Alouettes need to figure things out before season gets away from them

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Montreal Alouettes offence is struggling to put points up on the board.

Through three games this season, the Als still haven’t managed to crack the 20-point mark, and they’ve combined to score only 52 points during that span. As we all know, averaging 17.33 points-per-game simply isn’t a recipe for success in the CFL.

Montreal is fortunate that Riders kicker Tyler Crapigna missed a 43-yard field goal with no time left in Week 1, or they’d find themselves at 0-3 heading into next week’s matchup against the Calgary Stampeders, who are arguably the best team in the league.

After the home game against the Stamps, the Als will face stiff tests on the road in Ottawa and Winnipeg. If they don’t turn things around in a hurry, they could find themselves with a 1-4 record.

What are the problems?

–Executing the game plan

Obviously, the offence is the biggest problem for them at this point. It simply isn’t good enough, and there are many reasons for that.

First, the execution just isn’t there. Missed throws, quarterback and receivers not on the same page and a lack of consistency have all plagued the Als in 2017.

The players like to say that it takes time to develop chemistry on the field, especially because Darian Durant played just one quarter of preseason football. But at what point does chemistry become an excuse.

I get it, Durant has never played with Ernest Jackson, B.J. Cunningham, Nik Lewis, Tiquan Underwood and Tyrell Sutton, but they’ve had most of training camp and three full weeks to figure this out.

–Offence is too conservative

Another problem with the offence, is that it’s been far too conservative. Those who follow the CFL know that Jacques Chapdelaine’s offences have always been on the conservative side (there’s nothing wrong with that), but there are times during a game when you need to be a bit more aggressive.

In Thursday’s loss to the B.C. Lions, the Als had two 30-plus yard completions (one to Jackson, one to Cunningham). I realize that you have to take what the defence is giving you, but sometimes you’ve got to try creating your own spark, and big plays tend to do that.

–Ernest Jackson needs to be more involved

It’s also time for the coaching staff to find a way to get the ball in Jackson’s hands with more regularity.

The former Redblack was one of Montreal’s major off-season signings, but his production has been incredibly disappointing through three games, as the 30-year-old has seven receptions for 67 yards and one touchdown.

As important as Durant is to their success, finding a way to get their number one target more looks is equally as important.


Let me take you back to the fourth quarter of Thursday’s game against the B.C. Lions. With just over a minute remaining in the game, Montreal’s defence forced B.C. to punt, but a too many men on the field penalty gave the Lions a fresh set of downs, and it allowed them to close out the game. I get it, a comeback was unlikely at that point, but that kind of penalty is inexcusable.

It’s just one example, but they’ve taken an incredible amount of silly penalties in all three games.

The Alouettes have also extended the opposition’s drives because of undisciplined penalties and they’ve negated some of their few big gains because of penalties.

As of right now, they’ve taken 29 penalties for 289 yards, which averages out to over 96 yards-per-game. It’s a serious problem.

–The defence has their own issues

The Alouettes defence has done a great job of not giving up many points to their opponent, but there are things that worry me on that side of the ball, too.

In the first two weeks of the season, they didn’t get much pressure on Kevin Glenn or Mike Reilly. With the way the Lions offensive line had looked through two weeks, I figured Montreal would be able to make life difficult for Jonathon Jennings. That didn’t happen.

The Als made some changes to their defensive line by letting Alan-Michael Cash walk in free agency. He was an underrated player that did a lot of the dirty work in the trenches, and it’s clear that they’ve missed him badly. Montreal has gone with Canadian defensive tackles Keith Shologan, Jabar Westerman and Don Oramasionwu, and they just haven’t gotten the necessary push up the middle.

My solution? Give second-year player Ray Drew a shot. I know he’s an American, which complicates things with the ratio, but he had a solid training camp. He’s worth a look.

–Time to hit the panic button?

There’s a lot to be concerned about, but it’s important to remember we’re just three games into the season. Is it time to hit the panic button? No, not yet. But there are a lot of things they need to figure out before they line up against the Stampeders next week.

Winning games at home has been an issue over the last two years, and dropping another one at Percival Molson-Stadium next week isn’t an option.

As former Als head coach Marv Leavy once said: “Adversity is an opportunity for heroism.” And the Alouettes need a hero in a hurry.

Joey Alfieri

Joey Alfieri

A reporter and host for TSN690 radio in Montreal, writer at Rotoworld Hockey and Pro Hockey Talk.
Joey Alfieri
Joey Alfieri
About Joey Alfieri (38 Articles)
A reporter and host for TSN690 radio in Montreal, writer at Rotoworld Hockey and Pro Hockey Talk.

10 Comments on Alouettes need to figure things out before season gets away from them

  1. Horsieland // July 7, 2017 at 12:11 pm //

    I think it’s a little early to write off this season yet.
    They are 1-2 and lost by an unconverted TD to arguably the best team in the league. They haven’t even played an eastern team yet, those will be the key games.

  2. As a life long Alouette fan – you don’t want to know how long – I hope they do well. Admit also to being a Jim Popp and Marc Trestman fan, and have a bit of conflict. Reed has thrown the baby out with the bathwater a few too many times, but its tough making your own mark. Duran has looked ok, but interception prone. Sutton looks great. Play calling may be a problem.

    What I would really like to see is local ownership. Wish them the best against Calgary.

  3. Agreed, Horsie. But some of the excuses are a bit rich. Durant hasn’t played with some of the receivers. Neither has Reilly or Mitchell or Glenn or, more specifically, Ray who put up 500+ yards with a few receivers he hasn’t played with. Durant’s a veteran – he hasn’t played particularly well.

  4. If the football gods did indeed intervene in week 1, it appears that their goal was to hurt Sask, not help Montreal (as evidenced by a similar intervention in week 2 involving the Sask kicker and a goalpost)

  5. Riderfan Ron // July 7, 2017 at 1:51 pm //

    I think Montreal’s defence played very well against BC ,and I think your comments on the offence are good, but I think these are correctable problems. I think all that’s needed is a bit more time and patience.

  6. Most Rider fans can tell you that Durant has always taken longer to develop chemistry with new receivers. He gets his favorites and locks on once his timing starts to click, you just gotta hope it happens with more than one guy when it does though.

  7. Scottsask // July 7, 2017 at 3:52 pm //

    Further proof he’s not worth $450000. Still a good qb, just no longer elite.

    • Exactly! I’ll take Kevin Glenn for half the cost hands down, right now. More accurate that Darian on the short-mid throws. Plus faster release. I will admit we are missin the deep ball. But you can’t always have your cake and eat it too.

  8. Durant looks well past his best before date. Worth half of what he’s making.

  9. egwertb // July 7, 2017 at 8:35 pm //

    How successful can a team be with so many players OLDER than dirt? Those guys will be out of the league a year from now. In other words, look at the talent level and ask yourself whether this team is underachieving or within your expectations. How many of TSN’s top 50 of 2018 will come from the Als? One or two if TSN is into charity.

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