The Coach, the QBS and Hope for 2016

I have been pleased with reports on the Als to date. However there are some real concerns about the coming season and beyond. For starters, I agree with Richard that Popp is the best HC we have coming into the 2016 season. Popp cannot link himself with a Grey Cup victory, but he certainly played a significant role in the modern success of the team. Popp, if lucky will have a chance of a Grey Cup this season and he is the one coach that has remained with the team for all these years. It was, I believe, unrealistic to even expect Popp to recruit another HC for this year's team. The players know Popp and have a relationship with him, as HC beginning last season and, now at the beginning of this relationship with him as HC this year. To think of bringing a new coach into the HC position for this season was not realistic given time constraints. Thus we will begin this season with players and most of the coaches who have decent relationships with each other.
The Als finished the season with several injured players. At QB Cato's health is a question mark. At the beginning of the season last year Rakeem looked like the passing/running QB we required. With his injuries the question arises about his stature - does he have the physical strength for pro ball? What is his physical situation today? Brandon Bridge showed at the end of last season that he had significant improvement in the final game but, he will have to prove his worth in the preseason. With Glen we have an adequate QB for now. In summary, we have 1 proven QB but, have we the strength in the back ups to find a future QB?
This team ended last season with injuries to several key players including LBJ, Elsworth, Woods, Cato and Klassen who is needed at DT. Are these players fully recovered and, be able to play out the season? I liked the play of Cash in the latter part of last season. Its not too often one sees a DT intercept two passes. On the offensive line, will Ruby be able to start at OT? Kris Matte took three years to develop into a really good OG. I watched John Chick run all over Ruby in the final against Sask last season and, I question if Ruby has had sufficient time to develop into a starter in his year two. We have some Canadian candidates in White, Bodanis and Quinn Lawler all of whom need developmental experience.
We are rich at both the receiving and running back position, but in the defensive backfield there are questions. I would pencil Parker in one position. With all the noted slowness of our DB last season, I began to watch the play of Parker and, I would believe he has another year of play. I enjoyed watching Ackie muscle his way into the Roughrider QBs in last years final. Jovon Johnson looks like a sound addition. Cox, White, Marko B are OK and, Venable is now our ace in the defensive backfield. Bowman and Knapton I've already penciled in. Is Joseph able to provide adequate backup? Popp has been a sound player in the annual CFL draft, he'll likely bring a player a native to help out with a decent back up or two and, the NCAA will likely give s a starter or two directly or, indirectly via the NFL draft rejects.

A lot will depend on how well the coaching staff works together. Will Thorpe be committed or a thorpedo ? Will Chapdelaine and Calvillo put something cohesive and effective ? Can Glenn play at a high level ?

We shall see.

Thorpe will be an interesting study.

Intellectually/consciously he must know if his defence sucks it will be a mark that follows into every interview; what GM wants a coach who "tanks" when he doesn't get his way.

That said, subconsciously he can't help but being unhappy about being blocked from he wanted, and who among us can truly give his absolute best over the longer term (i.e., not just a day or two) if we are really and truly unhappy about where we work?

I agree. Even if the defense doesn't suck..just have some inevitable dips in a long season...this issue will be continually raised and pointed to. It's just unavoidable.
The talent level seems improved. But to me the coaching crew and hierarchy of it just seems thrown together.

Like many of you, I was so impressed at the play of Cato in his early wins of last season. He cold could complete both short and long and, had ability to run when called upon. Unfortunately we now share our concern about the injuries which stalled his promising career, and have a concern about his physical size and strength. We've seen such smaller QBs before in the CFL. Going back to the 60s, the Als brought the thin man George Bork to play QB. I believe his lack of success was due to his lack of skill not, his physical being. Doug Flutie came to pro ball in the USA which brought up questions of his stature. He was 5'9 and weighted 165 as a beginning QB but, was able to have a long career in pro ball in both the USA and Canada. Jackie Parker back in the fifties demonstrated that a QB of smaller stature can live in the CFL. The Als have listed Cato as 6 '181 and, some believe this will exclude his from the pros. When I posted a week ago I was hoping that our American fans who are listed into Cfl.ca would comment on Cato's university play and, provide insight into Cato's NCAA play including the question - was he sustainable to injuries in this 4 year career? I recall LeStaff noted, a while back, that his injuries included brain injury. I would like to know what is Cato's state of health at this time. Has he recovered from the injuries and, is he fit for the rigors of pro ball? I do hope that Timothy Hay or, the other Americans who posted here last season, would provide the answer to the two questions in this post and, update us on his university days and, the state of Cato's health at this point in time. I am hoping Cato will be returning to the Als as TC opens. If so, we have to wonder if the coaches can influence Cato's play through attention to blocking patterns and thereby assist Cato to maximum function as a QB here. Calvillo had the very quick release and, got rid of the ball in little time. I would hope that successful coaching, which has been questioned in Montreal the last couple of years, can hopefully be given to Cato to enhance his role with the team. I would also hope that Chapdelaine, who played a role in developing the young QBs in BC will continue to do so in Montreal.

