- FREE AGENCY
MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes have parted ways with Head Coach Jacques Chapdelaine and Defensive Coordinator Noel Thorpe.
General Manager Kavis Reed will serve as the interim head coach until the end of the season, while Defensive Line Coach Greg Quick will call plays on defence. Quarterback Coach Anthony Calvillo will call offensive plays until the end of the season.
The news was first reported by TSN Radio’s Tony Marinaro.
Reed said there’s never a right time to make a coaching change, but after much consideration, a decision needed to be made.
“We deliberated on this for a number of weeks,” he said. “We had a meeting yesterday and we had to make sure our decision was in complete alignment with moving the franchise forward.”
Reports have also surfaced that Rich Stubler could be in the mix to join the Alouettes’ revamped coaching staff. In the meantime, all that has been confirmed by the club is that more coaches will join the staff in the near future.
The sudden changes represent a significant shakeup in Montreal, where the Alouettes have lost four straight contests and six of their last seven. They currently sit third in the East following a 41-18 loss to BC.
The move marks the third year in a row the Alouettes have made a mid-season coaching change. Last year, Jim Popp stepped down as head coach on Sept. 19, following a 3-9 start to the season. Chapdelaine was brought on as interim head coach at that time, eventually having the tag removed by Reed in the off-season.
In 2015, the Alouettes parted ways with Tom Higgins on Aug. 21, less than 24 hours after a road win over the BC Lions. Higgins was replaced by Popp on the Als’ sideline.
Just as surprising as the head coaching change was the dismissal of Noel Thorpe. Thorpe has long been considered one of the CFL’s top defensive minds — although this season, after a high volume of changes to the Alouettes’ defence, that unit has ranked in the bottom-third of the league in most categories.
“Everything is relative,” explained Reed, asked about the decision on Thorpe. “When we take this decision and say it’s a franchise decision, we look at the foundation. What is the foundation of this football team? If it is just OK, we’re not going to be able to construct the kind of team that we want.
“Just OK was not enough for us,” he added. “We felt our defence was one that was always pretty good but never one that was elite. If you’re in a nine-team league, we can’t be relative based on the offensive production. We have to be relative based on league standards.”
Reed also stated on Wednesday during a media availability that the interim tag is just that — on the interim. The GM/head coach iterated that the plan is to find a different, long-term answer behind the bench after the season.
“This is not about Deja-Vu. This is not about Kavis’s desire to be back on the sidelines,” said Reed. “It was clearly stated that this was an interim title. There will be another coach for the Montreal Alouettes. Moving forward, this franchise will have a new head coach, and it will not be me.”
The Alouettes take on the Ottawa REDBLACK at home on Sunday. That contest will mark Reed’s first as a head coach since 2013, when he coached the Eskimos.
“Our players were a bit numb, but they’re true professionals,” said Reed. “As we started to lay out the vision and lay out where we expect the team to be this week and focusing on this week only, they shifted into getting in preparation mode.”