One more chance. That’s all the Montreal Alouettes have in order to salvage what has been another disappointing season. What they will do with it is up to them.
The Birds of Prey suit up for one last game today as they descend down upon southern Ontario to take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. This will not be a competitive match by any stretch of the imagination; The Alouettes just want to get this over with and the Tabbies are resting their starters for the playoffs.
I’m actually a bit surprised that Johnny Manziel is listed as the starting quarterback for the Alouettes. But it is a homecoming of sorts for him, as Manziel started the year as a member of the Tiger-Cats. He never saw the field during the regular season while in black and gold so this will also be a debut of sorts for the former Aggie.
Manziel likely won’t play the whole game as the Alouettes will want to give some reps to the other QBs on their roster, specifically Antonio Pipkin and Matthew Shiltz. Interestingly enough, those two actually played in last year’s season finale, which was also at Tim Hortons Field in early November.
That match was a forgettable affair, to say the least. Shiltz and Pipkin led an Alouettes team that was decimated by injuries and general ineptitude into the stadium for the final game of 2017. The final score of that match was 33-0 in favour of the Tabbies. No, you read that right folks; the Alouettes failed to score a single point.
In a league where you can get points for missing field goals and kicking the ball through the end zone, the 2017 Alouettes couldn’t even do those things right on that bleak November eve.
As a result, the bar for success is set extremely low for this game. It also helps that Hamilton will be hosting a playoff game the next week, so nobody of note will be playing in today’s game. Names like Jeremiah Masoli, Luke Tasker and Simoni Lawrence will likely not be heard nor seen. The last thing the Tiger-Cats want is for any of their stars to be injured in a game that has zero impact on their season.
For both of these teams, this will be their opportunity to see what kind of depth they have. Montreal already got started on showcasing some of their newer talent, mostly due to injuries of starters. We will now get a better opportunity to see what players like Greg Reid, Lawrence Pittman and Bo Banner can do for the Alouettes. This game is essentially an audition for these younger players and the opportunity to keep their names on the lips of their coaches.
This will also be likely the last game for a lot of the veterans of this team. I’m sure a lot of fans don’t want to accept the reality of it, but nobody can play forever. This will be the last opportunity for these older warriors to strap on the pads and play the game they love before they move on to the next chapter of their lives.
For Alouettes Nation, there’s not much left of this season. It was pretty horrendous and changes will have to be made. Whether this team finishes at 5-13 or 4-14, it cannot stay like this. There’s plenty of blame to go around and while I cringe at having to write the following line, there has to be consequences.
The Alouettes are revamping a lot of things for next year, including new uniforms and a more streamlined stadium experience. Pretty soon, season ticket holders will be contacted in order to get their tickets for 2019. A great many will still fork over their hard-earned cash in hopes that the Alouettes will get it right during the off-season.
But many more are warily looking at the efforts of the past few seasons and have to wonder if they are truly getting their money’s worth. Being a season ticket holder for the Alouettes doesn’t carry quite the cachet that it used to. There was a time when Alouettes tickets were a hot commodity and many people became season ticket holders simply because they were afraid of missing a moment of the action.
Nowadays, that is not a concern. The Alouettes tried to sell the stadium experience and it fell far short of expectations. The addition of Johnny Manziel to the lineup fared no better at the box office than any other former NFL stars wearing Alouettes colours. The team got a nice little bump in sales, but that’s it.
In the end, Montrealers want to support a winner. That’s what will sell tickets more than anything else and I like to think that point was made very clear over the past few weeks. All the “social nights” and “white-out” games don’t make a lick of difference if this team is going to constantly step on their own toes in the process and flounder their way to the first overall draft pick (of which Montreal cannot even have until 2022).
Crowds of 15 or 16 thousand fans are an embarrassment when you already have the smallest stadium of the league and now you are taking measures to lower the number of seats available. There is a far deeper issue at hand and one has to wonder when ownership will have decided that enough is enough when it comes to the missteps from this organization.
Let’s see what happens when this team’s players goes their separate ways and the management has to sort through the pieces of the shattered dreams that made up this 2018 CFL season.
But for now, we have a game to enjoy, football fans! I can’t promise it will be a good time or even the most entertaining game. But it’s football and for Alouettes fans, one final chance to watch their guys do their thing. For the players, it’s their last chance to make a name for themselves or further their legacy.
Last Sunday, the Alouettes sent their fans home on a high note and ensured that their record isn’t going to be quite as terrible as last season’s. Can they write one more happy chapter in this otherwise harrowing tale of woe? That’s the beauty of football; you are only as good as your last game. Here’s hoping Montreal’s last battle in 2018 is memorable for all the right reasons.
Enjoy the game today, regardless of where you are watching.