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Montreal Alouettes Have Extremely High Potential: 5 Thoughts Following Week 4 Loss to Winnipeg

The Montreal Alouettes lost on Canada Day at home to Winnipeg 17-3 but the game was much closer than the score would indicate.

Winnipeg’s Performance at Defensive Line Key Factor in Outcome of the Game

Montreal’s offensive line has given up 15 sacks on the season thus far. In the loss to Winnipeg, there were 5 sacks allowed. After 3 games this is a possible cause for concern. It did not necessarily feel like the offensive line was bad for Montreal, but more so that Winnipeg’s defensive line was very good in the Alouette’s first loss of the season.

Winnipeg’s pass rush has been one of the most dangerous in the CFL with the likes of Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat terrorizing quarterbacks. Cody Fajardo was pressured far more than Montreal would have liked to see yet for the most part played a pretty good game. Fajardo possesses a great ability to escape the pass rush and demonstrated this often as he would evacuate a collapsed pocket and turn what looked like an incoming sack into a positive offensive gain by running downfield.

It’s far too early to hit the panic button or even the concern button for Montreal’s offensive line but they are definitely going to want to see some better performances soon.

Turnovers a Major Factor in Loss

Montreal had 4 turnovers in the loss to Winnipeg. The most significant one was likely the interception which was thrown in the third quarter. The score was 10-0 in favor of Winnipeg at the time. The first play of the drive was a 1 yard gain by Stanback. The next play was the longest play of the game, a 69-yard pass to Kaion Julien-Grant that brought Montreal to Winnipeg’s 14. Cody Fajardo made a bad read near the goal line and it was a fairly easy interception for Brandon Alexander to step into. Winnipeg returned the interception 62 yards to the 46. Winnipeg scored on the drive making it 17-0.

The interception ended a dangerous drive that could have been a touchdown and ended up being a touchdown for Winnipeg in the next drive that was set up by a big interception return. That’s a 14-point swing and Montreal lost by 14.

The other 3 turnovers were fumbles by William Stanback, Austin Mack, and Cody Fajardo.

Montreal Needed to Establish the Run

Montreal ran the ball well overall against Winnipeg as William Stanback rushed 8 times for 42 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and Walter Fletcher ran twice for 11 yards (5.5 average). Those are good averages. It’s a head-scratcher that Montreal only ran the ball 10 times compared to the 27 passing plays.

It’s important to have a healthy amount of run plays to keep the defense honest. With only 10 rushes in a game, it creates a certain level of predictability where defenses are aware of the tendency heavily leaning towards passing, so they are defending the pass. Pass rushers aren’t as concerned about having to be as ready to contain a run play in this scenario. The quality of pass plays often improves when the ball is ran more as a result.

I believe it’s possible the limited ratio of run plays compared to pass could have created a level of predictability in Montreal’s offense against Winnipeg.

Montreal’s Defensive Performace Was Quite Good

Montreal’s defense held Winnipeg to 17 points and kept Collaros to just 177 yards. Holding Winnipeg to 17 points is not an easy feat and one of Winnipeg’s touchdown drives was aided by a long interception return that put Winnipeg in Montreal territory. Montreal would have liked to see some better run-stopping as Brady Oliveira was able to rattle off 120 rushing yards on 20 carries (6 yards per carry), but that is not an easy task to limit Winnipeg’s rushing offense.

Montreal had some key injuries with 3 defensive starters missing the game DB Ciante Evans, CB Dionte Ruffin, and LB Avery Williams. Despite the injuries, Montreal had a very good defensive performance against a Winnipeg team that’s regarded by many to be the best offense in the CFL.

The Montreal Alouettes Have Extremely High Potential

The Alouettes are very good right now and did play a good game against Winnipeg despite it looking somewhat lopsided on the scoreboard. The net offense was 350 yards for Winnipeg while Montreal had 337. Montreal had more yards per play on average at 7 while Winnipeg had 6.4.

There’s a lot to like about the Alouettes. The defensive play has been great through 3 games. Aside from this game, the run-stopping in Montreal’s first 2 games was elite as they held Ottawa to 54 yards in week 1 and Hamilton to just 38 rushing yards in week 3. The passing game for Montreal has been very effective as Cody Fajardo has been very efficient and Kaion  Julien-Grant and Austin Mack have been top-performing receivers. William Stanback has been running the ball well and Walter Fletcher is another very capable back who can help contribute as well.

If Montreal can improve their performances at pass protection and make some adjustments to the ratio of run vs pass plays to make them less predictable then this team can really take itself to the next level.

Montreal has another tough challenge ahead of them next week as they will go on the road to play the BC Lions Sunday, July 9.

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Jonathan Clink Reporter
Jonathan Clink joined CFL News Hub in early April of 2023. His primary responsibilities are covering the BC Lions and Montreal Alouettes. He self awarded himself the CFL Rookie Journalist of the Year in 2023 following the 2023 CFL season. He also proclaims himself to be a "really cool guy". He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and lived a large portion of his childhood in Northwest Ontario. He currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan and misses being being able to have 4 months of skating every winter. Clink has written over 240 articles for CFL News Hub. He was the publication's boots on the ground at the 2023 Grey Cup in Hamilton. Clink has always had an obsession for sport and has a background in other sports as well having played hockey all his life and soccer, basketball, and lacrosse in high school. As a young child he used to log his hockey statistics after every game which is either an indication that he was destined for the role or perhaps and indication that he is rather strange.
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Davey Keon

    July 3, 2023 at 2:52 pm

    Loved your very honest article,was right on money. The usual suspects,pundits and writers that are wanting Fajardo and co to fail,are pushing sky has fallen theory. Could mention names but wont,ok Marshall,Milt and co

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