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If Jason Maas has indeed been coaching from a cliff over the last half of the Edmonton Eskimos season, then all that’s left now, following Sunday’s loss in the East Division final, is the cliff.
As for the coaching part, the head coach who led the Eskimos to the divisional-final round every time they made the playoffs three out of the last four seasons, still has another year left on his contract.
Whether he will have a chance to see it through or not remains to be seen.
While the Eskimos have gone 39-33 in the regular season and 3-3- in the playoffs under Maas’s guidance, crossing over to the East Division twice in that span, they haven’t exactly challenged in their own.
In 2016, they finished fourth at 10-8 and crossed over.
In 2017, they finished third at 12-6 and travelled for both playoff games.
In 2018, they finished last and missed playoffs in a year where Edmonton was hosting the Grey Cup.
And this season, Maas’s only losing record of 8-10 ended up being enough to cross over once again with a fourth-place finish.
“Ultimately, you are evaluated on where you end up and what your record is and, being candid, 8-10 for this organization isn’t good enough,” said Eskimos general manager Brock Sunderland, who has stuck with Maas since taking over football operations in Edmonton ahead of the 2017 season. “We all need to get better. So you know, we strive to be better than what we were. Even though we won a playoff game and got to a final, which is good, the season itself, we all wish it would have gone better. And that includes me.
“So we’re all going to do everything we can to improve and make sure that 2020 goes different for us in the regular season.”
It doesn’t take reading between the lines to see the one thing missing has been a home playoff game, something earned only through consistency over the entire regular season – and something the Eskimos have hosted just three times since Maas last played for the club in 2010.
“I think every year you want to be playing a championship game, you but you want to ultimately win those championship games to get to a Grey Cup. “We were capable winning one playoff game, we’ve shown that three years that we’ve been in the playoffs out of four. We’d like to be better in the in the regular season so we’re maybe hosting a game so it’s only one win it takes to get to a Grey Cup.
“That’s obviously the easier path, but that doesn’t always mean you’re going to get to a Grey Cup. I mean, Sask., hosted the game and they’re not in it right now, either. So ultimately, we need to we need to be better. There’s no question about that. But to be in championship games, that’s what you play football season for, is to be able to get to that point and our team, the last three or four years has been able to do that. We just got to get to the next step.”
Ask Maas, and he won’t hesitate to point out the only place he wants to be is the same city where he spent the majority of his playing career and later returned to become a head coach for the first time.
“I don’t control my future. I mean, I know what I signed up for. I know I have another year left on my contract,” Maas said. “I think everyone that knows me knows I’m an Edmonton guy. I’ve lived here for over 20 years. My family lives here. I love Edmonton. I love coaching here. I chose to come back to Edmonton even though I had a very good thing going somewhere else that I was very proud of and happy to be.
“Edmonton drew me back here and nothing over the last four years has changed my mind whatsoever of wanting to be here. I want to be here but that’s not my decision and that’s not something I think about. So I let the guys who have to make that decision make it and I respect the organization enough to deal with it and live with it whichever way it goes”
On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge
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