Montreal Alouettes - Rogério Barbosa

Montreal Alouettes Lose Again: The Quarterback Is Not The Problem

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The Montreal Alouettes played a football game last night. And I feel bad for the ESPN audience that had to watch it. The Alouettes once again failed to score a touchdown, and for the most part seemed like they failed to even get a first down.

In the second quarter, Troy Smith was benched and Alex Brink came into the game. Like Tanner Marsh before him, Brink wasn’t any better than Smith and in some cases looked even worse.

Now, yes, I have been very defensive about Smith in the past. But it’s quite obvious that Smith is not the problem here.

Both quarterbacks were not good, and at some point it seemed like a miracle that a pass was even completed. Smith was 5/10 for 63 yards while Brink was 9/23 for 60 yards. Brink also threw a touchdown pass – to the Argonauts.

The ineffective pass game is also shutting down their usually strong run game. Teams are able to focus on Brandon Whitaker and, well, the results are obvious. Whitaker only had 31 yards on 12 carries after a relatively strong start in the first quarter.

It also puts pressure on the defence. They are good, but they you can’t expect them to pitch a shutout just so you have a chance. At some point, especially in the Canadian Football League, you need to score some points. If you give Ricky Ray enough opportunities and good field position, he will eventually hurt you.

The Alouettes are a mess right now. They have a head coach the general manager didn’t choose, they have a coaching staff the head coach didn’t choose and the one guy Tom Higgins did choose was fired before the first pre-season game.

The karma that Jim Popp had from the Marc Trestman hire has seemingly been reversed with the Dan Hawkins and now the Higgins hire that Popp wasn’t even involved in. The offensive system is wretched.

The talent the Alouettes have isn’t horrible. Mardy Gilyard looked really good yesterday before getting hurt. S.J. Green and Duron Carter are very good. Chad Johnson is above average as well. The problem is that the Alouettes don’t have a system that can get them the ball. Half of the throws that Smith or Brink made can be classified as “throwing it up and hoping the receiver can grab it”.

One thing seems certain. Ryan Dinwiddie can not design an offence. I’m not willing to slam his play calls, just the selection of plays he has to choose from. Maybe that’s where Don Matthews and Turk Schonert come in. Maybe this is where Jim Popp makes another coaching decision in the middle of the season.

No matter what happens, this is close to becoming a wasted season for the Alouettes. Forget about a two-and-out on offence… They have had a five-and-out for the last two seasons. I am confident that Popp can turn this around once he’s done correcting his and the Wettenhall’s mistakes from the last two years.

However, the fact remains that I have a five-game season ticket package. I have yet to attend one game. And the season might already be lost. Except for one thing. They remain only two points – one game – out of first place. Of all the scenarios, this may be the most unlikely.

But Toronto is a good example of what Montreal is going through. They lost their defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and key offensive players. Montreal lost their head coach, most of their coaching staff, and one of the best quarterbacks the CFL has seen in the league’s history.

I wrote earlier this year that the Alouettes fans have been spoiled by their own success since 1996. Now, I think a game that includes an offensive touchdown will have them brimming with the pride of a Grey Cup victory. How quickly things change.

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Tags: CFL Dan Hawkins Jim Popp Montreal Alouettes Tom Higgins Troy Smith

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