Like an iPod stuck on replay, this team can’t help but repeat itself when they play in front of their fans at home.
Once again, the Montreal Alouettes lost at home. Once again, this game was winnable. Once again, this defence played three quarters of outstanding football until imploding. And once again, this offence lived up to it’s already lowered expectations and offered up a whole lot of nothing exciting.
This time around, the final score read that the Ottawa Redblacks won by a 19-14 score. But the formula for this game was almost an exact replica of the previous game versus Winnipeg; relative cohesion and scoring in the first half, a defensive stalemate in the third quarter and a complete dismantling in the fourth quarter.
All equalling to the Alouettes’ seventh loss of the season and a firm grip on last place in the CFL’s Eastern division.
The Redblacks benefited from the lack of Duron Carter in the Alouettes lineup as he finally served his one game suspension for his part of the brouhaha that ensured in these teams’ first meeting.
It’s interesting to note that the best way for Ottawa to gain the upper hand against Montreal is when Duron Carter is removed from the team. Think about it; In 2014, Duron played all in three Ottawa games and the Alouettes were 3-0. In 2015, no Duron = A clean sweep of the Alouettes by the Redblacks.
This year, Duron got ejected in game one of this series and Ottawa was victorious. In game two, Duron scored a pair of touchdowns and Montreal posted their most dominant win of this season. Game three, Duron served his suspension and Ottawa squeaked out the win. If somehow these two teams met in the playoffs, the Redblacks would be wise to find a way to remove the enigmatic Carter from the lineup.
But I’m getting way ahead of myself here. As long as Montreal keeps putting forth these putrid efforts on game day, the only playoffs these guys are participating in is if they buy Madden ’17 for their Playstation or XBox.
Honestly, how much more of this can the fans be expected to tolerate? This coaching staff have allowed the inmates to run the asylum. How many more games will we see OC Anthony Calvillo bury his face in his playsheet, looking like the kid in high school hoping the teacher doesn’t call him up to the blackboard to solve the problem?
And any goodwill that Kevin Glenn built up with his masterful performance three weeks ago was essentially pissed away with another sorry fourth quarter performance, stalling on drives, overthrowing his receivers and getting read like a pamphlet by Ottawa’s secondary.
Imagine the joy former Alouette Mitchell White surely felt when he was able to pick off the team that cast him aside when he balked at taking a paycut. While White hasn’t exactly lit up the league playing on Ottawa’s secondary, his confidence has to be at an all-time high right now.
That seems to be Montreal’s role right now; making other teams feel good about themselves and being the slump buster. And as a fan and supporter of this Alouettes team, it f–king sucks.
For the past three years, the Alouettes faithful could always count on this team’s defense to come through and help steal some games. But it’s clear now that this strategy is not the recipe for success that it once was.
Not when the referees are so eager to throw flags with reckless abandon. It’s been a cancer on this game to see so much orange linen tossed on this field, grinding any momentum to a halt.
That’s been a serious problem league-wide, so please don’t write this off as sour grapes because this Montreal team can’t catch a break with the zebras. At the end of the day, this team has to be holding themselves accountable for their own actions.
The tiniest action is going to be punished. For example, the late hit out of bounds two weeks ago on Duron Carter by Winnipeg led to a retaliation by Kyries Hebert that drew an immediate penalty for Montreal. This past game, Winston Venable with a taunting penalty. When you are 3-6 and on pace for another 6-12 season, you got nothing to taunt about. Why encourage these glorified mall cops to punish you?!
Noel Thorpe may have the Xs and Os on defense down to a science but when it comes to keeping his charges in line, he’s no better than this team’s head coach. The question that lingers if Thorpe was to be put in charge, could he be that voice that commands the respect to eliminate such abhorrent behaviour?
I want to say yes if given the chance, but I fear that he’s become a product of this seemingly toxic environment. And it’s a shame that Thorpe will eventually leave this team and flourish elsewhere. I hope I’m wrong, but fear I’ll be proven right.
So now what? How do the Alouettes proceed at this point? Can this season be salvaged?
