Alouettes’ receiver Eugene Lewis believes Montreal needed ‘better player-coach communication’

Photo: Matthew Johnson/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Montreal Alouettes’ receiver Eugene Lewis believes that a failure to communicate between players and coaches was one of the key reasons why his team failed to reach the Grey Cup this season.

“I think there was times we definitely could have been more aggressive. I think there was times where we could have some better player-coach communication, just understanding how the game is going and how to adjust in a better way,” Lewis said during an appearance on The Rod Pedersen Show on Wednesday.

“I also just think at the end of the day, man, we’ve just got to go out there and want it more. Sometimes it’s the little mistakes that catch up to you and I feel like that’s ultimately kind of what happened to us.”

The Alouettes finished the 2022 season with a 9-9 record and defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Semi-Final to advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in eight years. However, they could not contend with the eventual Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts, falling 34-27 on the road in the East Final.

While the organization took a step forward on the field, it was preceded by significant turmoil. Head coach and offensive coordinator Khari Jones was fired four games into the season along with defensive coordinator Barron Miles, leaving general manager Danny Maciocia to take over on the sidelines. Noel Thorpe was brought in to be the team’s defensive coordinator and Hall of Fame quarterback Anthony Calvillo assumed the play-calling duties.

The 29-year-old Lewis was thriving in Jones’ offence but had a career year following his departure, catching 91 passes for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns on his way to being named the East Division finalist for Most Outstanding Player. Now a pending free agent, the receiver has expressed reservations about the degree of turmoil he’s experienced during his Alouettes career and will need assurances of more stability to stick around.

“First things first, I want to make sure they get a coach. I want to see who the coach is going to be,” Lewis said. “(There’s) just a couple of things I want to see before I make any decisions. I felt like last year coming into the offseason, I might have rushed myself too, just with contracts and things like that.”

Entering his sixth CFL season, Lewis would have plenty of suitors should he hit the open market. In 68 career games, he has 276 receptions for 4,347 yards and 28 touchdowns, establishing himself as the league’s premier pass catcher despite playing outside of a top market.

Asked whether he would like to take his talents out West or remain in the East, Lewis was non-committal.

“Honestly, I’ve never even really thought about that. The thing is, I’ve been in Montreal my whole career so I don’t really know anything else,” he said, going on to defend the competitiveness of the East Division.

“I really don’t have no preference. I just want to play somewhere where I can just go crazy and reach my full potential.”

The Alouettes will have until February 14 to prove that they can still be that team for Lewis and he will give them every opportunity to make their case. Just don’t expect him to make any rash decisions based on loyalty.

“Right now, I’m in talks with Montreal. Like I said, I’m trying to do everything I can to put Montreal in the driver’s seat,” he stressed. “It’s kind of just a little bit of a waiting game right now and personally, with the position that I’m in right now, I’m not really in the biggest rush. I have to make sure that I make the right decision for myself and make sure everybody’s happy and we’re all on the same page.”