A story from the Montreal Gazette[url=http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/Alouettes+have+never+looked+more+vulnerable/5671344/story.html]http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/A ... story.html[/url]
[b]As the 2011 season reaches its zenith, it’s becoming more painful to watch Anthony Calvillo, Ham’s replacement more than a decade ago. At 39, Calvillo has remained healthy and relatively injury-free throughout his 18 Canadian Football League seasons. It’s just that, as the Als’ season appears to be unravelling, Calvillo’s shortcomings are becoming more apparent.
Since becoming professional football’s career passing leader on Thanksgiving Monday, at home against Toronto, it seems Calvillo, and the Als for that matter, haven’t been the same. There have been some performances that, on the surface, appeared productive. Calvillo passed for 341 yards and two touchdowns in a narrow victory against Hamilton. Two weeks later, during a loss against Calgary, he recorded a quiet 380 yards and one touchdown.
Bookended around that came two ugly displays - 199 yards and three interceptions at Winnipeg, along with Saturday’s 63-yard embarrassment at British Columbia, during which Calvillo was benched late in the third quarter.
For those of you keeping score at home, this season’s passing leader - and potential East Division nominee as most outstanding player - has thrown for four touchdowns the last five games. It’s as though the only thing motivating him were the records he eclipsed this season, a statement he obviously would dispute.
“He certainly showed his age, along with his inability to withstand any contact,? said a league follower who witnessed Saturday’s debacle. “There were times the Lions waved at him and he fell down. It was the same 10 years ago. If he can’t stand in the pocket, he’ll always be less effective. And he felt the heat quickly.?
Calvillo was sacked four times before being mercifully removed, the Als not faring well in their first outing without injured offensive-tackle Josh Bourke. One time, linebacker Anton McKenzie somehow brought him down with one arm, defying logic.[/b]
[b]We know Calvillo cares, newspaper photographers catching him sitting alone on the bench, his head down and clasped in his hands. But he made a mistake - an obvious display of frustration and fatigue - chewing out backup running-back Dahrran Diedrick in full view of spectators and cameras, at the end of the first quarter. It wasn’t the time or place for that.
The Lions made one of the game’s greatest quarterbacks look confused and rattled, the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. He clearly lost his composure behind an offensive-line that’s falling apart and was overwhelmed.
“He’s got that nervous cat-thing. It’s as if he’s in self-preservation mode,? said another keen CFL observer who must remain anonymous. “This (public display) isn’t something we’ve seen from him. Emotion isn’t part of A.C., especially in the Marc Trestman era. It (the pressure) is getting to him.
“The team looks more human every week. The one thing that has struck me is they’re having trouble coming to grips with their own mortality. They’ve not had a ton of adversity.?
If it’s over, the ride has been grand. Two consecutive Grey Cups and three successive trips to the championship game. But as the Als head into Sunday’s East Division semifinal at Olympic Stadium against the Tiger-Cats, this team has never looked so vulnerable. Montreal limps into the playoffs having lost three straight, outscored 101-53.
The offence is stagnant and predictable. It seems to lack imagination, relying on passes and predictable patterns. It requires a greater variety of formations. Where are the sweeps, screens, reverses, fakes or play-action? This comes squarely back to Trestman and his offensive assistants.
Lions quarterback Travis Lulay, the league’s next rising star, used play-action because of his speed and quickness. His receivers, Simon and Arland Bruce, clearly outplayed Jamel Richardson and S.J. Green.
Defensively, without a pass rush, the Als are dead and their injury-depleted and inexperienced secondary will be further exposed. While there’s too much uncertainty and trepidation back there, any quarterback, given time, will find receivers against coverage that’s not good enough.[/b]