The Montreal Alouettes losing a football game at BC Place.
There are some things in life that are simply unavoidable.
Despite a first quarter of football that was truly inspired, the Birds of Prey once again let history repeat itself, losing 22-10 to the BC Lions to kick off the 2018 CFL season. However, yesterday’s loss did yield some positives and there is something to work with here. Despite everyone and their mother calling this Alouettes team a dumpster fire, I see them more as picking up the smoldering pieces and trying to go forward.
As stated before, Drew Willy is not a starting quarterback and any expectations with him should be kept to a minimum in order to stave off disappointment. He did have a very solid outing overall, going 25/35 with over 275 yards passing. But his one touchdown pass was a bobbled effort to Chris Williams that resulted in the first CFL touchdown for Eugene Lewis, who is no stranger to wacky plays in his brief CFL career.
The second and third quarters were pretty uneventful, as both defenses played strong and kept points to a minimum. BC took the lead in the third quarter with a Ty Long field goal and never looked back.
Whereas the Alouettes offense was surprisingly dynamic in the first half, it came out flat and uninspired for the second half. Willy’s pick in the fourth quarter was a back-breaker that pretty much guaranteed that the 20,000 plus who attended the home opener went home happy. A ill-advised throw was deftly snagged by BC’s Garry Peters and it set up Jonathon Jennings to find Corey Watson in the end zone for the score that would ensure the Alouettes returned home with the L.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of things for Alouettes fans were that things actually looked decent to start this game. Willy was able to go deep, something he hadn’t done all pre-season and was able to make use of his receivers. More importantly, the Alouettes ground game was executed really well with Tyrell Sutton looking like his usual dominant self, keeping his legs and the chains moving downfield.
But once again, the Alouettes reverted back to their scared selves by playing conservative and uninspired football in the fourth quarter. The run game was abandoned and Drew Willy looked like a backup quarterback yet again. Montreal’s defense kept them in this game for three quarters but they eventually ran out of gas at the worst time.
Heard this story before? Yep, same here. I’m sure I’ve even written it a few times.
Many people will tell you to treat the first game of the season, win or lose, as though it were an additional pre-season game. For this Alouettes squad, I think that’s the best thing to do. There is a lot of positive here with this group; the defense was able to give Jennings plenty of fits, forcing him to run and work hard to connect with his passes.
Jamaal Westerman and Henoc Muamba stepped up in John Bowman and Chip Cox‘s absence and both were wrecking balls throughout the game. Eager to prove he is ready to ascend to the next level of his CFL career after an injury-plagued 2017 season, Chris Ackie was a tornado last night. The young National defender was striking anything and anyone in his path with some explosive hits.
It still baffles me that all the offensive “geniuses” of the past such as Mike Miller, Turk Schonert and yes even Anthony Calvillo, couldn’t figure out to put the ball in Tyrell Sutton’s hands more often. I was very pleased to see Alouettes OC Khari Jones use Sutton to his advantage and remain equally confused why Sutton had essentially disappeared in the second half.
If Sutton was injured or merely banged-up, the Alouettes did have Ryder Stone in the lineup, who is cut from the same cloth as Sutty. As I had feared, Stefan Logan is not looking like his speedy self, be it in returning kicks or in the backfield for the Alouettes. Perhaps Father Time is finally catching up to the 37 year old Logan after long last.
In any event, a defense like this paired with that offense from the first quarter and you’ve got something viable to work with here. But as many people have stated in the past, the Montreal Alouettes sometimes just can’t seem to get out of their own way.
Once they figure out how to do exactly that, this team will be fine.
Montreal now prepares for this Friday’s home opener versus the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who lost a marathon match against Mother Nature and the Edmonton Eskimos this past Thursday. Matt Nichols still won’t be in the lineup for the Bombers so it will be up to rookie pivot Chris Streveler to get that first win in potentially hostile territory.
If you’re interested in seeing the Alouettes prepare for this first home game, here is the practice schedule. As always, practices are open to the public.
Be sure to check out the Alouettes Flightdeck podcast as it makes its return to a weekly format of news, thoughts and opinions for your listening pleasure. Join Tim Capper and I as we break down the Alouettes games as well as what’s going on with the Birds of Prey. The Flightdeck also welcomes all kinds of guests on the air; be it players, media or even general managers, you’ll never know who will show up at any given time!
You can find every episode on www.AlouettesFlightDeck.ca as well as on iTunes & Google Play Music.
That’s all for now. That annual loss to BC is out of the way. This team can now get the bad taste out of their mouths and get ready to entertain their faithful fans at home.
As they say, on to the next one.