For as long as he’s been in the CFL, Henry Burris has carried the nickname Hank. Depending on how he plays, Hank gets adjective thrown in front of it. Last season, R-Nation saw a lot of “Bad Hank” because from a statistical point of view, 2014 was the worst year of Burris’ career. Though he threw for less yards in 2011 while a member of the Calgary Stampeders, he also throw more touchdowns, fewer interceptions had a better completion percentage than in 2014.
Many in R-Nation were quick to point out that Burris was handicapped by Mike Gibson’s inexplicable play calling and pathetic offensive system, but others in Ottawa believed that Burris was over the hill and that “Bad Hank” was here to stay. Throwing to a crew of castoffs selected in the Redblacks’ expansion draft and CFL rookies, at times it seemed like Burris couldn’t hit the side of a barn. Ottawa’s offence finished last in the CFL and the team only averaged 14 points per game. Following the frustrating 2-16 season, some around the CFL questioned if Burris would even be back for 2015.
Thankfully for everyone in the Nation’s Capital, Burris tuned out the haters and spent the off-season training hard and gleefully watching GM Marcel Desjardins overhaul the offensive side of the ball. Nobody on the Redblacks has benefited more from Desjardins adding OC Jason Maas and OL coach Bryan Chiu from the Argos and impact players like SirVicent Rogers, Ernest Jackson, Brad Sinopoli, Chris Wiliams, Greg Ellingson and Maurice Price, than Burris.
It’s one thing to surround your quarterback with good players but it’s another for him to step up and actually deliever the goods. So far in 2015, Burris has been lights out, completing 69% of his passes for 3298 yards with 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. If he can stay healthy, Burris is on pace to easily surpass 5000 yards.
And not only is Burris getting the job done with his arm, but he’s been extremely effective using his legs to buy time for routes to develop or taking off when the pocket collapses around him. Burris has scrambled 44 times for 193 yards and 4 touchdowns and is the 15th leading rusher in the CFL.
In addition to playing well, Burris has the whole being healthy thing going for him; he’s the only QB in the league to start every game the last two seasons, a stretch of 29 games that has seen every single other team in the CFL lose their starter to some kind of injury.
Speaking of devastating QB injuries, with the Ticats losing Zack Collaros for the season, “Good Hank” has suddenly being thrust to the forefront of the MOP conversation. Just for fun, let’s take a look at each team’s would be nominee if the award were voted on today:
BC Lions – RB Andrew Harris
Calgary Stampeders – WR Eric Rogers
Edmonton Eskimos – Mike Reilly’s athletic therapist
Saskatchewan GREENWHITES – Rider Nation
Winnipeg Blue Bombers – The Rum Hut
Toronto Argonauts – Any Argo Season Ticket Holder who still shows up to games
Hamilton Tiger-Cats – Zack Collaros
Montreal Alouettes – James “Jim” Popp
As you can see, with Collaros out, Burris’ only real competition for the MOP would be Harris and Rogers, but if BC continues to struggle, that would more than likely elimate Harris, leaving only Rogers. And if did come down to Rogers vs Burris, I think most people would be inclined to give Burris the nod.
One thing is for sure though, too often in sports fans are quick to judge and condemn under achieving athletes, but this year, “Good Hank” deserves a loud round of applause from R-Nation as not only is he exceeding expectations, but he continues to raise the bar with each performance.