Continuing with the CFL Talking Points series, Last Word On Canadian Football writer Thomas Gunther is back to cover the latest match-up between the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes. Montreal came into the game eager for a win and ended up running roughshod over the offensively challenged Argos 11-38. Gunther addresses the big questions raised by the game as well as his overall impression of each team. For last week’s recap, you can click here. Let’s get started with the key takeaways in the CFL Week 15 Talking Points.
CFL Week 15 Talking Points
Questions and Takeaways
1) How did Montreal look under new head coach Jacques Chapdelaine?
Thomas Gunther: Fans didn’t have to wait long to see the fruits of their new head coach as Rakeem Cato went deep successfully on his first two passes, a recent rarity in Montreal. Rather than lock-in on Duron Carter or Nicholas Lewis Cato also spread the ball around to Kenny Stafford and breakout candidate B.J. Cunningham, while making use of his own legs to extend drives. While it must be said that the Argos came into this game with no film to study on Jacques Chapdelaine’s strategies, it must have been a very refreshing experience for Als fans who have seen their offence sputter more often than not in recent months.
2) With a full week of practice and preparation under his belt did Drew Willy look better than the benched Dan LeFevour at quarterback?
TG: Despite all the talk this week about how a week of practice would improve Drew Willy’s performance, fans were treated to a train wreck. The former Winnipeg Blue Bomber was consistently over or under throwing his receivers, and when he did connect with them it was often well behind the first down marker. Willy’s struggles underscore what is shaping up to be a very reckless overreaction by the Argos management to trade for the troubled passer. While Willy may be willing to take more deep shots than Dan LeFevour, the latter is looking like the better option for the Argos until Ray returns.
3) What does this weeks resurgence of the Alouettes and collapse of the Argonauts mean for the East division?
TG: The most recent week in the East Division has shown that no one is in, or out, in the Division’s playoff positioning. With the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Redblacks losing this week the entire division is now separated by only five points from first to worst. With at least four games remaining for every team, and the ever looming threat of a Western crossover, it’s anyone’s guess who will be playing meaningful football this November.
4) Biggest Takeaway for the Alouettes?
TG: This team can compete with anyone when focused. The defence has legitimate play-makers across the board from aging veterans John Bowman and Jovan Johnson to younger players like Winston Venable and Ramon Taylor. Add in an offence that has finally begun to use it’s deep threats in Stafford and Cunningham, and the return of a dominant ground game under Tyrell Sutton and the Als are a team no one wants to face. Of course all this comes with the caveat that the team cannot lose it’s focus or succumb to the crippling drama that has waylaid it all season, that will be the biggest challenge Chapdelaine faces going forward.
5) Biggest Takeaway for the Argonauts?
TG: All the talk that the defence is the problem in Toronto needs to end. Despite the high score run up by the Als, the Argos defence was doing it’s best to apply pressure to Cato throughout the game with six sacks. It feels like all year the Argos defence has been putting up underrated efforts only to see their anemic offence let them down. While the Montreal’s defence was often well rested and firing on all cylinders, the Argos unit was exhausted and can’t be fully blamed for giving up the points they did.
TG: The top performers for tonight were Cato and Argos running back Brandon Whitaker. While Sutton certainly made a case for the award as well it was Cato’s incredible resurgence, to the tune of four touchdowns, that propelled Montreal back into the East Division playoff race. On the opposing sideline Whitaker was a beast, putting up over 130 yards from scrimmage and showing his fierce competitiveness long after the game was decided. With the race to the finish heating up for both teams Cato, Whitaker, and Sutton will all have ample chances to take home another top performer nomination.