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2-6. The Montreal Alouettes were sitting with that record in the middle of summer and the thought was whether or not they were going to make the playoffs.
Now they’re everyone is talking about whether or not they can finish first in the division and host the Eastern Final.
That is definitely something to be thankful for in Montreal!
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As they get set to host the Ottawa REDBLACKS on Thanksgiving Monday, the Alouettes can reflect on a comeback season for a team that hasn’t hosted an Eastern Final since 2010 and hasn’t been to one since 2014.
Once considered the Eastern dynasty, the Alouettes have had a long and hard road back to this point, and the next two weeks against the REDBLACKS will be extremely crucial for their hope in catching Toronto, who they’ll face the final two weeks of the season.
Trevor Harris has improved the quarterback play in Montreal as his completion percentage has jumped over the last month and the mistakes are way down.
Clearly Anthony Calvillo and Harris have needed time to gel as a quarterback/playcalling duo since Calvillo was named the play caller after Danny Maciocia took over for Khari Jones in July.
But the biggest turn around for the Alouettes is going back to what has been the key to their offensive success in recent years, which is running the ball. In the first eight games of the season, they ran for over 100 yards twice. Over the last six games, they’ve gone well over 100 yards in three of the six games.
And now add William Stanback to the Alouettes arsenal, as the running back has returned to the active roster after a devastating injury at the start of the season. The fact that he’s gearing up to contribute to the playoff run is not good news for the rest of the league.
Things are also looking up on the defensive side of the ball for Montreal. Since Week 9 the average points allowed per game is almost down a full touchdown. This time it’s Noel Thorpe trying to get his philosophy established.
As controversial of a decision it was back in July to get rid of a well liked and beloved coach in Khari Jones, you have to acknowledge if they didn’t do it then, the new brass wouldn’t have time to really establish the game plan to make this late season charge.
Oh, and let’s not forget about discipline. The Alouettes are taking less selfish penalties, although sometimes they still dip into double figures in the penalty category. It was the main factor of making the coaching change for the Alouettes after Week 4 as Danny Maciocia wasn’t happy to see the same penalties and same mistakes happening over and over, not only at the start of this season but going back to last year.
While it took a while, it does appear Maciocia’s message is getting through to the locker room.
So when you counter the Alouettes decision to make a change early to their competition, who made a change with just four games left, it’s going to be interesting to see what Bob Dyce does in his limited time in the interim role.
Now, we’ll be realistic knowing the REDBLACKS decision wasn’t set on turning a season around to make a late-season playoff push, but more to do with setting a different direction for the organization a few weeks before the end of the season.
What the change from Paul LaPolice to Bob Dyce does for the REDBLACKS is indicate it’s time for the players to show who wants to be a part of that new direction.
If a player felt comfortable with LaPolice as their head coach, they shouldn’t any longer because general manager Shawn Burke will be watching closely to see which of the players are playing to the end of the season and which of the players are waiting for the end of the season.
Of course, the REDBLACKS can keep their extremely slim playoff hopes alive this weekend.
What Ottawa players should be thankful for on Monday is that they have the opportunity to play professional football and make sure they remember that as they strap on the helmet for the final four weeks of the season.
Before you believe only one team on Monday has something to play for, think again.