Coming Off a Big Win, Alouettes are Searching for Consistency
They build our hopes up, do these Alouettes, only to subsequently burst our balloon. Defeat Winnipeg, lose to Ottawa. Beat Saskatchewan, play lousy against British Columbia. The season has been a roller-coaster ride.
The Als have won only three of their eight games and have struggled on offence most of the season. And yet, in two of those victories, they scored more than 40 points. One week after failing to get into the end zone at Edmonton and being held to four field goals, Montreal scored six touchdowns and 43 points at Ottawa.
So, now what?
“We’re just a big, giant tease,” offensive-tackle Jeff Perrett said Thursday. “It’s unreal. Some of the losses we’ve been inept on offence. That’s obviously what keeps us excited and everyone else wondering what’s going to show up. We have the potential to put that (many points) up. Ottawa’s no slouch.
“Our problem is we get caught up in negative things that happen. They balloon and it gets out of control. We have to forget about the bad things. Obviously we have the guys to put points up.”
The Als will attempt to record a second consecutive victory — something this team hasn’t accomplished since last Aug. 27 — Friday night, when they entertain the Blue Bombers at Molson Stadium (7 p.m., TSN, RDS, TSN Radio-690). Montreal defeated Winnipeg in the season-opening game, back on June 24, but the visitors are a different squad since Matt Nichols replaced Drew Willy as starting quarterback. The Bombers (4-4) are on a three-game winning streak and have won their last three road games.
The Als’ next two games are at home, where they’re 1-3 this season. And this team was no better at the McGill University venue a year ago, either, going 3-6. Montreal remains last in the East Division, out of the playoffs for now. They can also qualify as a crossover team, provided they finish with more points than the third-place club in the West Division. Both the Bombers and Eskimos are tied with 4-4 records.
“That’s been one of our problems — saying there’s still time … it’s a long season. No. This game matters now. We need to win now,” middle-linebacker Bear Woods said. “I’m fine with perseverance. But it would be nice to get out in front for once and have other people chase you. We need these (next) two games. We don’t have to have them, but we need them. This will show a lot about our team if we can come out and get them. But we need this game first.”
There were many aspects of the Als’ offensive game against the Redblacks to like — starting with the exquisite work of quarterback Kevin Glenn. The 37-year-old veteran passed for five touchdowns and 382 yards, not once turning the ball over. Both Duron Carter and Nik Lewis produced 100-yard games, Montreal reaching the end zone six times.
The offence will be augmented this week with the return of tailback Tyrell Sutton and receiver Kenny Stafford, both of whom were sidelined six games with injuries. Sutton was the Canadian Football League’s leading rusher in 2015.
“We wanted to go out and show that’s what we can do and we’re about,” Glenn said. “We have to make sure we continue doing it. I don’t know that anybody goes out every week and throws … has a perfect quarterback rating. When I say duplicate it, I’m not talking about throwing five touchdowns. It’s going out and winning games, however we have to.”
As confident as the Als should be offensively, the players also must be curious, wondering which team will manifest itself this week. The defence, in general, has established an identity and has been fairly consistent from week to week. But the offence has been hit or miss.
“We’re a team that’s trying to be good — and we’re not good yet,” Lewis said. “When you’re good you’re consistent.
“I’m confident knowing what we can do. I’m curious to see how it’s going to display itself.”
The Bombers, for what it’s worth, are coming off a bye week in the schedule — as were the Redblacks a week ago. Ottawa never seemed to get into sync, the team now deciding to replace starting quarterback Henry Burris with Trevor Harris, who returns from a knee injury.
Winnipeg is 0-4 coming off bye weeks since 2013 and became the final CFL team this season to get a week off. The last time the Bombers won coming out of a bye was Aug. 16, 2012, against Hamilton. Winnipeg has lost four of its last five at Molson Stadium, although the team defeated the Als in Montreal in 2015.
“We surely have the ability … but you have to build off that. You can’t sit there and think it’s just going to happen,” said Als general manager and head coach Jim Popp. “You have to understand why it happened and build off it. And hope you have another strong game.
“There’s different reasons why we haven’t been consistent, but I have a lot of confidence in our coordinator (Anthony Calvillo) and our talent — that we can put up a big number in any game. It doesn’t mean we’re going to. You have to do a lot of things right.”
At this juncture, the Als would be content with any kind of an encore performance. Otherwise, it’s back to square one.