Alouettes looking to keep up the excitement
CFL.ca presents ‘Off-Season Depth Chart’, a series of articles reviewing every team’s depth chart at is stands to date. Note that these are not official team-issued depth charts, but projections based on insight and analysis from around the league, and don’t include 2022 CFL Draft picks.
MONTREAL — Of all the teams in the CFL over the last two seasons, the Montreal Alouettes feel like the one that’s the best bet at giving you more than your money’s worth whenever you sit down to watch them.
Under head coach Khari Jones and the fearless arm and legs of Vernon Adams Jr., the Als have erased deficits, stolen seemingly impossible wins away from opponents and given their fans consistently exciting football. Most important, the Als have become a playoff team again after a very difficult four-year run that saw them tumble down into the league’s cellar.
As Marshall Ferguson touched on this week, the Alouettes’ offence (headlined by Adams, William Stanback, Eugene Lewis and Jake Wieneke, to start) should be as lethal as ever. The defence, meanwhile, is headlined by some significant change through free agency.
We should know what to expect from the Als on offence this year. Adams returns at the starting QB, with possibly the best backup in the league behind him, in Trevor Harris. Harris of course came to Montreal via trade last October, after Adams suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, then signed with the team in free agency after he was waived. Dominique Davis made the move from Ottawa to Montreal and will likely land as the team’s third-string QB.
As we mentioned above, the offence should be set to continue to make fireworks on a weekly basis. Before his injury, Adams had played eight games and thrown for 1,949 yards (142-239 passing) with 14 touchdowns to nine interceptions. He also rushed 51 times for 298 yards (5.8 yards per carry). The Als’ offensive line was in the middle of the pack last year in sacks allowed (35, tied for fourth) and of course, consistency there is a must, while the hope will be for improvement in QB protection. Replacing Tony Washington and David Foucalt, both landing in Edmonton this winter, will be crucial.
Lewis (964 yards) and Wieneke (898 yards) were third and fifth, respectively, in the league in receiving yards last year, while Stanback (1,176 yards) led the league in rushing and was the only ‘back in the league to break the 1,000-yard rushing mark in the shortened 14-game schedule. The Als also have depth behind him, in Cameron Artis-Payne, who played exceptionally well last year when Stanback was injured.
Since special teams can be the no-man’s land in these types of previews, we’ll throw this right here in the middle of the Als’ outlook. Keep an eye on the combination of special teams coordinator Jeff Reinebold and Mario Alford. Alford’s resume is still light but oozes potential as the lightning quick returner already has three punt return TDs in just 14 games played over the last three seasons in Montreal. This could be a dream pairing for a promising returner, united with a special teams guru. Joey Alfieri at Aloeuttes.com looks at that potential pairing here.
As Marshall Ferguson wrote earlier this week, the Als defence was pillaged this off-season in a way that no other team’s was. Gone are Tyquan Glass, Money Hunter (find us a better name for a free agent), Ty Cranston, Pat Levels, Woody Baron and David Menard, who came into his own last season and earned an Outstanding Canadian nomination.
If you’re in Trois Rivieres for the Alouettes’ camp this year, the offensive work might be the most tempting to watch, but there will be some very interesting stuff happening on the defensive side of the ball. Barron Miles is back for his second season as defensive coordinator and DBs coach and will have to maneuver through all of that change to get his group to be a cohesive unit.
Avery Ellis should be a nice addition to the Als’ defensive line. While his sack totals have fluctuated through four seasons in Ottawa, he’ll lineup next to one of the top d-linemen in the league, in Almondo Sewell. Mike Moore and Nick Usher make for a solid threat across the line, while Michael Wakefield had four sacks last year and could be poised for more in 2022.
The Als’ defence will have to click and be able to make big plays pretty well out of the gate this season. The East Division is poised to be the most competitive it’s been in years and there may not be a lot of time for teams to find their way. If that can happen, the East Division and the Als’ season will both be very interesting.