Thoughts Following the Montreal Alouettes 25-18 victory over the Calgary Stampeders on Sunday. The Alouettes are back in the win column as they are now 3-3.
CFL First Period All-Star Team (Weeks 1-7)
They Finally Ran the Football! Fewer Sacks Allowed
My biggest criticism of the Alouettes previously this season was that they need to run the ball more. Montreal did a good job of mixing in run plays throughout the game. William Stanback finished the game with 15 carries for 86 yards (5.7 average). Montreal had previously been going away from the run game which created quite a lot of predictability in their offense.
In week 5 against Montreal did not give up a sack against Toronto in the first 29 minutes. The first sack came after they ran 6 passing plays in a row. Montreal gave up 4 sacks all in the last 31 minutes of the game. In week 5 Montreal ran 10 rushing plays in the first quarter and then went away from the run with only 4 rushing plays in the third quarter and 2 in the 4th.
Montreal did well establishing the run in the win over Calgary and their offensive line looked much better than it has earlier in the season during periods in which the play calling was predictable. Montreal only allowed 1 sack against Calgary.
Montreal Pass Rush Looked Very Good
Jake Maier was pressured frequently by Montreal. Shawn Lemon played well in his first game as an Alouette. He had a knockdown in the 2nd quarter on a play he put some pressure on Jake Maier.
There were multiple plays in which Maier threw incompletions in the face of pressure from the Alouettes’ pass rush. Almondo Sewell pressured Maier in the 1st quarter ahead of an incompletion. There was another series of downs in which Maier was pressured twice in a row before he was sacked by Bryce Notree. Mustafa Johnson pressured ahead of an incompletion early in the 2nd half and it was not long after that Johnson pressured him again before knocking down a pass. Shortly after Beverette pressured Maier and he threw a pass behind the targetted receiver that was picked off by Kordell Rodgers who made a great play.
Montreal Did Not Allow Calgary to Run the Ball
Montreal had a great run-stopping day against Dedrick Mills who is a very good running back. Tyrice Beverrette had 2 very good tackles taking Mills down without allowing him to continue picking up yards. Almondo Sewell and Avery Ellis also had a good tackle on Mills stopping him. On the day Mills only had 5 rushes for 16 yards (3.2 average). LeVante Bellamy rushed 3 times near the end of the game for 18 yards on 3 carries (6.0 average). All in all, it was a very good day against the run for Montreal and Calgary gave up on the ground game.
Alouettes Secondary Was Excellent
Jake Maier completed 24 of his 44 passes (55%) for 256 yards and 2 interceptions. Maier averaged only 5.8 yards per attempt as it was infrequent for Calgary receivers to get open downfield. Kabion Ento did a great job jumping a route to get the Alouettes an interception that he took back for the only touchdown of the game. Ento later had another nice breakup which he nearly intercepted.
Wesley Sutton nearly had an interception that would have been identical to Ento’s but it was still a good knockdown. Sutton later had another nice breakup on a pass targeting Clark Barnes over the middle. Kordell Rodgers had a big hit on Tre Odoms-Dukes near the end of the first half that prevented a first down forcing Calgary to kick a field goal.
Cody Fajardo Was Often Inaccurate
I am a big believer in Cody Fajardo’s ability to play the quarterback position. However, this was not a good game for him. His accuracy was often off the mark. It was raining at times but that was football.
In the 2nd quarter, Fajardo threw it high over the middle resulting in a drop by Austin Mack. The next play was thrown across to Kaion Julien-Grant also high behind the line of scrimmage. Julien-Grant was in a position in which he could not make a move to evade Titus Wall who hit him as he was coming down with the football. He had 2 plays in a row in the 4th quarter just outside the red zone in which he overthrew Mack on the left side of the field and then the next play he overthrew Philpot over the middle. There was also a play on 2nd down in which Kaion Julien-Grant was wide open and the ball was very overthrown on what should have been a touchdown.
Of course, Fajardo had some good passes such as one dropped past Calgary’s secondary to Julien-Grant near the far sideline as one example but Fajardo is capable of playing so much better than he did this week.
Joseph Zema Saved a Field Goal
The snap was high and Zema quickly reacted catching the ball before getting the hold set in time for David Cote to kick a field goal in the 4th quarter.
No, Jake Maier Did Not Lose the Game by Not Scrambling
Calgary needed 3 yards to stay alive. Jake Maier was criticized by some for electing to pass instead of running for the first down on this play. The pass fell incomplete in the back of the endzone and Montreal got possession of the football. There were 2 Alouette linebackers in a perfect position to stop Maier should he have elected to run the football. I do not believe he would have made it to the first down and I am not sure he would have even gained a single yard in this scenario so I believe passing was the correct decision, however, an argument could be made that there may have been better options to pass to.
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