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Dirty Bird Blog: 2011-12 Off-Season Thoughts Part 1

Posted By Clifford Pine On Dec 14 2011 @ 3:29 pm In Montreal Alouettes | No Comments

It’s been almost a month since the B.C. Lions won the Grey Cup. The 2012 CFL season is a long ways away but based on the off-field action going on now, it looks to make it a season to remember.

- I guess it was foolhardy to expect Scott Milanovich to stick around and wait to see if Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman was going to go south after next season. Milanovich has had head coaching aspirations for a while now and with the number of vacancies available, it seemed to be the right time for him to jump ship.

Going to coach the Toronto Argonauts was a stab in the heart for Alouettes fans; not only won’t he supplement Trestman and a team he’s helped create these past few years, but now will be going to a Eastern division rival. With this hire (plus the subsequent hiring of Als’ O-Line coach Jonathan Himebauch & Stampeders DC Chris Jones to assist him) and the blockbuster trade to acquire Ricky Ray, the Argos are pushing all their chips to the middle of the table in hopes of appearing in the 2012 Grey Cup in Toronto.

In my opinion, these are great long-term moves for the Argos. But can it all come together in less than a year to achieve that aforementioned Grey Cup dream? Only time will tell. Milanovich certainly has his work cut out for him.

- Rather than play musical chairs with other teams and hiring their retreads, the Alouettes simply promoted in-house to replace their departed OC. Receivers coach Marcus Brady will now handle the duties that Milanovich had and will now be given the chance to show his ability to create offensive excitement. Brady helped get players like Jamel Richardson & S.J. Green to the elite level they are at now.

Still a young man, Brady has been with this Alouettes organization for a number of years as a player and now as a coach. He will also get the benefit of an established head coach tutoring him and a top-quality quarterback to carry out his plays.

- Speaking of that top-quality quarterback, Anthony Calvillo has decided that his last CFL game will not be a heart-breaking loss at home to Hamilton. He will be back for at least one more year to lead the Alouettes on the field. Which means that Adrian McPherson will have to wait one more year if he wants to lead this Montreal team full-time. It appears that may be asking too much of him as reports have come out that he’s apparently asked Alouettes GM Jim Popp to see what options are there for a trade to a team in need of a full-time starting quarterback.

As frustrating as it must be for him, I sincerely hope he exercises just a little more patience with the team. This is the ideal scenario for him; the old guy is almost done and seems to be willing to properly groom him to take over. And when he does, he’d be taking over with an offensive co-ordinator that will work with him and develop plays to his strengths accordingly. 2013 would be his team 100% and it’d be a very strong talented team; the only kind Jim Popp knows how to build!

Adrian may not read this, but just in case he does, I hope he sees this part: This is your team. You will be the man and have the chance to prove it to everyone. There’s no question you can lead any CFL team to victory; why not make it the team who gave you the chance to come in with no pressure and let you develop and grow in the way that you have? Trust in this group and you won’t be sorry.

- One of the most interesting time periods of the off-season is the time between now and February 16th, when free agency begins. The Alouettes released a list of players that have the potential to be elsewhere unless their contracts are re-upped. Those names are:

Etienne Boulay, Marc-Olivier Brouillette,  Eric Deslauriers, Mark Estelle, Scott Flory, Jermaine McElveen, Jeff Robertshaw, Walter Spencer & Paul Woldu

I’m hoping that the team will make keeping Brouillette, McElveen,  Deslauriers & Estelle top priority. I’d add Boulay & Flory to the list, but Flory seems like a mere formality unless he chooses to retire. Boulay should be a formality too unless he’s still in Marc Trestman’s doghouse. Hopefully both will put this past season behind them and continue to work together for the greater good.

I’m a big fan of Woldu, but he’s a Saskatchewan-bred guy and could be tempted to play closer to home if the right opportunity came up. Robertshaw and Spencer were excellent on special teams in recent years, salary may dictate their futures. McElveen may also draw interest from the NFL and his lack of playing time last year led him to become disenfranchised. He’s well-respected by his teammates, who came to his defense many times. If the NFL isn’t interested, hopefully he’ll come back and be the defense’s top star.

I’ll be curious to see if Kerry Watkins returns after suffering injuries and having a less than stellar season. With the emergence of Brandon London in his place and youngsters like Bo Bowling & Rashaud Slaughter looking for playing time as well, we may have seen the last of #81 in an Alouettes uniform.

- It took long enough, but the Alouettes’ online store is now up and running at their web site [1].  Lots of goodies on there so if you’re stuck for last-minute gift suggestions for the Alouettes fan on your list, head on over and stock up.

That’s all for now. In case I don’t report back here, have a safe & happy holiday and here’s hoping for a return to glory in 2012!


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