(10-8 in 2008 - 4th in West Division)
Key Addition: Head coach Richie Hall - The architect of Saskatchewan's stingy defence will improve things in Edmonton. Honourable mention to Jesse Lumsden, who hopes to resurrect what has been a non-existent running game.
Other Signings and Acquisitions: FB Graeme Bell, OL Gerald Davis, Defensive Coordinator Jim Daley, DE Kai Ellis, DB Ryan Glasper, S Scott Gordon, LB Kitwana Jones, OL Kyle Koch, LB Maurice Lloyd, DB Kelly Malveaux, DB Jason Nugent
Key Deletion: WR Kelly Campbell - Every team needs a game-breaker and Campbell was one of the best with an average of 22 yards per catch last season.
Other Releases and Deletions: Head Coach Danny Maciocia (still with club), RB Damien Anderson, OL Tim Bakker, OL, Dan Comiskey, QB Stefan LeFors, WR Brock Ralph, Defensive Co-ordinator Rick Campbell, LB Agustin Barrenechea, DB Shannon Garrett, DE Brandon Guillory, DB J.R. LaRose, DB DL Montez Murphy, DE Fred Perry, LB Siddeeq Shabazz, CB Jordan Younger
Matt Dunigan's Quarterback Analysis: Ricky Ray is Edmonton!!! Edmonton goes as Ray goes!!! He's consistent, accurate, dependable, unflappable, tough, mobile (enough) and a proven winner. Behind Ray, you have Jason Maas, who also is a proven winner, experienced and tough as nails. Jason also is a great fit for both Ray and the Eskimos. With the departure of LeFors, there is an opportunity for a young gun to make his mark in what has been considered the QB factory for @ least the last four decades. Vying for that coveted position is the talented Jared Zabransky from Boise State and Lester Ricard from Tulane. Only time will tell if we see one, if not both, of these QBs in an Edmonton uniform or on someone else's roster down the road. Chances are, we will. Just look @ how quickly Sask snapped up Steven Jyles and Juan Joseph and how Winnipeg latched onto Stefan LeFors from the stable of Edmonton QBs. 'The Factory' continues to churn out CFL QBs!!!
Jock Climie's Offensive Analysis: With Ricky Ray at quarterback, it's tempting to say that Esks will be successful passing the ball regardless of who is playing receiver. However, that is simply not the case. Ray has never been fleet of foot and therefore requires a receiving corps that can read defences on the fly and get open quickly. Last year, Ray had the luxury of having Kelly Campbell as both a deep threat and an intermediate receiver. His loss will be felt keenly by the Esks. Kamau Petersen has become the quality receiver everyone hoped he would be early in his career. However, he can't do it alone. Fred Stamps can help but, unless Edmonton can find themselves another game breaker at receiver, it could be a long year for Ray and company. Arguably, the biggest question mark going into the 2009 campaign is whether Jesse Lumsden can stay healthy enough to put up the kind of numbers he's capable of. Make no mistake about it, Lumsden is the real deal and can change the course of a game with one downfield rumble but, unless he puts his injury woes behind him, the Esks will have to rely once again on Ray's arm to win ball games. The Eskimoes will be wise to pick up where they left off last year with the utilization of Calvin McCarty. A capable running back, McCarty's real strength lies in his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. McCarty's penchant for making big runs after catching swing, dump and flat passes single-handedly won Edmonton games last year.
Glen Suitor's Defensive Analysis: Of all the teams in the CFL, the Esks have likely made the most changes in the off-season on the defensive side of the ball, starting with their new head coach Richie Hall, who was the defensive coordinator in Saskatchewan for the last eight years. Hall will change the design of the defence, the attitude and has spent an off-season changing the personnel. The two biggest off-season additions should be Kitwana Jones and Maurice Lloyd who, along with Anton McKenzie, were the heart and soul of the Saskatchewan defence last year. Former Ticat Ryan Glasper will likely be pencilled in to take Shannon Garrett's spot at linebacker and in the secondary, Hall likes to go with a Canadian at safety, which was why Scott Gordon was signed. The Esks may take a few games to jell, but the day they signed their new head coach was the day they instantly improved on defence.
Duane Forde's Canadian Content: With slotback Kamau Peterson, who was the CFL's Most Outstanding Canadian in 2008, and running backs Jesse Lumsden and Calvin McCarty, the Eskimos will rely on non-imports for offensive production more than any team in recent memory. Last season, Peterson and McCarty were the CFL's third busiest pass catching duo, combining for 171 receptions. What's more impressive is that they made Edmonton the only team in the league whose top two receivers were Canadian. Adding Lumsden, who averaged over seven yards per carry in two years as Hamilton's feature back, clearly gives the Esks the most potent offensive trio of Canucks in the CFL. Other key non-imports on the Edmonton roster include O-Linemen John Comiskey and Patrick Kabongo, and free safety Scott Gordon, who replaces jettisoned middle linebacker Augie Barrenechea as the lone Canadian starter on defence.
Chris Schultz's Overview: For the Eskimos, success is as simple as a solid 18-game performance from RB Jesse Lumsden and a progressive improvement scale of accomplishment from each and every player. Because if those first two priorities are created, the third will fall into place and that is the calm, cool and collected Ricky Ray winning the close games. The first two conditions are unknowns but the third I would bet on every time. More...
What Makes Them Good? Richie Hall finally gets his chance to be a head coach and will provide solid defensive schemes. And bringing over former Rider defenders Lloyd, Gordon and Jones should expedite the improvement.
What Makes Them Vulnerable? The running game that has struggled in recent years is now in the hands of injury-prone Jesse Lumsden. What if he gets hurt again?
Coach Hall Says... "There will be a lot of decisions that are tough decisions, and that's what you want, because if they're easy decisions that means they haven't impressed, they haven't performed to the level they need to perform at." - Edmonton Journal
2008 Team Leaders
||Kelly Campbell, 7
||Kamau Peterson, 1,315
||A.J. Harris, 557
||Agustin Barrenechea, 67
||Dario Romero, 6
Brandon Guillory, 6
Jim Davis, 6
|Jason Goss, 5
2009 Draft Picks