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Montreal Alouettes At Winnipeg Blue Bombers Week 12 Film Review Takeaways: Winnipeg Is Exploiting Zone Defences

The Montreal Alouettes lost on the road against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers by a score of 17-47 on Thursday. Montreal will face another difficult opponent on Saturday when they host the BC Lions.

Other Articles:

Mike Mitchell’s Week 13 Power Rankings

Midseason All-Star Team, Awards

Week 11 Team of the Week

Week 11 QB Weekly, Week 11 RB Weekly Week 11 WR Weekly

Week 10 Stars of the Week (1st and 2nd Team)

CFL First Period All-Star Team (Weeks 1-7)

@JonathanClink on Twitter

Previous Alouettes Takeaways:

Week 11/Mid Season Takeaways, Week 10, Week 9, Week 8, Week 6, Week 5, Week 4, Week 3

Simple Crossing Routes Were Highly Effective For Winnipeg’s Offense

This was a huge test for Montreal’s defense coming into a game against a volatile Winnipeg passing offense. Both of Montreal’s starting cornerbacks in this game are rookies to the CFL this season and began the season on the practice roster. Kabion Ento and Kordell Rodgers have both played very well since being elevated to starting roles as Montreal has weathered injuries, but this game had some tough lessons for them and the Alouettes’ defensive backs.

Kabion Ento did not switch to Lawler who was running a slant to cover Dalton Schoen running a corner route in the 2nd quarter and Schoen was wide open for a 22-yard touchdown. Later in the game, the coverage was too loose on Lawler in the endzone who scored a 25-yard touchdown.

Aside from some miscommunications Wesley Sutton and Reggie Stubblefield both played well at halfback and did not have any plays that stood out as letting their man get open.

In the 2nd quarter, Kordell Rodgers switched off of Lawler running a go route to cover the inside receiver running an out route but Wesley Sutton was positioned too far to the middle of the field to be able to switch to Lawler.

The same type of crossing route combinations had great success on the sidelines in Winnipeg’s week 9 win over the BC Lions such as the first play in which Schoen ran an out route from the interior and Lawler ran a go route and the cornerback switched off to cover Schoen.

Teams Should Consider More Man Coverage Against Winnipeg (If they Have Raw Talent)

There have been a few different games in which Winnipeg has exploited simple crossing routes against zone defenses. Winnipeg has had many deep passes in which there is a miscommunication made in the cornerback switching who they are covering and the halfback not picking up the man who they are switching off of when running zone defenses. Especially in instances of teams with newer players to their system, teams struggling with injuries, and CFL rookies who before this season have never played on this size of field or 12 on 12 football. Man coverage would mitigate these miscommunications that Winnipeg has been able to exploit to find space on crossing routes down the sidelines.

Man coverage presents its own challenges if you don’t have the talent to keep up in the defensive back department. It’s a simpler defense that’s more physically tiring.

For Montreal, I think cover 1 and cover 2 man could be successful against Winnipeg. You have 2 CFL rookie cornerbacks who are young and have shown a lot of talent. Then you have another rookie at halfback in Reggie Stubblefield who has been great with Wesley Sutton on the other side. 

Tyrice Beverette and J.R. Reed who have been starting at outside linebacker both played defensive back in college and can both be effective in different pass coverage schemes.

Jackson Jeffcoat Was Dominant

Nick Callender had a difficult time blocking Jeffcoat in this game. Jeffcoat had 3 plays that stood out as quality pressure on the quarterback and helped with a 4th quarter sack. Jeffcoat also helped prevent Montreal from getting the run game going with a couple of run stops as well as another good run tackle and a play in which he assisted with a run stop. He did a great job closing in on a fumble from a botched snap in the shotgun and recovered the ball for Winnipeg.

Willie Jefferson on the other side had 2 pressures which is a great testament to Landon Rice and Jamar Mcgloster’s pass protection given what Jefferson’s games normally look like.

Marc-Antoine Dequoy Was Highly Impressive

Marc-Antoine Dequoy added another great game to a great season. Decoy had 2 interceptions, one of which he took 57 yards to the house. He also provided assistance with run tackling.

Alouettes Defensive Line Did a Good Job Generating Pressure

The Montreal Alouettes defensive line had a pretty effective pass rush. Shawn Lemon generated pressure on a 3 man rush and also had a great run stop in the first quarter. Lemon had 2 other plays he generated pressure as well one of which Collaros threw an interception on.

Almondo Sewell had a couple of nice pressures as well as 2 quality run stops.

Mustafa Johnson had a really good game with 3 quality run stops, a pressure, a sack, and a couple of other good run tackles.

Jamal Davis had 2 pressures one of which stood out as higher quality.

Alouette’s Linebacking Group Was Mostly Good

Tyrice Beverette had a really good game with 3 run stops and another run tackle. He also applied pressure a couple of times in the 2nd quarter. There was a play in which Oliveira was open on out route on his side of the field during which Oliveira caught a touchdown pass.

Tyrell Richards had a pick 6 early in the game and generated a QB pressure in the 2nd quarter. There was a run play he was unable to make a tackle and another one in which he was guilty of a facemask in the 1st quarter. Richards sustained a leg injury in the 4th quarter and was carted off which is a huge loss to a linebacking group that already has 2 key players on the 6-Game Injured List.

J.R. Reed who is another CFL rookie for the Alouettes made some plays run tackling but he also missed a tackle in the 1st quarter and on a couple of plays in pass coverage his man was open. Ultimately this game will only make him better. The Georgia product played very well in his first 3 starts.

Frederic Chagnon had a couple of good run stops but did have a tackle broken. Bryce Notree had a pressure and helped with a run stop in the first quarter.

Montreal Needed More Success in the Ground Game

Both William Stanback and Walter Fletcher averaged 4 yards per carry. Stanback rushed 8 times and Fletcher ran 3 times. Montreal only ran the ball 3 times in the second half. A common pattern this season has been to abandon the run by the Alouettes which of course makes the offense very predictable.

Cody Fajardo Played Better Than His Statline Indicated

Cody Fajardo completed 14 of his 25 passes (56%) for 137 yards and an interception. He didn’t play badly on the eye and made some nice plays such as a 17-yard throw to Austin Mack down the right side for his first throw. Fajardo also had a 15-yard run when pressured. He even had an incompletion that was a pretty good play ducking under a defensive back blitzing in the end zone before escaping out of the pocket to chuck the ball out of bounds. He was pressured on quite a few different plays. 

At the end of the day though, no matter how you look at it 3 offensive points scored is not going to win football games.

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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.
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