I released a piece back in June entitled Three Bold Predictions for the 2015 CFL Season. With the regular season coming to a close on Sunday, I figured it was time to revisit my predictions to see how well I was able to forecast the 2015 CFL campaign.
Prediction #1: Brandon Banks will disappoint in the return game.
I expected to receive some backlash from Ti-Cat fans about this prediction, but even I was taken aback by the amount of hatred this prognostication evoked from some Steeltown faithful. I fully understand that the vast majority of Ti-Cat fans are kind, reasonable people, but the vocal minority I dealt with was, to put it delicately, outrageous. Dealing with these people after my predictions piece was published was the first and only time in my life that I felt I understood what it was like to be Chad Owens.
I received a second barrage of nastiness from this small group of Ti-Cat fans when Brandon Banks rattled off two return touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season. Admittedly, I briefly feared that I’d be eating my words by season’s end. But, unlike the team I predominantly write about, I came out on top the clear winner by season’s end.
Did Brandon Banks have a good season? For the most part, yes.
Banks finished the 2015 regular season with four return touchdowns and kickoff and punt return averages of 17.1 and 12.4 yards, respectively. These are respectable numbers and, if given the choice of any returner in the CFL, it’d be tough not to pick Banks.
The main issue with Banks’ output this season is that his numbers didn’t come close to matching the astronomical predictions people around the CFL were making prior to the season. There were many league pundits predicting that Banks would not only break Chris Williams’ record for most return touchdowns in a season (6), but that the diminutive returner could reach an unprecedented double-digit total for return touchdowns in 2015.
I decried that projection in my predictions piece, and I was right to do so. With all due respect to Banks and his abilities, such a ludicrous mark was simply never a possibility for him or any other CFL returner, for that matter.
It’s also worth noting that, while no other league returner had more than two return touchdowns this season, four returners (A.J. Jefferson, 13.2; Stefan Logan, 12.8; Chad Owens, 12.6; Chris Rainey, 12.5) topped Banks’ punt return average, and eight (min. 20 attempts) bested his kick return average (Chris Rainey, 28.2; Tristan Jackson, 23.5; Tim Brown, 23.4; Stefan Logan, 23.1; Shaquille Murray-Lawrence, 22.9; Diontae Spencer, 20.9; Troy Stoudermire, 20.5; Kendial Lawrence, 20.3).
There’s no arguing against the fact that Brandon Banks is a good returner who enjoyed a solid 2015 campaign. But, even with a fine season, Banks failed to live up to the high expectations that were thrust upon him prior to the season and didn’t do enough to separate himself from the rest of the CFL’s top-tier returners.
Prediction result: Correct
Prediction #2: Two-point converts galore.
I was hoping to see more two-point converts in 2015, but, even in my disappointment, I feel as though enough were attempted and converted to deem my prediction successful.
The CFL saw a league-wide average of 23.4 two-point conversions attempted per season from 2010 to 2014 (6.2 percent of all converts), a number that more than tripled to 78 in 2015 (20.4 percent of all converts). Success rates on two-point converts also greatly improved from 2014, with 66.7 percent of two-point converts being successful in 2015, compared to just 30 percent from 2010-2014.
The CFL predicted prior to the season that teams would go for two 13 percent of the time and convert at a rate of 50 percent. Seeing as both of these numbers were far surpassed, I’m considering my prediction a successful one. Though, given the overwhelming league-wide rate of success, I still think more teams should go for two more often — particularly those with struggling kickers.
Prediction result: Correct
3. Young QBs for M.O.P.
My analysis of this prediction is somewhat premature as we won’t know the winner of the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award until November 26th. Even so, let’s dig into this prediction that was horribly derailed by injuries.
Zach Collaros, my preseason pick for the Eastern Division Most Outstanding Player Award, was a virtual lock to be named the CFL’s M.O.P. prior to tearing his ACL in week fourteen. Collaros, whose Tabbies were in first place at the time of his injury, was on pace for 5,064 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions this season — numbers that are certainly worthy of being named the CFL’s M.O.P.
On the flip side, I picked Mike Reilly to win the league M.O.P. award just days prior to him suffering a serious knee injury that caused him to miss the first half of the season. Extrapolating his numbers over a full season, Reilly would have finished with 4,898 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions. These numbers are solid, but they likely wouldn’t have been enough to win him the M.O.P. award over Collaros — or Henry Burris, Trevor Harris or Bo Levi Mitchell, for that matter.
My general prediction for the overall success of young CFL pivots was successful, as the CFL’s top four quarterback ratings (min. 100 attempts) belong to players under the age of thirty: Zach Collaros, 113.7; Drew Willy, 106.6; Trevor Harris, 100.9; and Jonathon Jennings, 99.8. But considering neither of my preseason picks for the divisional M.O.P. awards are going to be successful, this prediction has to be deemed a failure.
Prediction result: Incorrect
John Hodge, Blue Bomber Talk