October 2016 – Platoon!

Oh I get it. I really do. This is a quarterback driven league. Chapdelaine likes his job and wants to keep it. He figures his BEST chance is to play a veteran quarterback. But IS it…really?

The Alouettes are in a bit of a bind, QB-evaluation-wise. Normally, you’d say: “given that our O-line is doing it’s job, how would you evaluate our pivots?” OR “Given that our receivers are making a maximum effort, how’s our QB looking?” OR “GIVEN that our OC knows WTF he’s doing…how about Rakeem Cato?”

It’s like a math equation with TOO MANY unknown variables. No way to solve for X. “X” in this case, is the vexed question of what to do about our quarterback situation once the season is done, and moving forward?

If Jim Popp had his way, we NEVER would have seen Rakeem Cato with a SERIOUSLY upgraded O-line. We’d have NEVER seen Cato liberated from the toxic presences of Carter and Stafford. Best laid plans…Jim me boyo. After a PERFECT bomb, delivered to the breadbasket of Tiquan Underwood, and a read-option play that saw Cato BLAZE down the field for 73 yards, Popp’s going to have a HARD time putting THAT genie back in the bottle.

And let’s face it. After having his career HOBBLED by Schonert AND Calvillo’s incompetence (since sacked or demoted), POISONED by Stafford and Carter’s presence and influence (since released), and PANCAKED by a pathetic O-line (since upgraded), Cato deserves a little more understanding than many have accorded the “rookie” quarterback.

His frustrations and anger have been an issue, perhaps. But they were NOT without cause. And considering the recent removal of  ALL-THOSE-CAUSES, isn’t it heartening to have a young quarterback with the sense and intelligence to have been RIGHT…on ALL COUNTS?

If there’s one thing that scared me about Chapdelaine’s CV, it’s how many of his quarterbacks have had serious, career threatening injuries. It’s not all that uncommon, I suppose. Quarterbacks get injured. Reading the list, Casey Printers, Travis Lulay, Buck Pierce,  Mike Reilly…all running quarterbacks…all with MORE than their share of injuries…it HAS to give one pause.

But as Pete Carroll, Head Coach of the Seattle Seahawks put it when the team brought in Adams Jr. for an evaluation, call it a Platoon or something else, you’re backup should possess a similar skillset to the QB around whom you’ve styled your offence:

“It would probably be better if we had a back-up who, basically, was exactly like Russell.”

The Alouettes can go in one of two directions: Sure, they can go the traditional, expected route and sign somebody’s reject veteran quarterback. We can sit Vernon Adams behind a Ricky Ray, or Darian Durant or hey, why not get Kevin Glenn back? And we’ll float around in the murky waters of a quarterback’s declining years, until he’s injured or ineffective and we HAVE to play our ONE young, up-and-coming star QB anyway. And he’ll FLOUNDER a bit, stumble and pick himself up, with NOBODY comparable to spell him, or back him up. Meanwhile we’ll have wasted yet another season, will little to show for it.

OR we go ALL in. Build for the FUTURE. You SAW Cato run for 73yds on a read-option, right? That play has been available ALL SEASON LONG. Using Cato and Adams as runners…having Chapdelaine construct a dynamic offence featuring BOTH Cato and Adams as DUAL threats…attacking defenses with their legs as much as with their arms. THAT is the solution to the problem of starting quarterbacks who are arguably YEARS away from being capable of reading a defence like veteran.

If one is injured, or fails to move the ball for a half…bring in the other. What amuses me about last game was that it mirrored ALMOST EXACTLY the process by which QB platoons are generally deployed*: give your starter (that week) a half to prove himself, if he struggles bring in the other guy. As long as these kids can put their egos aside, for the team, for success, FOR GLORY…there’s no reason this couldn’t work.

If you project Chapdelaine’s 3-2 success thus far, add HIS OWN playbook to Cato and Adams’ natural progression, combined with THIS defence…the Alouettes could take an underachieving East Division as soon as NEXT season.

The next step would be to find some young, talented receivers and backs out of college…start developing them NOW. MORE options for a scrambling, dynamic attack. And for God’s sake. The O-line isn’t an option. IT’S A PRIORITY!!!

PLATOON BABY! That’s the way forward for this team.

*Save for Adams’ injury. Hope it’s not as bad as it looked. ACL?


CHAPPER CHAT: It’s the second last game of the season. What BETTER time to start a NEW segment on TSN690 Radio? Jacques Chapdelaine is interviewed every Monday morning:

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