Another lost season has descended upon the Montreal Alouettes but with any luck, perhaps they can send their fans home happy with just one more victory.
They will host the Toronto Argonauts tomorrow for the last regular season game at Percival Molson Stadium. It will also be Fan Appreciation Day, with plenty of prizes to be given out to those in attendance. But I think it’s safe to say that the best prize you can give to the die-hards that will be in the stands is a good, solid win.
Montreal has only won once this season at home and it was against these Argos in a thrilling game that was decided with zeros left on the clock. The Alouettes played these same Argos at BMO Field last week and had a few more bounces gone their way, Montreal could have won the season series.
But instead the game will be remembered more for the baffling decision to pull starting QB Johnny Manziel for the last play of the game, only to have it blow up in the Alouettes’ faces. Along with the image of Manziel sprinting immediately to the locker room with his not-so “fresh legs” as the final whistle blew.
This week did little to soothe any possible tension with a report that Manziel is allegedly hated in the Alouettes’ locker room and has been accused of not putting in the work required to be a successful starting quarterback in the CFL. This certainly flies in the face of everything that I have heard from numerous players, who have told me that there is no beef whatsoever with the former Heisman trophy winner.
But the same media that builds you up is often the very first to tear you down. Johnny Manziel is only recently starting to open himself to media and the fans after being sheltered by this organization. I wonder if the butthurt from some of these scribes that have been previously denied access to him has now bubbled up to the surface?
Alouettes Nation are pretty well divided in their feelings for him, as are many CFL fans who abhor the idea of another “NFL washout” trying to find success in this league. I’ve stated numerous times that I am not on the Manziel bandwagon, but that I do want him to succeed as long as he is wearing the Alouettes uniform. Because if he succeeds, that means the Alouettes will as well and that should be the desire of any Alouettes fan.
One thing is certain; the coaching staff should be praying for the success of Manziel. Because right now, there’s very little faith in the work they have turned in thus far. Head Coach Mike Sherman has reportedly told his players that he wants to return in 2019 to lead them once again. But if this team posts yet another 3-15 record, should ANY of these coaches be returning??
This team is going to finish dead last in a lot of categories. There are a few bright spots and some true talent is there ready to be nurtured but as it stands now, there is nothing to suggest that this team will improve under this current regime. I agree that a lot of players have not been living up to their potential but there have been a lot of baffling play calls all season long on both sides of the ball.
The receivers have to be better, but changing the QB weekly doesn’t help their cause. The O-Line has to be better and protect whomever is behind centre. There needs to be a real pass rush, especially with the legendary John Bowman saying that he is “98% sure” that 2018 is his final season. And while Henoc Muamba has been a complete beast all season long, he cannot do it al by himself.
Kavis Reed assembled this coaching squad long with Sherman, who had zero CFL experience coming in. A lot of talented coaches were interviewed last off-season only for them to withdraw their candidacy. Is it because they weren’t going to be allowed to hire their own people and forced to work with whom the team wanted in place? Or was it the lack of faith that they would be given the support that is needed?
These were some of the tough questions that were asked last season and best believe they will be asked again if the Alouettes lose one or both of their remaining games. This team is reinventing itself for next season, can we truly see a different team in 2019? Or will this organization hope that the snazzy new uniforms will distract people from the core problems that remain visible?
You can put lipstick on a pig all you want, but it will still remain a pig.
So what will Montreal have to do to win and send the fans home on a positive note?
They will have to play a similar game as they did last week in Toronto. For three quarters, they kept the Argos under control by disrupting them on defense and making Toronto QB James Franklin fight for every yard. They also have to contain Armanti Edwards and S.J. Green, who will always be up for playing against his former team.
The biggest issue for both teams will be not leaving points out on the field. Montreal is especially guilty of that and had kicker Boris Bede been better with his FG kicks, perhaps the Argos would not have been able to chip away at the lead last week. The Alouettes need to generate a real offense and really stretch the field. Manziel’s dinks and dunks aren’t going to cut it, along with his suicide passes in the red zone.
And if the Alouettes are going to win this game, they have to trust in their players. Sherman and Co. have been very inconsistent in their play-calling and I wonder if they just don’t trust a lot of their players at times. They will have to, because this is the last chance to make a good impression for 2018.
Whether Hamilton wins or loses this weekend to decide their playoff fate, I doubt they will be resting any starters next week for the last game of the regular season. Montreal’s best chance to win one more game lies at their feet this Sunday; will they capitalize on it? Or just go through the motions and erase any doubt of their complete and total ineptitude?
As I stated earlier, tomorrow is Fan Appreciation Day at the stadium. There will prizes being given out to the fans in attendance and it’s the last time you’ll see these guys in action for 2018, so get to the stadium nice and early.
There’s also the great tailgate in the park on the East side of the stadium. Les Gars Qui Vivent always out-do themselves and the BBQs will be lit, like many of the attendees! Be sure to stop by, enjoy a beverage or two with the gang and find out what the buzz is all about. Just look for the silver trailer with the blue tent.
It’s looking to be a tad chilly in Montreal on Sunday so be sure to bundle up. If you need Alouettes tuques, scarves and other winter gear, the boutiques have a 40% discount with your name on it. Nothing beats live football but you should never freeze your butt off in the process. Stock up and stay warm!
That’s all for now. While a 4-14 season shouldn’t be the dream of any diehard football fan, it’s the best possible scenario for this Alouettes team. I don’t think one more win is too tall an order for this group.
Enjoy the game tomorrow, regardless of where you are watching.