Could Montreal Be the Best Team in the League?

I've been doing some thinking. Coming into this season I would have regarded Montreal to be the best team in the league without a quarterback, or at least a reliable stud QB.

Offensively, they still have a strong offensive line. I have considered Sutton over the past year and a half to be the most underrated back in the league. The receiving corps somewhat overhauled perhaps could use a little more speed but it is a veteran group of playmakers.

On ST they have added huge leg Bede, and Stephon Logan meaning that they are tough to beat on field position exchanges.

But 2 games in what has really hit me the most is that of all the strong defenses from last year (Calgary, Edmonton, Sask, BC, Montreal) the Alouettes are the only ones not struggling with the new no contact rules. They are the only one of last year's strong defenses that continuing to get pressure and keep points allowed down.

The new rules have caused a shift from man coverage to zone coverage, and with ALL of the previous few years' strong defenses built on aggressive man coverage, the new rules have leveled the playing field for all of the meh secondaries out there. But of all the strong aggressive defenses, Montreal's defense has suffered the least by far from the new rules.

Even with Crompton or Bridge at QB, it can be argued that QB aside, Montreal stacks up well against ANYBODY else in the league. For my money, Montreal's defense is ahead of EVERYBODY for sure.

Now throw Cato into the mix.

Now I am not fool enough to think that one game removes all doubt of his abilities, especially at such a young age and limited experience, but I also know that I saw a darn good QB the other night.

Suppose - just suppose - come end of July or August, Cato shows consistently that he in fact is the real deal ...

Could Montreal be the best team in the league?

I'm not saying they are, just suppose. Think about it. Discuss.

I guess We will see this week.

Oski waa waa Holy Mackinaw TIGERS EAT THEM RAW!!! :rockin:

I don't know about the best team in the league. Cato is a rookie and with Ryan Bomben and Ryan White gone the Oline depth is not quite what it was but I think they can play with anybody.

I second Hfx. I don't think we're the best in the league until we prove it over a large sample size. That said, I feel a helluva lot more confident about us now than I did before the Calgary game, and there is depth at most positions all over the roster.

I also agree with prairiedog about Sutton. Very underrated. He's the reason why we cut Brandon Whitaker loose.

I am very interested, though, to discuss why certain teams' secondaries are struggling. I mean, we're not perfect, but as prairiedog noted, we've been holding our own even with the new rules. Now you look at Edmonton under Chris Jones, who was basically Noel Thorpe's mentor going back to their days in Montreal, and the Esks are struggling a bit defensively. Why is that? Jones loves to dial up pressure. Is simply a personnel issue?

To some extent, I can understand old-school guys like Stubler and Hall struggling: their defenses are built on match recognition and communication but also on the assumption that a defensive front will get pressure and allow the back seven to clog up the passing lanes. They play to take away the big play and dare you to put together a sustained drive on the assumption that it's harder to do the latter than to score a major with a few big receptions. Now, though, there's so much soft space for receivers to find due to the new rules that playing off might just result in a slow death, rather than a quick one. In Hall's case, too, I don't think he has the best players to work with, and developing chemistry within a secondary while playing zone or man-zone combo takes quite a while. He may still be putting his stamp on the defense's identity.

If you look at the stats so far we have Quarterbacks at 80 percent of better after a couple weeks. The same guys who were around 65 percent last year are at or above 80 percent. QB's aren't having to hang on to the ball as long. Sacks are down, completions are up... Disguising your coverges and your blitz package becomes real important because you have a second to a second and a half less on average to get to the QB. I think Montreal and Hamilton so far have done the best job of that.

Its a long season and the sampling is small.

Agreed, the sample size is very small. We'll see how things look at the halfway mark of the season.


I wouldn't exactly say that Montreal is the best team yet......but I would certainly say that they are one of the top 4 BEST in the league along with the Ti-Cats,Argos and REDBLACKS :wink: :rockin: :slight_smile: :rockin:

Little early to say. Let's give it a month (or 2).

Yea, I agree, we could see an Eastern cross over for the first time. Two East teams in the Grey Cup................. :thup: :rockin:

So we go from discussing whether the Als are better than they looked in week one debating if they're the best team in the league after week 2?