As much as I strive to be a positive voice for this team, I just don’t see it happening this year. As long as we have a ragtag coaching staff and players that refuse to live up to their potential, a spot in the playoffs is nothing more than a pipe dream.
I honestly think at this point, it’s time to start thinking about the future. For everyone on this team, players and coaches alike.
It’s time to officially hand over the OC reigns to Jacques Chapdelaine and let him absorb the blows that are being rained down on Anthony Calvillo. AC is not OC material and as long as he’s constantly being hung out to dry like this, he never will be.
Let Calvillo be what he should have been the day he was hired; Quarterback Coach. He has two potential studs in Rakeem Cato and Vernon Adams that if properly groomed, can set this league on fire.
Letting AC properly prepare these two is a far better fashion to educate them than throwing them out on the field, greener than the grass they would be drilled upon thanks to this sieve of an O-Line.
I’ve said before that Kevin Glenn is not a long-term solution for this team. His track record is a clear indication of that. So why not properly focus on making Cato and Adams the future that this teams needs at quarterback? Let Glenn start for the first three quarters, then hand it off to either of the kids in the fourth quarter and give them the experience they need without the pressure to carry this team completely.
How many more times can this team play with the emotions of its fans like they have been? It’s obvious that everything is being done so as not to upset the apple cart too much, but it’s already been completely turned over and someone forget to tell this team’s superiors. Let’s stop this utter charade of making this team more than what they are. Like they did together in Saskatchewan last season, let Chapdelaine and Glenn properly set the table and then see which of the two young guns is going to step up and lead this team.
While I’d be leaning more towards Adams as opposed to Cato due to the unknown factor, it’s clear that someone needs to step forward and take command. We’ve already see what Cato can do and it was underwhelming at best. I still blame a lot of that on Calvillo designing plays based on the idea that his QBs play just like he did in years gone by.
Well, Calvillo never liked calling plays when he was behind centre. So why should we expect him to do it any better now that he’s an OC? Do we expect him to know the mindset of a young mobile quarterback when his best years were of him being led by a quarterback master that played to his strengths? Highly unlikely.
So let AC slowly become that master instead of asking him to design and lead an entire offense. While Chapdelaine’s game plan doesn’t have the longest shelf life, it will still be just enough to keep this team treading water. At least until this team’s next head coach installs a sharp young mind that can work with what this team has as quarterback.
But as long as Popp and Co. is running this team on the field, there will always be a sense of unease and a lack of cohesion. And asking the fans of this franchise to keep doling out money to watch this team flounder and piddle away the best years of some of their stars is beyond insulting.
Much like the Roughriders, it’s time for Montreal to look toward 2017. Waving the white towel may come across as cowardly, but sometimes it’s best to live to fight another day. The Alouettes simply cannot continue at this pace.
Montreal will now spend the rest of September playing on the road. But games versus a dangerous BC Lions and a resurgent Hamilton Tiger-Cats aren’t exactly inspiring a ton of confidence, even if road teams are still ruling the roost for the most part in 2016. The past few seasons, Montreal have used the bye week to shake things up with their coaching staff. That could well happen again but by the time that this team reaches theirs later this month, it will be far too late.
Any change that needs to occur would have to be soon. Although my confidence in that having any sort of viable impact wanes with each loss that this team posts. May as well see what the future holds. And if the leaders that this team needs going forward aren’t already here, time to start the search in earnest before it’s too late.
It’s never fun coming to grips with the harsh reality that your team is not as good as you had hoped. But I think this team can be saved for the long-term and it will take a very courageous effort from this team’s architect to admit that he cannot fix this mess. That he needs to let someone else clean up this mess and save him from himself.
Otherwise, this team will remain a shell of its former Grey Cup-winning self. And we fans that have supported this team unconditionally deserve far better than that.
Be sure to tune in this week to the Alouettes Flightdeck as Tim Capper and myself try to make more sense of this 2016 Alouettes team and find some positives to talk about. And you can always hit me up on Twitter for more thoughts and opinions on this Montreal Alouettes team.
Once again, it’s on to the next one. Thanks for reading.