Edmonton Eskimos general manager Ed Hervey doesn’t live by the saying ‘we win as a team and lose as a team.’
Following the Eskimos’ 37-34 loss to the Calgary Stampeders at Commonwealth Stadium two weeks ago, Hervey threw his offensive line under the bus for his team’s dreadful 1-8 start to the season.
“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,” he said.
“Our offensive line needs to improve and needs to improve fast.”
While talking about his offensive line, he gave Matt O’Donnell, Alexander Krausnick, and Thaddeus Coleman some slack by saying they have shown promise. He wasn’t as sympathetic for Simeon Rottier, though.
“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.”
So why not cut Rottier if he’s such a liability? Well, Hervey explained he can’t because he’s apparently the only option he has as a capable Canadian guard.
“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.
Hervey did inherit Rottier from his predecessor, Eric Tillman. He didn’t, however, cut him in training camp when he had the chance. Therefore, he should take some of the responsibility for Rottier’s lack of effort and/or ability because he had the chance to take him off Edmonton’s depth chart. If he couldn’t see in the offseason that he needed to upgrade the guard position, that isn’t Rottier’s fault - the onus is on Hervey for his lack of ability to evaluate talent.
The league gave Hervey a warning that he can’t ostracize his players as he did with Rottier.
Usually these rants come from coaches because they are the ones actually on the field with the players. It’s quite unusual for a GM to essentially go over the head of his head coach to blast the players to the media. But Hervey claimed he is on the same page as head coach Kavis Reed.
“He (Reed) feels the same way I do,” he said.
The day after Hervey’s rant, he tried to play it off as what he said is a part of the game because football is a tough sport.
“The reality is that professional football, though enjoyable, is a hard, cruel business, one in which we must produce or be replaced,” Hervey said to the Edmonton Journal. “We’re not here to be buddies and have picnics and relax, we’re here to win football games.”
There is no denying football is a ‘hard and cruel business.’ But that doesn’t have anything to do with Hervey’s selfish rant. Instead of keeping his emotions in check and doing things the right way, Hervey made it very clear that the Eskimos are an every-man-for-himself kind of team. This type of attitude in upper management can rip apart a dressing room. After all, how can Hervey expect his offensive line to have Reilly’s back if he doesn’t have his own players’ backs?
Hervey went onto tell the Edmonton Journal that he felt the timing was right for his speech.
“Now that the NFL scouting (work) has come to an end, and we’re at the mid-point of the season, I felt this was the right time to make a statement,” Hervey said. “Especially coming off another disappointing loss.
Sometimes harsh rants are necessary to wake some players up. It shows them that the organization they play for won’t stand for a country club atmosphere. However, the media is no way to professionally relay the message. It has to be done in the room with the doors closed.
In the Eskimos rematch with the Stampeders this week, the proof was in the pudding that Hervey’s speech didn’t help his club as they lost 22-12.
It’s uncertain what’s the next step for the Eskimos. The consensus is Reed is on the hot seat for his questionable play calling. But regardless of whom the head coach is, it will be a challenge to get the team to gel with the general manager creating an every-man-for-himself attitude.