Sorry I have not been visiting often enough lately. I think that I have answered the question before, but I will rack my brain to recall Cato’s playing time at Marshall. Stats remind me that he started 46 games in four years and played most of the minutes of all 49 games except for three in his Freshman year when the coach held him back to get his mind set right. He was 18 years old at the time. I can only remember one game where he was hurt in the second half but even in that game he returned to the field before the game - I think it was against Virginia Tech - was over.

As for changing the blocking, I have suggested that but I also understand that defenses in the CFL run different rush patterns as a result of the motion receivers. Even so, some teams do a better job protecting the QB than others but I will say that CFL defensive players are mean SOBs who know how to hit.

Another protective idea is to speed up the game - no huddle and a play every 15 seconds. That puts quick release, quick read QBs like Cato in command with the ball already out of his hand before the bull rush arrives. And the uptempo “racetrack” offense wears out the defense later in the game. It helps the run game as well.

As for Cato’s brain injury, he suffered a mean concussion that took a long time to heal. From what little I can find to read about Rakeem, he is doing fine now and is working to bulk up more for the coming season. Twenty pounds would do him a world of good but more than 178 would be welcomed. And I am sure that the improvements in signed wide receivers won’t hurt a QBs confidence in the slightest. Neither would Tommy Shuler playing at slot back.

Merci de nous partager vos réflexions et questionnements, Niagara. Ils remettent bien des choses en perspective.

À un ou deux joueurs près (bloqueur offensif à gauche et demi défensif), les Alouettes ont présentement les joueurs pour se rendre à la Coupe Grey. Ils ont sécurisé la position de quart avec Glenn. La présence du vétéran permettra à Calvillo de prendre plus de temps avec les jeunes parce que Glenn n’aura pas besoin d’apprendre autant de choses de notre football que ne l’avaient tous les quarts qui ont joué pour les Alouettes l’an dernier. Si Glenn demeure en santé, les Alouettes sont déjà très améliorés en autant que le successeur de Bourke fasse du bon boulot.

À ce moment-ci, la question demeure donc davantage de savoir si les entraîneurs pourront mettre en place des systèmes qui seront efficaces. Pour ma part, je n’ai pas de doute que la défensive et les unités spéciales pourront donner le rendement qu’on espère d’elles, surtout si Thorpe réussit à sortir la défensive contre les 2ièmes et long de sa thorpeur. Thope a toujours construit de bonnes défensives pour les Alouettes, aussi il n’y a aucune raison de penser que ce ne sera pas le cas cette saison. J’entretiens également le même optimiste pour les unités spéciales dirigées par Reed. Elles se sont constamment améliorées l’an dernier, aussi on peut s’attendre à ce qu’elles fournissent encore un bon rendement cette saison. Reed a pratiquement toujours dirigé de bonnes unités spéciales, aussi je ne vois pas pourquoi il en serait autrement cette saison.

Les points d’interrogation sont davantage en ce qui concerne Popp et Calvillo. Popp a à plus d’une reprise montré qu’il n’était pas un véritable entraîneur-chef. Il n’est pas pire que Higgins, mais ça, c’est surtout dans sa gestion des communications publiques, pas tant sur le terrain ou dans les entraînements. Je crois que le fait que Popp demeure est un mal à endurer, mais qui aura eu l’heur de conserver certains joueurs au sein de l’équipe. Pour ce qui est de l’apport stratégique, on ne peut pas compter sur lui. Le cas de Calvillo sera plus problématique. Il a certainement le bagage de football pour considérer être un coordonnateur à l’attaque, mais il n’a pas le bagage d’entraîneur pour cette position. De ce point de vue, la venue de Chapdelaine pour l’appuyer est une bonne nouvelle car il va pouvoir défier ses idées et ses concepts. Mais il demeure que même avec Chapdelaine, les Alouettes n’ont pas une tête offensive qui sort du lot, comme l’ont les Argonauts, les Stampeders ou les Timinous. Les Alouettes auront beaucoup à faire pour rivaliser avec leurs pairs de division, aussi, ils devront peut-être devoir compter sur un relatif effondrement de l’attaque du Rouge et Noir pour se qualifier pour les éliminatoires. La clé pour la saison 2016 demeure donc encore une fois à l’attaque et les Alouettes n’auront pas tellement le choix que d’y réussir cette saison. Outre le point d’interrogation concernant le poste de bloqueur à gauche, les Alouettes ont sérieusement amélioré leur bassin de joueurs offensifs et ils devraient normalement être en mesure de causer des maux de tête à leurs adversaires. Glenn n’a jamais eu sous la main une telle brigade de receveurs et il s’il n’en tire pas profit, j’espère pour lui que ce sera parce que le système est mauvais plutôt que lui.

