Let's get this right.....the future is now

Before we get down on this team, we all have to realize - the Al's are an aging team. What really bothers me is the fact we have invested too much time on our vetrerans without looking at replacements....This is coasting us right now. Why is it outher teams (Hamilton in particular) can find a QB other than a big name that steps in and competes. Where are the Al's looking? for get the excuses that AC can still do it....come on - his best days wehre when Barker was calling the plays. Furthermore, it seems to me we are not finding atheletes. This does not look good for the future.
I will be curious to see the attendance on Fan Appreciation Day and The Grey Cup....Needless to say, there's a huge problem with the team and staff..Let's do some serious recruiting in the off season.

This team still managed to get to the Grey Cup last year. I agree with you that the recruiting the last couple years have been below the standards set by Popp in previous years. Of all the receivers the Als recruited in the last 3 years just about all of them are 5,10" or less and none of them have played as well as Thurmon who was picked up on waivers! Pretty depressing.
Als never believed in running the ball while Don Matthews was here but if you are going to have Bellefeuille run the offense better have the guns to make it work at RB.

The oline is a mess, might need a new coach and a body or two.

At QB Als have made a lot of efforts last two seasons to at least have a decent backup. They tried to sign Printers... and Calvillo dosen't have a contract for next year yet.

You are corect this team needs to get its HC back to recruiting and travelling or find someone who wants to do it.

Evaluate their entire coaching staff and make some serious decision about where the team is at, at season's end. Cahoon is gettting ready to retire and it looks like Calvillo,Lambert,Stewart aren't far behind. Then there is some high price NI talent like Chiu,Sanchez and Flory who may or may not want to stick around or be wanted around or who the team may decide to move.

There is still five games left and depending on if the Als get a home game and how far they can go will decide what kind of mood Wettenhaul will be in at the end of the season...

This team doesn't have character.

No one shows emotions on the field after a good play. We don't have a Copeland on this team. A guy who makes a good play, and his emotions come in, and spark the team, and get them going.

Defensively, they really haven't been top notch Defense like they were. But think about it, how much do you want them to do, when you're on the field for about 45 minutes a game. The Offense goes in, 2 and out, Defense back on.

But still, there is some problems with the Defense. Defensive backs NEVER look at the ball when their playing the man. They're worried about the tackle. The only one I really see looking at the ball, is Chip Cox. But Cox plays too physical, and gets a lot of penalties, and yesterday made a mistake of tiiping the ball, BAT IT DOWN! It's not plays like that that will get you into the NFL Chip!

Offense. Same problem, O-Line is a mess. Calvillo is seeing the field, finding his receivers, and we have a tremendous Running Back. Calvillo moves the ball, then get's sacked. It's not a question of mobility, because Brady, a very mobile QB, still managed to get sacked 6 times when he played. Calvillo showed, when he gets the time, he can deliver the perfect throw. Just give him some time in the pocket.

Offense all starts at the O-Line, and Defense all starts at the D-Line. If the O-Line plays awful, you're not moving the ball.

My main theory, is that these players just don't want to play for Jim Popp, and don't take him seriously.

Don Matthews ran the ball more than Bellefeuille because Bellefool is a scared little boy who stops running the ball the moment Paynton isn't ripping off big gains. He has no philosophical commitment to the run and stops calling for the run very early.

I have other things to say about the team, but that's all I have energy for right now.

Matthew didn't run the ball more then Bellefeuille !

Well, here's my 2 cents' worth. As some of you already know, I write a more or less weekly column on CFL Insider called From the Larks' Nest. I have just sent in my latest opus, and I'll give you all an advance look at it; feel free to comment; here it is:

"A few weeks ago, I suggested that we needed a sweep against Edmonton. Sadly, we got swept instead, and followed that up with a loss in Regina.

At this point in the season, our team appears dysfunctional. We are now at risk of missing the playoffs, if Toronto passes us for second place and Edmonton makes in it a crossover minus Ricky Ray. Longshot? Maybe, but the warning signs are apparent.

In our past three games, not only have we lost, but from the perspective of a CFL fan as opposed to a Montreal fan, we have lost ugly.....our games are close to unwatchable from an entertainment standpoint.

Where to start? Well, our defence can't seem to tackle anymore. Our LBs and secondary, against the Riders in particular, were poor.....it was usually the fourth or fifth guy who had a shot who actually made the tackle. Strickland, once the heart and soul of our defence, has clearly lost too many steps and is getting burned big time in pass coverage against opposing backs coming out of the backfield.

Our defensive line is getting next to no pressure on opposing QBs; this from a team that once prided itself on pressuring opposing QBs. We are close to last place in the league in sacks. We too frequently drop 9 in coverage and go with a three-man rush. With our personnel, this is a recipe for disaster. Our coverage in man to man is poor (Greg Frers accurately pointed out on the broadcast of the Saskatchewan game how we were getting burned in man coverage; and he's a former DB so he knows whereof he speaks); our three man 'rush' scares no QB....and for comparison sake, look at how well Hamilton's three man rush scheme did against Winnipeg in the game immediately following ours. The difference was like night and day.

