The Montreal Alouettes lost to the BC Lions 25-34 on Saturday. The Alouettes have displayed some predictable tendencies on offense making things rather straightforward for the opposing team’s defensive coordinators. Should the Alouettes wish this could be easily remedied as the offense is not bad by any means, but it is predictable.
The Tyler Snead Trick Play Was Awesome
Tyler Snead is a receiver who threw 3 touchdown passes in his collegiate career. I was elated when I saw him catch a backward pass from Fajardo in the backfield and step into a throw which was a 24-yard completion down the right sideline to Austin Mack.
This was a great play to draw up by HC Jason Maas and OC Anthony Calvillo and I hope we see it a few more times.
Run the Ball
I’ve been saying this like a broken record since week 4. Montreal has got to commit to establishing the run. In this game, we saw Montreal have 37 passing plays compared to 13 rushing plays and that’s not even including pass plays that resulted in a sack or Fajardo scrambling (which is another 12 passing plays).
This creates a predictable play-calling pattern with such an imbalance of run plays compared to passing plays. There’s also been a tendency to run the ball less and less as the game progresses which only makes the offense more predictable.
In this game, we saw Montreal give Stanback the ball 8 times for 102 yards (12.8 average) and a touchdown. Stanback had 5 carries in the first half and 3 in the second. Jeshrunn Antwi had 3 rushes in the first and 2 in the second with 11.6 yards per carry for 58 yards.
Stanback had the big run play for a 69-yard touchdown to open the fourth quarter but after that, Montreal ran the ball only 2 times for the remainder of the game.
Too Many Sacks
There has often been a correlation between Montreal taking more sacks this season and allowing more pressures when they are not committing to the run. Montreal allowed 5 sacks this Saturday in the loss to BC.
In the week 6 loss to Toronto, we saw Montreal commit to the run and not allow any sacks then they abandoned the run and had 6 passing plays in a row and took a sack. Montreal allowed 4 sacks in the final 31 minutes of that game.
In the week 8 win against Calgary, Montreal had a balanced offense that committed to keeping the run established and gave up only 1 sack.
Simply put when Montreal is running the ball their offensive line seems to gain momentum and does a better job attacking in the trenches. On the flip side, when Montreal is not running the ball the O-line has often looked like it’s playing on its heels.
Montreal’s head coach Jason Maas and OC Anthony Calvillo love the passing game of course as they are both ex-professional quarterbacks but in my opinion, I think they need to learn to love the run more as well. It might be beneficial for Montreal’s offensive line to adopt the mantra of the Alabama Crimson Tide’s offensive line heading into their season of “Run the Dam Ball”.
Cody Fajardo Needs to Play Smarter
I am going to preface this by saying that I believe strongly in Fajardo’s abilities and disagree with many of the criticisms of Fajardo’s quality of play. Fajardo played very well in 2021 prior to his injury-riddled season in 2022 (during which many seemed to forget his career accomplishments) and was a CFL All-Star in 2019. Fajardo has shown that he can play at a high level and I have high expectations of him based on what he has demonstrated in the past.
Very Good in Quarters 1-3
Over the first 3 quarters, Fajardo attempted 26 passes completing 19 (73%) for 271 yards and a touchdown. That’s a passing efficiency rating of 119.23. He stepped into his first throw hitting Tyler Snead for 15 yards over the middle. He made some good runs in the game such as a 7-yard gain when an opening came available down the middle for 7 yards and shortly thereafter for 10 yards.
Fajardo added 36 rushing yards over the game on 7 rushes although on a couple of plays, he appeared to be trying to do too much electing to run down the middle with linebackers ready for him when the pass protection was still withstanding the Lions’ pass rush.
Fourth Quarter Was Tres Mal
In the 4th quarter, Fajardo attempted 9 passes completing 3 of them for 37 yards with 2 interceptions. That’s a passer rating of 7.41. Both of the interceptions were similar decisions. On the first interception, there were 5 minutes left and Montreal had a first and 10 from the BC’s 22-yard line. Fajardo targeted Austin Mack in double coverage in the back left corner of the end zone. The second interception was an overthrown ball to Austin Mack in the back right side of the end zone on a first and 10 with 1 minute left from BC’s 32-yard line.
