I took my dad to the Alouettes game on Friday night. The home opener. A chance to forget everything that occurred last year, and even on the road in Week 1. It was a beautiful night in Montreal, the kind of summer evening that makes you glad to be outside and among friends or family, in a festive atmosphere. Only, Molson Stadium on this night was filled more with gasps, swearing and sobering disappointment, as the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers won 56-10.
The Montreal Alouettes, once the organization of the likes of Etcheverry, Dalla Riva, Wade, Calvillo, Pringle and Cahoon, has now become the joke of the CFL. It went from having stable ownership and quality coaches like Price, Ritchie, Matthews and Trestman, to being led by the son of the owner who’s stuck in his dad’s shadow, desperately trying to carve out his own legacy, with bumbling head coach after bumbling head coach.
In what symbolized the disappointment that was about to come, the PA announcer began the countdown to the pregame festivities for the home opener, normally an exciting, hyped up moment that the crowd eats up; a chance to start the season right. But just like the impending lacklustre effort, the in-game team flashed the starting defensive lineup on the screen and went right into the national anthem. That’s it. No run-out for each player. No introduction for any offensive star like Tyrell Sutton or Ernest Jackson. No salute to the coach or mention of the injured John Bowman, a guy who decided at the appreciation of the diehard supporters, to come back for one more season.
And then came the beating. No pressure on the opposing quarterback. Seven penalties committed in the first half alone. Zero protection for Drew Willy and zero escapability by Willy. The game was over before it began.
By the half, the team was losing 34-7 and most of the aging fan base was exiting the stadium.
It’s a sad, sad state of affairs for a franchise that hasn’t been this irrelevant on the Montreal landscape since it played in front of small crowds at the Olympic Stadium, upon its return in 1996.
I’m not sure if it’s a matter of arrogance on the part of GM Kavis Reed, or a lack of football acumen by acting owner Andrew Wetenhall, but this team keeps finding a way to sink lower than the week before. Make it 13 straight losses now for the Als.
Is it too early to say that the players have quit on coach Mike Sherman? Tough to answer. It cannot have gone over well that Sherman wasn’t even involved in the offseason program initially, as he finished his commitment to another football league.
I don’t know where Montreal goes from here. I am afraid that the team will play in front of dwindling crowds the rest of the way. No one wants to endure the frustration of watching turnovers, sacks against and complete futility on offence.
You can’t help but wonder why the Alouettes couldn’t come up with one viable, exciting quarterback prospect who could scramble out of trouble when the offensive line is porous. Someone who could heave it deep when the opportunity arises. In a quarterback-driven league the Alouettes are trying to shoot pool with rope.
Competing in a sports landscape where the Impact are not headed to the postseason and where the Canadiens are currently nothing to write home about, the Alouettes are irrelevant – and that’s really saying something.
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