Amazingly, these Alouettes are still tied for first place!
Last Friday saw a slightly more inspired effort from the Montreal Alouettes, but the same result as once again this team tried to play plucky underdog and failed, dropping a 22-14 decision at home to the Calgary Stampeders.
The much maligned offense came out with shades of the previous regime, scoring a touchdown early. But once again subsequent efforts came up short and the Alouettes defense had to keep this team afloat.
Incredibly, Montreal’s special teams has stepped up; they even managed to block a punt and return it for a touchdown! It’s clear that defense and special teams are pulling their weight. So who’s to blame for this year’s offensive woes?
It’s easy to blame Anthony Calvillo’s age as a reason. It’s also easy to give a ton of grief to the offensive line, whose job is to give AC the chance to throw the ball. The receivers surely can’t catch balls that aren’t thrown to them. So who gets the blame for this 1-2 record?
They say the captain has to go down with the ship and this particular ship has two captains: Head Coach Dan Hawkins and Offensive Coordinator Mike Miller. Thankfully, no one can win the Grey Cup in July. But when you come out of the gate like this, you can certainly lose it in July.
As a fan, it’s a bit disconcerting to listen to Hawkins’ weekly radio show this past Sunday and hear him talk about going over the basics with this football team. I believe the quote was, “Before we learn the tricks of the trade, we have to learn the trade.” Um, what?
He does realize that the lion’s share of these players have played professional football for a number of years, right? I would think this team, which has a number of Grey Cup winners, HAVE the trade down pat. If you’re now of the opinion of trying to simplify things to a college level, you’re in trouble.
The CFL is a different animal than both the NFL and NCAA football. Obviously, both of these coaches are still learning the nuances of the Canadian game. But if this truly is the mindset, then perhaps this team’s GM needs to find a coordinator that is aptly versed in the current incarnation of the CFL.
Mike Miller certainly has had experience in getting the most out of a lacklustre receiving corps when he was in Arizona. At the time, his hire gave me confidence that with the talented WRs available in Montreal, he’d seemingly step in and augment them to another level. That confidence has certainly been shattered.
At this rate, no one is going to get 1000 yards receiving and without proper protection, this will be AC’s last season. And it won’t be the heroic farewell tour he deserves, but rather a shell of his former self. And Calvillo deserves better than that.
So what now? How will these coaches overcome this adversity? It is still early in the season and one only has to look at the 2011 B.C. Lions for proof that it’s not how you start, but how you finish. They started that season 0-5 but finally got their act together and ended up winning the Grey Cup.
I am still willing to keep the faith. I’ve said on numerous occasions that this team is far too talented to just roll over and die. And quite frankly, the rest of the Eastern division is nothing to write home about. If Montreal’s defense/special teams can continue playing strong and the offense gets back on track, they will be a force to contend with.
Last night came the news that veteran guard Scott Flory will miss the remainder of this season with a torn bicep. And at 37, there’s the possibility that Flory has worn the blue, red & silver for the last time.
No player wants an injury to be the reason that they stop playing football. And no reserve player eagerly lies in wait and hopes for the starter to go down, but that is the situation Kristian Matte is now in. When Flory went down during the game last week, Matte stepped in and did not look out of place.
It will now be up to someone like Matte, Ryan Bomben or Anthony Barrette to assume Flory’s spot in the lineup. If a blessing can be found in this, sometimes it takes these situations to determine who will be the heir apparent of a position.
In 2010, veteran center Bryan Chiu decided to call it a career. Assuming the role was Paul Lambert who snapped the ball to Calvillo until he was felled by, coincidentally enough, a torn bicep. Without that injury, a youngster from the Universite de Laval would have never been able to come in and become a stalwart on the Alouettes’ vaunted all-Canadian O-Line. That young man’s name? Luc Brodeur-Jourdain.
So while this injury to a beloved veteran like Flory is a shame, this is the opportunity that either Matte, Bomben or Barrette (all non-imports, by the way) will have to take advantage of. And like LBJ, one of them may well find their groove and become the next great player that this team needs to succeed.
This Saturday’s game is in Calgary, where the Alouettes have not been able to win since Opening Day 2009. Calgary’s going through some injury issues, but are fortunate to have Kevin Glenn at quarterback. Glenn has had a major chip on his shoulder as he was destined this season to be the perennial backup to Drew Tate.
But once again Tate is felled by injury, especially after I predicted that he would have a breakout comeback season (Reason #1814 why I don’t do predictions!). Glenn nearly stole a game from the Alouettes at home last season and subsequently led the Stampeders to the 100th Grey Cup game. So no one should be surprised at his level of play as of late.
And let’s not forget Brad Sinopoli, the former QB turned receiver who had himself a stellar game versus the Als. With his play and noted Alouettes foe Nik Lewis in the lineup, this upcoming match will be another tough road to hoe for this Montreal team.
That’s all for now. Keep #57 in your thoughts as he undergoes his surgery; hopefully he will be able to return and not let this injury determine the rest of his career.
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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.