans per game for the first four home dates of the season, it’s pretty safe to say that the average will experience a significant bump upwards this weekend. Fans of the Roughriders seem to come out of the woodwork across the country when their team comes to town. The team might not make any roster moves this week, unless they have someone lined up to come in early in the week as the coaching changes represent a big enough change that the organization may decide to simply go with the players they have.

So what do you think Esks fans? Can the Esks put together a game plan to win against the Roughriders? Will they make any other changes this week? With the players coming back from a week away from the gridiron, it will be interesting to see if they can get a little bit of fresh start to the beginning of the rest of the season.

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