We’re not out of the fire yet, Alouettes Nation….but at least some water’s been thrown on it.
Through sheer will and perseverance, the Montreal Alouettes managed to hang on for their first home win of the season, beating the Edmonton Eskimos 32-27 in a game that literally took all 60 minutes to play.
Mike Reilly survived the quarterback carousel and engineered a last minute drive that took Edmonton all the way to Montreal’s goal line. But time was not their friend and the vaunted Montreal D stood tall to secure a 2-3 record for the Alouettes heading into the bye week.
Brandon Whitaker has completely shaken off the injury rust and had himself a stellar game, with over 200 all-purpose yards and a rushing TD. And despite a fumble that lead to an Eskimos touchdown, he became the elixir to Montreal’s passing issues.
If the passing game isn’t working, you hand the ball to your running back! Maybe, just maybe offensive coordinator Mike Miller is starting to get it. But fans missing the Marc Trestman era did see one staple of that particular time frame this past Thursday; leaving extra points on the field. In that regard, thank goodness for the steady foot of Sean Whyte.
After a week of practice that included having former Eskimos/Stampeders punter Burke Dales work out with the Alouettes coaching staff, Whyte clearly had a chip on his shoulder. I’m sure with each of his six, count ‘em SIX field goals scored, he had to feel more and more vindicated. But perhaps Whyte’s finest moment came in the fourth quarter.
Whyte’s had his issues with punting this season, but last Thursday he successfully pinned Edmonton with a fantastic punt that looked to go into the end zone for a single point, but was marked down at Edmonton’s 2 yard line. It was contentious enough of a call for Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed to throw his challenge flag.
Had Reed’s challenge been successful, Edmonton would be playing from much better field position despite conceding a point to Montreal. But the CFL command centre reviewed and stood by the referees’ initial call and Whyte was able to add another feather to his cap, proving that the Alouettes don’t need to concern themselves with finding another punter or kicker.
This game featured some questionable decisions from each head coach; Hawkins’ refusal to allow a backup QB to dive forward on a goal line attempt was questionable, to say the least. I can understand not subjecting his running back to possible injury, but surely allowing a fullback like Patrick Lavoie or Ryan Bomben to take the snap and rumble in would work just as well.
Having third string QB Tanner Marsh take a snap, just to hand off to Whitaker and be stymied at the goal line felt like a lateral move at best offensively.
But Kavis Reed seemingly had no confidence is any of his quarterbacks; at one point all three of Edmonton’s quarterbacks had taken at least one snap. Was it mind games or an inability to decide who was better suited to face Montreal’s defense? Reilly was picked off twice, hence the initial concern. But his backup Johnathan Crompton wasn’t much better, also getting picked off.
Between that, losing the challenge of the spot of Whyte’s coffin corner punt (which cost a timeout that would have been useful later on) and the poor clock management on that final drive to Montreal’s goal line to end the game, there’s plenty of concern if you are an Eskimos fan.
They have the talent and Reilly is still a strong candidate to be the quarterback of the future in Edmonton. But this game’s decisions, combined with a 1-4 record and the video of his post-game “Consequences” rant stealing attention, I’d be a bit concerned regarding the head coach of this Eskimos team.
But we Alouettes fans should be happy with the win, no? Absolutely. However, a 2-3 record is nothing to crow about. There’s still a lot of work to do.
This offense is still not clicking the way it really should. S.J. Green is getting attention and deservedly so, but you have top flight receivers like Brandon London and Arland Bruce III that are barely registering on the radar. Jamel Richardson is finally awakening from his slumber as well, so there’s certainly no shortage of talent for Mike Miller to work with.
During this bye week, the coaching staff needs to focus on what happened during these past five games and build from it. It wasn’t all negative; Alouettes fans have simply gotten used to winning hard and fast.
For this team to be the plucky underdog, making the comeback just doesn’t fit. The Alouettes have always been dominant, pushing teams around and building what should be insurmountable leads.
This is a transition year for Montreal; new coach, new philosophy. It took time for the Trestman era to click and it took time for the Don Matthews era to click. On that note, it will obviously take time for the Hawkins era to build that same momentum. But we fans have to see some sort of serious progress.
The Alouettes will lose more games this season, that’s to be expected. They may even have to squeak into the playoffs. But taking a hard look at this CFL Eastern division, there’s nothing to suggest that any one team will explode and dominate the division. For a team like Montreal, that bodes well. It will allow the Alouettes’ coaching staff some time to come up with the winning formula.
So once again, let’s keep the faith. As frustrating as it has been, I have faith that this staff will get it down pat and put together a winning season. Next Thursday’s game versus Toronto will be the first of many tests for this Alouettes team.
I’ll be back later this week, there’s no bye for The ALSternative. Be sure to stay tuned.
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.