Alouettes preview: Key additions/subtractions, players to watch, biggest storylines of 2023 season
Coach: Jason Maas
GM: Danny Maciocia
2022 Record: 9-9; lost Eastern Final to Toronto Argonauts
Opening game: June 10 vs. Redblacks
The 2022 season was a roller-coaster campaign for the Alouettes.
From the loss of starting running back William Stanback in the season-opening game, the mid-season firing of head coach Khari Jones, the trading of quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., the Alouettes still managed to reach the Eastern Final.
Changes for the Alouettes continued during the off-season with former Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive coordinator Jason Maas being named head coach, the loss of Most Outstanding Player runner-up wide receiver Eugene Lewis and fellow wide receiver Jake Wieneke to free agency, and the introduction of new ownership.
Maas is at the helm of a CFL team for the second time in his career as he was a head coach in Edmonton for four seasons (2016-19) before serving as the Roughriders’ OC for the past two seasons.
Maas was a backup to star quarterback Anthony Calvillo with the Alouettes in the fall of 2007.
Key additions and subtractions
The biggest free agency move for the Alouettes was the loss of Lewis.
The Norristown, Penn., native finished the 2022 season third in receiving to Winnipeg Blue Bombers rookie Dalton Schoen and BC Lions’ Dominique Rhymes.
Lewis played five seasons with the Als (2017-19, 2021-22), racking up 276 receptions for 4,347 yards and 28 touchdowns. The former Oklahoma Sooner was named the East Division’s Most Outstanding Player in 2022, while earning his third consecutive CFL East All-Star nod (2019, 2021-22).
Wieneke’s departure to the Roughriders didn’t make things easier for the Als as the former South Dakota Jackrabbit hauled in 45 receptions for 589 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Along with his receivers, Harris took his talents westward to the Roughriders as he and Cody Fajardo traded places.
Additionally, the Alouettes lost 2022 Most Outstanding Defensive Player Adarius Pickett, who joined the defending Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts in free agency.
Returning to the Alouettes’ offence is running back Walter Fletcher, who carried the brunt of the load in Stanback’s absence, wide receivers Kaion Julien-Grant and Reggie White Jr. along with decorated wide receiver Greg Ellingson, who comes over from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Player to watch
Stanback led the CFL in rushing in the 2021 season with 1,176 yards – 307 more than Calgary Stampeders running back Ka’Deem Carey.
Entering this season lighter, Stanback’s re-acclimation with the Alouettes’ offence poses a threat to opposing defences as his agility – now carrying a slimmer frame – paired with Maas’ scheme and Fajardo’s mobility can bring the Als’ offence to new heights in 2023.
“After an off-season dominated by ownership drama, the Als are regrouped under the leadership of new quarterback and coach combination, Cody Fajardo and Jason Maas. That duo struggled last season in Saskatchewan, where Maas was offensive co-ordinator. However, moving from the league’s worst offensive line a year ago to perhaps its best this season with Montreal should help. The Als are plugging lots of holes with newcomers to the CFL which gives this team a bit of a wait-and-see feel to it.” - TSN Football Insider Dave Naylor
“The Alouettes have a new feel to them with new ownership, coach, and QB. This will be a young team and very dynamic. Jason Maas has made it clear that the objective for his offence will be to establish the run game and be unpredictable - a system designed to highlight the skillset of a healthy, and now lighter, William Stanback. We already know Stanback is incredibly explosive and agile, now with the weightloss he’s even better, if you can imagine.
Cody Fajardo is another puzzle piece with something to prove. He sees this opportunity with Montreal as a second chance, and I think Cody wants to use this season to really show the league how good he really is. You can tell his feet are faster and the familiarity with the systems has allowed him to take on more of a leadership role.” – TSN’s Kenzie Lalonde
Week 3 – The Alouettes travel to Hamilton to face the Tiger-Cats in a rematch of the Eastern Semi-Final.
Week 6 – The Alouettes take on Pickett and the defending Grey Cup champion Argonauts in a rematch of the Eastern Final.
Week 10 – Harris and Wieneke make their return to Percival Molson Memorial Stadium as the Als host the Roughriders.
Week 13 – The Alouettes host the BC Lions on Labour Day Weekend.
Week 18 – The Alouettes and Ottawa Redblacks clash in a Thanksgiving Day Matinee.
Week 19 – The Alouettes travel to Commonwealth Stadium to take on Lewis and the Elks.