Je persiste à penser que Popp va évaluer son personnel en vue de son remplacement comme entraîneur-chef l’an prochain. C’est un peu ce qu’à laissé entendre Weightman à mots couverts durant cet entre-saisons. Le bonheur de Popp est qu’il a 3 candidats à l’interne qui peuvent passer à la prochaine étape, et la difficulté qu’il aura s’il passe le flambeau après la saison sera d’intéresser d’autres candidats à l’extérieur de son équipe actuelle qui verront autant de compétition de l’intérieur. Au moins, Popp aura une meilleure idée de ses candidats internes avant de se lancer dans ce processus.

Its impossible to pretend that Popp is a Head Coach of the caliber of a Milanovich, Austin, etc. But if he stays out of the way and relies on Calvillo/Chapdelaine and Thorpe which he is capable of doing, I dont really see any coaching issues. The 2 things Popp will have to master is throwing the challenge flag ( with the help of his upstairs spotter), and managing the clock in the final 3 minutes of the 2nd and 4th quarters.

My main concern is still QB. I don`t see Glenn as more than a .500 QB or the equal of the elite QBs in the league. I will be the first to eat crow (only on a pizza!) if he proves me wrong.

And I want to see Calvillo/Chapdelaine work on the development of Bridge and/or Cato. We still need our QB of the future.

Glenn peut diriger une attaque gagnante et il l'a montré à Calgary. Le problème est qu'il ne semble pas capable de gagner les grosses parties, quelle que soit l'équipe autour de lui.

I dont want to sound like Im hammering Glenn (how can you not like a guy who has 2 Tims franchises in the U.S.!), but the other thing about him is his lack of mobility.

A CFL QB to be effective has to be able to gain a 1st down with his feet a couple of times a game.

Nous avons eu Calvillo toutes ces années, nous savons que c'est une qualité secondaire pour un bon passeur qui prend ses décisions rapidement. Nous verrons si ça fera effectivement une différence.

Ray is a pylon. Doesn't stop him from being elite. For the rest, I think we're on a fairly even playing field with most other teams IF Calvelaine (Chapdillo?) can come up with a strong playbook and AC can take a step forward in his playcalling. No, Kevin Glenn isn't Mike Reilly, but it's not like Durant, Burris, Willy, or even Collaros are that far ahead of him. And while we may not have an elite QB, we have, on paper at least, one of the top receiving corps in the league IMO. What other team has a 1-2 punch of S.J. Green and Duron Carter?

Tim thanks greatly for your comments, your suggestion of playing a faster game with Cato is a good one. Calvillo had quickness in getting rid of the football especially with his short passing game and, this did make it harder to cope with opposition defenders. It was good to hear your news that Cato spent 4 NCAA years at QB and, did not miss any games with injury. He is also not the first player to be perceived as an injury prone football player. Many of our best had the misfortune of a string of injuries that labeled them as injury prone. Bear Woods is one and, Whitakter was another one given that label yet he went on to have an excellent season with the Argos.
There is concern about the coaching staff noted by many. I believe Popp is an excellent football person. The signing of Chapdelaine was a great move by Popp whom, I believe can achieve recognition as a competent person who coordinates the moves to be made by his assistants. Chapdelaine has had success in the CFl as an offensive specialist. I believe Popp will ensure that Chapdelaine will be working with our young QBs.

Another way to help our QBs is to provide them with the best of offensive lineman. We do have a good OL except for one weakness- the departure of Bourke. I believe this team has to get the best import OT that is available. Ruby will only be in his second pro year and, I believe he requires more seasoning. Putting the best import possible into the LT position makes sense to me. Sheldon I do agree with you that Glen cannot effectively run with the ball but this will likely put more emphasis on our ground game where we are strong. Using backs as receivers would be appropriate should Cato play mixing this up with screens would further minimize a defensive rush and, playing with a strong LT is required. I think Glen will improve the QB position as compared to last season. I would like to see Cato have a turn at QB. If the coaching can create some form of effective blocking for him and, limit his tendency to run, as do most rookies, he will hopefully achieve some degree of success.

