After Week One of the Canadian Football League season, many were writing off the Montreal Alouettes. Turns out, it may not be nearly as bad as it seemed.
First of all, the Alouettes are tied with the Toronto Argonauts for first place in the East with a 1-2 record. Second, the Calgary Stampeders are just really good. Calgary came back off of their bye after beating Montreal and didn’t allow an offensive touchdown to the Argonauts in a 34-15 win. They have allowed 23 points in two games.
No, Troy Smith is not perfect and sometimes misses his mark, but an offence including possibly the best quarterback in the league – Ricky Ray – and with an experienced coaching staff couldn’t do much better than the “dysfunctional” Alouettes.
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The B.C. Lions – who Montreal beat in Week 2 – just defeated the defending Grey Cup champions from Saskatchewan.
The CFL season is a different animal than most . The beginning of the season is like an extended training camp. Famously, the B.C. Lions started 0-5 and ended up winning the Grey Cup. It means that at the beginning of the season, you may be analyzing what ends up being pre-season games that count.
That’s the key. These games *do* count. Even though teams may not be at their best or still adjusting to the season. It’s not an excuse – all teams have it the same way – but continuity is a major part of the early season.
Back to the Alouettes. They are missing one of their biggest offensive weapons in Duron Carter. Brandon London is good, but he’s not Carter who had a really good chemistry with Smith last year.
The Alouettes aren’t missing Shea Emry as much as I thought they would. Aaron Lavarias has filled in nicely at middle linebacker and the additions of Gabriel Knapton and Chris Wilson to the defensive line give them tons of depth in that spot.
The offensive play calling has also improved and will continue to for every game. Ryan Dinwiddie is new in the role but the high-percentage passes and emphasis on Brandon Whitaker proves that they are adapting. Winnipeg looks like a well oiled machine. They aren’t last year’s Bombers by any stretch. A one point loss to them is nothing to be ashamed of.
A trip to B.C. this week is not an easy task as that place has become a house of horrors for the Alouettes, similar to how Montreal has been bad for the Lions. It will be interesting to see how the offence comes back after their best game and how the defence responds after a disappointing finish.
Either way, you can’t count the Alouettes out until they start playing Eastern Division teams.