JONES:Eskimos kicker Sean Whyte having a career year and no one has noticed
Way back in 1972 when I first began covering the Edmonton Eskimos, Dave Cutler had the nickname “One Point” bestowed on him by linebacker Jerry Griffin because every time they sent him out to get three he came back with one.
But then, on Oct. 22, 1972, Cutler hit for a record six field goals in a game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Six! It was a big deal. I remember we ran a picture of each separate kick in the paper.
Now the Edmonton kicker, Sean Whyte, who has never had more than six in a game before, goes out and becomes the first Eskimo to kick seven — and then does it AGAIN a couple weeks later.
And there was no celebration.
Sean Whyte is having a career year and nobody has noticed.
The 33-year-old kicker who has been forced to not only do his own job but also take care of punting duties for Hugh O’Neill, has been damn near perfect and hasn’t exactly been overwhelmed by interview requests.
The Eskimos are 11 games into the season and Whyte already has 35 field goals. The team record is Cutler’s 50 from 1977.
Whyte needs to average 2.3 field goals a game and the record will be his.
Two more seven field-goal nights and another score-all-nine Edmonton points in the game like Monday in Calgary and that would get him there.
The league record is 60. Whyte needs 3.7 a game to beat that.
And to this point Sean Whyte’s career year hasn’t been a topic of conversation.
The problem, of course, is the reason Whyte has 36 field goals in 11 games.
He’s kicking all them because of the fact because the Eskimos offence keeps stalling on their way to the end zone.
Here’s a great stat unearthed by CFL numbers magician Steve Daniel.
Total drives resulting in scores (TDs or FGs) for Edmonton but with a split between which ones are touchdowns and which ones are field goals:
2018: 88. (52 TDs or 59 per cent, 36 FGs or 41 per cent)
2019: 58. (23 TDs or 40 per cent, 35 FGs or 60 per cent)
A lot has already been made of the Eskimos record in the red zone. But here’s more.
The Eskimos go into Saturday’s Labour Day rematch game against the Calgary Stampeders at 14 for 32 and eighth in the league.
But dig deeper into Daniels statistics and it illustrates why Whyte has 18 field goals to the three touchdowns produced by quarterback Trevor Harris with Jason Maas’ offence going 0-4 in the games against Winnipeg and Calgary.
The Eskimos record in the red zone versus Calgary is zero for three. Against Winnipeg it is zero for five.
That’s zero for eight against good teams and a respectable 14 for 24 against the others.
There’s a suggestion from a reader in Ottawa that “there are two Trevor Harris’s — one who is accurate, creative and successful outside the red zone and one who is stiff, predictable and alters his mechanics and telegraphs his plays inside the red zone resulting in field goal after field goal.”
And there is some evidence from last season in Ottawa to support that. Harris and the Redblacks ended up the same eighth in the CFL in the red zone.
But the year before they were second best in the entire league at a healthy 64.7 per cent.
And complicating any analysis on that front is the fact Ottawa and Edmonton run similar offensive systems and concepts.
Maybe it’s not head coach and play caller Maas. Maybe it’s not Harris. Maybe this particular set of receivers can’t get it done in the area they used to call pay dirt. Maybe the offensive line and blockers run out of gas with all the time-of-possession plays to get there.
The one guy wearing green and gold not to blame is No. 6, kicker Sean Whyte.