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Dirty Bird Blog: Old Habits Die Hard

Posted By Clifford Pine On Sep 20 2011 @ 2:25 pm In Montreal Alouettes | 1 Comment

There’s no question that losing sucks. And when Montreal loses, I may not like it but I can actually live with that since any dreams of a perfect season ended on July 24th when the Alouettes lost to the RoughRiders at home. There’s really no shame in losing to the better team.

But what I can’t stand is when these losses come as a result of head-scratching decisions. To wit;

This past Sunday, Montreal was down by 2 points with a 1:25 to go in the 4th quarter and the ball marked close to midfield. I had actually tweeted that this was the kind of situation Anthony Calvillo built his legend on. I had every confidence that despite the case of “the drops” that plagued Jamel Richardson all day, our hero AC would move the ball down cl0se enough for the sure-footed Sean Whyte to kick the game-winning field goal.

First & 10: AC completes a pass to Brandon London for an eight yard gain. Looking good so far.

Second & 2: AC fires a bullet to Jamel Richardson but he is tangled up with Winnipeg’s Alex Suber with some VERY tight coverage. Incomplete pass. Still one more chance to get that crucial first down. No punting here, it’s all or nothing.

Third & 2:  Calvillo takes the snap. But first, a pop quiz:

You have a great QB, a usually sure-handed set of receivers & the CFL’s league leader in rushing in your backfield but you only need 2 yards to get a first down in order to keep the drive alive. You:

A) Hand it off to your rushing leader who’s had 8 carries for 51 yards.

B) Enlist the help of your backup QB who averages 3 yards per carry in 3rd & short situations.

C) Throw it to the receiver who’s had problems catching the ball all day and is considered a major target for double coverage by the opposing defense.

I would have chosen A. Marc Trestman chose C. What’s really puzzling is how Trestman has admitted to not involving Brandon Whitaker more in the offense after the debacle in Hamilton. Numbers don’t lie; the Alouettes are undefeated when he has more than 10 carries. He’s got great speed and while not a punishing RB, he can still make it happen.

I fully admit I have never played any sort of football in my life nor coached it. My expertise comes strictly from watching football on my couch from the age of 12 onwards (For the record, had my high school had it’s football team still I would have gone out for it).  So please don’t construe this as me second-guessing the play-calling abilities of the man who steered this team to 2 straight Grey Cup championships.

But I do have a dearth of common sense and I would like to believe that Coach was watching the same game I was; that we have a stellar running back who could have prolonged the game for the Alouettes had his number been called. Sure, it’s possible that Whitaker could have been swallowed up by that Swaggerville D just as easily. But with Calvillo not clicking with his receiving corps in crunch time, what really did we have to lose? We didn’t need a deep threat to get to the end zone, we needed a field goal to win.

To his credit, Coach Trestman did accept 100% of the blame for not calling the right plays. Admirable in this “NOT ME” society, but the players are the ones responsible for making it happen. They didn’t and we lost a great opportunity to tie for 1st place with the resurgent Bombers. Now the Alouettes will have to play them 2 more times, both games played in Winnipeg where those fans will really make the atmosphere a difficult one.

I am eternally positive, but can’t help but think the Eastern Final will be played outdoors in Manitoba. Hopefully as the team practices this week, they focus on all these things and ready themselves for an Edmonton team that is looking to stay the course in the Western division.


I’ll be back this weekend after the game to expand upon the gameday experience of Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium; The last time the Alouettes played a game in that place, the results were pretty decent. Let’s hope it’s the same result.

Follow me on twitter [1] for live game tweets and all the fun before, during and after. If you’re an Alouettes fan in Edmonton, come join the party!


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