It’s been so long since the Montreal Alouettes have won at BC Place that when they last posted a victory there, I’m surprised that footage of that particular game isn’t shown in black and white!
It’s become a streak like no other in the Canadian Football League. The Alouettes have been one of the most successful franchises these past twenty years. Players come and go, coaches roll in and out with the tide. Even some “fans” often base their loyalty on the performance of the team on any given year. But one thing has remained current since the 2000s got underway; When the Montreal Alouettes appear in a football game at BC Place, the end result is a loss.
There have been all kinds of losses in this era; soul-crushing blowouts as well as tight, last-minute losses by a scant few points. Regardless of the day or even the time the game is played, with the three hour time difference factored in. Even regardless of the quarterback, whether it’s the legendary Anthony Calvillo or the not-so legendary Troy Smith, the loss at BC Place was something you could set your watch to.
The latest installment of this match takes places this evening at 10pm Eastern, so Alouettes fans can be forgiven if they forego the match in order to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. Disregard that it’s summertime for another couple of weeks; Not everyone has the next day off.
Sitting with a 2-5 record also wouldn’t instill a lot of hope that this dubious record will fall to the wayside. But this is not your run-of-the-mill 2-5 team. The Alouettes still have not been soundly defeated by any opponent and that in and of itself has given them the hope that with some timely adjustments, they can finally shake this particular gorilla off their backs.
Montreal won’t have to face the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player of 2014 Soloman Elimimian tomorrow, as he tore his Achilles heel last week versus Hamilton. That’s one less headache. But the big question will be which Travis Lulay will show up to face the Birds of Prey. When Lulay is on his game, there’s no better quarterback in this league and he’ll destroy you. But when he’s not, he’s very beatable.
Lulay and the Lions were soundly defeated last week and will be looking to re-establish themselves against a Montreal team that has played relatively well all season but has failed to close when it counts. Even if the Alouettes roar out to an impressive lead, they’ve let their opponents come back and knife them, right at the worst possible time.
The pressure is on for Alouettes OC Turk Schonert to come up with a game plan that will best utilize the weapons he has in front of him. One such strategy would be to keep the ball on the ground, as both Tyrell Sutton and Brandon Rutley are THIS close to having a true breakout game in 2015. That being said, airing the ball out versus this Lions defence hasn’t been a bad strategy this season as they have given up a fair number of passing yards to opposing teams.
If Montreal’s O-Line can put last week’s debacle behind them and give Rakeem Cato some time and space in the pocket to work with, that will help the cause tremendously. It seems like S.J. Green is good for at least one highlight reel catch per game and he’ll be looking to add to that streak out on the Left Coast.
The biggest thing that this Alouettes defense will have to contend with is the dual threat known as Andrew Harris. As he has done for a number of years now, he has put this Lions team on his back and carried them to wins. A mere two weeks ago, he was the sparkplug versus a very tough Edmonton team with almost 200 all-purpose yards and both a rushing and receiving touchdown when the chips were down. Harris is putting together an MOP-worthy campaign this season and Montreal’s defenders will have to find a way to keep this talented Canadian in check.
I’m also expecting Dominique Ellis to make an impact, as he has assumed the starting role from the injured Jerald Brown. He’s become a target in recent weeks for the officials as he plays this game ever so close to the line. Both he and Mitchell White are now expected to step up to the next level as premier Alouette ball-hawks and if they can intercept one or more of Travis Lulay’s passes tomorrow while keeping the ref’s flags in their pockets, they’ll make a lot of people sit up and take notice.
It will be a homecoming for Stefan Logan, who was let go by BC in the off-season and will be looking to show up his former team. He’s been such a welcome addition to Montreal’s return game, really impressing from day one with his still-blistering speed at the ripe old age of 34! Logan has vowed to score a touchdown this evening and with the improvements made to this Alouettes special teams unit, you have to like his odds.
I’m expecting yet another tight, low-scoring defensive affair under the dome. I look at this Montreal team and the talent that will be taking the field has hung with every team that they have played so far this season. That being said, I wish I could say with 100% confidence that the Alouettes will walk into this dreaded barn and pull out a victory but this “curse” is sitting at 14 years and counting. If they don’t win, it certainly won’t be for a lack of effort.
I won’t spend too much time talking about Michael Sam’s departure from the Alouettes because quite frankly, it’s become old news by now. It’s been discussed way too much as it is, but I will say a few things really quick about it.
It’s pretty clear that Sam wasn’t mentally prepared to give ANY pro football league a complete and honest effort. Critics have said that he may have considered it beneath him to play in this league, but even that is speculation at best. The only person who can truly answer what went awry is Michael himself. All I can speak to is what I saw of him in his brief tenure as an Alouette.
I did see Sam putting in the extra reps after practices. I did see him making the effort to better himself daily. I truly believe that there was a part of him that really wanted to be a full-time football player. I think there was an unbelievable amount of pressure on him from media and fans alike to be the next great superstar. And when he didn’t live up to the hype or no longer suited anyone’s agenda, he immediately became a pariah in their eyes.
People are going to say what they will about the Michael Sam era in Montreal. But I think 3 Down Nation editor Drew Edwards summed it up perfectly:
I respect the courage of Michael Sam. May he find peace & happiness. But pro football is not for him & I think he knows it.
— Drew Edwards (@scratchingpost) August 14, 2015
I can only speak to my own personal experiences with Michael Sam. And in the times that I did speak briefly with him, he was a gentleman through and through. I got the sense that he really just wanted to be left to his devices to play football and this voracious, opportunistic world chock-filled with hot takes simply wasn’t having any of that. So now he’s left this team and I hope that whatever Michael Sam decides to do with his life post-football, he is given the opportunity to do it with a clear mind and without anyone’s judgment.
And if you were one of the many who thought that Michael Sam was an overhyped distraction that made the Montreal Alouettes into a virtual circus, you should be eternally grateful that Tim Tebow has never once set foot in this great nation of ours to continue his professional football career.
That’s all for now. Be sure to check out Episode 60 of the BCLionsDen Pawdcast as I chat with fellow 3 Down Nationer Brian Wawryshyn about tonight’s game. For those of you who will stay up to watch the game, follow along on Twitter as I offer up my live game thoughts on what will hopefully be the greatest match that no one will stay up late for.
Enjoy the game tomorrow, regardless of where or WHEN you will watch it.
GO ALS GO!!!