Inconsistency dogs leading receiver Lewis, Alouettes' struggling offence
`I have to be more responsible. I get paid to catch the ball,' star player laments
Eugene Lewis was the Alouettes' leading receiver on Saturday. And yet, following one of the most inconsistent performances of his career, he said that level must be raised.
“I had too much of an up-anddown day and was too inconsistent,” Lewis said Monday, after the Als conducted a light workout at Olympic Park. "Some of those throws, I usually make those. And I have to.
“I know the difference between accountability and responsibility,” he added. “I have to be more responsible. I get paid to catch the ball.”
Lewis caught four passes for 85 yards in Montreal's 27-18 loss at home to British Columbia. While Lewis snagged a 35-yarder — in double coverage — from quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. early in the second half, he also had three drops during the opening 30 minutes.
One of those, late in the second quarter, came on second down with the Als scrimmaging from the Lions' four-yard line. Adams' pass, arguably, came in too hot from a short distance. And it was slightly behind Lewis, aimed at his right hip. Montreal settled for an 11-yard field goal from David Côté, one of six he kicked, tying a team record.
“I have to make the catch,” Lewis said. “Was it behind me a little bit? Yeah, but it doesn't matter. I have to make that catch.
“I just have to be more consistent — for my team and (Adams) and for myself. Catch the ball. That's what I need to focus on.”
Lewis remains the Als' leading receiver this season. Through five games, the 6-foot-1, 208-pounder has caught 20 passes for 365 yards while scoring two touchdowns. While Jake Wieneke and B.J. Cunningham both have more receptions — 23 and 24, respectively — Lewis has produced the most yards. That's understandable, considering he's regarded as the team's top threat.
But Lewis is also the receiver Adams generally targets the most — occasionally to the detriment of the team. If receivers are measured by the number of 100-yard games they record, Lewis has just one, against Ottawa, when he caught five passes for 120 yards. But the Als also scored a season-high 51 points that night as they exploited a struggling Redblacks team.
Lewis set the bar high in 2019, catching 72 passes for 1,133 yards while scoring five touchdowns. He was named an East Division all-star.
While not specifically pointing a finger at Lewis, acting head coach André Bolduc said all of Montreal's receivers needed to make more plays against B.C.
“It touched his hands or he would have walked into the end zone,” said Bolduc, in one of his last official acts as head coach. Khari Jones, who received a positive COVID-19 test more than a week ago, is expected to return to the field Tuesday.
“There were many passes — short and longer ones — we could have got first downs on,” Bolduc added. "At the pro level, we expect to make those catches. B.C. receivers made those catches. That was a huge difference in the game. If we make a couple more, maybe we score a touchdown and roll.
“The CFL'S a passing league. We have to be able to make those contested catches.”
Lewis, obviously, wasn't the only Als offensive player who struggled in the game. While Adams passes for 270 yards, he completed only 16 of 36 attempts and was intercepted twice — including on Montreal's opening possession when he tried hitting Cunningham in the end zone from the B.C. 15.
Adams has completed 83 of 153 passes this season (54.2 per cent) for 1,201 yards and nine touchdowns. But he also has been intercepted four times in five games. He needs to display more consistency and better judgment at times.
“He lost his offensive coordinator, mentor and playcaller,” Bolduc said of Jones' absence. “I thought he had an okay game. He made some great decisions at times ... gave his receivers chances to make plays. Take away those two picks — I'm sure he wants those back — and, overall, he had an okay performance.”
Basically, the Als squandered a good offensive performance overall — including by tailback William Stanback, who gained 139 yards on 18 carries — due to a lack of finish.
“I had some good plays and not so good plays that hurt us at times,” Adams said. “It starts with me.”
Meanwhile, the Als will be without return specialist Mario Alford for several weeks at least. He suffered a lower-body injury, likely to a foot, against B.C.
The CFL'S a passing league. We have to be able to make those contested catches.