The Montreal Alouettes dropped a bombshell on Saturday morning when they announced that Mike Sherman was no longer going to be the team’s head coach. When the Als made the announcement at 10:35 a.m. ET, they mentioned that both sides decided on a “mutual” split. But from what I was able to gather from various CFL sources, there’s way more to this story.
Let’s start from the beginning.
When Sherman was initially hired, I was told that offensive coordinator Khari Jones was going to call the plays to start the 2018 season, but that Sherman would take over that responsibility when he was more comfortable with the Canadian game. At the time, that seemed like a reasonable plan to me. Unfortunately for the Als, that never ended up materializing. Sherman never took over play-calling duties and the team’s offence sputtered throughout the entire season.
The Alouettes were the only team not to crack the 300-point mark in 2018 (they had 295), they were the only team not to run at least 1,300 offensive plays, they ranked seventh in total yards gained and they averaged just 16.4 points-per-game. The offence was clearly an issue and Sherman is a coach with an offensive background.
Several reports have surfaced suggesting that players weren’t happy with the way they were being treated by Sherman. According to the information I’ve obtained since the announcement was made by the team, those stories are accurate.
Some key leaders on the team weren’t happy about the way Sherman was running things from the sideline. From practices to overall attitude, the players felt like their head coach wasn’t looking out for them. Once a few important pieces of the roster get together on behalf of the team and start demanding change at such an important position, it’s hard to ignore.
The team and the league had no choice but to go down this road.
Other changes to the coaching staff
You would assume that Sherman’s son, Ben, who has been on staff with the Alouettes since the start of last season, would also be on his way out the door. But when I asked general manager Kavis Reed about that during Saturday’s media availability, he wasn’t willing to shed much detail on that situation.
“To be fair to Mr. Ben Sherman, we have not changed anything with Ben,” Reed said. “This was a decision about coach Sherman, so my thinking is it’s fair to not comment on Ben.”
So draw your own conclusions, but I think it’s unrealistic to expect the son to stay if his father is no longer with the club.
Reed went on to mention that there would be one other change to the coaching staff, and that’s believed to be receivers coach André Barboza, who has a previous relationship with Sherman.
Barboza was an assistant receivers coach with the team last season before being promoted this winter after Jason Tucker left the organization. The 33-year-old was an assistant coach on Sherman’s staff at Nauset Regional High School in Eastham, MA.
It’s unclear if the Als will add a receivers coach to replace Barboza, or if they’ll just give added responsibilities to one of the coaches already on staff.
It’s going to be fascinating to see how the coaching staff comes together. Khari Jones, who is replacing Sherman as head coach, had his share of struggles with the offence last season. He now has even more on his plate heading into this season.
New defensive coordinator Bob Slowick was added to the staff this offseason because of his relationship with Sherman. With Sherman no longer in the picture, how is he going to fit in with the rest of the staff?
Can the team overcome all the drama surrounding the coaches and ownership situation? In order for them to shock the CFL, they’ll probably have to embrace all the craziness surrounding them. Maybe that “us vs. the world” mentality is just what they need to have success on the field in 2019.