Alouettes fail to tame the Lions, split season series

Jim Popp; Anthony Calvillo

It happened in 2010 and history repeated itself in 2015.

When the Montreal Alouettes and BC Lions face off against one another, you can almost bet your life’s savings on the home team winning, often in convincing fashion. But sometimes, the script gets flipped. Despite coming off a bye week and having to fly east, the BC Lions avenged their loss from two weeks ago at BC Place by a 25-16 score last night at Percival Molson Stadium.

The largest crowd that Montreal has hosted this season were “treated” to your typical 2015 Alouettes game; great defense, vastly improved special teams and a sadsack offense that wouldn’t merit a participation trophy, let alone an actual paycheque.

After what I wrote about him in my game preview, I have no idea what happened with Tanner Marsh. Stepping in for Rakeem Cato, who was injured and then left to return home for a family emergency, this was the opportunity for Tanner to show that he could be a leader for this football team. But in his first start since 2013, the youngster from Carrollton, TX had a rough go, to say the least.

The final stats showed Marsh’s evening as going 16/30, with 103 passing yard and FIVE interceptions. You’re simply not going to win any games if you constantly turn the ball over like that. And every single one of those interceptions was as a result of an ill-advised throw. Most notable was the pick-six that Marsh threw; Marsh couldn’t have anticipated the Lions’ Bo Lokombo getting his hand up high enough to redirect the ball thrown, but surely he had to see the numerous white jerseys that swarmed his intended target S.J. Green and not thrown the ball in their direction.

The lone bright spot on offense was Tyrell Sutton, who was only given the rock 7 times but still amassed 88 yards on the ground. So it made complete and total sense to abandon the run, especially when you have two tailbacks in the lineup! (Note the heavy sarcasm) I really, really don’t understand the play calling of Alouettes OC Turk Schonert. Unless he too had a family emergency and he was replaced by last year’s OC/current RB coach Ryan Dinwiddie. How else can one explain such a sloppy effort? And what’s even more maddening is that BC didn’t play all that great either!!

You would think Montreal would have run roughshod after knocking Travis Lulay out of the game on his second series. But John Beck came in and despite being picked off twice and passing for a similar number of yards as Marsh, he was able to find the end zone twice. Truly, this was an awful football game to watch unless you love watching teams turn the ball over.


Two Alouettes veterans that I really have to call out onto the carpet are Chip Cox and Billy Parker. When they are on their game, they are such a threat to opponents. But last night Cox took two really awful penalties; a horse collar tackle early on as well as a facemask that combined with Parker’s pass interference led to an Austin Collie touchdown. This Montreal defense is elite when they can keep the flags in the referees’ pockets; last night was another example of things falling apart at the wrong time.

I’ve been a fan of Billy’s work throughout his career and will never forget that it was his INT of Darian Durant that sealed the Alouettes’ 2010 Grey Cup victory. But this year he has looked lost, almost missing a beat at times and getting beaten by opposing receivers. And when he does halt their progress, it’s due to a pass interference call. At the start of this season, I said that he, Jerald Brown and Geoff Tisdale had to stay ahead of the young guns on this Alouettes secondary. Well, now Tisdale is gone, Brown is injured and if Parker can’t find his form, he too can be on the outside looking in.

Mitchell White and Dominique Ellis are performing at a higher level and Daryl Townsend is Parker’s understudy; he has paid his dues on special teams and could step in. This year’s first round draft pick Chris Ackie can also play DB if needed as he did for the Laurier Golden Hawks. I would hate to see Billy lose his job this way, but these penalties at inopportune times are not helping the cause.

As for Cox, he too needs to dial it back. I love his intensity and for every ill-advised penalty, you can almost always expect him to make it up afterwards with a clutch interception or QB sack. Last night was a prime example of the Cox that not only draws the ire of opposing fans, but makes it hard for Alouettes Nation to defend. As one of the leaders of this defense, I expect better from him and I think he knows that he has to be better as well.


So now the Alouettes will have hopefully burned this film from this game and gone home for the bye week to rest and hopefully return focused on salvaging this season. When you really break it down, the Alouettes have not been great overall but there are a lot of positives too.

But this team needs a direction to go offensively. It starts at the top and everyone has to be better. Rakeem Cato has been a shining light this season and he does make this team better. But instances like last night show that you cannot put all your eggs in one basket. Marsh should have been able to step into this offense with little to no problems and carry on. Is that on the player or on the coach?

This will be a week where the coaching staff will have to really sort that out. Everyone may want Turk Schonert replaced, but to those that do I say be careful what you wish for; you just may get it. And when the replacement fails just as hard, then what? It’s crazy to think, but things could be a lot worse. But they can also be better. And with the Eastern division looking as strong as it does, the Alouettes can’t afford any more games like last night’s subpar effort.


I’ll be back during the bye week with some more thoughts and hopefully the stars will align for a few things that I’ve had on the back burner. Be sure to follow along on Twitter for more news and info.