A lack of execution puts Alouettes back in the loss column

That was a fun winning streak while it lasted, wasn’t it?

The Montreal Alouettes failed to build any momentum off of their win last week in Saskatchewan and fell to the Ottawa RedBlacks by a 28-18 score. That score truly flatters the Alouettes, as the second quarter proved to be disastrous as this team found new and exciting ways to shoot themselves in the foot.

As has been the case in all four games in 2018, the first quarter was a tightly contested affair, as both teams traded touchdowns during their first offensive series. A familiar face to Alouettes Nation marked the first RedBlacks points as Jean-Christophe Beaulieu hauled in a beauty of a pass from Trevor Harris. Beaulieu’s talent has been apparent for years but the Alouettes’ offensive coordinators could never quite figure out what to do with the talented Quebecois. Yet Ottawa was able to figure it out in only 3 games?!

Not to be outdone, new Alouettes starter (and 13th QB to start for Montreal since Anthony Calvillo!) Jeff Mathews took it upon himself to drive the Als down the field with crisp passes and handing the ball off to Tyrell Sutton, chewing up yards in his wake. A two yard scamper into the end zone by Sutton along with an eventual Rouge by Boris Bede gave the Alouettes a brief lead.

Ottawa took the lead late in the first quarter with a field goal and never looked back. The second quarter was where the Alouettes truly fell apart. It seems that every time Brad Sinopoli plays in Montreal, he has himself a great game. Last night was no exception as he and Harris put the Alouettes over their knee and spanked them time and time again. With 148 yards in the air and a touchdown, the Alouettes simply had no answer for this National receiver. Yet again.

Stopping the ground game didn’t fare much better for Montreal, as RedBlacks tailback William Powell literally ran all over the Alouettes. Posting a monstrous 138 yards on 23 carries, this defense spent the better part of their night chasing the speedy Powell, making only half-hearted attempts to stop him. That first half of football was truly abysmal for the Alouettes and many wondered just how they were going to adjust for the second half, if at all.

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Thankfully they did make adjustments and save for a Lewis Ward field goal early in the third quarter, the Alouettes managed to keep the RedBlacks from adding to their point total in the second half. But Montreal still struggled on offense as Mathews had some good moments but looked extremely sloppy on others.

The offensive line took time to get it together as they left Mathews out to dry in the second quarter, but came through and gave their QB enough time to make some plays happen. The Alouettes took Tyler Johnstone in the supplemental draft this past week and from what everyone is saying, he will be a great tackle for this team for years to come. Alouettes fans can only hope so, because this O-line needs all the help it can get.

The fourth quarter saw a potential new star emerge for the Alouettes as the previously unknown Chris Harper came in for relief of Chris Williams, who left the game with an injury. The young receiver spent training camp with the Toronto Argonauts before joining the Alouettes. Harper looked solid in relief and just may give the Alouettes’ receiving corps a new look, depending on the severity of Williams’ injury.

With that score, Montreal looked re-energized and the defense was finally able to keep Ottawa from doing further damage. But again, for every nice play the Als put together on offense, there would be one that would put them back behind the eight-ball. The best example of that came in the third quarter as the Alouettes were driving the ball downfield, assisted by a RedBlacks PI call:

After gaining the yards and first down, the Alouettes sent Vernon Adams in at QB. He took the ball on a draw play and managed to gain a single yard. On the next play, Mathews returned to the game and threw a wobbly duck towards Ernest Jackson, who disappearance throughout the game had me looking for his photo on cartons of milk this morning. The pass for Jackson was nearly picked off and the Alouettes’ drive stalled right there.

With all of that plus Trevor Harris simply doing what he does best by making plays out of nothing, Montreal’s chances to come back slipped away time and time again. While Mathews looked a lot more confident under centre than what Drew Willy was, he still made some very bad reads and was only marginally better at connecting with his receivers. Montreal’s avoiding of the ground game yet again was far from surprising, but nonetheless disappointing.

Simply put, Ottawa had this game in the bag as soon as the second quarter started. Montreal needed to set the tone like they did in Saskatchewan and they just couldn’t.

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Last night’s game also featured a very poor attendance, as only 16,718 bothered to show up at Percival Molson Stadium. And of that number, it was clear that a lot of the folks in the stands were more interested in being a spectacle than in the game itself. Screaming and making noise is great at a football game, but not when the Alouettes are on offense. And when you’re doing it more for a cute/funny Instagram video than to encourage the team you bought tickets for were given free tickets to? That says a lot too.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a complete night at the stadium without everyone wondering how many of those “fourth quarter only” tickets were sold. It’s painfully clear that this organization is so desperate for anyone’s money that the actual game of football is completely lost on the people actually in attendance. And actual football fans are now choosing to stay away, refusing to have their intelligence insulted.

Imagine how it was for the Alouettes fans that went to Regina last week and saw an actual football crowd that knew how to react to the game itself versus trying to catch a free t-shirt or ham it up on the big screen. How the Alouettes themselves still can’t figure out when to have their noise-making events timed properly after all these years is beyond me. And I am weary of asking.

It certainly doesn’t help when you hire people who have zero interest in football itself to try to engage people in this game. Perhaps that’s the biggest difference. Other CFL teams seem to hire people that are at least knowledgeable in the sport itself, whereas Montreal seems to hire employees based solely on the ability to speak French. I know for a fact that the Alouettes have a few employees that know the actual game of football and are passionate about this team. But they are the exception, rather than the rule.

But hey, at least the team sold out of the $7 beers that they pimped so hard to start the season. That’s certainly much more important than establishing a strong football culture for years to come. </sarcasm>

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That’s all for now. The first of three bye weeks are upon us and a 1-3 record is pretty much where I expected this team to be. This is supposed to be a season to build a foundation of future success and while it may not seem like it, there is some positives to build on. But there remains a lot of work to do for this football team.

I’m not sure what else can be done to help build it better, but I think this team is a lot closer to figuring themselves out. Here’s hoping the bye week will get that mindset in better perspective.

As they say, on to the next one. Thanks for reading.

GO ALS GO!!!

 

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