I thought I had a hard time trying to write my previous column, as I didn’t think yesterday’s game would be interesting. But trying to explain what did transpire has proved to be even more difficult.
The Montreal Alouettes had a chance to even their season record and add to the misery of the Saskatchewan Roughriders but they failed to do so, losing 33-21 to the Green Riders. Montreal played such a poor first half of football that you would have been hard-pressed to believe that they weren’t the team that came into the game with a 1-11 season record.
It was truly an embarrassment for Alouettes fans to have to sit and watch; it had been some time since I have seen such a deplorable first half of football. Between the questionable play calls and the ridiculous penalties taken, there’s no question that this entire coaching staff has to take 100% responsibility for this putrid effort in Regina.
When he was quarterbacking for the Alouettes, Anthony Calvillo didn’t like calling his own plays. Based on what he sent out, I’m wondering if that trait has carried on into his coaching career. I have no idea what his thought process was for the plays he had set up for Jonathan Crompton, as there was literally nothing working at all. And yet he sent his young charge out there to do the exact same thing over and over again.Whatever sort of offense Calvillo and Ryan Dinwiddle are trying to cook up, it’s certainly not designed for Crompton’s skill set.
This was my biggest concern when it came to promoting the former QBs to co-anchor this offense; it’s too much, too soon. I can’t help but feel like Calvillo was calling plays as though he himself is the one looking to make the pass. And he’s not. Jonathan Crompton is no Anthony Calvillo by any stretch of the imagination, so why give him plays that essentially ask him to be?
What happened to the short, concise passes that chipped away at Winnipeg last week? Why not put Crompton’s mobility to good use? Heaven help me for saying this, but where were the fly sweeps to Sam Giguere that seemed to work so well all of a sudden? (The 2014 version of me would be wringing my neck for even suggesting this play call!)
Another head-scratcher was the absurd amount of penalties that Montreal committed throughout this game. The offensive line alone accounted for 25% of the Alouettes’ penalties! The defense wasn’t much better as they too committed some ill-advised moves that cost valuable yardage. I know Head Coach Jim Popp likes his teams to play with an edge and not be pushovers, but this was a complete lack of discipline and it certainly benefited the Riders more often than not.
After that first half from hell, Popp had seen enough of JC and put Rakeem Cato in at QB to start the second half. Unfortunately during his second series, Cato was picked off and it was returned for a touchdown by Macho Harris, who managed to land a hat trick of interceptions on Montreal’s QB corps. By the time Cato got the offense settled down enough and started marching downfield to score, the damage had already been done.
Despite some late touchdowns by Tanner Marsh and Fred Stamps (his first of the season coming literally as the game clock hit 0:00!), Montreal’s attack simply couldn’t get anything going in time and the Riders ran roughshod over the Alouettes all day long. Kevin Glenn turned in a terrific performance and former Alouette Jerome Messam was an absolute beast, with 111 yards on the ground. His rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter was the bullet in the Alouettes’ temple.
Normally one can look at the game tape and say, “Well, at least the Alouettes defense came to play”. But yesterday, they had their lunch eaten for them by a very inspired Jacques Chapdelaine-led offense. The lone bright spot seemed to be the inspired play of Marc-Olivier Brouilette, who did recover a fumble as well as intercept a Kevin Glenn pass in the end zone.
One player who I’m deeply concerned about on D is Billy Parker. I’m seeing a pattern here with him and I don’t like it. He’s taken some pretty bad penalties this season that have shifted momentum AWAY from Montreal. Also, I’m seeing opposing QBs targeting him more when it comes to plays. He often seems to be a step behind his assigned receiver, especially in the red zone. So either Parker gets burned for a TD or gets linen tossed his way as he tries to defend.
Billy has always been such a clutch player in the secondary but now I’m wondering if this game is starting to pass him by. His veteran presence along with Jerald Brown’s are crucial to the continued development of the future Alouettes’ ball-hawks, but now I’m starting to see Parker as more of a liability when he’s on the football field.
Apparently defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe had to remind his troops that they had planned for everything that was happening yesterday this past week in practice. But I don’t think they expected such a varied attack from the Riders. Kevin Glenn and Jerome Messam really kept this defense on its heels throughout the game.
Maybe Glenn had been through enough beatings from the Alouettes that he finally figured out how to properly plan for them. He really played a great game; it’s easy to see why people consider him to be the best insurance policy in the CFL at the quarterback position.
Now Montreal has to do like what they did after their lacklustre effort versus the BC Lions a few weeks ago; burn the game film and come out swinging for the next one. This team will have to have a very short memory because their next game is later this week versus the Ottawa RedBlacks, who were served some humble pie at home versus the Toronto Argonauts this past Saturday.
The RedBlacks hold two very close victories over the Alouettes this season and are looking for the series sweep, as well as distancing themselves from Montreal in the Eastern standings. Ottawa had to fight tooth and nail just to edge out the Roughriders last weekend and they had no answer for the Argos, so this game is definitely up for grabs.
Montreal will hit the practice field on Tuesday and then hit the 417 highway towards the nation’s capital to play on Thursday. If Montreal lost yesterday’s game because they were instead looking ahead to this divisional match, then they really better be prepared to win.
Do your best to purge this one from the memory banks, Alouettes Nation. This team still holds a crossover playoff spot. On to the next one, as they say.
GO ALS GO!!!