It was another wonderful week of CFL action for all of us to enjoy. The Redblacks silenced a lot of their skeptics with a their come-from-behind win over the Stampeders. The Eskimos continued their dominant run by beating down the Blue Bombers. The Argos staged the biggest comeback of the season so far, erasing a 21-point, first-quarter deficit to upend the BC Lions. While the Tiger-Cats went into Mosaic Stadium and dropped the reeling Roughriders to 0-5. The first month of the season has been fun, exciting and unpredictable, and I hope it keeps up over the remaining weeks of the season.
1st Down: The new CFL
I don’t know about you, but I am sure enjoying this new CFL. I know there are some out there who are bemoaning the changes the league made in the offseason, including one guy out in genius out in Saskatchewan who deserves nothing but mocking for his idiotic idea, but so far this season we have seen three overtime games in just five weeks and 12 games being decided by less than one score. Scoring is up, offensive numbers are up, and the entertainment value is high. Every team but one has at least two wins after the first five weeks and it truly feels like any team can win any game. Even the Roughriders have been far from the free square on the league’s bingo card. Yes, they are winless, but they are not being blown out. When the worst team in the league is at least competitive, something is going right. If this is what the new CFL is going to be all about, sign me up.
2nd Down: Tale of two backups
The backup quarterbacks were the story following Edmonton’s win over Winnipeg, but for very different reasons. Training camp and preseason star James Franklin saw his first extended action of the season and boy did he wow onlookers. Coming in to replace an ineffective Matt Nichols, Franklin engineered three touchdowns drives, tossing scores twice to Adarius Bowman and once to Kenny Stafford, to Nichols’ none. While Franklin wasn’t perfect, he looked very poised for a rookie and we now have a full-blown QB controversy in Edmonton. For my money, I’d give the ball to Franklin. He provided a spark to the offense when he was inserted on Saturday and I am interested to see what he can do in a game after he is given starter’s reps during practice.
The inverse of Franklin is the continued decline of Winnipeg’s Brian Brohm. Broom was once again forced to enter a game following an injury to Drew Willy and once again Brohm failed to deliver. He was unable to find any rhythm and led the Bombers to zero points during his time on the field. During his last appearance in Winnipeg’s loss to Hamilton, the Blue Bombers fans started to chant “We Want Marve,” and you saw those same sentiments on social media during the game. I can’t really blame Winnipeg fans for being less than thrilled with Brohm’s play. In all his time on the field, he has yet to throw a touchdown pass at the professional level. That is simply amazing, and not in a good way. I think it is time the Bombers seriously considered giving Robert Marve a chance to be the team’s primary backup. He really cannot do any worse that what Brohm has done. We have seen enough of Brohm to know what he is and isn’t capable of, so now is the time to find out if Marve can be a viable alternative in case Willy once again succumbs to injury.
3rd Down: A major blunder
The most anger-inducing moment of the week happened in the Calgary-Ottawa matchup when Jeremiah Johnson fumbled the ball into the end zone on a two-point convert. The ball bounced around a bit, but was ultimately recovered by Ottawa’s Greg Ellingson. However, upon review, the two points were taken away from Ottawa and the ball ruled dead. This confused many observers until the CFL sent out the following in a pair of tweets on Friday night:
Correct call: Ball is dead when ruled a TD. Not an immediate recovery on the fumble so upon review ball goes back to point of the fumble which was short of the endzone therefore convert no good.
So if I am following this correctly, because the referee made the wrong call — and when watching it live, it did not look like Johnson came close to crossing the goal line with the ball — Ottawa was hosed out of two points. No one knew what was going on when it happened and the explanation given by the league is far from satisfactory. The league is constantly tinkering with the rules every offseason, so this should be one they look into. A blunder of this magnitude cannot happen again.
1. Toronto Argonauts (Last Week: 1)
The Argos went down 21 early to the Lions in BC and found a way to win. As much as it pains me, they will remain in top spot for at least one more week. A tough test awaits as they head to Hamilton to take on the undefeated-at-Tim-Hortons-Field Ticats.
2. Edmonton Eskimos (Last Week: 3)
If you want to tell me Edmonton should be at No. 1, I won’t argue. The Eskimos have looked very good since their Week 1 debacle against the Argos, but it hasn’t all been great. Matt Nichols has been average at best and was pulled in favour of rookie James Franklin in last week’s win. The Eskimos defense is awesome and is the main reason they sit at 3-1 on the season. The Eskimos should get to 4-1 as they host the winless Saskatchewan Roughriders in Week 6.
