Alouettes vs. Blue Bombers: ‘We shot ourselves in the foot, no question,’ Popp says
There’s no need any longer, it seems, to wonder about these Alouettes. They can’t live with prosperity. They can’t string together two consecutive impressive performances. They can’t play at home and quarterback Kevin Glenn, while he still gives this team the best chance at winning, will also come back at times to haunt Montreal.
The Als reached the halfway mark of the season Friday night by getting drubbed by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 32-18, at Molson Stadium. Montreal failed to win a second consecutive game for a fourth time and hasn’t been able to accomplish that feat now in a full calendar year.
The Als are now 3-6 but are fortunate that no team in the East Division has won more than four games, so they still can’t be counted out. But a year ago at this time Montreal was 4-5, following two consecutive wins, and completed the year out of the playoffs, at 6-12. Is there any reason to believe things will improve over the next 10 weeks?
“I take responsibility,” Glenn said after throwing four interceptions — one of which was returned 60 yards by linebacker Maurice Leggett for a second-quarter touchdown, giving the visitors a 19-15 lead. The final interception, at the end of the game, was a tipped ball and really had no consequence at that point.
“Whether it was a tipped ball, it still goes on my stats. I’ve been playing this game long enough that I can take the backlash,” Glenn continued. “I can take somebody saying ‘Kevin Glenn, you suck.’ I’ve been criticized for it my entire (career) to where it doesn’t phase me. I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last to throw an interception. The important thing is to get over the interceptions. You can’t be hesitant and second-guessing yourself on whether or not you want to throw the ball.
“I threw interceptions. People are going to talk about it and write about it.”
The quarterback might receive too much credit when a team wins and too much criticism when they lose, but the 37-year-old veteran, now in his 15th Canadian Football League season, must play better. That’s a fact.
Of course, Glenn’s not the one calling the plays — and there were some that can, and should, be second-guessed.
Was there any reason for Anthony Fera to attempt a 53-yard field goal early in the third quarter, on the Als’ opening possession and with the team trailing by a point? General manager and head coach Jim Popp stated his team was trying to win the game, but there was still plenty of time for that and field position was more critical.
Nonetheless, the Als got the ball back almost immediately, following a fumble by Andrew Harris at the Montreal 45. The Als gambled on third-and-one. Offensive co-ordinator Anthony Calvillo, for some bizarre reason, had Glenn operating out of the shotgun. He handed off to Tyrell Sutton, who was stopped short.
“We’ll evaluate that when we see it (on film),” Popp said. “I can’t really comment on it right now.” He also refused comment on Glenn’s performance.
The Als have now lost four of five games at the McGill University venue. After failing to score a touchdown two weeks ago, at Edmonton, then exploding for six trips into the end zone and 43 points against the Redblacks, the offence returned to their inconsistent ways. Montreal scored two touchdowns. After neither team registered a point in the third quarter, the Als were outscored 13-0 over the final 15 minutes.
Montreal has now been outscored 79-30 in the fourth quarter this season.
“Penalties and turnovers. We shot ourselves in the foot, no question. It was a tough game,” Popp said. “This crew (headed by referee Tim Kroeker) calls the most penalties. This crew calls more holding and offside. You have to be prepared.
“We’re not finding a way to win. These tight, close games have been our Achilles heel. We have to get over that hump. We’re not there yet. Believe me, we’re not happy. We lost another home game. Those are the ones you’re supposed to win.”
The Als committed six turnovers. They also had a punt blocked in the first quarter that resulted in a field goal — one of six kicked by Justin Medlock. Montreal was assessed 13 penalties for 133 yards, less than the visitors, incredibly, who were penalized 15 times for 151 yards.
In the fourth quarter, rush-end John Bowman took unnecessary roughness and objectionable conduct infractions on the same play, eventually resulting in a Harris touchdown that put the game away.
“I didn’t see any undisciplined penalties,” a frustrated Bowman said. “If you see the first penalty (against him) you let me know. I got punched in the face and I pushed the guy off me and the ref threw the flag. They pick and choose what they want to call. That’s how this league is.”
But it was veteran offensive-tackle Jeff Perrett, himself the victim of two holding penalties, who had the most damning condemnation of his teammates.
“There’s a lot more problems than just the offensive line,” he said. “Everything. We’re selfish. Until we understand we need to start playing for each other instead of pointing fingers and blaming somebody else, we’re not going to get very far at all.”
The Als, who seem incapable of handling adversity, have plenty to deal with now. And their problems will continue to compound if they lose Thursday, at home, against Ottawa.