Well, that sucked.
For the first time since 2007, the Montreal Alouettes lost their home opener. But losses happen and nothing is guaranteed in the Canadian Football League, as the Als came up short versus the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The match was considered by many as a defensive showcase as Montreal’s D gave the Bombers fits while the normally dominant Anthony Calvillo was constantly flustered by Winnipeg’s defense.
There are some very telling numbers about this game, but these ones stand out in particular: 7, 5, 3. Not just prime and odd numbers, these numbers signify largely why each of these teams now have a record of 1-1.
7: That’s how many time Anthony Calvillo was sacked this past Thursday. SEVEN. It doesn’t matter that AC has found the fountain of youth and is playing a game that most men his age can’t play any more. If you take any 40 year old man and have him thrown down to the ground by a jacked-up monster, he’s not getting up that easily. But seven times? That is simply unacceptable.
5: That’s how many turnovers this Alouettes defense forced from Winnipeg. No question that Noel Thorpe’s teachings are paying off in spades with this group. They say defense wins championships, but you still gotta put the points on the board when you get gifts like these. And how many points did the Alouettes get off of all these turnovers?
3: THREE POINTS. The Alouettes only managed three points from all of those aforementioned turnovers. In fairness there should have also been a touchdown added to those three points, but apparently Kyries Hebert was down by contact before scoring on his fumble recovery in the third quarter.
I watched the replay of that several times and found no possible reason for the command centre in Toronto to overturn the original call of a touchdown. It was also my understanding that the video evidence had to be conclusive in order to overturn a call, which the footage shown on TSN failed to do for me.
But it’s ultimately the league’s call to make and you cannot allow that one call to dictate the remainder of the game. That touchdown still would not have spelled instant victory for Montreal.
Despite the never say die attitude and last ditch efforts by the Alouettes to try to win this game, there’s still some concerns that need to be addressed.
I’m at a loss for words in regards to this offensive line; their job for years has been to give Calvillo time to release the ball and protect him from defenders, end of story. A job they understood and did very well in the Marc Trestman era.
Two games in and they have been nothing short of porous. We can joke all we want about Buck Pierce getting injured constantly but if AC keeps getting sacked with this frequency, there’s no way he will last this season.
Coaches Dan Hawkins and Mike Miller are introducing new plays that are meant to open up the offense and take major risks, leaving Calvillo more vulnerable at the same time . There is a time for adjustment to any new offense, but I daresay protecting your #1 asset should be a priority above all else. While I will remain certain that Hawkins will address these concerns, I only hope it is done sooner rather than later.
At the end of the day it’s just one game and technically, the Alouettes are in a three-way tie for first in the East. But when you have a defense that really is firing on all cylinders and a special teams unit that is slowly but surely making headway, it’s very tough to see practically every offensive series turn into a 2 and out. And with a home and home series versus a very strong Calgary team looming, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.
Unlike the fair-weather fans who bolted for the exits with 6 minutes to go (and who missed a great touchdown by S.J. Green!), I remain faithful that this is a mere hiccup and that these issues will be fixed post-haste.
One bright spot was the return of Brandon Whitaker to the lineup. Felled last year with an ACL injury, there was doubt in the off-season that he would even return to Montreal. But a clean bill of health along with a solid training camp gave fans hope that #2 would be returning to the Alouettes’ fold much sooner than anticipated.
I got to speak with Brandon after Thursday’s game and I can tell that it had to be a huge relief for him to finally be out there on the field. He had said that getting over that mental block of testing his repaired knee in action was a major concern for him.
But from where I sat, he showed shades of the Brandon we all know. It was only 2 years ago that Whitaker led the CFL in rushing yards, so we know he’s got the ability to dominate in this league.
Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson had ACL surgery before the last NFL season and came back with a vengeance, shattering rushing records in his wake. If the man they call 2-Way can replicate just a fraction of that same excellence here in Montreal, us Alouettes fans will be sitting pretty.
As usual, the fan experience at Molson Stadium is second to none. Getting 22, 000+ out on a Thursday night for some great football action is certainly no small feat, especially with the constant traffic nightmares that run rampart in Montreal’s downtown core.
At the game, I was also very excited to try out the new Montreal Alouettes app for smartphones. Loaded with tons of information, stats and other great tidbits, the Alouettes are committed to being at the forefront of digital fan interaction.
Montreal may not have been the first team to explore this medium but they have really made a special tool for fans to enhance their gameday experience. Download it now for Iphone and Android smartphones. For more info, head over to the Montreal Alouettes web site.
That’s all for now. Keep the faith, Alouettes Nation. This team is far too talented to give up on. These issues are solvable and they will be figured out.
GO ALS GO!!!
About the Author
Written by Clifford Pine
Montreal born & bred, lover of sports. Passionate about the Montreal Alouettes. Also a great cook & not too bad a dancer.