October 1, 2014

Moffat: 12 thoughts heading into Montreal’s bye week


Bye weeks come and go before players realize it and for the Montreal Alouettes theirs may go a little faster, riding a three-game win streak into their bye.

Remember, my Grey Cup is always half full, so here’s 12 deep thoughts on 12-man ball in Montreal

1. Chip Cox will deserve Hall of Fame induction some day.  His record-setting fumble-recovery TD total is not a fluke. The great players make their own luck. Anticipation, action, reaction. Cox has been a master of the takeaway since arriving as a defensive halfback in 2006. The 2013 defensive player of the year may well earn his 6th consecutive East All-Star selection since moving to linebacker. He’s only 31, with more accolades to come.

2. Goal line and Red Zone stands do wonders to rally a defence and total team confidence. You can try to downgrade last Friday’s Clampdown by the Rideau Canal, but don’t underestimate its effect on Noel Thorpe’s defence.

The REDBLACKS ran 11 plays in the Montreal Redzone, gaining a total of just 10 yards. The Als forced 2 turnovers including the Bear Woods forced fumble that Lavarias tossed to Cox for a Montreal takeaway TD.

Notice who made the tackles for no gain on the previous goal line stand?  Woods with 1, Venable with 2.

“Those are the kind of guys coaches hate to cut,” Popp admits, relishing the fact the hard decisions by the Falcons and Patriots several years ago freed up those talents for him.

3. When the Als return to action October 13th, the Thanksgiving Holiday Monday is a perfect day to celebrate Anthony Calvillo’s jersey retirement and not just for the numerological coincidence. Calvillo is the consummate family man who has always been thankful for his blessings.  For years he’d shower after the Thanksgiving game then go serve up turkey dinner with teammates at a Montreal homeless shelter.

I asked Jim Popp this week if any other CFL GM ever had the audacity to even hint at trade interest in AC.  “I can’t remember any offers and if there were any suggestions that way I would have shut them down very quickly,” says the GM who himself will be in the Hall one day.

4. Barron Miles should go into the Hall of Fame with his CFL BFF Anthony Calvillo in 2 more years.  Fitting as well that Saskatchewan comes in to Montreal for the Holiday.  Miles was a 9-time All-star with 66 career picks. He’s also the answer to the question—why didn’t Ben Cahoon win 1998 Alouette Rookie of the Year honours.

5. Ben Cahoon should be the last Alouette to wear #86. His jersey will have to be retired.  

6. The next number after that should be #23 for Tony Proudfoot. His contributions to the game in so many ways and at so many levels might also give pause to the CFL to do as Hockey Canada has in creating its own “Order of Canadian Football”.  Tony’s legacy as father, educator, author, broadcaster, coach, and player certainly merit that.

7. In the immortal words of Jim Popp, “You don’t always get the best guy…you get the best guy with a passport.” “Hello my name is____” tags will be the October fashion trend when the Als resume practice next week. Tags and ice packs. The annual airlift of expanded practice rosters gives teams one month before their final game of regular season to assess talent. They’ll be welcomed with two days of practice in pads to toughen up the club for the run to the playoffs.

8. The new CBA means first contracts are minimum 1-year plus 1-year team option, meaning newcomers of ’14 like Chad Johnson are under contract for 2015.  But beyond that, His “Ochoness” could sign a 1-year deal.

9. James Rodgers deserves Als’ Rookie of the Year selection. His pace over a full season would easily shatter the franchise record for punt return yardage in a single season. 

Popp only wishes he could have had James as well as younger brother Jacquizz. They were both on the Neg list for a while. “Quizz” is left college early though and Atlanta has proven he made the right choice: 6 catches for only 39 yards, 0 TDs but 2nd on Falcons in carries with 17 for 65 and a spectacular TD scored the same day James scored his 1st CFL TD.

10. Als’ run blocking ability may have gotten stale in the Trestman Era. Some CFL spies tell me while Montreal is getting solid pass protection from the old pros at tackle Josh Bourke and Jeff Parrett, the younger bucks at guard Ryan Bomben and Kristian Matte directed by centre Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, the push off the line is nothing like Calgary or Saskatchewan’s plowmen.

Evidence- Brandon Whitaker’s yards/carry lagging well behind his career average.  While he’s carried an incredible load, he’s been unable to bounce off contact or carry tacklers to first-downs especially in some 2nd and medium to short.

11. Tyrell Sutton could be a featured back anywhere else.  Increased use of the 2-headed monster in the backfield could help preserve Whitaker for postseason.

12. Duron Carter remains among the highest on the NFL “Watch List” for scouts from south of the 49th parallel.