On offence, the O-line, but for Bourke who looks like a keeper, is a disaster. We can't protect our QB (regardless of who's in at QB); we aren't opening holes for Payton. So pass blocking and run blocking is hopeless. Thurmon has been a good addition to the receiving corps, but otherwise our receiving corps is but a pale shadow of what it used to be. Cahoon is still solid but aging.....Thurmon is good....Watkins is maddeningly inconsistent....Ashlan Davis, Deslauriers, Desrivreaux and Bratton show flashes every once in a while, but aside from Hamilton we're probably the weakest receiving corps overall in the CFL.

AC may have lost a step over the years and be on the downside of his career. Brady looked I thought excellent against BC, but had little help in the games against Edmonton. Maas is on the downside of his career as well and is no longterm solution.

As for the management of the team, I think there is no question but that in normal circumstances, at this stage of the season there would be calls to fire the head coach. Popp however is unlikely to fire himself...but there is every reason why he should.

Popp has in the past been a brilliant GM, an excellent finder of talent. We have lost that because he annointed himself head coach. In the offseason he found us talents like Diamond Ferri, Randee Drew, TJ Hill, Devonte Claybrooks, Josh Bourke, Jerome Payton. But during the season? Nada.

A GM, particularly in September, should be looking at the NFL cuts to see who's available to help us. We missed the boat completely on that this year, despite some glaring deficiencies. We have a weak O-line; who did we bring in ? No one. We need some speed merchants at WR; who did we bring in? No one. We need help with our pass rush; who did we bring in? No one. We need some LBs who can cover backs coming out of the backfield; who did we bring in? No one. We need some secondary personnel who can actually tackle; who did we bring in? No one.

Because he's busy playing at being a head coach, Popp has been MIA in terms of player recruitment. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats also had a poor pass rush, but because they have a fulltime GM, they went out and found an NFL cut who could help them, Charlton Keith, and he has looked excellent. Why didn't we get Keith or someone like him? Because our GM-Player Personnel man has been MIA. This is inexcusable.

So, my opinion is that Mr Popp has to be told by the owner or Larry Smith to step down as Head Coach and revert to being a fulltime GM-Player Personnel director, and, if he refuses, then it's time to give him the golden handshake and wish him well in his future.

I also believe that Marcel Bellefeuille should be shown the door at the same time. His offensive scheme is no match for our personnel. It isn't even a match for the CFL. Over and above the fact that it is downright boring, the fact remains that in the CFL you have THREE downs to get 10 yards. In the NFL, with four downs, a Bellefeuille offence might be adequate. In the CFL it isn't.

So, at this point, with missing the playoffs a scary possibility, it is time to bite the bullet and shake things up with those two suggestions. I'd make Chris Jones interim head coach, bring in someone to run the offence, again on an interim basis (is Kevin Strasser available? Or maybe Jock Climie?), and try to salvage something out of this season that is going south fast. Then in the offseason, I'd do a major recruiting job to get a good staff put together...names like Jacques Chapdelaine, Greg Marshall, Richie Hall, Steve Burrato, and Jim Barker would be on my list.

This, of course, is only what should have happened last year. Time to admit the mistake and move on."

I think your article reflects the current situation very well. However most of the names you mention as possible replacements are not available anymore...

I specialy appreciate the example you make about Charlton Keith.

My fear is it may be difficult to retain Jim Popp and attract quality experienced individuals to come in. In fact I would favour removing Larry Smith as well. I would not make any changes until the end of the season. It would not make a difference at this point and the situation is so bad in certain areas that any attempts at a quick fix will propel the club to the bottom of the division for years to come.

Thanks for the advanced copy

The names I mentioned WOULD be available if we were offering a promotion (i.e. a Defensive Coordinator or Offensive coordinator being offered a head coaching position).

Quick question to highlight how messy things are. Popp agrees to go back to being GM.

Who hires his replacement?

I would assume Popp would

Robert Edwards had back-to-back 1000-yard seasons with us. Is Payton going to hit 1000 yards this year? I doubt it. The second we fall behind in a game, Bellefeuille goes away from the run.

Was the running game more productive? For sure but he didn't run the ball more

2005 Edwards 10.4 carries per game
2006 Edwards 11.8 carries per game
2007 Edwards/Payton 17.69 carries per game

Plus.....Payton's a far superior blocker and he doesn't have fumble-itis.

I still maintain that Bellefeuille has no in-game commitment to the run when things don’t go our way. If we get down by just a TD, out goes the running game and opposing Ds get to tee off on Calvillo. Also, we run the ball so ineffectively that it doesn’t matter how many carries Payton gets. After a while, everyone knows we’re going to do our patented “handoff to a stationary RB for a play up the middle”. They anticipate, they jump on it, and it goes nowhere.

