This past Thursday saw the Montreal Alouettes completely revert back to the bad old days and honestly, I don’t see it changing any time soon.
The Birds of Prey were completely manhandled by the Ottawa RedBlacks by a 32-4 score. With great difficulty, I’ve been debating whether this loss was their worst of this 2017 season or the loss a few weeks ago in Toronto. I suppose both were pretty similar as each time the Alouettes lost to a divisional opponent and what little points scored came from players that are not on the offense.
In Toronto, the lone score was due to a pick-six by Dominique Tovell. This time around, it was Boris Bede who did all the scoring. But a Rouge and a field goal are sure as hell not going to cut it versus the defending Grey Cup champions, who have awoken from their mediocrity just at the right time.
Once again, it was bad penalties that undid the Alouettes early in this game. The sheer lack of discipline from this team is truly appalling to sit and watch from the stands. Now let’s bear in mind that CFL referee Al Bradbury seems to relish calling penalties on the Alouettes, but quite a few of these calls were simply a mental disconnect.
Despite Ottawa marching down the field with relative ease, the Alouettes’ defense kept them out of the end zone for most of the half. It was only when a very weak defensive pass interference call was levied on Alouettes DB Greg Henderson that Ottawa got its first real scoring chance and they made the most of it with a Diontae Spencer TD.
Despite that TD, the RedBlacks still didn’t look all that good and had Montreal been able to make any halftime adjustments, this story could have ended a lot differently.
Instead, it was the same old tired plays that went nowhere. Even though his O-Line has been banged up in recent weeks, Darian Durant looked terrible this past Thursday. Even when he was able to find targets like Nik Lewis and B.J. Cunningham, he’d then get sacked or overthrow his next receiver. Or picked off to ensure he still leads the league in INTs.
The ground game was also non-existent, despite having an exciting tailback in Tyrell Sutton. It’s pretty telling when both quarterbacks can get more yards on the ground than the running back. But when you only hand it off six times and each time it’s for him to go off-tackle, teams tend to figure you out quickly. Ottawa’s defensive line was having a field day with this.
But perhaps the most telling sign of just how pathetic this offense is was the incredible effort they have put in to make Ernest Jackson look like an absolute nobody. Instead of making this high-caliber star the focal point of the offense, it’s Samuel Giguere who is looked to for making the incredible highlight catch. Except, he can’t.
For the second week in a row, Giguere dropped a surefire touchdown. It still baffles me why Montreal doesn’t use Giguere’s blazing fast speed on the ground and use him as a running back. He’s got muscles upon muscles on his 6′ frame. When used in jet sweeps last year, Sam was easily getting first down yardage. Why not use the gifts he has properly, instead of hanging him out to dry each week expecting him to make these impossible catches?
Giguere should thank his lucky stars that he was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec and not Green Bay, Wisconsin because any international receiver playing like this would have been shown the door a long time ago. With how this team uses him in advertising, you’d think he was the greatest football player this province ever produced.
The Alouettes have a burgeoning young National receiver already in the lineup with George Johnson and recently signed Scott MacDonell, who showed flashes of brilliance when he was in Ottawa. They also have Malcolm Carter waiting in the wings who can be a star in this league, given the right coaching.
Yet they still feel the need to justify having the Quebec-born Giguere in the lineup, when he simply hasn’t lived up to expectations. But being a National player in the CFL will ensure your employment time and time again.
The second half of this game became another example of just how good the RedBlacks can be versus just how bad the Alouettes can be. Also telling that this was the half where the Alouettes did all their scoring.
Once again, the Alouettes saved Darian Durant from himself and put Drew Willy in at quarterback. But once again, Willy didn’t fare too much better. He did move the ball downfield some, but Ottawa didn’t seem too concerned with him being in the game. Willy is a game manager at this point and that’s exactly what he did. Nothing too flashy or risky, just did what he had to do in order to protect the ball.
On the other side of the field, Ottawa’s Trevor Harris didn’t have to do much to keep winning. This was the perfect opponent for him and his deadly duo of receivers, Greg Ellingson and Brad Sinopoli. Montreal’s defense simply couldn’t stop these two and when they did, it just opened the game up for Joshua Stangby, who hauled in a beautiful touchdown that he had no business making.
I hate to say it but I think Ottawa is just hitting their stride now and can easily coast to another division title, even with their middling at best play. As all the teams in the East should do, the RedBlacks better appreciate the fact that two of the four teams in the Eastern division will go to the playoffs, regardless of their record.
But the complete lack of offense from this Montreal team is truly abhorrent. Remember the story we were sold about how the player wanted to play for head coach Jacques Chapdelaine and that he was able to fix this offense that has been non-existent for YEARS?
In one of my last columns, I rattled off a list of coordinators that were tasked to provide an offensive attack and instead crapped the bed over and over again. I think the time has come to officially add Chapdelaine’s name to that dubious list.
Every week, it’s the same old thing. And it’s CLEARLY not working. There’s nothing anything remotely close to exciting here to see. I think Alouettes fans were once again sold a bill of goods when it came to this coach and this quarterback. And for what? For Andrew Wetenhall to exert his authority and show that he could run a football franchise like his father did.
The time has come for the owners of this football team to admit that there is a major problem here. This team made sweeping changes on the field with the promise that it was going to work. It hasn’t. This team let superstars walk away because they were supposedly no longer any good. Yet they still are and are flourishing for other teams.
If this team truly believes that Jacques Chapdelaine is a worthwhile head coach, so be it. But a good coach has to realize that he cannot fix everything himself. Everyone raked Jim Popp over the goals for his inability to turn this team around by handling both general manager and head coaching duties. Why this organization insists on saving money by overworking their coaches baffles me to no end.
The time has come, Wetenhall family. Hire Coach Chapdelaine a REAL offensive coordinator with CFL experience and NOT some retread from the NFL or some ex-CFL player that has never coached before. While bringing in a coach mid-season is terribly risky, things cannot continue the way they have.
And I hate to say it, but the entire offensive coaching staff needs to be overhauled at season’s end. I haven’t seen any proof that the players of the future can/will be developed by the current staff that’s on hand. And based on what I’ve seen on the field thus far in 2017, I don’t feel like their teachings are doing anything for the incumbent players so far.
This staff was one of convenience for Chapdelaine and this organization. A lot of people complained that receivers coach Justin Chapdelaine was only given this job because of his father. The fact that our star receivers are not able to move the ball downfield consistently isn’t exactly helping to change people’s minds of that thought.
Alouettes fans don’t want to admit it, but Anthony Calvillo hasn’t really improved the quarterback situation based on how poorly Durant and Willy have been. There’s also nothing to indicate that the future QB for this franchise is currently being developed, a problem this team has had since Calvillo was still on the field throwing footballs.
This team has a great rushing attack if and when it’s used. The offensive line started out strongly enough but now the lack of depth is rearing its ugly head with the injuries that are starting to pile up. But instead of switching the focus to these areas, this team would rather trade away a talented young quarterback and focus the attack on a receiver who couldn’t catch a cold along with a QB that clearly is a shell of his former self.
This Alouettes organization would much rather step over quarters in order to pick up nickels. That’s beyond troubling.
I guess if you are looking for a positive, at least the Alouettes aren’t looking to hire a coach that tried to cover up rape allegations while in the NCAA. And they seemed to have avoided the lure of signing infamous football players that couldn’t hack it in the NFL.
This is what we who support this Alouettes team have become; being thankful that this team isn’t as bad as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
That’s not exactly something to aspire to. This Montreal Alouettes team can and should be better. Unless the right moves are made, I just don’t see it happening any time soon.
Reluctantly, I still say: