The Montreal Alouettes just sent a resounding message to their team with two big time moves after a 1-3 start to what looked like a promising season. After many aggressive moves this offseason to bring in big time talent via the draft, the Alouettes were expected to be Grey Cup Contenders in 2022. So far that has not looked to be the case through four weeks.
8-10 Record over Last 18 Not Good Enough
The Alouettes under Khari Jones started off hot in his first season as the head coach. During the 2019 season in which he was promoted from the offensive coordinator position, Jones led the Alouettes to a 10-8 record. Having weathered the storm that was the 2020 cancellation, Jones returned in 2021 hoping to build upon his success in 2019.
That hope faded down the stretch last season as the team stumbled to a 7-7 record despite having one of the most prolific offenses in the league. At times the team looked like it was gaining a foot hold in 2021 when it won four straight games, but ultimately wound up right back where they started when they had a two pairs of losses sandwiched by just 1 victory.
Overall I think if this four game streak never happens, and the team is simply up and down as the season goes on, we never see Jones make it to 2022. Maybe the plan was for Maciocia to take over as the eventual head coach all along if Jones didn’t pan out. At this point this looks something like a hostile takeover that might end up as the best case scenario for a team in need of a spark.
Defensive Coordinator Barron Miles Given the Boot
The defense has been a point of concern for the Alouettes for longer than I have been covering the team. That was exactly why we saw them make the trade to acquire the top overall pick. They wanted to draft plug and play stud linebacker Tyrell Richards who nearly competed in the Combine with three different position groups.
The thought process was that if the team gives Miles the talent and he can’t make it work, then the issue is clearly coaching right? Well that’s the gamble this general manager just made by showing his fairly new defensive coordinator the door just four games into a rookie first round pick’s career. The effect this has on Richards will be a key storyline to watch going forward.
General Manager, Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator
Danny Maciocia has spent a lot of time within the city of Montreal, and with the Alouettes organization over his career in football. With that being said, maybe there is no better man to step in for this position at this point than Maciocia who will now operate as his own head coach, and offensive coordinator.
Maciocia got his start in coaching back in 1994 during a two-year stint with the St. Leonard Cougars a CJFL team. Beginning as the offensive coordinator during a Championship season. He would be promoted to head coach in just his second season as a full-time coach.
This job quickly helped him land his first full-time job in the CFL. He joined the Montreal Alouettes for the first time in 1996 as a quality control coach. This was the foot in the door that he needed to continue up the ladder within the organization as it often is for coaches, but at the time I doubt anyone saw him making it to the position he is in now with Montreal.
After just one season he moved up to coaching running backs, a position he held for just three seasons until the Alouettes instead handed him Assistant Offensive Coordinator duties. This was another short lived role he held for just one season before taking over the coordinator role himself in 2001.
Edmonton Where His Stock Elevates
After this one season stint as the offensive coordinator he moved on to Edmonton as their offensive coordinator. Almost immediately Maciocia made a mark on the team. Of his three seasons as the offensive coordinator, he attended two Grey Cups, winning one.
The Eskimos as they were still known at the time, saw they had a wunderkind offensive mind on their roster and knew they couldn’t afford to lose him. That’s when they promoted him to head coach after firing former head coach Tom Higgins after a 9-9 season following his two Grey Cup Appearances.
With that being said Maciocia is no stranger to pressure. He is also no stranger to finding a way for his team to respond to that pressure. Maciocia reportedly became the first Quebec Born head coach in CFL history and the first Canadian Head Coach of the Edmonton Franchise since 1951. In his first season as the head coach the Eskimos were back in the Grey Cup again.
Hell Has No Fury Like an Edmonton Fan’s Scorn
After his first Grey Cup win as the head coach of the Eskimos, the team stumbled and fell out of the playoffs for the first time in 35 years. Suddenly that 9-9 season two years ago didn’t seem so bad, especially while their former head coach had led Calgary to a 21-15 record since he was fired.
Maciocia must be one hell of a salesman because not only did he keep his job as head coach, he was promoted to director of football operations prior to the 2007 season. This in turn gave him more control over personnel moves, allowing him more of a hand in the roster building aspect. This trend continued until after the 2008 season.
In a bizarre move, Maciocia resigned as head coach following the 2008 season, but was retained as the Director of Football Operations, and General Manager. Having added the title of General Manager prior to the 2008 season, it made for an interesting dynamic in the front office. Regardless his reign as GM was short lived, and he was fired 5 weeks into the 2010 season. He would finish the 2010 season as a volunteer coach with a Quebec Junior college team.
Back in Montreal Once Again
Having been away from Montreal for several years now, Maciocia felt it was time to return. This time with the Carabins Maciocia, was hired as the head coach of the university just one season removed from being ousted in Edmonton. He would go on to serve as the head coach for the next nine seasons, all the while building more and more of a fan base for his accomplishments in Montreal.
Eventually his name was considered in 2016 when the Alouettes had an opening at General Manager, but he was passed over in that search. Then came another search just four seasons later, and this search settled on Danny Maciocia as their new General Manager in 2020.
Having suffered through the 2020 shutdown as his first season, Maciocia seemingly has had a decent run as the GM of the team, but it the move to put himself squarely in the face of blame, should the team not rebound is without a doubt an interesting one. As the General Manager, Head Coach, and Offensive Coordinator now, as well as the man who chose the new defensive coordinator who else can be the scape goat?
Familiar Face Hired as Defensive Coordinator
Noel Thorpe a familiar face who spent the 2008-2011 seasons with Danny Maciocia, will be brought to replace Barron Miles as Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach. Thorpe spent many years in Montreal with the Alouettes, and also a one season stint with the Carabins.
He first joined the Alouettes in 2002 as the special teams coordinator. This was the same season that Maciocia happened to move on to Edmonton. After just one season as the Special teams Coach Thorpe added defensive back’s coach to his duties. He held this position until Danny Maciocia came calling for the same role.
Thorpe wound up accepting the position with Maciocia and the Eskimos, and it rewarded him quickly. After first being hired in 2008 as the Special Teams Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach, he added Assistant Head Coach duties in 2009. Its clear he and Maciocia see eye to eye, so it makes sense that this would be the name tapped for the position.
Thorpe spent the 2013-2017 seasons in Montreal as the defensive coordinator, before again spending two seasons a piece in Ottawa and Edmonton as their defensive coordinator. He was let go by Edmonton following the 2021 season.
Could Danny Maciocia Already Be On The Hotseat?
Perhaps these moves were spurred by the news that Danny Maciocia could be on the hotseat if things weren’t turned around, and fast. If that’s the case then assuming all these duties is not out of the question. Given the Fact that you could end up getting let go no matter who you bring in as a coach, you may as well live and die by your own abilities.
I applaud the Alouettes organization for showing their fans they are not content with .500 seasons, or for that matter a losing record four weeks into the season. This was the same message they sent with the big time moves to bring in Tyrell Richards, and bring back many prominent veterans this offseason. Now it’s up to Danny Maciocia, and his sidekick Noel Thorpe to prove they can execute the vision Maciocia laid forth.
Full coverage of the 2022 season on CFL News Hub.
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