March 15, 2024

‘Stability is a great thing’ for Alouettes in 2024

Montreal Alouettes' head coach Jason Maas watches from the sideline during the second half of a CFL football game against the B.C. Lions, in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, July 9, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The mark of a great organization is consistency. In pro football especially, it’s not easy to bring back the same players and same coaching every year. For a good chunk of the previous decade, the Alouettes struggled to find a level of continuity at all levels, but 2023 brought a championship and stability on many fronts.

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In the first third of last year, Pierre Karl Péladeau purchased the organization from the CFL. He brought stability at the ownership level. Mark Weightman was hired as president and C.E.O. in April. Danny Maciocia began his third fourth year as general manager. Those two individuals brought stability to the front office.

And on the football side, an identity, a belief, and a winning formula was created throughout the season.

19 of 24 starters are back from last season, and one coach (David Brown) has been added to the staff and one is no longer in the organization (Tyrell Sutton). That’s as much continuity as you’ll see on the football side of things from one year to the next for a championship team.

“Stability is a great thing,” head coach Jason Maas said during a media availability at Olympic Stadium on Friday afternoon. “Continuity after winning a championship is huge. Guys are familiar with (the staff) and we’ve had success together. We’ve built a foundation. And when you build a foundation (correctly), generally, the pieces stay together. It’s natural for things to progress, where people move on. With success comes (other teams) taking your people. People do move on, but all of us are grateful to be back and that we’re able to work together again and improve upon what we did last year and take it a step further.”

The biggest change for the players and coaching staff in 2024 will come in the form of the target they’ll be carrying on their back. The reality is that nobody outside of Montreal expected the Alouettes to win the Grey Cup last year. Now that they’ve shown the country that they are a championship caliber team, other teams have no choice but to take notice.

“It’s different now,” assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Byron Archambault admitted. “We have a target on our back now. It’s going to be different for us as a group, but we can’t really do anything differently. It’s the same sport, we have the same number of downs, the same number of yards on the same field, and we have a roster that is very similar to last year’s. We need to attack the challenges that will be presented to us the same way. But there is definitely a difference. That will come in the form of how we have to motivate our players.”

The coaching staff has been hard at work all offseason to ensure that a repeat is possible. This past week, the group gathered at their Olympic Stadium office to put in extra work ahead of training camp, which is less than two months away.

“The biggest thing is being able to watch the film together,” receivers coach Mike Lionello, who flew in from his off-season home in Vancouver to be in Montreal this week, said. “When you’re on zoom, the film lags, and the vibe is different. It’s not bad, but it’s not the same. Being here in person and being able to shoot ideas off each other (is easier). When you’re on zoom, it’s so much harder to do.

“We’re watching everything we did from the first game of the preseason through the Grey Cup.”

The coaches will have the difficult task of guiding the players through the grind of another 18-game CFL regular season. Ensuring that everyone is just as hungry as they were when they found themselves in ninth in every Power Rankings column will be difficult, but that’s where continuity and familiarity with one another may make all the difference.