The Montreal Alouettes enter the 2019 CFL season with a lot more questions than answers. They open the year as double-digit underdogs at the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday.
Probably no team in the CFL enters the new season with so much uncertainty surrounding the franchise as the Montreal Alouettes. No true owners, a shocking coaching change and four straight losing seasons for the team. The Als do have new uniforms!
On the bright side, the Alouettes improved by two wins from their 2017 total to last year. The bad news is they still won just five games, although that was able to keep them ahead of Toronto to avoid last place in the East Division. Only the Argos allowed more than Montreal’s 512 points, and the Als’ 345 points scored were the fewest in the league. The team did end the season with a bit of momentum, though, closing with a home win over Toronto and a victory in Hamilton. The Ticats did rest many key players with the team headed to the post-season the following week.
That would prove to be the final regular-season game as Als quarterback for Johnny Manziel as well as for coach Mike Sherman.
Montreal Alouettes Acquisitions and Moves
In a stunning move, the team relieved Sherman of his duties just last Saturday following both pre-season games. Some believe the change was related to Montreal’s current ownership situation in which the league owns the rudderless franchise. The CFL officially took over ownership of the Alouettes on May 31. There could be news of a sale soon to two former Montreal natives: Hollywood producer Peter Lenkov and his brother, Jeff, a California-based attorney.
GM Kavis Reed said this after moving on from Sherman: “We had identified some key elements from last year where we wanted to see some changes, but unfortunately, these adjustments did not materialize.”
Still, VERY odd timing. Offensive coordinator Khari Jones ones was promoted to interim head coach and will still run the offence. He played 11 seasons in the league at quarterback for five teams (none the Als).
In addition, Manziel, the former Heisman Trophy winner, was released by the team in late February after less than one season in the CFL and has been banned by the league. Hamilton held his rights but traded Manziel to the Alouettes last July. Manziel started eight games for Montreal, throwing for 1,290 yards, five touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
Antonio Pipkin opens 2019 as the starting QB. He was the favourite to win the job entering camp, beating out Vernon Adams Jr., Matthew Shiltz and since released Jeff Mathews. Pipkin played in six games last year, completing 78 of 131 for 1120 yards, three TDs and eight picks. He rushed for 252 yards and eight scores. Pipkin won’t be healthy for long if the Als’ offensive line allows 66 sacks again. Pipkin does have a nice new target in free agent receiver DeVier Posey. The former Argonaut played eight games with BC last year, catching 29 balls for 395 yards and three scores.
The defence is now led by coordinator Bob Slowik. He coached in the NFL from 1992-2013 and worked with Sherman 2001-2004 when Sherman was the Green Bay Packers’ general manager and head coach. That Montreal defence is led by linebacker Henoc Muamba, the team’s leading tackler last season and MVP on that side of the ball.
2019 Montreal Alouettes CFL Schedule
Montreal is a 10-point underdog for its opener Friday in Edmonton. Then comes a Week 2 bye before a home-and-home set with Hamilton. The Alouettes’ other byes are in Week 7 and 12. They were 2-0 at home vs. the Argos last year and host Toronto on Aug. 25 and Oct. 18. That former matchup will be held at Stade Croix-Bleue Medavie Stadium on the University of Moncton campus. It’s the fourth time the CFL has held a regular-season game there but first in six years.
Montreal Alouettes CFL Prediction and Odds
The Als are +455 to win the Eastern Division and +1900 to win the Grey Cup. This team does look better on paper, but such a late coaching change can’t possibly help matters. We project a 7-11 record and another year missing the playoffs.