Last year, the Montreal Alouettes were behind the eight ball when Marc Trestman took a job with the Chicago Bears. General manager Jim Popp eventually went to Dan Hawkins who lasted only five games and set the Alouettes back for the entire season.
When Jim Popp took over, and the team didn’t immediately name a replacement at the end of the season, it was assumed that the search would be for an offensive coordinator with Popp coaching one year before handing the reins of the head coaching job to defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe.
However, the owner of the team Robert Wettenhall released a statement before the retirement of Anthony Calvillo to limit questions they would undoubtedly get and keep the attention on their retiring star. The statement said the head coaching search would continue and they are exploring all options.
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of Popp, but there are other factors at play here. Popp is entering the last year of his general manager deal and has entertained NFL job offers previously. It is clear that is his ultimate goal at this point in his career.
From an organizational perspective, how great would it be to have a lame duck general manager who also happens to be the head coach. That’s an awful lot of power to leave someone who may or may not be with the team long term. It is likely that a condition of Popp keeping the head coaching job – something that he wants – comes with the condition of a long term extension.
Either way, the losers in this situation is the team. Last year, an outstanding defence failed to make any difference for an offence that struggled. A lot of that will be settled with Troy Smith taking control of the quarterback position, but he needs to learn the CFL game – and potentially a new offence. The time he has to do that is quickly running short.
There is talent on offence. Smith, Tyrell Sutton, Jamel Richardson, S.J. Green and Duron Carter are all solid starters and potential all-stars. However, talent is only one part of it. Preparation is huge.
Popp – no matter what happens – will likely not hire someone without CFL experience which will help the team from the Hawkins experience last year. However, 2014 may quickly be put on the back burner if a decision is not made quickly and gives everyone involved enough time to plan for the upcoming season.