100 percent agree... It was painfuly obvious looking at Austin's offense compared to the Als yesterday. Wes Cates got 86 yards receiving and 46 yards rushing for 132 yards.
Payton 13 receiving, 31 rushing for 44 yards.

Calgary is doing it with Reynolds, BC with Smith, Edmonton with Ebell...

Gives a fourth dimension to the offense preventing the linebackers from dropping in coverage or blitzing.

The painful truth: we are a subpar team this year. No getting around it. Popp has been so busy doing a (terrible) job of head coach that he hasn’t even brought in the talent he normally brings at all positions to make the team stronger.

Our linebacking corps is atrocious. Seriously. I thought we had talent there, but Hill is mediocre, Mackey isn’t much better, and Strickland is having his worst season as an Alouette. He’s lost a step and can’t function effectively in pass coverage anymore.

Our pass rush is a friggin’ joke. Stewart plays well once every five games. Kashama is flat-out terrible and should be cut – if I see that stupid spin move one time I’ll scream. Romero is ordinary for an ex-NFL guy. Claybrooks and Bowman the only ones worth keeping.

Our secondary can’t cover in man-to-man and they play receivers way too far off the ball at all times because they’re scared of giving up the big play. It’s unacceptable that opposing teams can convert 2 and 10s with ease when we drop 9 guys into coverage!

The O-line is a complete mess and should be rebuilt from the ground up in the offseason. I would keep Bourke and Flory and cut everyone else.

In the receiving corps, only Cahoon and Thurmon have been consistent over the year. I would take a long hard look at Watkins, cut the injury-prone Stala, and try to acquire a legitimate deep threat.

Since Popp gave himself the head coach job he has not had the time to scout the CIS. Looking over the CFL draft since the Als rejoined the CFL the team added from one to several players through the draft each year. These came from the CIS and from the NCAA where more and more Canadians are getting scholarships in the USA. I question the time spect in scouting both areas for potential players. In the 2007 draft not one selection made the team . There was only one selection from the NCAA group- Gord Judges from Buffalo. I believe this was the worst perpared draft ever for the Als. I wonder if the Als have someone now to scout the current group playing in these diviaions. Over the years, until 2007, the Als have obtained some great talent from these sources.

HfxTC - Your wrong about the run game.

2007 numbers after 13 games:
1196 yards - 92.0 yards a game - 274 attempts =
21.0 carries per game 4.4 yards carry

2006 numbers after 18 games:

1760 yards - 97.8 yards a game - 354 attempts =
19.7 carries per game 5.0 yards per carry

AC was healthy all year so subtract that extra carry due to the fact that in three games the QB’s had extra rushing attempts.

The truth was Montreal always ran the ball under Don it was more productive because it was set up with the passing game. Even when we had 4 WR over 1000 yards we were usually 2nd or 3rd in the league in rushing attempts because of our productivity. More plays run more rushing attempts.

I've been saying the same old thing from the beginning of the season. But I still don't understand those of you who think that Popp is a genius. If he was such a genius we wouldn't have such an aging OLine-- he would have been doing something about it sooner.
If he was such a great recruiter we wouldn't be playing at least 3 new guys in the defensive backfield every year.
If he was such a great recruiter we wouldn't be going through 3 or 4 middle linebackers per year
If he was such a great recruiter our number reciver (apart from Cahoon of course) would have proven after three years that he can at least catch-- Watkins can't.
If he was such a great recruiter we would have had a young backup QB for the past few years, learning and getting ready to step in. Instead we have other teams castoffs. Aside from the famous Ted White (I thought he was a DT the first time I saw him)"the" young guy he signed was El Roberson-- even paid him for the first year even though he was hurt when signed and Popp knew he wasn't going to play. But our great judge of talen signed him and as a last resort tried to turn him into a WR in his fourth year with us. The man is no genius-- he's been riding on his rep for years. I think its time for a new GM, VP, Coach, Head of Personnel, and Waterboy. Preferably an individual for each position.

Hassall: A big reason I think your not seeing players brought in this year is that with all the injuries and adding Maass there isn't any money left...at least that's what has been hinted at by Popp. Expect a whole lot of trimming at season's end:

Coach: Thanks for the correction on the stats.I was just using carries by the feature back... just for the record I never had an issue with the running game under you guys cause in the CFL is a passing league. If you can throw the ball at will. You get the run game.

Sicard: Coach explained in a previous post how Strasser got into trouble with Popp. The four points Strasser made are exactly why this team is in trouble and its getting worse, for his honnesty he was told he lacked polish. Looks like football people with the Als get a can of arsebrasso and have to polish their bossarses to stay in the good books...Not only did the team lose 3 quality individuals in the span of a few months. They weren't replaced by any quality guys and there were many available last year, not so this year. As far as I know the only top notch guy that might be available this year is Wally Buono and I doubt the team will pony up for Wally.

Als better beat Hamilton at home this weekend or we are going to read/hear the word "implosion" a whole lot in the next weeks.