Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/9/2019 (260 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Firing your head coach a week before the season starts usually isn’t a recipe for success.
But don’t tell that to the Montreal Alouettes.
The Alouettes went 5-13 in 2018 but waited until the first week of June 2019 to part ways with head coach Mike Sherman in favour of Khari Jones. The move wasn’t a huge surprise, but the timing of it was. A month later, another key figure in the organization was shown the door, as general manager Kavis Reed was fired.
Many figured it would be yet another chapter in the decline of the Alouettes, a team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2012. But instead, it’s September and the Als already have more wins than they did all of last season. They’re currently in second place in the East Division, with a 6-5 record.
"It’s an ‘only in the CFL’ situation," said Winnipeg Blue Bombers safety Jeff Hecht, a 10-year CFL veteran, after Thursday’s practice. "This doesn’t happen in other leagues. That’s what makes our league so unique — the parity. Not only can you turn a team around in one off-season, but you can turn a team around in a month. From the outside looking in, you know I don’t have the inside perspective, but talking to a few guys, they were in rough shape in training camp. And for them to do this is a testament to Khari Jones."
Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea also gave credit to Jones for turning the Als around and putting them in position to potentially host a playoff game.
"I think he’s done a fantastic job," O’Shea said. "They seem to be playing with a lot of desire, energy and look like they’re having fun out there."
But the Bombers won’t be in Montreal on Saturday just to congratulate Jones on a job well done. Instead, the Blue and Gold are looking to get a road victory that would improve their record to 10-3 and clinch a playoff spot. The Bombers could also be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs if the Ottawa Redblacks fall to the B.C. Lions on Saturday. Hecht said he didn’t even know the Bombers could clinch a playoff spot on the weekend until he saw something about it on Twitter on Wednesday.
"The goal for us is to win the game this week," Hecht said. "The West (division) is tight. We’ve got six games left. There’s not a ton of season left, but that’s a lot of games and a lot of difference can be made as far as the standings. Obviously, the first goal is always playoffs. The second goal is to try to get the bye week (to division final). Being 1-0 this week is going to help us get there, and that’s what we need to focus on now."
In typical O’Shea fashion, the coach downplayed what it would mean to his group to clinch a playoff spot this early.
"Don’t think about it. We’ve got a lot of football left to play.
"This opponent is going to be tough to beat, so we have everything focused on that."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.
To those who have made donations, thank you.
To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.
The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.
After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.
If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.
We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.