I’m not surprised that the Montreal Alouettes lost at BC Place to the Lions. I am surprised at how hard they worked to give the game away to their opponents.
It was, by all accounts, a truly ugly football game by this Alouettes team. I think they would have gained a lot more respect around the league had they just forfeited the game instead of turning in such an abysmal performance.
The final score read 41-18 and while it wasn’t their worst loss ever at BC Place, the Alouettes sure played like it was. The offense was its usual rudderless ship but even the defense, once the most feared in the league, just looked outright flat and uninspired more often than not. And don’t even get me started on special teams play.
The game took an ominous tone right away during the first series as Lions QB Travis Lulay crumpled to the ground via a Branden Dozier tackle. He had to be helped off and the early word is that Lulay tore his ACL & MCL while scrambling out of the pocket. A tough blow for the Lions as it was Lulay who had given the Lions a spark in recent weeks in relief of starter Jonathon Jennings.
With Lulay out, it was up to Jennings to lead the charge. And lead he did, marching the Lions down the field and connecting with noted Alouettes killer Manny Arceneaux for the game’s first score. Earlier this year, Jennings led the Lions to a hard-fought win in Montreal. This score shifted the momentum to BC and they never once let go of it.
When Montreal had the ball, it was the same ho-hum efforts from Darian Durant and company as their drives stalled time and time again. The most they could muster was a Boris Bede field goal in the second quarter. When BC got the ball back, they marched down the field again and were about to score until Kyries Hebert picked off the young QB in the end zone.
Until he didn’t. On the same play, Chip Cox put his hands on a receiver and it went unnoticed by the refs. But Lions head coach Wally Buono saw it and burned his challenge in order for the chance to review. Sure enough, Cox was assessed the penalty and the ball was placed on Montreal’s one yard line.
An extremely selfish penalty to take and further proof that this game has passed by Chip Cox. This season, he has become a huge liability for the defense and perhaps age is catching up to this once-fearsome defender. I can’t say enough good things about Chip Cox the man but in my humble opinion, Chip Cox the football player is finished.
But somehow, Montreal’s defense rose to the challenge of stopping the Lions from scoring here and on three tries, turned away the BC attack! This impressive display would surely be the spark to light the Alouettes up and get the offense in gear, right?
Nope. On the next play, Durant is sacked in the end zone, forcing the Als to concede two points and kick the ball away. It really was that kind of night for the Montreal Alouettes in Vancouver.
Anyone who thought that Lulay’s injury would help the Alouettes ended up looking quite foolish indeed. Every time the Lions got the ball, they were able to punish this Montreal defense with quick strikes and long balls downfield, resulting in points. When the Alouettes got the ball on offense, all they could do is sputter and concede safeties.
The Alouettes had a chance to put some points on the board to end the half by lining up for a field goal. If the offense couldn’t score, surely special teams could at least end this miserable half with a field goal so the team can regroup for the second half?
LOL NOPE. Former Alouette Chris Rainey managed to get his hand on the kicked ball as it flew from Bede’s foot and Anthony Gaitor was Johnny on the Spot, picking up the errant ball and taking it 73 yards the other way for another Lions touchdown.
The pause in action did help a little as Durant was finally able to find Ernest Jackson in the end zone to cut the BC lead in half. But that glory was fleeting, as Jennings and the Lions were not about to break with tradition and start losing to the Alouettes in their own barn. A pair of touchdowns on each drive saw this game get further and further away from the Alouettes
For all his faults, Darian Durant was able to finally find the end zone again with a spirited romp to the score zone. But by that point, the damage was done. Montreal once again turned in a weak, mostly listless effort on all three parts of the game. This game also left little doubt that Jonathon Jennings is back and ready to lead the BC Lions again.
There’s no easy way to say this: The Montreal Alouettes are a very bad team. Historically bad. They have great players that are not playing anywhere close to their potential.
They are very poorly coached. It’s been widely speculated that this coaching staff was one of convenience to satisfy a need that wasn’t there. Having a bilingual coach may be crucial for the Montreal Canadiens, but not for the Montreal Alouettes. That even the idea that Jacques Chapdelaine was installed solely for his ability to communicate in French is a frightening one.
This organization will deny strongly that is the case and I believe it too. But the one burning question that has to be asked is why after 11 matches, this offense is at best middling? There’s no dedicated offensive coordinator to take the pressure off the head coach. Very few coaches can handle both head coaching duties and overseeing the entire offense or defense.
If we have seen proof of nothing else in 2017, Jacques Chapdelaine is NOT one of those head coaches. There may have been a time where this team’s players wanted to play for Chaps, but I can’t help but feel like he has no control any more. Possibly because he’s too busy trying to make this offense work and failing miserably in the process.
This coaching staff is so afraid of making mistakes that they end up making mistakes. How else do you explain such pedantic play from a Grey Cup-winning quarterback? This is not the Darian Durant that Alouettes Nation was promised this past January. So either he really is a shell of his former self or he’s very badly coached with a lousy playbook.
This team made a lot of questionable moves, but had general manager Kavis Reed kept players like S.J. Green and Duron Carter around, would this team still be in the misery it finds itself? I honestly think they’d look how Ernest Jackson looks now; a ghost. The running game would still be a graveyard for anyone with talent on the ground. As impressive as it is to make Jackson look like a nobody, making Tyrell Sutton look invisible is a true impressive feat.
I promise if you put Sutton on the Ottawa RedBlacks, they would be truly unstoppable. If you gave Brandon Rutley to the Edmonton Eskimos, they’d be thrilled to have a strong, healthy running back helping out Mike Reilly. How this Alouettes coaching staff have managed to turn this team of superstars into a group of random football players is simply breathtaking. And I promise that is NOT a compliment.
Alouettes fans were promised that the moves they made were in order to win now. Fans were told to have faith in this new regime and their patience would be rewarded. Instead, the fans were hoodwinked. And I promise, this team WILL reap what it has sown. If you thought 18,000 fans on a Thursday night game at Percival Molson Stadium was a pathetic showing, just you wait.
You had your chance, Alouettes. These fans gave you the benefit of the doubt. Hell, they gave it to you eleven times. It’s time for you to come clean and stop the madness.
You know what is truly incredible, good readers? Despite all of these shenanigans, the Alouettes are still in the playoff hunt!
But that window is a very tiny one. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are figuring things out. The Toronto Argonauts are still a shaky team, but they are also incredibly talented (with a slew of former Alouettes, let’s not forget). And the Ottawa RedBlacks have possibly been dealt a tremendous blow as they may have lost their stellar QB Trevor Harris for some time to a shoulder injury.
The CFL’s Eastern division is the hottest of messes and as unfair as it may seem, two of these lousy teams will not only make the playoffs, but will host games as well. If you were to go by talent alone, the Alouettes should be running away with things. Yet the only thing they seem to be able to showcase consistently is their worldly ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
So what will give, if anything? Can the Montreal Alouettes pull their heads out of their own rear ends and finally get it together? At this point, one can only hope.
Be sure to tune into the Alouettes FlightDeck podcast later this week, as Tim Capper and myself try to make sense of all this. It may be easier said than done. You can find the FlightDeck on iTunes, Google Play Music and on Podbean.
This is the part where I would normally encourage you all to keep the faith. But I can’t. Not until I see some positive signs that this team realizes the error of their ways and shows true effort to change that.
All any fan can do at this point is ride it out or jump ship and find something else to do. The choice is always yours, football fans. As always, thanks for reading.
GO ALS GO!!!