(How’s that for a clickbait-y headline?)
Only the most delusional Montreal Alouettes fans would expect this current team to walk into Calgary’s McMahon Stadium and hand the undefeated Stampeders their first loss in 2018. As per usual, nobody gave Montreal’s a snowball’s chance in hell of even being in the game with them and maybe anticipated another drubbing like the 59-11 beatdown that Calgary gave the Alouettes last season.
All the makings of such a thrashing were there; The Alouettes haven’t won a football game in Calgary since the 2009 Grey Cup, Bo Levi Mitchell was going to be the starting quarterback and the Stamps defense were a finely-tuned machine that was ready to feast on a bland, limp Alouettes offense.
Heck, even one journalist surmised that Montreal wouldn’t even lead or put any points on the board. This game was over even before a single snap was played and the Alouettes were effectively wasting their time even showing up, if you were to believe the numerous online pundits.
But guess what? The Montreal Alouettes did actually lead and put a number of points on the board! (One is a number, last time I checked). Thanks to a Rouge by Boris Bede to start the match, the Alouettes did hold a lead over the undefeated Calgary Stampeders for a glorious 3:01 of the game.
Then Calgary went to work.
Bo Levi showed no ill effects of his leg injury suffered the week previous, going 25 of 34 with two touchdown passes and a single interception. Mitchell didn’t take the Alouettes lightly and made sure to punish them early and often, finding both Eric Rogers and Kamar Jorden for touchdowns. Mitchell also made use of his running backs Don Jackson and Terry Williams, who combined for 61 yards on 21 carries.
Calgary’s defense lived up to its billing, keeping the Alouettes to that single point in the first half. Montreal simply couldn’t put plays together to any great degree and not even a change in quarterback due to injury could stem the bleeding during the first half. Drew Willy started the game but left with a hand injury, prompting Matthew Shiltz into his first action of 2018 under centre.
Overall, Shiltz did relatively well given the circumstances. His numbers don’t immediately reflect it (16/25, 160 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT), but I saw a lot more promise in his time on the field than I have for Willy’s all season long. Shiltz didn’t play scared and took a lot more chances in throwing the ball downfield to make things happen.
Yes, he was picked off twice in the most inopportune of ways. But Shiltz played with purpose and was able to mix it up a little bit, finding different targets and also wiling to involve Tyrell Sutton to keep the Stamps on their toes. Shiltz did eventually find the end zone with a 20 yard TD pass to B.J. Cunningham early in the third quarter.
I had said that Montreal would have been wise to start either Shiltz or Vernon Adams in order to try to throw off the Stampeders. Many of Shiltz’s miscues could be summed up in simply a lack of reps along with the bad luck that just happens to befall this Alouettes franchise. But when he did make plays, Shiltz showed that he could be a leader and move the chains.
On defense, Montreal did a terrific job of shutting down Bo Levi and his high-power offense in the second half. Former Stamp Tommie Campbell was able to pick off Mitchell on what looked to be a sure-fire touchdown strike to DaVaris Daniels. Even on ensuing drives caused by Montreal’s inability to convert on a pair of 3rd and 1’s, this Alouettes defense stood tall in hostile territory.
The only points Calgary could muster in the second half were a pair of Rene Paredes field goals. While a final score of 25-8 would normally suggest a sound beating, the Alouettes looked far better in this loss to the league’s best team than they did in their home opener versus Winnipeg. We saw this team come together a lot more last night and as I stated many times this year, there has to be a foundation to build on.
Last night, Alouettes fans got to see more of that. Now there’s the matter of coming to grips with a lot of uncomfortable truths. Most notably, this team has a lot of dead weight that simply needs to be eliminated for its own good. There are too many players on this team that serve no useful purpose and yesterday was a glaring example.
If the Alouettes going to lose football games (and I did state that the Alouettes were going to lose a lot of football games this year), I’d rather see them lose with young players striving to get better rather than with players whose better days have clearly passed them by. When was the last time a mediocre player actually got better with time? The last time I checked, there are no style points in the CFL. A loss is a loss, right?
Yesterday’s game proved that it’s time for a youth movement in Montreal. Let the kids play. Let them make mistakes if need be so they can learn. Stop rewarding players solely for being able to delay Father Time’s inevitable reach and trim the excess fat that this team has accumulated.
Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results? If the Alouettes are going to break out of this quagmire of misery, it’s not going to be due to the same old, same old of the status quo.
I want to believe that this loss will be the kick in the ass that the Alouettes sorely needs to come to grips with their own realities. Let’s hope for their sake that it is.
That’s all for now. It’s a short week for the Alouettes, as they get ready to host the Edmonton Eskimos for their lone Thursday night game of the 2018 season. Someone named Loud will provide halftime entertainment as part of the CFL on TSN’s Summer Concert Series.
I have no idea who that is and/or if this will be what will finally put butts in the seats for a Thursday night game at Percival Molson Stadium. Maybe it will be the $2 hot dogs yet again. Guess we’ll see.
We’ll talk about that later this week here on The ALSternative and on the Alouettes Flightdeck podcast, which you can now find by clicking here and also by searching the numerous platforms where podcasts can be heard.
Remarkably, there’s still time to turn this season around. That’s the beauty of the Canadian Football League, right?
As always, thanks for reading.