The Als have never been a bad team, just a team that didn't have the QB play. The big run in the second half of last season can attest to the fact they can be a really good team with middling QB play. If they can get above average QB play on a regular basis then who knows, they could very well be one of the best. But realistically, Cato had a fantastic first game, but it's only one game. There have been more than a few QBs that have come and gone that had fantastic early showings and then suffered ups and downs going forward and never amounted to much or lost the faith of their coaches because of it and ended up out of a job. Ryan Dinwiddie for instance, who I think is still on the Als coaching staff, can attest to that. But for sure, Cato had a promising start to his career that can offer the Als fans hope. If he can continue to grow as a QB, and certainly how patient they Als have been with Crompton so far shows they are willing to show some patience with their QB, he certainly seems like he could become the next QB to elevate the Als to the upper echelon status.

I could be wrong but I don't think film will help very much with Cato. There are no major tendencies that I saw anyway. He makes plays on the run to both sides of the field. He improvises and moves the pocket a lot and he gets ride of the ball real quick. I think there will be games where he throws picks, because he's willing to take chances that most QB will not, he likes to thread the needle and is confident throwing in double and triple coverage so there will be games especialy early on where his confidence gets the best of him but it won't be because of devensive coordinator genius but because guys made plays on him.

While wolverine's point about film is valid to some extent, it cuts both ways too. Yes, other teams will have film on Cato now. But he'll also have a full week's worth of reps as a starter (he actually split time 50/50 with Bridge leading up to the Calgary game!), which will, in all likelihood, allow Schonert to expand the playbook for him. He was working with a limited set of play packages in the Calgary game: mostly quick outs and curls, screens, swing passes, a few intermediate passes, no long ball. He'll get more tools in the toolbox against Winnipeg...

I'm not trying to knock him Hfx and disciplineandpunish, I too and looking forward to seeing what he can do this week, just reaffirming what you had said earlier that the sample size is small. It's not all about other teams having film on him. And sure he could benefit form expanding the playbook and more reps in practice, but those aren't a guarantee of success come game day. Joey Elliott, Tino Sunseri, even Troy Smith with the Als all had times where they took all the reps in practice etc. How did that work out for them? I'm just saying let's enjoy it for what it was, a fantastic game, and that it's unfair to heap too much expectation on a rookie. The guy he beat, BLM, has one of the best records for a young QB ever and he had a couple years as a backup under his belt in order to achieve that. And I suspect the excitement and expectations will mount after he probably has another big week against the Bombers who are giving up passing yards like Halloween candy.

Week to week he'll face different personnel, different defensive philosophies, different blitzing schemes. Each gameday will present a new set of challenges and reads he will need to make, regardless of what teams scheme to do based on his film. And Cato himself is only 23. It's only natural that some weeks he won't be as successful. Cato, for instance, didn't face much adversity vs the Stamps. How does he react if he throws a couple early picks for instance, or has to play from behind? And several coaches will tell you that, while practice is great, a lot of learning for young players occurs on gameday. Promising start, hope he can build on it. This league needs good young QBs to build on.

All valid points, wolverine, and yep, the sample size is way too small. But I honestly can't remember the last time I saw an Alouettes QB not named Anthony Calvillo impress like this. So I'll take the win for what it is and hope that Cato can grow and build on this promising start. I'm sure he'll make mistakes along the way, as you noted, but there is a great foundation on which to build.


Wow, you two sure brought a lot to the discussion. Might want to add some reasoning or insight to your posts; this is a discussion topic, not a poll. Not much point in simply posting "yes" or "no". :wink:

Of course, I'm not saying I disagree. I think Montreal looks great after their last game, but still has to prove they can reproduce these results over the course of multiple games. If they can win a game away from home and beat Winnipeg with Willy at the helm, I think that will certainly help their case as the best team in the league (although Toronto is making a case for that title, too: Trevor Harris looks slick).

Okay, after one win against a flat team, with a new quarterback that defences don't have a book on yet. I don't think anybody can make the statement that Montreal is the best team in the league. They were beaten by Ottawa, looked bad in pre-season.

In a word.....


Could I win the lotto? The answer is yes. It's unlikely but yes. I think the odds however favour Montreal quite a bit more, but I would say they still got a ways to go.

There's been a lot of favorites and underdogs performing at odd levels this year, as well as a LOT of close games. I think it speaks to the level of skill in the league. We'll know more by Labour Day.