After the 34-27 defeat suffered in the Eastern final last year, many wondered if Noel Thorpe’s defense was to blame for this result. Some have even argued that the defensive coordinator should leave his place for the 2023 season.
The performance of his unit throughout the season, and despite the numerous injuries suffered by the members of his tertiary, demonstrates that it would have been a serious error not to give him a second chance.
The Alouettes’ defense ranks second in the CFL in most defensive statistics, notably in points allowed and turnover differential, with 48 against 34.
“There are several things that have happened since then. In the end, you can call the plays you want, it’s up to the players to execute them, argued safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy, named to the CFL all-star team on Wednesday. We have new impact players like Sean Lemon, Darnell Sankey, who is pretty incredible, or even Reggie Stubblefield, who is having a pretty impressive season. These players helped.
“Noel also really worked,” he added. He was criticized a lot and we saw a big improvement over last year. But you have to understand that Christmas has arrived in the middle of the season. He had to set up the base for the first few weeks. It’s difficult to implement things in peak season. There he had a full season to work. He has a better understanding of what his defense can do and he knows his veteran core better. All that explains why we have had a lot of success this year. »
“No matter the year, you have to work in the off-season,” Thorpe said. I tried to implement something last year, but I arrived and there were already five games played. We repositioned the guys, recalibrated the positions. Coming in early in camp and having guys that have the basics and schemes down, it’s a combination that leads to what you’re seeing right now. And to count on the same training, as has been the case for the last five weeks, that also helps a lot. »
We must also talk about the arrival of linebacker Sankey and defensive end Lemon to the Alouettes. The first came just before the Alouettes’ five-game winning streak at the end of the season. The second had joined the group a little earlier. Both made an instant impact in a group that was already performing well.
“These guys came in ready to be inserted into the lineup,” Thorpe noted. Sean kept himself in shape while he waited for a call and we were able to insert it immediately, and he was productive right away. Same thing with Darnell, who came from the XFL and was ready to play as soon as he arrived. […] These guys have proven to be very good additions. Not just on the pitch, but also in the locker room. They are two excellent leaders.
“The fact that they have had success in multiple systems shows how high their knowledge of the sport is,” Thorpe added.
The fact that they came to Montreal in the middle of the season, when they were available to all CFL teams, once again demonstrates the extent to which Danny Maciocia’s football operations team is operating at full capacity.
“It’s a collaborative effort,” Thorpe said. During the season, due to injuries or even our evaluations, we had new needs. We thought the two would fit together beautifully. I had already experienced a camp with Sean Lemon in Edmonton. Darnell has been around Jason Maas before. When we look at their contribution, on the field and in the locker room, we are talking about two good shots. »
Mack and Dequoy on CFL all-star team
Montreal Alouettes safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy and his teammate, pass catcher Austin Mack, were elected for the first time in their respective careers to the Canadian Football League all-star team, the circuit announced Ambrosia Wednesday.
Dequoy, a 29-year-old from Montreal, ranked second in the CFL with five interceptions in the regular season, including two converted into touchdowns. The former University of Montreal Carabins player made 57 defensive tackles and five on special teams. His defensive brilliance also allowed him to make three forced fumbles, recover two in addition to knocking down six passes.
For his part, Mack, who is 26 years old, caught 78 passes for 1,154 yards and crossed the goal line four times. In addition, the American has surpassed the 100-yard mark in a game five times this season.
Unsurprisingly, the Toronto Argonauts, who will be the Alouettes’ opponents this weekend in the Eastern final, dominated the group with eight representatives.
Quebecer Mathieu Betts, of the British Columbia Lions, also earned a place on the all-star team. Betts notably broke the CFL record for a Canadian player by recording his 18th sack of the season a few weeks ago.
A total of 27 players formed the 60e CFL all-star team.
The members of the all-star team were chosen by representatives of the Canadian Football Writers’ Association (ACFC), as well as by head coaches and fans who took part in the process this year via the Vote fans of the CFL stars.