The Rouge: Will the Alouettes be better with Popp as coach?

Ben Fisher,

8/7/2013 9:23:36 PM

The Dan Hawkins experiment is over. But Montreal Alouettes GM Jim Popp acknowledged his mistake and made a change quick enough to still salvage the team's season.

With Popp now at the helm, Montreal will go back to looking like the team we remember, starting Thursday against the Toronto Argonauts. And sitting only one game out of first in the division, they'll challenge for the East crown like they always do.

Not so fast. Hawkins was an undeniably bad fit for the team and league but Montreal's problems run deeper than the head coach. The Alouettes have been slowly declining the past two years, even under their highly-respected former head coach Marc Trestman.

Since their second consecutive Grey Cup win to cap the 2010 season, the Als have fought to slightly better than average records of 10-8 and 11-7 and haven't won a single playoff game.

The once vaunted roster has grown a little older and a step slower in recent years and Popp hasn't hit on the same high percentage of moves fans in Montreal are accustomed to.

Even Anthony Calvillo, the soon-to-be 41-year-old future Hall of Famer, has seen his play slip from 'outstanding' to just 'really good.' While in the two years prior to this season, Calvillo maintained his 5,000 yards per season average established during the three consecutive years Montreal advanced to the Grey Cup, his touchdown-to-interception rate fell from roughly 4:1 to 3:1 and his completion percentage dropped from the high 60s to the low 60s.

Still tremendous numbers for the 20-year veteran, but not quite up to the sterling standard he set for himself in years past.

And Popp, the orchestrator of those dynastic Alouettes teams of a few years ago, isn't exactly the miracle worker on the sidelines as he's gained the reputation for being in the front office. In his two previous stints as interim coach, Popp has a combined record of 10-13 in the regular season and 1-3 in the playoffs.

There's no question Montreal will be better moving forward under Popp. The 16-year GM should return the team to some sense of normalcy as they get back to the 'Alouette way', but will that make the problems plaguing the veteran squad just disappear?

The Rouge asks: How much better will the Alouettes be with Popp as interim head coach? You've heard what we've had to say, now it's your turn.

As always, it's Your! Call.