It wasn’t always pretty, but when you’ve struggled as much as the Montreal Alouettes have offensively this season, any positive steps are welcomed.
They scored their first offensive touchdown since July 11 against Winnipeg (a span of 11 quarters, counting the first three in yesterday’s game) and were moving the ball as well as they had in weeks but still lost to the Edmonton Eskimos 33-23 at Molson Stadium.
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In fact, if they converted their chances into touchdowns at the same pace as Edmonton, they would have walked away with a win. But let’s be real. The fact that the Alouettes having more first downs than their opponent and over 300 yards of offence is progress is pretty sad. Especially when they were down 30-8 at half-time.
This team still needs help, but it is on the way. Yes, they have as many offensive assistants (four – Jeff Garcia, Turk Schonert, Don Matthews and Ryan Dinwiddie) as Troy Smith has touchdown passes. But, you can’t expect them to make sweeping changes in just one or two weeks.
It’s not great to take a few weeks to catch up from a horrible off-season but the fact is that in the current state of the Eastern Division, where first place is 2-4 and the Alouettes are just 1-5, allows them to have time as long as they ultimately figure it out.
They cannot go and lose by 25 points to Toronto, Hamilton or Ottawa every week. Those end up being games they need to win.
Troy Smith and Duron Carter had their best game together this season, and this was without S.J. Green and Chad Johnson for most of the game after Johnson left two plays in due to a concussion. They also had Ryan White playing in place of all-star Josh Bourke who, like Green, missed the game with an injury.
Montreal Alouettes / Rogerio Barbosa
What I noticed was a lot more quick, short passes used by the Alouettes which allowed his receivers to do the work and gain the yardage. They were high-percentage passes with some big rewards, like the 50-yard pass and catch to Carter to set up a field goal and the screen pass to Brandon Whitaker which led to the touchdown.
The defence made two mistakes in the entire game, and Edmonton capitalized on them. One blown coverage and missed assignments on a direct snap led to two quick touchdowns. They were very good in the second half and were a major reason the team even had a small chance of a comeback. Noel Thorpe’s unit will be a big factor on whether they can make a playoff run.
I liked the fact that Tom Higgins left Smith out for the entire game as the struggles of putting the ball in the end zone weren’t all his fault and it showed that Alex Brink wasn’t much better in action against Toronto.
I feel that Smith gives this Alouettes team their best chance at winning and that the faults this team has offensively is its game plan and not their talent.
The Alouettes now get set to make a tough trip to Saskatchewan to face the Roughriders. They have always played Saskatchewan tough, but with the East now 2-15 against the West this season, they know they need more than to take a small step forward to get a result.