Last season, the Montreal Alouettes hosted the Ottawa RedBlacks to start the season. Injuries to key players, a pedantic offense and an inspired Ottawa team were all key elements in the Alouettes losing their first of many matches in 2015.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Last night, the Alouettes and RedBlacks faced off again for the Montreal home opener. And much like last year, we saw some injuries. We saw an inspired Ottawa team. And yes, we saw a bland, timid offense that made me wonder if the Alouettes re-hired Turk Schonert as offensive coordinator and forgot to tell us.
Losing 28-13, it was truly baffling to see this particular Montreal team play so poorly. Last week versus Winnipeg, the Als came away with a win and looked solid on all ends of the field. Versus the RedBlacks, they looked nothing like the team that played exactly one week previous. It was not the sort of performance you want to turn in when you have over 20,000 rabid fans in the stands on Canada Day weekend.
Kevin Glenn looked like a million bucks last week. This week, he seemed to run the same 5 plays over and over again, struggling to gain any momentum. If it wasn’t for the stout play of Nik Lewis, Glenn would have been in major trouble versus a Ottawa D that was simply on another level.
Forcing Glenn to overthrow on several occasions, this defense gave the grizzled pro all he could handle and then some. When Glenn did connect with his receivers, it was often highlight worthy. Lewis as stated, made some remarkable plays and kept Montreal competitive for the most part. He had to, as the Alouettes lost their top two receivers in the course of this game.
The injury bug bit Jonathan Crompton and Dan LeFevour last year when Montreal played Ottawa. This year, that same bug sank its claws into S.J. Green, who landed awkwardly on his knee in trying to make one of his dazzling catches. Despite saying he was fine yesterday after the match, tests revealed that his knee injury was indeed severe enough. Now on the 6 game injured list, the Alouettes are now without their best receiver for an extended period of time.
The Alouettes also lost another star receiver for the remainder of this game, but it was due to some questionable actions after scoring a touchdown. After KG found Duron Carter in the end zone during the third quarter, Carter was jubilantly celebrating and was a little too close to the Ottawa benches for comfort. He bumped into RedBlacks head coach Rick Campbell, causing the field boss to crumple to the ground as though he were shot. This led to a major brouhaha along the sidelines, with many punches thrown and players being pulled apart.
Carter was ejected from the game, as was Ottawa defender Jerrell Gavins who came to his coach’s defense and drilled Duron from behind with a closed fist. Upon further review of the entire scene from the moment where Carter scored, nothing looked good right from the hop.
When Carter caught the ball, he took a wicked shot to the head from Jermaine Robinson‘s lowered shoulder. While the optics weren’t good on first view of the ensuing melee, one has to wonder if Carter was concussed as a result of that head shot and was perhaps in a haze as he wandered towards the sideline. I’m not excusing the behaviour and in hindsight, Duron probably should have been better corralled by his teammates the moment he started ambling toward the Ottawa bench.
Talking to him after the match, Carter did seem genuinely regretful of what had happened. But he’s gotta realize that he is a constant target. Like P.K. Subban, he’s got enormous talent that may not be truly realized until after he’s left Montreal. Canadian people typically don’t like brash, flashy sorts trying to garner attention in sports and as a result, it’s easy to hate on a Type A personality like Duron. But this kid is still a very talented individual and with any luck, this momentary lapse in judgment won’t define the remainder of his time in the CFL.
Ottawa had Trevor Harris under centre and he was on fire, completely schooling the Alouettes defense. I lost count how many times Harris was able to find a receiver out in the flats to further stretch the field on this D. The only way that Montreal’s defense was able to be stopped was with blatant holds on the defenders unseen by the refs, as it was during both of Ottawa’s touchdowns.
Even without these assists, Montreal had no answer for the RedBlacks’ Travon Van and Chris Williams, who sliced through the Alouettes with surgical precision. Despite going down to injury, Van was still able to post over 100 all-purpose yards on the night. Williams was just a destroyer of worlds, with 187 yards in the air and on the ground while delivering the eventual kill shot to Montreal with his TD in the fourth quarter.
All in all, the RedBlacks hung well over 500 yards on this normally powerful Alouettes defense. Ottawa just keep them guessing all night and wore them down. By the fourth quarter, the defenders were completely gassed and simply had no answer for Ottawa’s newest signal caller.
With the win, Ottawa will open TD Place with a packed house full of raucous fans, many of who made the trip to Percival Molson yesterday for the game. Montreal goes on a bye week to lick their wounds and figure out how to live without their best receiver for at least the next six games.
Any good will that the Alouettes gained last week has pretty well evaporated. Once again, this team will have to work twice as hard to be half as good. I’m still confident that yesterday’s game was a mere blip on the radar and this offense will sort itself out. Once again, our OC is still very much a rookie. He needs these losses to make himself better. And they will, I have faith in that.
But for anyone who asks why I didn’t want Anthony Calvillo as head coach of the Alouettes right away, yesterday was example #1. There is still a ways to go.
On to the next one, Alouettes Nation. Enjoy the bye week.
GO ALS GO!!!