MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes are promising a playoff team in 2019 to their long-suffering fan base.
"You all deserve much better and we need to give you reasons to celebrate," said team president Patrick Boivin, acknowledging fan frustration after the Alouettes (5-13) wrapped up their season by missing the playoffs for the fourth year in a row last weekend.
"To find ourselves here today with five wins is unacceptable."
Boivin was joined by Als head coach Mike Sherman and general manager Kavis Reed, who took turns answering questions about the disappointing campaign.
Boivin expressed confidence in the core of the team going into 2019 and felt there was tangible progress in the second half of the season.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win," Boivin said. "But we also found way too many ways to lose, therefore we have a ton of work to improve our execution and most of all our consistency."
Boivin noted that he, Sherman and Reed had only been working together for one season and deserved a chance to see their plan through.
There was considerable change going into the 2018 season, including Sherman, a former NFL coach, and a new coaching staff.
Boivin also flatly denied reports the team was actively shopping for a replacement for the embattled Reed, who has run up an 8-28 record in two seasons since being appointed GM in December 2016. But the president added anything less than a playoff appearance wouldn't suffice in 2019.
"These guys both know exactly what they have to do and they know we need to have results," Boivin said.
Reed, who took responsibility for a team that fell short, acknowledged he'd heard the rumours about being replaced.
"I obviously heard about it but my biggest thing is when you start to focus on those things, you become unfocused on what you're supposed to do," Reed said. "At 5-13, there will always be noise ... as long as I'm here, I'm going to my job, period."
Reed goes into the off-season with a lengthy to-do list that includes upgrading a receiving corps that lacks an explosive threat, more depth on the defensive line and more competition in the secondary.
"We feel that we have some quality first guys, but the key to having a sustainable success is the quality of the depth," Reed said.
Sherman is hoping to solidify the offensive line to protect a collection of young quarterbacks the club has assembled.
On that front, Sherman said he wasn't prepared to name a starting quarterback from a group that includes former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel as well as Antonio Pipkin, Vernon Adams Jr., and Jeff Mathews.
"I feel very confident about (Manziel), I feel that about our other quarterbacks, I think it's a position of strength on our team right now," Sherman said.
"What has to happen in camp is for our staff to be able to make a solid decision as to who will be the starter ... there's tremendous competition at that position and I would never eliminate that competition here in November when I want them working their butts off until a decision is made."
Boivin also acknowledged the team put in a bid on the 2020 Grey Cup, but added it isn't clear when the league would announce the host city.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press