July 24, 2018

Redemption Time

The Earth stood still for the Alouettes on Sunday evening. Or did it start spinning at the same speed as people were tweeting about Johnny Manziel coming to Montreal? Either or, the team just took one heck of a turn. But like Kavis Reed stated in a press conference on Monday: We did not hire Johnny for him to be a saviour, but for him to be a part of this team that will win football games.

Johnny himself said it. “Football is a team sport. Of course I want to come here and win, but I’ll need my teammates for that.

We still don’t know if the Heisman trophy winner will hit the field on Thursday, but he will likely suit up and take notes to be war ready when his time comes. And his time will come sooner than later. “He wasn’t brought to Montreal to stay on the bench,” Coach Sherman confirmed.

Johnny Football landing in Montreal is obviously not a coincidence. Him and Mike Sherman have maintained a very special relationship since the Head Coach convinced him to join his troops at Texas A&M in 2012. “I was going to Eugene, Oregon. Coach Sherman made me change my commitment, Johnny told the media. He was like a father figure because it was my first time moving away from home. It’s exactly what I need at this moment in my life.”

He was always a pain on the sidelines, because he always wanted to know what the play was. Even when he wasn’t playing, Sherman added with a smirk on his face. I didn’t get a chance to coach him to the level I wanted to back in A&M, so it’s now coming full circle.

Johnny’s (personal) mistakes will remain a topic of discussion for a while. Especially now that he’s in what everyone has been describing as the city of all evil (come on people, really?). He knows it. He just wants to play ball.

Yesterday, he knew he’d be questioned about it. He knew it would be on his teammates’ mind as soon as he’d step foot in the locker room. But he also knows very darn well how high of a price he has paid for his mistakes and that this position as the potential starting QB for the Alouettes is his redemption. “My past mistakes and transgressions will follow me regardless of where I go, but I know for a fact I will never make them again, he promised. This organization put a lot on the line to get me here. All I want is for this to be put aside and to play football. I’m going to be a true professional.

It’s promising. His poise, his humility (surprising, but true!), his seriousness are promising. The fact that a coach of Mike Sherman’s caliber believes in him is promising. “He has a quality that few people have. Brett Favre had it as well. He makes the people around him better. He elevates their play. I don’t know how he does it, but he does.

Will the man have an immediate impact on the team? That’s what we’ll see on Thursday, July 26 at McGill Stadium or on Friday, August 3 when our Alouettes take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (ha!) at home also. Like he said, we will have to rely on his teammates as well – maybe even more -, particularly this week against the Edmonton Eskimos.

  • The receiving corps will have to make good of Chris Williams’ trade and find a way to stretch the field while star sprinter TJ Graham is still on the injured list. We saw that Chris Harper could do it… Could he be the new secret weapon? One thing is for certain: BJ Cunningham remains a reliable element and we sure hope that his chemistry with the new QB will grow. Fast. It will also be interesting to see how the group adjusts to the addition of slotback Adarius Bowman.

  • Speaking of chemistry… Matthew Shiltz, who could very well start the game under centre on Thursday, seems like he won the trust of his teammates. Number 18 threw his first touchdown pass of the season against the mighty Stampeders last week and displays much more confidence than last year. However, it is Vernon Adams Jr. who took the most reps on Tuesday at practice and he might just be the safest bet against the Edmonton Eskimos. Quick reminder: the 25-year-old youngster is beginning his second stint with the Alouettes. Between 2016 and 2017, he started three games in the Montreal uniform… Three wins. Just sayin’.

  • The success of Khari Jones’ unit does, however, rely on the effort that the o-line will be able to put into this game. Right now, protecting the QB is, by far, the number one priority. We can probably assume that we’ll see Tony Washington (acquired as part of the trade with the Ticats) and Na’Ty Rodgers at tackle, Kristian Matte at centre with Ryan Bomben to his right. The last element might remain a mystery until 7 :30 PM on Thursday.

  • On defence, the biggest question mark is the D-line. Losing Jamaal Westerman certainly broke our heart, but Defence Coordinator Rich Stubler feels just as strong about his front. “The defensive line remains one of the team’s strength. Sure, I lost one great player, but at the end of the day, Kavis did a great job to make this team better.” Fans of Montrealer Jesse Joseph will be pleased to see him start the game at the Defensive End position. And who will take over inside for injured Jabar Westerman? More to come in the next few days…

So. Many. Changes. You ought to be there to see how it all pans out on Thursday, July 26 at McGill Stadium. Doors open at 6 PM. Oh! And be ready for the LOUDest half-time show of the season. Yup, rapper LOUD has a killer performance in store for you.