Even a mundane matter such as which end of a meeting room the chairs face is meaningful to new Montreal Alouettes coach Jacques Chapdelaine.
He had the Olympic Stadium room where he holds weekly meetings with the media rearranged, mostly so that players can pass through it without interrupting their teammates. But it was more than that.
“When you take over a situation, you’d like to give it as much of a new or different feel as you can,” Chapdelaine said Sunday. “I thought ‘I’m not going to repaint or refloor the place.’ There wasn’t time to do this. But there are little things you can send messages with, that we can work better.”
So far, although the sample size is small, the changes Chapdelaine has made have worked since he was promoted to head coach two weeks ago, when general manager Jim Popp was stripped of the title by the team owners. The practices are more structured and the players appear to be more disciplined.
And the tweaks made to the offence helped produce a 38-11 victory over the Toronto Argonauts in Chapdelaine’s first game.
He hopes to “create an attitude that when they come here it’s going to be business.”
The Alouettes (4-9) will need it as they face a tough test Monday against the visiting Edmonton Eskimos (7-7), who have won two in a row. The Eskimos bring the league’s passing leader in Mike Reilly (4,708 yards), who is also ninth in the CFL in rushing with 358 yards on 84 carries. And they have the league’s top two receivers in Adarius Bowman (1,497 yards) and Derel Walker (1,368).
Montreal has not put two wins together this season, which is another thing Chapdelaine wants to change.
“This week the emphasis was that [the Toronto win] was a good first step; we’re starting to build an identity,” he said. “But I tell the players they still don’t know how good they are.
“We’re realizing that as a team. That we are a good team. Good results is an indicator. Continuing positive results is a confirming statement to ourselves and the rest of the league.”
The Eskimos sit fourth in the West Division. If they can’t make up their four-point deficit on second-place B.C. and Winnipeg, they can still qualify for the postseason as a crossover team if they finish ahead of the third-place team in the East.
Montreal is fourth in the East, but is only two points behind third-place Toronto and four behind second-place Hamilton. Making the playoffs is not out of the question, but they need to go on a run of wins, which won’t be easy with two of their remaining five games against Calgary (12-1-1).
“Our playoffs are here, now,” said Rakeem Cato, who will make a third straight start at quarterback after throwing four touchdown passes against the Argos. “Every game is big now.”
Cato and Reilly, as well as Chapdelaine and Edmonton coach Jason Maas, will be will wearing microphones for the television broadcast, but Cato said viewers likely won’t hear much from him because he’s not a big talker on the field.
“I don’t really like it, but I’ve got to do it, so I’ve got to put my big boy pants on and handle my business like I’m supposed to,” Cato said.
“I don’t talk much. The most talking I do is on the sideline with the players. I like to joke a lot so you might hear some of my jokes.”
Chapdelaine isn’t worried because there is a 10-second delay between live play and what is seen on TV, so he can signal for the microphone be muted if he has something confidential to say to his players.
Montreal has two lineup changes. Brandon Rutley takes over at running back for the injured Tyrell Sutton while DeQuin Evans makes his debut at defensive end in place of Aaron Lavarias, who is on the six-game injured list.Report Typo/Error