October 2016 – Vernon Adams Jr. 1st CFL Start

The life of a pro quarterback is a precarious one. Just ask Rakeem Cato. Cato came in as a fresh rookie out of Marshall University. Amazingly enough, Cato DOMINATED in his first game, beating the defending Grey Cup Champions Calgary Stampeders. I was IMMEDIATELY  hooked.  That kind of talent doesn’t lie.

The road has been rocky for Cato, filled with incompetent and mismatched offensive coordinators, truly BAD offensive line play, cancerous and toxic receivers like Duron Carter and Kenny Stafford, and a difficult to define, MORE difficult to put down “zombie offence”. Through it all Cato has managed NOT to throw a ton of interceptions (like Kevin Glenn) AND despite the frustration, has kept relatively calm….considering.

Coming into this season the idea was meant to have been: play veteran Kevin Glenn , in effect repairing the broken “quarterback succession” plan for this franchise, neglected for so many years by Anthony Calvillo, Jim Popp, and Marc Trestman. THAT seemed a reasonable idea, at least. If a “Cato guy” like me accepts the logic of playing a veteran like Glenn while Cato has the time to learn the game, you have to believe there’s some merit to the idea. Mystifyingly, Popp traded Glenn for a 4th round draft pick, and Cato was left without a net, the team on the shoulders of a young quarterback with less than a full season of starts under his belt. Bruno Heppell on the decision to start Cato over Glenn, 2nd week of September:

J’espère par contre qu’on n’envoie pas le jeune Rakeem Cato à l’abattoir. Je m’explique : peu importe qui sera le quart des Alouettes, s’il n’est pas bien protégé, il n’aura aucune chance de connaître du succès.

At the same time, I hope we’re not sending young Rakeem Cato to the abattoir. Permit me to explain : whoever is quarterback for this Alouettes team, if he’s not well protected, he’ll have no chance of success.

He wasn’t. He didn’t.

Speaking of Heppell…the RDS commentator and ex-Alouettes fullback stated his MAJOR concern when Chapdelaine was given the Head Coaching job: that he WOULDN’T be given the requisite authority to make the hard decisions necessary to get this team back on track. In point of fact, the FIRST thing reporters asked Chapdelaine was “what will you do about the Duron Carter situation?” The question was pointed, and reads more like, “do you ACTUALLY have the authority to take on Jim Popp in ANYTHING?” Heppell believes he has his answer in the release of Carter and Stafford.

If rumours are true however, it would seem that Chapdelaine put his vaunted intelligence to good use: knowing Popp’s desire to see Adams on the field, Chappers apparently cut a deal: get rid of the cancerous presence in the lockerroom, and I’ll start your Adams Jr.

In a way, we football fans have a streak of ruthlessness in us. Losing a starters job as a quarterback is somewhat akin to a “fall from grace”. Perusing comments here and there, and despite the obstacles in Cato’s path, it’s OBVIOUS some fans have gotten sick of losing with Rakeem Cato. Winning is truly the ONLY thing.

So here’s the thing: Adams is inheriting a truly MISERABLE O-line. As for the other problems that have plagued Cato’s Alouettes career…Chapdelaine, although working from the disjointed Calvillo playbook, has shown signs of better playcalling and “on the fly” adjustments. Carter and Stafford are no more. Assuming Adams does VERY well…and maintains a stable and productive offence, no doubt fans will be expecting Cato to be released. This is the CFL after all. Winning may be the ONLY thing. But in this jungle, only the CAP is king.

The Alouettes need a plan. They need to decide what MANNER of offence they’ll cultivate, and sign and develop NOT ONLY the quarterbacks that fit that plan, but recruit receivers, running backs and linemen who complement the skills of your quarterback, and the specifics of the plan itself. From all indications, and considering his history of developing quarterbacks like Casey Printers, Buck Pierce, Travis Lulay and Mike Reilly…adding the names of Vernon Adams and Rakeem Cato would seem a natural progression for Jacques Chapdelaine. In this context, I honestly believe he could be our next “Man with a Plan”.

If we’re FINALLY going to grind that pesky Quarterback Carousel to a halt, we’re going to have to commit long term: plan, Head Coach, quarterbacks and supporting cast. This means, above all else, once you’ve got your ducks lined up in a row, STOP MAKING CHANGES.

Surely, as the guy who beat Calgary, first regular season game after winning the Cup, as the QB who broke the dreaded BC curse, as the ONLY Alouettes quarterback (other than Adrian McPherson) to beat the Ticats in Hamilton (actually, AC did it ONCE in his Alouettes career), Cato has earned the right to stick with this team and grow…as a backup or as a starter. Just ask one of Cato’s “worst enemies” Kenny Stafford:

On the other hand, Stafford was asked following Saturday’s game whether he felt sorry for Cato being thrust into such a dysfunctional offensive situation this early in his career — and refused to comment. On Tuesday, when he was asked if he felt sorry for Cato, who now has been replaced by Vernon Adams, Stafford said “yes and no,” but claimed Cato’s a good quarterback.

So now it’s Vernon Adams Jr. time. Let’s start with a 2015 video and see what the young man’s got:

When two “superstars in their own minds” like Carter and Stafford are released, the guys coming in to replace them usually do so in relative obscurity. Still…it’s never easy joining a receiver squad mid-season. Alouettes Depth Chart:

Apparently the Alouettes haven’t updated their depth chart since week13. Hopefully the changes will appear online sooner than later.

Cody Hoffman seems to have disappeared from the Alouettes’ Roster. Marcus Henry and Tiquan Underwood look to eventually replace Carter and Stafford. Whoever takes their place the one advantage I can think of is the fact that they’ve shared 2nd team reps with Adams Jr. Lewis, Giguere and Cunningham may be relative “practice strangers” but hopefully Adams comes into the game against Saskatchewan with a little chemistry with his 2nd team mates.

I wouldn’t expect too much from Adams’ 1st pro start. After all…he hasn’t taken more than a couple snaps in a regular CFL offence. EVER. But who knows? Cato blew the defending Champs out of the water…straight out of college. This is the CFL. ANYTHING can happen.

But to “mis-echo” Heppell’s comment…WHOEVER is quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes, if he isn’t protected he’s going to have a fuck of a time being successful. Just ask Rakeem Cato.

FINALLY: Here’s a topical article on the difficulties of developing a quarterback in the CFL.

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