There are two sides to that coin. Obviously a QB who can run the ball makes things more difficult for defenses and takes pressure off the Oline but the flip side is they get hurt, every single one of them. Cato, Reilly, Durant, Jennings, Lefevour. Every single one of them missed game action due to injury last season.

I'd rather we have a power running game. Calvillo became successful in the CFL because of Mike Pringle.

Burris a été l'exception à cette règle. Au cortège mentionné ci-avant, on peut ajouter Pierce, Tate, Printers, Jyles, McPherson, pour ne nommer que ceux-là.

I'd rather we have a power running game. Calvillo became successful in the CFL because of Mike Pringle.
Oui et non. La présence de Pringle a grandement aidé Calvillo à ses débuts avec les Alouettes, mais son éclosion est arrivée quand Matthews a décidé qu'il fallait monter une nouvelle attaque basée sur ses qualités personnelles. Trestman a fait de même à son arrivée, mais il faut dire qu'il avait sous la main le candidat idéal pour conduire le genre d'attaque qu'il préconisait.

Behind Rutley and Sutton we don't have a yet a qualified RB.I thought that these two looked especially good when both were playing together but, the import/ Canadian ratio dictates this is not appropriate.l Looking at roster we have two RBs listed but we have no idea of their running strength at this point in time. I would think Popp might look to the CIS draft for a competent native son to fill this need. We have not have a really good Canadian RB since LaPointe was hit with injuries. If the team decides to improve the running attack, as well as improvement in the blocking for our QBs I do believe we must replace Bourke with the best LT that can be found even if we have to go South to acquire" the best".

Présentement, Jewel Hampton est le demi qui représente le meilleur candidat chez les réservistes. Hampton a été un membre des '49ers depuis 2012 et est arrivé avec les Alouettes l'an dernier. Je crois qu'il pourrait être en attente d'une occasion de s'illustrer, un peu comme Whitaker l'était derrière Cobourne. J'ajouterais qu'en plus de Sutton et Rutley, les Alouettes ont aussi un certain Stefan Logan qui peut s'acquitter d'une partie du boulot et qui est en uniforme à chaque partie (sauf s'il est blessé, bien sûr).

Les porteurs de ballon canadiens (pardon, nationaux) de qualité ne sont pas légion. C'est une position dont l'importance commande l'excellence et les chances de trouver le joueur qu'il faut est manifestement davantage chez nos voisins du sud. Lorsque l'occasion se présente de pouvoir compter sur un porteur de ballon canadien de qualité (Cornish, Harris), ça représente un avantage immense. Mais ça demeure des phénomènes rares.

Je suis d'accord que les Alouettes devront songer à pouvoir aligner un bloqueur international à gauche, et la mise sous contrat de Vaughn Martin va certainement aider à rendre cette option possible. Avec la présence de Klassen, avoir un joueur national comme partant au milieu de la ligne défensive n'est plus un risque du côté du ratio.

They are going to see if Ruby can fill the LT spot first and foremost and I agree with them. No need to panic out of hand and go looking for a guy just because of his passport. I think Ruby might surprise us.

Bien d'accord qu'il n'y a pas lieu de paniquer de ce côté. Si les Alouettes ne croyaient pas avoir quelqu'un de capable en Ruby, je ne crois pas qu'ils auraient laisser Bourke partir. Mais, on ne sait jamais. Les options peuvent changer. Pour l'instant, je ne vois pas de raison de s'en inquiéter. Je me souviens quand Bourke avait manqué quelques parties et que les Alouettes avaient confié son poste à un nouveau venu. Ola l'avait bien remplacé et personne ne l'avait vu venir.

Yes, that's true. All we have to go on is the info we have right now.

Pour l'instant, je ne vois pas de raison de s'en inquiéter. Je me souviens quand Bourke avait manqué quelques parties et que les Alouettes avaient confié son poste à un nouveau venu. Ola l'avait bien remplacé et personne ne l'avait vu venir.
People also forget this, but Bourke himself became our starter in very short order when he was not much older than Ruby is now. Nothing is guaranteed, but Popp evidently thinks highly of Ruby (said he was "pro-ready" at the time of the draft) and the kid is a dead ringer for Bourke in height and weight. He's also very athletic, which is what you need playing on an island at RT. He lacks experience, but that will come with time, and he'll be working alongside a group of veterans in Blake, LBJ/Picard, Perrett, and Matte, to say nothing of Kris Sweet returning for another year (more continuity for the line). Glenn is a veteran with a quick release. All these things should help Ruby make the transition to CFL starter.