“I still think we’re figuring it out,” says head coach Khari Jones. “I feel like we’re getting there.”

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Every professional sports team enters a new season with unbridled optimism, and the Alouettes were no different after finishing second in the East Division and reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

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But that was in 2019, and that 10-8 record could easily have been 8-10 were it not for the notable victories in Calgary and against Winnipeg as Montreal overcame huge deficits. The margin between success and failure was that narrow.

In other words, after one season off the field, the 2020 CFL campaign was canceled due to COVID-19, there was no certainty what to expect from this team. And in the middle of his 14-game schedule, we’re still no closer to a conclusion.

The Als have been good at times; not so much in others. With a 3-4 record, many believe the club has not achieved good results, while head coach Khari Jones said the team has yet to find its identity.

“I keep thinking that we are figuring it out, our identity,” he said Friday. Expect to find it a bit sooner. This is an interesting season for that. Try to make sure you have all the pieces in place in the right way. I feel like we’re getting there. We’ll see as we go. “

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Here are some random thoughts with seven games remaining:

Vernon Adams Jr. has the talent to become a great starting quarterback. He has passed for nearly 1,800 yards and 13 league-leading touchdowns. The eight interceptions, six in the last three games, are cause for concern, especially on a team where the margin for error is slim. And Adams is invariably stolen when the Als are in scoring position, often attempting a low-percentage pass or making a poor decision.

But it’s Adams’ off-field behavior and his occasional battles with the media that is most concerning. No one said Adams had to be friends with the fifth state, but his behavior needs to improve. As he continues to grow as a leader, the 28-year-old must find a better way to deal with criticism.

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One thing is for sure: this team will only go as far as Adams takes them.

If there’s one player who hasn’t missed a beat, that’s running back William Stanback. Despite being released by the Las Vegas Raiders last summer, and following the death of his parents in nine days, Stanback leads the struggling CFL and makes no secret of the fact that he is happy to be back in Montreal.

He’s the same powerful, downhill runner we saw in 2019, the most dominant runner this team has had since Mike Pringle.

Other players who continue to excel are wide receiver Jake Wieneke and defensive tackle Woody Baron. Wieneke makes all the difficult catches and scores touchdowns. He has caught 33 passes for 545 yards along with six league-leading touchdowns. Baron has four team-leading quarterback sacks and forced a fumble.

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We didn’t know what to do with the offensive line. Position coach Luc Brodeur-Jourdain is in his first full season managing the unit alone, one in which Sean Jamieson played center for the first time in his career. We didn’t know if Philippe Gagnon was ready to become the starting left guard and we weren’t sure about Landon Rice at right tackle.

But the Als have allowed just 10 sacks in seven games. Compare that to Hamilton, who gave up 27 and went through three quarterbacks. While Adams’ mobility helps, the starting five are solid.

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Another possible area of ​​concern was Boris Bede’s post-Toronto kicking game, who handled all the duties.

Montreal decided to go with two kickers, burning a potential spot on the roster, as did other CFL teams.

Global punter Joseph Zema, a native of Australia, is averaging a respectable 46.4 yards, generally increasing his kicks with tremendous suspension time. Rookie kicker David Côté had made 18 of 23 attempts (78.3 percent), including the longest at 49 yards. That could be higher, but he also fell victim to errant holds twice, as he was rectified by switching to backup QB Matthew Shiltz.

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What remains to be seen is whether Côté can connect, not just from more than 50 yards, but with the game at stake. That will say a lot about your potential.

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General manager Danny Maciocia realized the Als defense needed to be overhauled and he spent a lot in free agency, adding tackles Almondo Sewell and Michael Wakefield, wing Nick Usher, cornerback Tyquwan Glass, defensive back Monshadrick Hunter and linebacker Chris Ackie.

In seven games, the defense has allowed an average of 24.3 points. That just isn’t good enough. There are times when they limit the damage, but not enough. And many of the 74 penalties for 759 yards have been on defense.

As much as the Als’ luck rests on Adams, the defense wins championships.

The Als have been outscored 36-24 in the first quarter and was without a point in four of seven games. We are not sure why they start out slowly. And we’re not sure what happens at halftime, because the team has been outscored 23-17 in the third quarter, again without a point in four games. Only in the second quarter did Montreal outperform its opponents.

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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