CFL

Montreal Alouettes

Division: EastGM: Jim PoppHead Coach: Dan Hawkins
2012: 11-7 (1st in East)vs. division 5-5
Points26.6 (3rd)
Yards370.5 (4th)
Pass Yards293.2 (2nd)
Rush Yards93.1 (7th)

New coach in town for Alouettes, but sheriff, Calvillo, remains the same

Complete Opposite

Going from Marc Trestman to Dan Hawkins could be a big transition for the Alouettes.

The story for the Montreal Alouettes in 2013, as it has been the past 15 years, is Anthony Calvillo.

The veteran signal caller has seen seven coaching changes during his tenure in Montreal. He was named an East Division All-Star under Coach of the Year Charlie Taaffe; won a Grey Cup, a Most Outstanding Player Award, and was twice named a CFL All-Star under Hall of Fame coach Don Matthews; and two consecutive Grey Cup victories, Most Outstanding Player Awards, and All-Star selections under now-Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman. New head coach Dan Hawkins surely is hoping the 40-year-old has some gas left in the tank for his coaching reign.

Hawkins, who cut his coaching teeth in the NCAA, will need Calvillo to be a team leader and help him navigate through the unique challenges of the Canadian game. Calvillo's 2012 stat line suggests there is no reason to believe he won't be up to the task (his 5,000+ passing yards, 31:14 touchdown to interception ratio; and 60% completion percentage were in line with some of the better seasons throughout his career). In other words, despite the odd whisper or suggestion that the 19-year-veteran has lost a step, he is still very much a premier QB in the CFL.

Calvillo's sustained high play is a good thing, because while Hawkins is inheriting a team with lots of talent, it is also one that has been subject to more change in recent years than some Alouettes fans are used to.

The off-season was once again somewhat uncharacteristically busy in Montreal; GM Jim Popp taking flyers on some potential boom or bust veterans in free agency to fill roster holes.

Alouettes take chances on boom or bust signings

Arland Bruce III is perhaps the poster boy for those moves. The talented receiver signed with the Alouettes this offseason after wearing out his welcome at his three previous stops: BC, Hamilton, and Toronto. The 35-year-old has a knack for finding his way onto the highlight reels, and if the change of scenery can motivate him (his numbers spiked after his move to both Hamilton and BC) he'll be a welcome addition.

Adding to the risk that goes with Bruce is his age and injury history; the three-time CFL All-Star missed five games last season with a concussion. Keeping Bruce motivated is one thing, keeping him healthy another.

At the same time they announced the signing of Bruce, the Alouettes also announced the signing of 32-year-old defensive back Byron Parker, another BC Lions castoff that will have a chance to find his All-Star form in Montreal.

Popp also made a move for running back Jerome Messam, a former Most Outstanding Canadian to help carry the rock.

The acquisition (Messam, one year removed from a 1,000-yard rushing season, was attained from Edmonton for only a sixth-round draft pick) is a worthwhile one, especially considering last year's top rusher Brandon Whitaker was a late re-signing.

The Ejiro Kuale signing is another one that could pay handsome dividends for the Als this season. The imposing defender took a look south of the border before deciding to stay in the CFL and sign in Montreal.

After taking into consideration Popp's considerable track record as GM in Montreal, he certainly deserves the benefit of the doubt on any moves he signs off on.

Look no further than the accumulated talent from years past as evidence of Popp's sterling record building a roster.

Steven Lumbala

Analysis: The Alouettes came away from the draft with two first-rounders, both from the University of Calgary and both available to the team in 2013 – a rare occurrence for Montreal.

Typically a fan of the futures pick, Montreal selected LB Mike Edem (third overall) and RB Steven Lumbala (fifth overall). The two will be important depth players behind established Canadian talents Shea Emry and Jerome Messam.

GM Jim Popp went back to the futures well with the team's next two picks, defensive linemen Hosam Shahin and Jesse Joseph.

The Als' final five picks LB Nicolas Boulay, DL Michael Klassen, offensive linemen Jake Piotrowski and Simon Legare, and WR Damone Blackman are all battling for roster spots.

