A pretty sorry effort from the Alouettes

They may have earned their wings, but they sure didn’t earn their paycheques.

The Montreal Alouettes came out in front of their loyal fans and laid a massive egg, being thumped 56-10 by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. I’ve seen some bad football games in my time, but the lack of cohesion and overall effort Friday night was beyond appalling. This administration should issue an apology and refund anyone foolish enough to have paid a ticket for this attempted display of a football game.

Why this team feels it only has to play one quarter of football and think that will be sufficient is beyond me. Aside from the drive that saw B.J. Cunningham score his first touchdown of 2018, the Alouettes looked like the dumpster fire that all the online pundits claim it is. I realize it takes time for a team to gel and come together, but this was pathetic.

Drew Willy doesn’t instill any faith as a quarterback on this Alouettes team. His offensive line hung him out to dry, giving him very little time to establish any sort of rhythm with his receivers. The few times he was able to connect with his receivers (only 16 times out of 25), it was for minimal yardage that failed to generate any real momentum.

The rest of Willy’s brief time on the field was spent on his behind or being chased off thanks to Winnipeg’s defense. I’m still blown away at this veteran’s inability to get rid of the ball in a timely fashion. This isn’t his first rodeo! There’s a reason why Winnipeg and Toronto moved on from this quarterback as a starter; it’s becoming even more clear with paltry efforts like this.

His counterpart in Winnipeg, rookie QB Chris Streveler, looked like a polished pro compared to Willy. And that’s with the youngster being almost a decade younger and having NEVER played professional football before! Winnipeg’s new pivot had himself a day, going 22 for 28 with 246 yards passing and three touchdowns. Streveler was also a threat with his legs as he rushed for nearly as many yards (98) as Willy had passing (111).

Any hope that the youngster would be intimidated by going on the road in search of the Bombers’ first win were put to bed by halftime, as the Bombers led 34-7 at halftime. Montreal was sloppy in all of its executions, be it on offense or defense. And as the touchdowns piled on for the Bombers, you can see the effort level melt away from these supposedly fearsome Alouettes defenders.

For the second game in a row, the Alouettes could only muster a touchdown and a field goal. You knew it was going to be a long night when the Als’ first offensive series lasted a whole minute on the game clock, including all three downs. Winnipeg made it look effortless as the Alouettes couldn’t contain either Andrew Harris or Kienan Lafrance on the ground.

I pride myself on trying to find positives in matches like this, but I simply can’t. This was powerfully bad. For a team that can’t seem to stop making themselves look foolish at every turn, this was another trash bag to throw onto the raging dumpster fire. There is not one single player or coach in that locker room that can truly say they put in a complete effort. And that is shameful.

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The home opener drew just under 20,000 fans to Percival Molson Stadium and I truly wonder how many that were there for the first time will want to come back. Offering things like $7 beer and $10 fourth quarter tickets is a mere dangling carrot that tries to mask the idea that there’s no true direction from this organization.

You can blame Kavis Reed, Joe Mack and Patrick Boivin all you want for the Alouettes’ many woes. Believe me, they need to eat their fair share of humble pie for what transpires on and off the field. But save the biggest slice for ownership, who signs off on their transgressions on a daily basis.

It was the Wetenhall family that threw away the successful pieces of this once-proud organization and replaced them with people who perhaps are not best suited for the task. That’s how you end up with coaches passing on the opportunity to make this Alouettes team better and you end up hiring a coach with no CFL experience that currently looks out of place and struggling for answers.

I’ve tried to stress patience as the Alouettes struggle to pick themselves back up from years of middling at best and pitiful at worst football. I talk with these players and they swear up and down that this team has amazing chemistry in the locker room and it will come together in time. The coaches here that do have CFL experience have produced winners in the past. The free agents brought in were very successful in their previous lives. On paper, this team has the potential for success in many areas.

SO WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON???

As annoyed as I get when fans whine about the past about “the Alouette way” (God, how I loathe that expression…) and can’t figure out why the Alouettes still aren’t the team they once knew, I do understand their frustration. Every sports team is supposed to go through ebbs and flows and after nearly two decades of mostly successful football, the Alouettes were long overdue for a losing spell. So naturally these fans are not taking their medicine very well.

And yet it feels like if the Alouettes fire everyone and their mother, this team still wouldn’t be any further ahead. What is the root of the problem? Is it truly because of Kavis Reed, the league’s favourite punching bag? If the Alouettes traded for Mike Reilly, would THAT fix everything? If the team just offered overpriced tickets to games and vetted all who attended so that only “real football fans” were in the stands, would the experience at Percival Molson Stadium be the best in the league?

Like it or not, there’s no immediate answer for this. Jim Popp and Anthony Calvillo aren’t coming back to “save” the Alouettes. They couldn’t do it when they were here the first time. This team didn’t save for a rainy day and they are paying for it every single day. Anyone who hated the Alouettes and their winning ways of the past are no doubt joyous at their current malaise.

But for the first time in my life, I can envision a scenario where this team gets even worse and ownership ceases operations. Which I think everyone who piles on this team wants. Football in Quebec has never been stronger, except when it comes to the Alouettes. If this trend continues, I’d hate to imagine what this sport will be like in the province over the next few years.

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All this to say that fans can handle losing, but not like this. Last Friday’s game was an abomination that everyone whose paycheque comes from the Montreal Alouettes needs to apologize for.

I can’t help but shake the idea that I will end up writing this story another sixteen times, just slightly changing the names and numbers around. Any goodwill this team has been afforded has been overdrafted. Now fans want a reason to believe and no stupid gimmicks will suffice.

There’s only one way to fix this hot mess; win football games. And if the current crew can’t figure it out….then it really doesn’t make much sense to keep them on the payroll, does it?

Better figure it out and fast, Mr. Wetenhall. You’re not the Montreal Canadiens; you can only play the paying public for chumps so many times before it bites you back where it hurts the most; the wallet.

Just some friendly advice, take it or leave it.

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