3. Montreal Alouettes (Last Week: 4)
The Alouettes had a bye this week and watched as the three teams in their division all picked up victories. The rested Als take on the wounded Calgary Stampeders, who will be without all-star running back Jon Cornish, at McMahon Stadium this week. The Als beat the Stamps in Week 2 and will hope to repeat that in Cowtown this Saturday.
4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Last Week: 5)
The Ticats have been up and down this season and sit at 2-2 after beating the Riders at Mosaic Stadium. The team has now ended its four-game road swing and gets ready to host three straight home contests. First up for the Ticats: the hated Toronto Argonauts.
5. Ottawa Redblacks (Last Week: 8)
Speaking of up and down, that best sums up not just the Redblacks season so far, but their performance against the Calgary Stampeders. The Redblacks pulled off the stunning overtime upset over the 2014 champs and enter their bye week over .500 for just the second time in franchise history. The Redblacks will next see the field in Week 7 against the Montreal Alouettes.
6. Calgary Stampeders (Last Week: 2)
Another team that I just can’t get a read on is Calgary. They have not looked impressive at all, with their loss in Ottawa magnifying the problems the Stamps have faced this year. Injuries seem to be taking their toll and they are dealing with the type of adversity that they did not face last year. With Jon Cornish out for up to eight weeks, the Stamps mettle will be tested. Their first test comes against the Alouettes this Saturday.
7. BC Lions (Last Week: 7)
The Lions had the Argos on the ropes, taking an early 21-0 lead on Friday night and looking like they were going to beat the brakes off the Boatman. But they allowed the Argos to creep back into the game and before they Lions knew it, the Argos went home with the victory. BC did not look bad, but there are obviously still some things the youngest team in the CFL needs to correct. The Lions will get a chance to put their Week 5 collapse behind them when they hit the field against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday night.
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Last Week: 6)
Speaking of the Bombers, as Drew Willy goes, so go the Bombers. While the offense wasn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard, the Bombers were keeping it close with Edmonton until Willy went down with an injury. The Bombers inserted Brian Brohm and the rest is history. Brohm just is not a good quarterback and the Blue Bombers do not perform anywhere close to an acceptable level when he is in the game. The team hopes Willy can go against BC, but if he doesn’t and the team starts Brohm, the Bombers will continue to find themselves at or near the bottom of these rankings.
9. Saskatchewan Roughriders (Last Week: 9)
They lost again, sit at 0-5 and may be without Kevin Glenn this week. Things are not looking good in Saskatchewan and it doesn’t look to be getting any better any time soon. A date with the Eskimos looms at Commonwealth and it could get worse for the Riders before it gets better.
Players of the Week
Offensive: Chris Williams, WR, Ottawa Redblacks
There were a ton of great offensive performances in Week 5, with Henry Burris tossing for nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns in Ottawa’s overtime win over the Stampeders, to Andrew Harris’ trifecta of first half touchdowns against the Argos, but this week’s player of the week on offense is Chris Williams. Not only did Williams catch seven passes for 167 yards, but it was his 84-yard touchdown reception that gave Ottawa a late lead and was a major factor in the team winning its third game of the season. I was a little harsh, albeit fair, in my criticisms of Williams just last week, but this was the breakout performance I was waiting for from the former two-time CFL award winner.
Defensive: Charleston Hughes, DE, Calgary Stampeders
Lost of guys to pick from on the defensive side of the ball from Week 5, but the obvious choice was Calgary defensive end Charleston Hughes. Big No. 39 picked up three sacks against the Redblacks and forced the fumble on the controversial two-point attempt by Ottawa late in the first half. Hughes not sits atop the sack list with five (tied with Edmonton’s Marcus Howard) and looks to be all the way back from the injury that cost him most of his 2014 season.
Special Teams: Delbert Alvarado, K, Ottawa Redblacks
Not a ton of competition among the special teamer this week, so the kid who made the clutch kick to win his team the game, Ottawa’s Delbert Alvarado, gets the nod. While he missed a field goal and an extra point, Alvarado made the kick that mattered most. He may not have been spectacular, but he was clutch and that counts for something.
Canadian: Andrew Harris, RB, BC Lions
Another week, another top Canadian award for Andrew Harris. Harris has now received this award for the past three weeks and it doesn’t look like anyone will take it from him any time soon. Harris had 18 touches for 129 total yards and three touchdowns against the Argos. While the Lions ultimately lost the game, Harris did all he could to get his team the win. Another excellent performance from the Winnipeg native.