Heading into the Montreal Alouettes Week 11 match-up against the Ottawa Redblacks, a few people suggested a Montreal quarterback change. At the time, Montreal was 3-6, only three points behind first-place in the East Division, and a win would have put them only one point away from the division lead.
The dream scenario was not meant to be, as the Alouettes lost for a fifth time at home, 19-14, and with a record of 3-7, they could sit four points out of the playoffs by the time Week 12 rolls around. Hope is starting to slip away in Montreal, and with a quarterback who throws untimely interceptions, head coach Jim Popp is reportedly set to name a new starting quarterback in Rakeem Cato. Is it the right time for a Montreal quarterback change?
Is It the Right Time for a Montreal Quarterback Change?
Glenn Past His Prime
When the Alouettes traded for Kevin Glenn late last season, he was a good option to fill in at the Alouettes unstable quarterback position. He arrived to make sure Montreal crossed the finish line properly, and at the same time, teach the younger quarterbacks the ways of the game. He was never meant to be the starter all of the 2016 season.
Glenn does bring veteran leadership to his group, but in no way does he bring any more stability than Cato, or even Vernon Adams Jr. would. Although he has a respectable 70.1% completion percentage, fourth in the league for quarterbacks with over 200 passes, and has the fourth-most passing yards with 2,547 yards, Glenn has 11 interceptions to 13 touchdowns. Out of the nine starters across the league, Glenn has the the worst interception percentage at 3.5%. Only three other back-ups have a higher interception percentage.
The timing of those interceptions are just killing any hope the Alouettes have at making the playoffs. Besides his five-touchdown performance against the Redblacks in Week 8, Glenn has now thrown interceptions on potential game-winning drives for three straight games.
In Week 8, down 16-12, Glenn drove the Alouettes to the Edmonton Eskimos 30-yard line with 1:24 to go. Glenn threw an interception to J.C. Sherritt, who ran it back 79 yards before he lost the ball at the Montreal six-yard line. This gave the Alouettes a new hope, but on the second play of their do-or-die drive, Glenn threw the game away with a pick-six to Deon Lacey. Two chances at a game-winning drive, two interceptions.
Two weeks later, in a home game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, once again Glenn threw two interceptions in the final 1:28. The game was already out of reach after the three-minute warning, but Glenn threw four picks in that contest, clearly hurting the team. They were down 19-18 after three quarters, and a fourth-quarter defensive collapse gave them the loss. But one has to wonder how the game would have been different if he had not thrown two INTs in the first half.
Finally, in Montreal’s Labour Day Classic against the Redblacks, Glenn was once playing a good game until the fourth quarter. He did throw an INT in the first quarter, but it was one that the receiver should have caught. The veteran recovered by leading a long drive capped off with a touchdown to Nik Lewis in the second quarter.
He literally gave the game away with an interception with six minutes left, while the Alouettes were only down by two points. On the final drive, with Montreal down five, he threw an incompletion on 3rd and 5, ending the Alouettes chance at a victory.
Glenn has been a veteran presence in Montreal, but his poor play this season is not good enough. If the Alouettes want to get back to their winning ways, having Glenn as the starter is not the solution. He could still be a leader from the sidelines, but at this point in the season, it’s time for a Montreal quarterback change.
Cato Frontrunner for Starter
After near release from the Alouettes in training camp, to earning the back-up role in the pre-season, Cato could finally take back that starting role. Cato started ten out of 12 games played last season, going 4-6, and finished the season with 174/251 passes completed (69.3%) for 2,167 yards and 9 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
These numbers aren’t great, but he got the job done early in the season, and faltered later on. That’s why Popp went out to get Glenn, but now Cato seems poised to earn his job back.
— Didier Orméjuste (@DidierRDS) September 5, 2016
Rakeem Cato is practicing with the starters. @CFL
— Didier Orméjuste (@DidierRDS) September 5, 2016
Cato started one game this season, a 31-7 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He filled in well for an injured Glenn, going 18/25 for 203 yards. He appeared in four other games, completing all six of his passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. Although it is a small number size, Cato is efficient this season. He seems more focused and could translate that into success moving forward.
As for Adams Jr., it’s unlikely he touches the field outside of short-yardage situations anytime soon. Popp may be giving the Oregon product a season to learn before throwing him into the fire.
Does This Mean They Are Throwing in the Towel?
This Montreal quarterback change does not mean they are throwing in the towel. It’s as simple as that. When a team has a 3-7 record, a change is needed and this may be one of many.
Maybe Cato could pull a Jonathan Crompton and win out the rest of the season, finishing with a 11-7 record. He could also go 4-4 or 0-8. Whatever the case may be, here is the Montreal quarterback change they needed. Cato could prove himself as the potential future starter, or he shows that maybe he is not the guy for the Alouettes.
Like any professional sports team in a slump, the Alouettes will do their best to get out of it, but at the same time, they will plan for the future. Popp holds a tight grasp of the towel, and it does not seem like he will throw it anytime soon.