3DownNation CFL awards: the best and worst of Week 5

Photo: Neil Noonan/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

The fifth week of the 2023 CFL regular season wasn’t the best slate of games we’ve seen so far this season but there were still plenty of moments worth recognizing including great catches, electric returns, boneheaded decisions, and a ton of sacks.

These awards are selected by a panel of 3DownNation contributors and will be presented weekly throughout the 2023 season. Enjoy.

Offensive player of the week: QB Vernon Adams Jr., B.C. Lions

The veteran passer bounced back nicely from a six-interception performance in Week 4 as he completed 80 percent of his passes for 283 yards and one touchdown and ran twice for 22 yards. It wasn’t the best performance we’ve ever seen from V.A. but he made some great throws, including a 20-yard touchdown pass on a corner route to Jevon Cottoy. Though an early interception was negated due to a penalty, Adams did more than enough to get B.C. back in the win column and protected the football well.

Honourable mention: RB Dedrick Mills, Calgary Stampeders

Photo: Timothy Matwey/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Defensive player of the week: DL A.C. Leonard, Edmonton Elks

The veteran edge rusher got off to a slow start this season but was sensational against his former team, recording four tackles and three sacks. Edmonton’s defence wasn’t able to stifle Saskatchewan’s late game-tying drive but the unit had a strong performance overall as they allowed only three points through the first 59 minutes of the game. Leonard appears to be finding his former all-star form at the right time.

Honourable mention: DL James Vaughters, Calgary Stampeders

Special teams player of the week: LB Brian Cole, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The 26-year-old recorded three special teams tackles against Calgary and partially blocked a punt from Cody Grace. He also appeared to force and recover a fumble on a kickoff return late in the game, though returner Floyd Allen was ruled down by contact following a review by the command centre. Regardless, it was a strong performance from the second-year special teamer.

Honourable mention: REC Greg McCrae, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Breakout player of the week: REC Greg McCrae, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The 25-year-old started a handful of games last season but didn’t make his mark until this week when he caught a 68-yard touchdown pass from Zach Collaros. It was a sensational catch-and-run that caught Calgary’s defence flat-footed, though it wasn’t his only big play of the game. He replaced an injured Janarion Grant as Winnipeg’s primary returner and took full advantage of the opportunity, returning a missed field goal for 102 yards.

Honourable mention: RB Shaun Shivers, B.C. Lions

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Offensive line of the week: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

It wasn’t a strong week for offensive lines across the CFL but Hamilton’s group was solid, which was impressive considering they were without two regular starters at offensive tackle in Joel Figueroa and Tyrone Riley. The unit allowed two sacks but helped produce 104 yards along the ground, 62 of which came from running back James Butler in the club’s first win of the season.

Honourable mention: Edmonton Elks

Coach of the week: HC Mike O’Shea, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The veteran bench boss got career win No. 86 this past week, tying Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee Cal Murphy for the second-most head coaching wins in team history. O’Shea has a way to go to match Bud Grant for Winnipeg’s all-time record of 102 but is currently on pace to reach the mark before his current contract expires at the end of the 2025 season.

Honourable mention: OC Jordan Maksymic, B.C. Lions

Best play of the week: DB Jalon Edwards-Cooper, B.C. Lions

Woody Baron beat Israel Antwine at the line of scrimmage to block a field goal attempt from David Côté, causing the ball to pop high into the air. Third-year defensive back Jalon Edwards-Cooper, who’d rushed the kick off the edge, adjusted perfectly and caught the ball before sprinting 63 yards to the end zone. The score gave B.C. a double-digit lead and they never looked back en route to their fourth win of the year.

Honourable mention: REC Greg McCrae, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Worst play of the week: KR CJ Sims, Edmonton Elks

The rookie returner watched a late kickoff sail over his head before slowly jogging into the end zone, collecting the ball and taking a knee. The game was tied 11-11 at this point, resulting in a rouge that gave Saskatchewan a 12-11 lead that ended up being the final score. It’s clear that Sims didn’t know the rules in the CFL, though that’s only partly his fault. Edmonton has a coaching staff that’s responsible for teaching their players what to do on the field and they failed to do so on Thursday.

Honourable mention: Cody Fajardo checks the ball down on third-and-goal

Best game of the week: Montreal Alouettes at B.C. Lions

There wasn’t a lot of competition for this honour as this past week featured a relatively lacklustre slate of games but this one was still a lot of fun. The contest opened with touchdown drives from each team and featured a number of big plays, including a blocked field goal return touchdown, a 68-yard catch-and-run from B.C.’s Shaun Shivers, and a sensational catch from Montreal’s Quartney Davis.

Honourable mention: Calgary Stampeders at Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Worst game of the week: Edmonton Elks at Saskatchewan Roughriders

The final three minutes of this game were highly entertaining but not nearly enough to make up for the first 57, which were absolutely dreadful. Neither team was able to move the ball consistently on offence and there were only six points scored during the whole first half. TSN panelist Jim Barker termed the contest “weird” but a better descriptor would have been “abysmal” or “terrible.”3Down

Honourable mention: Ottawa Redblacks at Hamilton Tiger-Cats