The Montreal Alouettes made the move of all moves on Wednesday, as they fired head coach Jacques Chapdelaine and defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe.
Since claiming first place in the East Division on Aug. 11, the Alouettes have lost four games in a row by a combined score of 145-59. In those four losses, the team has failed to score a point in the opening quarter, which has forced them to start games behind the eight ball quite often.
Chapdelaine’s tenure as coach lasted just 17 games over two seasons, but it seems like this move was inevitable. General manager Kavis Reed and Chapdelaine were never really on the same page when it came to a number of big decisions, so although the timing of the firing may be surprising, the fact that it happened at all isn’t.
As you’ll remember, I wrote a piece for 3DownNation back in May about how Chapdelaine handled the release of Bear Woods on the second day of training camp.
It was a difficult decision that could have been handled better by everyone. But in the end, Chapdelaine chose to openly roast Reed, which I’m sure didn’t sit well with the rest of the front office.
Here’s what the coach said at the time:
“This decision was made by Kavis’ group. It’s a difficult decision,” Chapdelaine said, per RDS.ca.
“I had a discussion with Kavis and we had a good, honest conversation. We both agreed that this decision should have been made before training camp. Unfortunately, things weren’t done that way. I accepted the decision because, in the end, business decisions are made by Kavis. Do I agree with the way it was done? I’d like for us to do it in a different way next time, just out of respect for the player.”
That’s probably not the way you want to get the ball rolling on your first season as a head coach. Even if you don’t agree with the way it was handled, It’s a must-lie situation if you’re the head coach.
The offence has been and continued to be a major issue for the Alouettes in 2017. With Chapdelaine calling the plays, there were moments when the unit looked promising. For the most part, it was another season of disappointing offensive production.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the head coach was the only issue on this team. On the contrary, I think there are a number of players, especially on offence, that could have given more. It’s simple, Darian Durant hasn’t been good enough, and he hasn’t gotten a ton of help around him.
The offensive line has been a mess for the last few weeks (some would argue since the start of the year). They don’t give up many sacks, but Durant has been under pressure quite a bit throughout the season. They’ve also failed to create openings in the running game during this four-game losing streak that they’re currently on.
Where I will blame Chapdelaine, is in the utilization of receiver Ernest Jackson. The Alouettes weren’t able to get the ball in his hands consistently enough and it definitely hurt them on offence.
Anthony Calvillo, who’s now calling the plays for Montreal, will have to make sure he makes Jackson one of Durant’s primary reads, and he also has to make sure that his quarterback is getting rid of the ball quickly.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Als let go of Thope, who had been the defensive coordinator since 2012. Say what you want about Thorpe, but his defences have performed well throughout his tenure with Montreal. As bad as the Als have been since the retirement of Calvillo and the departure of Marc Trestman, they would have been even worse had it not been for Thorpe.
But every coach and every style has its shelf life. The Alouettes haven’t been getting to the quarterback this season, and recently, they’ve been getting shredded on both sides of the ball.
Maybe there was a personality conflict, maybe Reed just felt like it was time to make a change on that side of the ball, but it’ll be interesting to see how they look under new defensive coordinator Greg Quick.
Now, the moves have been made. Sure, they can shake up the roster by cutting players, but it won’t have the same impact as the moves they made today. The Alouettes have to put the dysfunction behind them as quickly as they can. After all, the East Division is still up for grabs and technically, they’re still on the race.
If the players rally around Reed and the new coordinators, they might still be able to host a playoff game come November.
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