“It’s time to take care of some unfinished business!”
The Montreal Alouettes treaded down familiar waters last season.
The team had an amazing regular season and cruised to the top of a weak Eastern Division.
Most Outstanding Player Anthony Calvillo was at his finest, and with assistance from playmakers Kerry Watkins, Ben Cahoon, Jamal Richardson, and Avon Coburne, he helped the offense function brilliantly.
The defense was a bit inconsistent, but still solid, as Montreal made it to the Grey Cup Finals in Montreal.
But, despite the home field advantage and a roster that was loaded with talent, the Alouettes suffered yet another Grey Cup disappointment by losing to the opponent Calgary Stampeders.
It was agonizing, yet not an unfamiliar loss for the Alouettes, who have had plenty of troubles in recent Grey Cup Games.
They lost in the 2006 Grey Cup game to the BC Lions and also in 2005 to the Edmonton Eskimos.
Heading into a new season, once again with the aftertaste of defeat still in their mouths, the Alouettes will look to break their Grey Cup slump.
Veteran quarterback Anthony Calvillo has committed to another season, and 16 touchdown receiver Jamal Richardson passed on the NFL. With other play makers such as Avon Coburne, Ben Cahoon and Kerry Watkins, the Al’s look to have all the tools to make it back to the Grey Cup Finals.
But will they buckle down when it matters most?
Let’s take a closer look at the Montreal Alouettes:
The Montreal Alouettes didn’t have a very eventful offseason, but since they already had such a talented roster, it wasn’t really necessary. Instead, the Alouettes focused on re-signing the key components of their team.
Montreal gladly welcomed back Anthony Calvillo for another season, inking their star quarterback to an extension. They also welcomed back Jamal Richardson, who had a breakout season in the receiving core. Receivers Brian Bratton and Ben Cahoon were also inked to extensions.
On the defensive side of the ball, Montreal re-signed defensive end Anwar Stewart and defensive back Mark Estelle. They also added defensive lineman Jerome Haywood and defensive back Stanford Samuels.
During the CFL Draft, the Alouettes focused on improving their offensive line as two out of their first three picks were offensive linemen. Their big pick was local lineman Dylan Steenbergen, who should help an aging Alouettes offensive line.
In the loss category, Montreal didn’t suffer many major blows, but did lose offensive tackle Luke Fritz to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
There don’t appear to be many glaring weaknesses on the Alouettes roster, but there are still come concerns surrounding the Grey Cup runner uppers.
The obvious question heading into the Als' season is whether or not they will be able to avoid another Grey Cup defeat. But perhaps a better question is: will they have the motivation to get back?
While it seems unlikely that Montreal will lose in a weak East Division, the mood of the team is definitely questionable after yet another disappointment.
Will Montreal have the right mindset going into the season?
And while the Als do have a near perfect roster on paper, that doesn’t always translate into an amazing season. Just ask Winnipeg, who took a step back words last season with basically the same roster that got them to the Grey Cup game.
Montreal does have a few areas of concern.
Their offensive line is aging, which could lead to sloppier pass protection and run blocking.
And though he is coming off of an MOP season, Anthony Calvillo isn’t getting younger.
Perhaps the biggest question is the defense. Montreal’s defense has always seemed to be rather average, and they have seemed to falter recently in big games.
Montreal didn’t make a lot of signings during the offseason, but they also managed to keep their roster intact, which should bode well for them. Montreal’s offense should still be arguably one of the best in the league.
Anthony Calvillo is still playing at a high level, and with receivers like Ben Cahoon and Jamal Richardson, he will have plenty of targets. Watch out for star running back Avon Cobourne, who will be running the ball behind a talented offensive line.
The Als' defense has never been the best in the league, but they are fairly consistent nonetheless.
Really, there is no question that Montreal will be atop the Eastern Division.
There are so many question marks surrounding the other teams in the East, whereas there a few questions surrounding the Montreal Alouettes.
In fact, it may not be a stretch to say Montreal is a lock to make it to the Grey Cup in the East.
But when it comes down to it, will Montreal have what it takes to win the Cup?
Anthony Calvillo may only be around for one more season, so if the Alouettes are waiting for the perfect time to win the Grey Cup, the time is now!
My Prediction: Around 12 wins, a first place finish in the Eastern Division and a home playoff game.
Outstanding Player of the Year: Anthony Calvillo
Defensive Player of the Year: T.J. Hill
Canadian of the Year: Ben Cahoon
Lineman of the Year: Scott Flory
Special Teams Player of the Year: Damon Duval
Rookie of the Year: Dylan Steenbergen
The East previews are over. Next up are the West previews, starting next week. Will the BC Lions be stuck in a rebuilding year? Will Jesse Lumsden have an impact in Edmonton? And will the Stampeders have a chance to repeat? Stay tuned.