- Free Agency
“Who has the pictures?!” an exasperated Marc Trestman demanded on the Alouette sideline in 2008.
The passing game guru needed his visual evidence to solve the Rubik’s cube of an opposing defence. He was laughing humbly about his NFL gaffe this week while standing on the turf that Anthony Calvillo has torn up for years.
Welcome to the CFL, coach. No instant aerial snapshots of coverages to ease the minds of quarterbacks and OC’s.
The 2012 Eastern Final matchup is set as the Montreal Alouettes host the Toronto Argonauts. Here is everything you need to know ahead of Sunday’s game.
Five years later, Coach Trestman is all the wiser to the low-tech Canadian ways. The truth is the pictures are likely already in Calvillo’s head.
I have no doubt Calvillo will prove himself yet again to be the CFL’s Most Valuable Player Sunday in the Eastern Final, upstaging Chad Owens, the ex-Alouette. However, I must confess that I voted for him in the Most Outstanding Player Awards balloting.
Trestman and the Als keep saying that the Argos and Ricky Ray are peaking at the right time. In fact, they’ve already peaked too early.
Ray, Calvillo’s Grey Cup nemesis winning two of three duels with the silver chalice on the line, had his career-best playoff QB efficiency rating of 121.4 while demolishing his former Eskimos last Sunday.
He can’t repeat that. His career playoff rating drops under 90. That’s a B- to Calvillo’s A++’s.
In the Trestman Era alone, Calvillo on the Big O rug rules with ratings like these: 103 in ‘08, 149.7 in ‘09, and 126 in each of the last two years.
Calvillo’s career playoff record excluding Grey Cups is 9-2 as an Alouette
The last time the Argos beat the Als in a playoff game was 2004 when Calvillo suffered an injury, only to see emergency reliever Ted White let a lead slip away.
It’s hard to tag him with that loss.
Calvillo seems as calm and focused this week as any playoff year I’ve had the privilege of watching. He is prepared for anything and everything from Argos Defensive Coordinator Chris Jones, another brain-drain prize Toronto landed via Calgary.
As usual, he’ll say next to nothing to Trestman on game day. “I say ‘Hello’ and that’s about it,” concedes the future Hall of Famer. “We’re together constantly for five days so we’ve said enough.”
Calvillo also reveals that Trestman is not prone to give rousing pre-game or halftime speeches, either.
“He doesn’t say anything, there’s no pep talk. The coaches get together, do their stuff, the assistants come tells us the adjustments we’ll make and that Coach Trestman tells us when it’s time to go back on the field.”
If winning could always look and sound so easy.
“There have been times when Marc has made a few comments here or there but that doesn’t happen too often.”
Trestman has spoken up a few times to give punt returner Trent Guy a vote of confidence. Guy has somehow gained only 10 yards on his last 10 returns, not good when coverage teams spot you a five-yard halo zone.
Guy welcomes the opportunity to reward Trestman’s loyalty. It is how “Coach Tres”, as many of the players call him, rolls even when his GM may be leaning toward an airlift.
Former Alouette and 2002 Grey Cup champ Ed Philion, analyst on Alouette radio broadcasts for CJAD, says the coach’s patience has paid off in recent years…witness Tim Maypray who struggled in the regular season only to provide a playoff spark two years ago.
If playoff battles are won in the trenches, Als fans will hope to quickly learn the names Ollie Ogbu and Aaron Lavarias. The latter has not played a down in the CFL, while the former appeared in parts of the last two regular season games.
Montreal must generate disruptive heat on Ray, “an ice-man” as Trestman calls him. That will be no easy chore.
Most of the media attention on defence goes to John Bowman, Shea Emry, Dwight Anderson and Kyries Hebert.
But when the Als shut down the Argos, Billy Parker will be their calmest steadying influence on D.
He didn’t unplug during the bye week break. He held special film study huddles with some of the secondary, secret scheming in the hope of a third ring in four years.
“I didn’t go home or anything like that. Most of the guys in the secondary we got together and watched our practices, because we really had some special situations that we needed to work on.”
“People don’t know, but Billy’s been a leader from Day one,” says Anderson. “Behind closed doors Billy is always up front and breaks the tape down and he’s always been a leader to us.”
“The new guys on this team? I want them to have the opportunity I had the years we won. Helping people…their lives are going to change,” said Parker.