Rd. Pick Player Pos School
1 3rd overall Mike Edem LB Calgary
1 5th overall Steven Lumbala RB Calgary
2 14th overall Hosam Shahim DL Rice
3 23rd overall Jesse Joseph DE Connecticut
4 30th overall Nicolas Boulay LB Sherbrooke
4 32nd overall Michael Klassen DL Calgary
5 41st overall Jake Piotrowski OL Guelph
6 47th overall Simon Legare OL Montreal
7 57th overall Damone Blackman WR St. Mary's

Alouettes still rich in veteran talent

Sure there’s Calvillo, but Montreal has veterans at nearly every position ensuring the team maintains their contender status on a yearly basis.

Ability and Experience

Montreal's veterans should help Hawkins in Year 1.

Names like Jamel Richardson, S.J. Green, and Brandon London in the receiving corps; Josh Bourke, Scott Flory, and Luc Brodeur-Jourdain on the offensive line; and John Bowman, Chip Cox, and Jerald Brown on the defensive side of the ball speak to the consistency and leadership bred in Montreal.

Those are the players Hawkins will rely on to help smooth the transition from Trestman, the man in charge the past five seasons.

“There's a tremendous level of talent, experience and leadership," he said. "They've won at the highest level,” Hawkins explained during a season preview conference call.

“You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't have the right culture, you're going to struggle.”

That is likely Hawkins’ most important task as first-year head coach, but with the veteran group he’s now in charge of, one he’s confident he can handle.

03
With Calvillo, Als remain a strong contender in the East.

“We may come wrapped in a different cloth, but deep down inside we're very similar when it comes to our feeling of what football is about and what the culture of a successful organization is,” Hawkins said, comparing himself to Trestman.

“Marc was a quiet guy, very reserved. Dan's very energetic,” Popp told reporters at the start of training camp.

“He has that rah-rah college side to him.”

If Hawkins can slide in and replace Trestman without totally blowing things up – and it says here that with Calvillo around in a leadership role there’s a good bet that can happen – the Alouettes should once again enjoy a season as contenders in the East Division.

DEPTH CHARTS

OFFENCE

DEFENCE

LT

Bourke

LG

Woodruff
Bomben
Legare

C

Brodeur-Jourdain
Matte

RG

Flory
Barrette

RT

Perrett
Ola

WR1

London

SB1

Green
Clowney
Carter

SB2

Richardson
Wright
Moore

WR2

Deslauriers
Carter

QB

Calvillo
Neiswander
Marsh

RB

Whitaker
Jennings
Diedrick

WR

Bruce
Devine

Special Teams: P/K (Whyte, Alvarado), LS (Bedard), RS (Devine, Carrier, Livas)

Depth chart is for pre-season game against Toronto (6/20)

Expert Analysis
Chris Schultz: Hawkins era in Montreal should be interesting

Dan Hawkins. To tell you the truth I don't know much about him, other than his experiences in NCAA football at Colorado State and Boise State. But this much I do know: he is about as complete an opposite of Marc Trestman as there could be.

Matt Dunigan: New coach, new system, same old Calvillo for Als

Where do you begin with Anthony Calvillo? For the seventh time in his brilliant career AC threw for over 5,000 yards. No one has ever done that before! I bet Dan Hawkins is happy he's starting his CFL career with AC as his QB.

WK AGAINST DATE WK AGAINST DATE
1 @ June 27, 9pm et/6pm pt 11 vs Sep 8, 1pm et/10am pt
2 vs July 4, 7pm et/4pm pt 12 @ Sep 15, 4:30pm et/1:30pm pt
3 vs July 12, 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt 13 @ Sep 21, 4pm et/1pm pt (in Moncton)
4 @ July 20, 7pm et/4pm pt 14 vs Sep 29, 1pm et/10am pt
5 vs July 25, 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt 15 @ Oct 5, 3:30pm et/12:30pm pt
6 BYE WEEK 16 vs Oct 14, 1pm et/10am pt
7 vs Aug 8, 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt 17 vs Oct 20, 1pm et/10am pt
8 @ Aug 17, 4pm et/1pm pt 18 @ Oct 26, 1pm et/10am pt
9 vs Aug 22, 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt 19 @ Nov 1, 7pm et/4pm pt
10 @ Sep 3, 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt      

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