This was a complete and utter punch to the stomach.
Once again the Montreal Alouettes played hard and came close, but were snake-bitten yet again, falling to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers by a 24-16 score. Despite the defense stepping up and the offense looking a bit more cohesive, Montreal fell to 1-7 on the season and now sit tied for third with Ottawa, who they will play at Percival Molson Stadium this coming Friday.
This was a very difficult game to watch, as it seemed like nothing wanted to work offensively for either team. There’s been a trend of low-scoring games leading into halftime all over the CFL. Are defenses that good or are offenses just not clicking?
After one quarter of action, Alex Brink was replaced by Jonathan Crompton, who wasn’t perfect but did actually make some exciting plays happen. He threw for three interceptions but did a decent overall job in moving the ball and finding receivers. Much like Tanner Marsh, there’s some potential there and you can see that like Brink, Crompton is buying into whatever QB Coach Jeff Garcia is selling.
Despite some miscues and a lack of good luck, The Alouettes hung tough and nearly pulled off the win. But alas, the curse of the coach’s challenge once again destroyed any sliver of hope this Alouettes team had in winning the game.
Alouettes head coach Tom Higgins is in charge of two things of this team; Special teams and challenging the official’s rulings. His inability to command either of those two departments are the reason why this team not only lost this past Friday, but is probably not going to even make the playoffs barring a small miracle.
To watch this once proud team fall into further disarray is frustrating, to say the least. As I said last Friday night after the game, I can live with the losses and growing pains. What I can’t live with is a coach whose time has come and gone along with the ownership sticking by his side. Doing so at this point is cutting off your nose to spite your face.
I’ve tried to be patient as terrible decision after terrible decision is being made. But it’s clear based on his interviews and justifications of these coaching decisions of his that Higgins doesn’t really want to coach this Alouettes team any further. And after watching him throw away two very winnable games with his inability to properly adjust to the CFL game of 2014, I am imploring Jim Popp and the Wetenhall family to let Higgins leave. Don’t go away mad, just go away.
The players aren’t interested in playing for Higgins either. And why would they be when he tells the media things like, “I don’t have any solutions to fix this (offensive problems)” or “Thank God at least we play in the Eastern division!”. Or when he refers to his starting quarterback (Brink) as a “journeyman” then backpedals to say that a team can “win games with a journeyman”. A coach is supposed to inspire and motivate their team. How the heck is this supposed to motivate anyone?
It’s clear that any semblance of the Marc Trestman era has vanished into the wind, as accountability is practically non-existent. And to be clear, simply rehashing relics from the past aren’t going to fix things.
Jeff Garcia seems to have gotten through to the quarterbacks. Turk Schonert is slowly getting his receivers back on track. And maybe, just maybe Ryan Dinwiddie is a play or two away from creating that dynamic offense that has been sorely lacking this season. So that leaves Higgins, who must still think it’s 2003 and is searching the sidelines for Ricky Ray or Jason Maas to lead his team to victory.
The Alouettes desperately need a head coach who can adapt to the CFL of 2014. Ideally, either Garcia or Noel Thorpe will take over the reigns and allow the slow progression of having either Anthony Calvillo or Ben Cahoon join this staff in 2015 as coaches as well.
Management put themselves in this mess with Higgins and hiring coaches late in the off-season, they can do what’s right and clean it up. Realistically, the Alouettes should be 4-4 right now and very much in competition for first place in the East, regardless of how dreadful the play of that division has been.
The next two games will be against Eastern opponents and those will be crucial as a crossover from the West seems imminent. Ottawa is struggling bad and Hamilton seems to be in the same boat as Montreal when it comes to being close but unable to finish off opponents. If the Alouettes are going to be one of those two eastern teams to make the playoffs they need to win SOME games, especially against teams like Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa.
The Alouettes’ new Signature Look jerseys were shown off today at CFB Bagotville near the Saguenay region of Quebec. I’ll also take a more detailed look at them later this week but I have to say upon first glance, they look pretty decent:
There’s a history behind the look and you can learn more about it from the Alouettes here. These jerseys are on sale now at cflshop.ca and will surely be available at the Zone Rouge kiosks on game days.
The team will officially debut the jerseys on the field for the Sept.7 game versus Hamilton and wear them again on Nov.2 versus Toronto.
Now to quit dwelling on the past and time to look forward. I’ll be back later this week for a preview of Friday’s game versus the Ottawa RedBlacks. There’s no free ticket promotion but with both of these teams at 1-7, there will be a guaranteed win on Friday night!
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.