EDMONTON — Edmonton Eskimos general manager Ed Hervey lit into his 1-8 football team Tuesday, and announced he has reached past his coaching staff to indefinitely bench underperforming offensive lineman Simeon Rottier.
Hervey told reporters he will not longer sit quietly by and watch star quarterback Mike Reilly get slammed, drilled, hammered, and rag-dolled after every throw.
“I’m done watching it,” Hervey told a news conference at Commonwealth Stadium, a day after Reilly was sacked seven times in the team’s 37-34 loss to the Calgary Stampeders.
“I’ve had enough.”
Hervey said he met with head coach Kavis Reed after the game to discuss the changes, which include a new play-caller on offence, but when asked about Rottier said, “There was no room for negotiation on this one.
“Our football team is going to rest on the shoulders of how healthy and how much success Mike Reilly has. We have to protect him to give ourselves a chance.
“Our offensive line needs to improve and needs to improve fast,” he said, adding that changes are coming to the line.
He said while linemen like Matt O’Donnell, Alexander Krausnick, and Thaddeus Coleman have shown promise, he has lost patience with Rottier.
“The majority of my frustration has been with Simeon,” he said.
“Clearly Simeon is not living up to expectations. It wouldn’t bother me if he didn’t play another down this year.”
Why not trade him or release him?
“You know non-import offensive linemen. You’ve got to hold onto them. The ratio,” he said referring to rules demanding a portion of the roster go to either players born in Canada or who spent a significant portion of their childhood here.
You want to hold onto a guy you don’t want to play?
“I’ve got to hold onto him. You change the rules and I’ll change that.”
Rottier and Reed were not available for comment as Tuesday was an off-day prior to Friday’s rematch with the Stampeders at Commonwealth Stadium.
Rottier, 29, was signed as a free from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in February 2012. The six-foot-six 295-pound guard is from Westlock and played college ball at the University of Alberta.
The Eskimos are off to their worst start since they went 1-10 in 1971, and are on track to finish last in the West Division for the sixth time in the past eight seasons.
Hervey said they’re too deep into the season where replacing coaches would make sense, but said when the 2013 campaign is done, “Everyone is on notice.”
He said other changes are coming, starting with new a play-caller on offence. Those duties had been handled by offensive co-ordinator Doug Sams.
While not identifying Sams by name, Hervey said, “I’ve been very disappointed with some of the play-calling at critical times.”
Hervey said on third down short-yardage situations he wants the offence to plow straight ahead and not try anything fancy.
On the other side of the ball, he said, “I would rather our defence be on the attack, but again, you let the co-ordinators co-ordinate and do their thing.
“I would rather the defence be turned loose and go after the quarterback and let these guys play to their ability versus trying to learn something and be restricted.”
While Rottier was the only player Hervey singled out by name, other veiled criticisms of his team slipped out.
When asked about an ineffective run game, he said, “You have to call the run plays (first), right?”
“You actually have to have find balance,” he said. “That’s where we talk about the play calling, where we eliminate being predictable.”
When asked to critique the secondary, he said: “When you’re off (the line of scrimmage by) 12 yards, you’re going to give up 12 yards.”
Hervey is in his first season as general manager after a distinguished career as an Edmonton wide receiver followed by four years as head scout.
He dismissed suggestions from reporters that he was micromanaging the team or undercutting Reed’s authority.
“He (Reed) feels the same way I do,” said Hervey.
And Hervey suggested that if he is undercutting Reed’s authority, so what?
“I’m not really worried about (whether) anyone feels like their legs were cut from under them, because this business is about accountability,” he said.
“I will improve this football team regardless of who I have to go through to get there.”