Montreal Alouettes pull plug on Dan Hawkins after only 5 games, Jim Popp takes over as coach

Marc Trestman has not even coached a preseason game with the Chicago Bears, yet the Montreal Alouettes have already sacked his replacement, Dan Hawkins.

After a 2-3 start that barely qualifies as sputtering, Als owner Bob Wetenhall has asked general manager Jim Popp to put on the head coach's headset. Chalk that up to cluing in that a coach with actual CFL experience stands a better chance to right the ship than one with none. The handwriting might have been on the wall when venerable quarterback Anthony Calvillo refused to say whether last week's underwhelming 32-27 win over travel-fatigued Edmonton relieved pressure on Hawkins and offensive coordinator Mike Miller, diplomatically telling the Montreal Gazette's Herb Zurkowsky, "I’m not going to go there... I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the victory."

It probably says more about the decision to hire Hawkins in the first place, then it does about Hawkins.

The Alouettes, of course, hit a nadir two weeks ago with a historic collapse in a 38-27 loss to the Calgary Stampeders, becoming the first team in league history to lose a game after taking a 24-point first-quarter lead. Neither of their wins — a Week 1 comeback against lowly Winnipeg and its league-worst pass defence and the narrow escape in Week 5 at home over Edmonton, which had played three time zones away just five days earlier — could be counted as a signature performance.

It was also clear, even to the casual CFL watcher, that Hawkins and Calvillo were not on the same page. The novice CFL coach's offensive scheme seemed to ask the nearly 41-year-old passer to make a lot of long sideline throws instead of having Calvillo attacking the seams with his characteristic laser precision. That is a classic case of a coach trying to square-peg it rather than tailoring his game plan to his talent. Calvillo, after recording a passer rating of 95.0 or higher in each of the last six seasons, is presently fifth among the seventh QBs with at least 100 attempts with a pedestrian 79.5 rating.

One can only imagine what input Calvillo had into the decision.

Long story short, the owner and the franchise quarterback had plenty of reason to say this wasn't working out well. Montreal simply decided to cut bait while the season was still salvageable. The move comes during a bye week ahead of a critical three-game stretch that includes a showdown for top spot in the East on Aug. 8 vs. the Toronto Argonauts, followed by tilts vs. West Division heavyweights Saskatchewan (Aug. 17) and B.C. (Aug. 22).

Meantime, one can have some fun debating who had a more lamentable CFL tenure, Hawkins or Bart Andrus with the 2009 Toronto Argonauts. A gut feeling is Andrus still takes the (loose usage ahead) prize, since he lasted a full season. Plus 'Andrusitis' is a funnier term to apply to any American coach who struggles to adapt to the three-down, 12-man game.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to

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