The theme of the week for the Montreal Alouettes is definitely “hazy”. Be it from concussion problems to the wildfires in BC to their general malaise, there’s a perpetual haze that seems to be surrounding Alouettes Nation.
With any luck, all of this haziness will clear and we can get down to seeing some football. The Montreal Alouettes are playing their lone game in Alberta’s capital tomorrow night as they play the Edmonton Eskimos. On paper, it certainly doesn’t favour the Birds of Prey as the Eskimos tend to play their best football at Commonwealth Stadium. They have already had their way with the Alouettes earlier this season and nothing immediately suggests that anything will change.
The biggest news this week coming out of Montreal was the health of Alouettes quarterback Johnny Manziel. After taking a wicked head shot in the loss versus the Ottawa RedBlacks, nobody was buying the Alouettes’ story that Manziel was not suffering from a concussion. After day #2, the team was forced to release a statement that Manziel was indeed back under the concussion protocol and would be held out of Saturday’s game.
As a result, Antonio Pipkin will be making his first professional start under centre for Montreal. Pipkin was expected to compete with Matthew Shiltz to be the quarterback of the future during training camp. But Pipkin was not given very many reps during preseason and found himself on the outside looking in.
Pipkin was released earlier in the season but with the rash of injuries to Montreal’s other QBs, Pipkin was re-added to the roster and will now be expected to help this team get its second win of 2018. Shiltz will be the backup despite battling injuries all season long.
Montreal is hurting at the quarterback position and just when you think they get it figured out, the football gods go and hawk another loogie in their face.
If Montreal wants to compete in this game against the Eskimos, they have to do one thing and one thing well;
RUN. THE. F***ING. BALL!
The Alouettes are not league leaders in too many categories that are positive, but they do lead this league with this surprising stat: The Alouettes are #1 league-wide when rushing on first down. With just over six yards per rush attempt, it simply blows my mind that Tyrell Sutton isn’t being given the ball over and over again.
Edmonton was very suspect against the run when they played the Alouettes at Percival Molson Stadium and the Alouettes would be wise to keep the ball on the ground this Saturday. Edmonton won’t be able to counter with C.J. Gable on the ground, so they will be leaning on Mike Reilly to keep on airing it out.
With the relative inexperience of Pipkin and with this glaring stat in their face, the Alouettes simply have to find a way to give Sutty the rock as much as possible. And if they also want to incorporate William Stanback and Ryder Stone in the equation as well, that’d be a very solid option.
Edmonton’s front seven is always a threat, bookended by Kwaku Boateng & Alex Bazzie. Just like everyone else this season, they will surely bring the house and force Montreal’s quarterback du jour out of the pocket in a panic. I have no doubt that Pipkin will be feeling the heat almost immediately.
Montreal did a good job of sustaining drives and creating opportunities in the first half versus Ottawa. I’d like to see if they can repeat that performance against the Eskimos. But this time, keep the pressure on and stop resting on their laurels. The Alouettes let Ottawa back into a game they were never really in. Edmonton won’t be taking the Als lightly, even if Vernon Adams won’t be in the lineup.
It’s interesting to note that as of this post going viral, there remains a possibility that this game may not even be played. You can thank (or blame) Mother Nature for that.
Due to the wildfires that have been affecting most of British Columbia in recent weeks, the air quality in neighbouring Alberta has been greatly compromised. The smoke has been hanging in the air and it not only has made for some startling photos online, but it forced the Eskimos to practice indoors this week in preparation of this tilt.
The league has been monitoring the situation and many have wondered if this game would even be played. To say that this is a unique scenario is a major understatement. I’m curious as to why the league hadn’t explored the possibility of playing this game elsewhere. While it would be disappointing for Eskimos fans not to be able to see their team play at home, surely the health of both teams’ players needs to be considered.
I can’t imagine running around in smoke-filled air is going to be good for either team’s players and I’m truly baffled as to why this alone wasn’t taken into consideration. Teams have played games in neutral sites before due to many factors. And while it would have been very short notice, I think given the circumstances that this game could have been relocated to an Eastern city whose air quality isn’t being affected by these wildfires.
The league is expected to make an announcement at 2PM Eastern time to provide an update as to whether this game will in fact be played or if it will be rescheduled. A quick glance at the calendar and I don’t see any feasible dates for this game to be made up. Either Montreal or Edmonton may face the possibility of playing three games in a short time period, which would fly in the face of the league’s promise to eliminate such practices all in the name of player safety.
While I appreciate that these are very unusual circumstances that have never been seen before, it does seem a bit short-sighted to have the Alouettes fly out across the country for a game that may or may not be played. Especially when that same effort could have been used to have the game played in a neutral, smoke-free environment.
That’s all for now. Here’s hoping that this game can go as planned and not at the expense of the players’ health and well-being.
Enjoy the game, regardless of where you watch it. If the game is being played, that is.
GO ALS GO!!!