The second interception I am more forgiving of the decision as Montreal was trailing by 2 scores with little time left. However, the first INT was very poor risk management in making such a high-risk pass when trailing by only 2 points with 5 minutes left on a 1st down.
Targeting the Same Receivers Too Much
In the loss to Toronto Fajardo forced a pass targetting Austin Mack late in the game as well in the red zone that resulted in an interception.
Often times throughout the season Fajardo has seemed to not be going through his progressions quickly enough and will target the same 2 receivers with the majority of his targets. In this game, Austin Mack and Tyler Snead accounted for 20 of the 35 targets. They are both fantastic receivers but if defenses can put double coverage on Austin Mack and still reliably expect to see targets come his way that is not a good thing. It’s overly predictable and that’s a big reason why 6 of Mack’s 12 targets from Fajardo were incompletions with 2 of them being interceptions.
172 Yards of YAC
Montreal’s receivers had another big game of YAC with Austin “YAC Attack” Mack once again hitting the fast track many times on his way 7 catches for 143 yards, 59 of which were YAC.
Tyler Snead had 7 catches for 69 yards, 25 of which were YAC. Tyson Philpot had 3 catches for 32 yards with 30 of those being YAC. Cole Spieker had 51 yards on 3 catches with 16 YAC.
Greg Ellingson had 1 catch for 10 yards which was all YAC in his debut as an Alouette.
In the backfield, James Tuck had 2 catches for 21 yards all of which were YAC, and Jeshrun Antwi had an 11-yard catch which was all YAC.
J.R Reed’s Injury Could Be a Huge Loss
This game was J.R Reed’s 6th start at cover linebacker and he has done a good job at the position since Najee Murray’s injury in week 8 that ended his season. This is a huge loss for Montreal if he has to miss time. It was positive to see Reed put some weight on his right foot heading down the tunnel but he was not putting much weight on it at all.
Defensive Performances and Observations
Shawn Lemon made the biggest impact on the defensive line putting quality pressure on the quarterback 3 times, had 2 run stops, and had a knockdown. Almondo Sewell generated a pressure, and had a run stop and a sack in the 4th quarter which was taken away after being reviewed and called for roughing the passer.
Mustafa Johnson had 2 QB pressures with 1 standing out as a quality pressure as well as had a very good run stop in the first quarter and another run tackle in the 4th.
Jamal Davis made some good plays against the run with 2 run stops and another tackle against the run in the 4th quarter.
Avery Ellis had 2 pressures in the first half.
At middle linebacker, Frederic Chagnon had 2 run stops, pressured the quarterback in the 2nd quarter, and broke up a pass that hit the back of his head. He may not have intentionally batted the pass down but he was well-positioned covering a short pass.
Tyrice Beverette had a somewhat quieter game compared to some of his recent performances in which he had been making a tremendous impact as of late. Beverette had a near pressure in the 2nd quarter.
J.R. Reed put pressure on the quarterback in the first quarter but was injured on a run tackle in the 2nd quarter.
Brody Buck made some good plays in his CFL debut. He put pressure on the quarterback resulting in an incompletion in the 2nd quarter, had a tackle on a short pass in the third, and helped with a run stop in the 3rd.
It was a busy day for Montreal’s rookie cornerbacks. Kordell Rodgers and Kabion Ento both had a long play allowed but overall played well most of the game.
Kabion Ento made several tackles on shorter passes throughout the game keeping things contained for the most part against a dangerous passing offense but did misplay a long pass targetting Alexander Hollins who looked like he was close to breaking up but Hollins caught the ball and ran in for a 62 yard touchdown.
Kordell Rodgers had some good tackles on short passes as well and contributed 2 run stops. He did get beat by Whitehead on a 43-yard play.
Ciante Evans had a pass breakup playing halfback in the 4th quarter in his first game back after missing 5 games due to injury.
On the other side at halfback, Reggie Stubblefield broke up a short pass in the first quarter, helped ensure a deep pass was an incompletion shoving Whitehead as he tried to make a catch near the left sideline, and also contributed a run tackle and a tackle against a short pass.
At safety, Marc Antoine-Dequoy had a good tackle closing in on a short pass in the third quarter. He was closing in to tackle Hollins on his deep play to tackle him to prevent a touchdown but tripped over Kabion Ento who laid out in an attempt to break up the pass.
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