Last Season: 7-11, 4th in the West (Missed Playoffs)
There are a lot of questions regarding the Edmonton Eskimos entering the 2011 season, and it's not all about the on-field product. The Eskimos have a new General Manager in Eric Tillman (who was hired near the end of last season) and a new Head Coach in Kavis Reed (who replaces the fired Richie Hall). Making changes to the two most important areas in the front office and coaching staff makes it look like Edmonton will be in a rebuilding mode in 2011.
The team also let go of a number of veteran players, such as Defensive Tackle Dario Romero, Receivers Kelly Campbell and Kamau Peterson, Linebacker Mo Lloyd, and return specialist Tristan Jackson.
Tillman spent most of the off-season concentrating on building up Edmonton's Canadian talent base. The Eskimos picked up Receiver Chris Bauman and Defensive Tackle Jermaine Reid from Hamilton and selected two solid players in the draft in Receiver Nathan Coehoorn and Offensive Tackle Scott Mitchell, as well as grabbing Defensive Tackle Ted Laurent in the supplemental draft.
One constant is Quarterback Ricky Ray. Ray is coming off one of his worst statistical seasons of his eight-year CFL career, and injuries and age might be catching up to him. In no way is Ray done, but his days as one of the league's top pivots might be coming to an end.
With all the changes, I think Edmonton will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs in 2011. The building blocks are there, but this team is at least another year away, maybe two. I expect the Eskimos to compete in every game, but wins will be few and far between. It will likely be another rough year for fans in the City of Champions.