MOP Watch: ‘Touchdown Jake’ making a statement

Photo courtesy: Dominick Gravel

CFL offences have taken a turn for the worst this season and that has made the endzone a lot more difficult to get into. Someone clearly forgot to tell Jake Wieneke.

Every week of the 2021 season, the 3DownNation trio of Justin Dunk, John Hodge and J.C. Abbott will vote for their top ten MOP candidates. Those rankings are aggregated and averaged to create a list of the top nine players in the mix for the trophy.

Each player will have their “last week” ranking listed beside their name, indicating the position that they held on the list the previous week.

This week, there is no bigger riser that “Touchdown Jake”, the sophomore Alouettes receiver with a nose for a majors. Nobody has hit paydirt more than Wieneke this season, but it still hasn’t been enough to knock off our MOP frontrunner.

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

1. Zach Collaros, QB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 1)

In a bad year for CFL quarterbacks, the MOP favourite has been a cut above the rest. Collaros leads the league with 2,565 yards and 15 touchdowns, while throwing just six interceptions, but most importantly the reigning Grey Cup champions have won seven straight with him at the helm.

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

2. Willie Jefferson, DE, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 3)

The CFL’s resident physical freak is tied for the league lead with seven sacks, notching another one against Edmonton last week, but it’s hard to quantify his impact with a box score. Jefferson needs to be accounted for in every offensive game plan, but is rarely silenced.

Photo courtesy: Dominick Gravel/Montreal Alouettes

3. Jake Wieneke, REC, Montreal Alouettes (last week: not ranked)

Wieneke has been flirting with the edges of our rankings all year, but it is becoming impossible to ignore his pure production. The South Dakota State product is second in CFL receiving with 705 yards, but it is his whopping eight touchdowns — double the number of any other pass catcher — that give his MOP case credence.

Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

4. Kenny Lawler, REC, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 8)

Lawler’s return from a team-imposed driving under the influence suspension was a mixed bag, catching just three of eight targets but for a respectable 82 yards. His league leading eight receptions of more than 30 yards is a big reason why he is also tops with 785 yards receiving total.

Photo courtesy: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

5. William Stanback, RB, Montreal Alouettes (last week: 6)

Stanback was out of the lineup for a second straight game against the Redblacks, this time with a last second case of food poisoning, but it has only served to highlight his incredible production. With 677 yards in seven games, he still leads the CFL in rushing.

Photo courtesy: Jeff Vinnick/B.C. Lions

6. Lucky Whitehead, REC, B.C. Lions (last week: 4)

Whitehead’s absence was painfully felt in the Lions’ toothless loss to the Stampeders and it has now been a month since we’ve seen the injured receiver catch a pass. He’s still third in CFL receiving despite that fact and even a broken hand can’t keep him out of MOP talks.

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

7. Andrew Harris, RB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 7)

Harris hauled in his first receiving score of the year against the Elks but it came at a cost. The future Hall of Famer came up limping on the play and has now missed practice, putting his availability going forward in question.

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

8. James Wilder Jr., RB, Edmonton Elks (last week: 5)

Wilder has been a rare bright spot in a bad Elks offence, but there is no question that his production has taken a hit in two weeks against the Bombers. That could bounce back after a bye week, or suffer further now that his friend and starting quarterback Trevor Harris has been shipped out of town.

Photo courtesy: Toronto Argonauts

9. Shawn Oakman, DT, Toronto Argonauts (last week: not ranked)

Toronto’s meme-worthy defensive tackle seems to be living up to the potential of his jaw-dropping physique and sneaks into the rankings on his bye while other players drop off. Oakman leads all interior defensive linemen with six sack, all of which have come in his last six games.

Also receiving votes: Michael Reilly (B.C. — LW: 2), Rene Paredes (CGY), DeVonte Dedmon (OTT), Cody Fajardo (SSK)

Dropping out of the rankings: Ka’Deem Carey (CGY — LW: 9)

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.