Dirty Bird Blog: The Fog Has Lifted

“Relax, chill out. We’ve got lots of time. We’re not winning the Stanley Cup in the first exhibition game. It’s just the way it panned out. That’s why we have these games, to work things out. Not only myself, but the team. And not just our team, every team.”

– Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price after losing 4-2 in his first pre-season game of the 2010-11 season.

With apologies to Carey, I’d like to echo those same words (except change Stanley to Grey) to the Chicken Littles that are all in a panic after the 57-20 drubbing the Alouettes took against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to end the 2011 CFL pre-season.

Forget all the excuses like Hamilton played more of their starters for longer periods of time, a major fog came into Ivor Wynne Stadium, preseason games don’t matter, yadda yadda…At the end of the day Hamilton won, Montreal didn’t. Both teams went 1-1 in the pre-season.

But if you were to check out Twitter and other sports sites, you’d think the Tiger-Cats had just won the Eastern final five months before the game’s been played. Even Hamilton QB Kevin Glenn called this game “a statement win”.  I’d respectfully say that’s a tad premature.

If the Ti-Cats team that played yesterday is the one we’ll see all year, then they surely have reason to be excited. But the Alouettes team he played yesterday will not even be remotely close to the one that will be fielded later on. Montreal had 2 goals going into the game yesterday: get more looks at other players & come home healthy.  In that regard, mission accomplished.

Now comes the toughest part of the pre-season for the coaching staff: who stays and who goes. CFL teams have until Saturday at 3pm to deliver their final rosters. The Alouettes have a ton of talent that may end up on the outs just for the simple reason of there not being a place for them.

If I were to venture a guess, I think the RB situation will be as follows:  Brandon Whitaker followed by Emmanuel Marc.  I was underwhelmed with Yvenson Bernard’s play, however limited it was.  Rashaud Slaughter shows some potential for special teams & could do some running too, so I’m sure he’ll stick around.

Wide Receivers are pretty well set with the starting four of Jamel Richardson, Kerry Watkins, Brian Bratton & S.J. Green. Watkins’ injury will allow for the Alouettes to keep an extra receiver on tap and that bodes well for Brandon London & Bo Bowling’s chances of joining those elite WRs.

Sadly, I think the dropped potential TD by Prechae Rodriguez yesterday may have sealed his fate.  That was an easy 6 points that was left on the field & even Rodriguez himself was quoted as being lackadaisical in his attempt to catch that pass.  Not acceptable standards for a 2 time defending Grey Cup champion.

I’ll be curious to see if Montreal does retain both kickers from camp. Sean Whyte has been all but handed the starter’s job for the Als. Sandro DeAngelis wasn’t terrible, but Montreal has a lot more invested in Whyte, so he’ll get the nod.

So here’s hoping everyone who’s worried after last night takes the advice of Carey Price & chills out. If the Alouettes start the year 0-5, then we’ll panic. As for those Hamilton fans, I hope they had fun crowing over the win….beat Montreal on Labour Day by that same score, then we’ll talk.

As a side note, looks like Anwar Stewart is going to be recognized for his many years of charitable work in the Montreal area during the off-season at next Thursday’s home opener. The guy’s been a true warrior both on & off the field and a great ambassador for the Alouettes organization. Deserves a long standing ovation on the 30th for sure!