Als’ Nik Lewis doesn’t mince words after loss to Ticats
The easiest thing to say is the Alouettes have hit rock bottom — except 15 regular-season games remain. And why do we get the feeling this is going to get a whole lot uglier before this team sees a light at the end of the tunnel?
Veteran slotback Nik Lewis obviously agrees. “We f—in’ suck,” he said, quite candidly, following the Als’ 31-7 whitewash defeat at the hands of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Friday night at Molson Stadium.
“Until the motherf—ers take control and look in the mirror, it will continue to be no good,” Lewis continued, beginning to get warmed up and almost foaming at the mouth. “Everyone in the locker room has got to be accountable. It’s not about character. We didn’t play very well.”
The Als, it could be argued, were missing some significant offensive pieces. Veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn didn’t practise all week, suffering from inflammation in his left eye. But he was replaced by second-year pro Rakeem Cato, who won four of the team’s six games in 2015. Montreal also was without slotback S.J. Green and tailback Tyrell Sutton.
But, at the same time, the Als were coming off a bye week in the schedule, having not played since June 30. The coaching staff had plenty of time to prepare. Instead, they made a Ticats team that had lost two straight at home look magnificent.
Hamilton evened its record at 2-2. It’s the Als who are now reeling, at 1-2. Montreal’s two consecutive losses both have come at home. Indeed, since the start of the 2013 season, the Als are now 13-16 at McGill University. That’s the sign of a bad team.
“We have a lot of issues, but we have 15 weeks to correct them,” Lewis said. “We have to get it together or we’re about to lose a lot. I hope the guys in this room take it seriously. We have to look in the mirror and admit we’re not good enough. That’s where it starts. We’re not good enough — individually or as a team.”
There are other issues at work here. For the second time in three games, head coach Jim Popp challenged a play that wasn’t reviewable and was forced into taking a delay of game penalty that led to a safety. There was confusion whether Cato was behind or over the line of scrimmage, which would have determined whether the Ticats were guilty of roughing the passer or tripping. In the end, it really didn’t matter.
It also likely didn’t help to have NFL Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter on the sidelines watching his son Duron perform. At least one spectator sitting in the south-side stands indicated it appeared the elder Carter was coaching Montreal’s receivers.
Kind of sounds like a team in disarray, doesn’t it?
“It certainly seems and looks like we’re in trouble,” Duron Carter said. “I don’t know what to tell you. My girlfriend tells me our offence looks too bland — and she knows nothing about football.”
Carter was playing despite having been suspended one game by the Canadian Football League for knocking down Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell after scoring a touchdown in the last game. Carter, fined by both the team and league, has appealed the suspension and the hearing, according to TSN, is to be heard Aug. 17 — two days before a road rematch against the Redblacks.
“I’m in a tough spot. They’re stopping me from playing like I want — with energy and vibe,” Carter said. “I feel like I’m in limbo right now.
“Our offence was great at times — in the middle of the field,” he added. “We didn’t throw into the end zone one time.”
The Als scored only one touchdown against the Redblacks and have found the end zone just three times this season — none against Hamilton. Although Montreal controlled the ball for 33:19, Cato completed 18 of 25 passes for a modest 203 yards. He was replaced by rookie Vernon Adams with 13 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The move was a bitter pill to swallow for Cato, who was the quarterback of record in four of the Als’ six victories last season.
“I didn’t play like I wanted. I had a lot of bad plays,” he admitted. “I didn’t play well. But it wasn’t due to a lack of focus. I was ready. Still, I didn’t play up to my standards.”
The Als turned the ball over five times, three of which were on downs in the fourth quarter. Montreal quarterbacks were sacked an incredible eight times.
“It felt bad being taken out, and I took hits all night,” Cato said. “But that’s their call. I can’t do nothing about it.”
Defensively, it could be argued the Als deserved a better fate, allowing only one Hamilton offensive touchdown — a nine-yard run by tailback C.J. Gable. Brandon Banks returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown, while Brett Maher kicked five field goals, including a 56 yarder.
“The offence just needs time,” linebacker Winston Venable suggested. “It’s harder to get the offence going. The defence runs around like madmen. It’s easier to do that than to put together an offence.”
Time will tell whether Venable proves to be prophetic. The Als, meanwhile, have some time to lick their wounds before travelling to Toronto on July 25. The Argonauts have lost twice this season at BMO Field, while Montreal’s only win came on the road. When it comes to glimmers of hope, that’s called a silver lining.