3DownNation’s 2023 mid-season CFL award winners

Photo courtesy: Steven Chang/B.C. Lions

The CFL is entering Week 11, marking the official midway point of the 2023 season.

It’s been an electrifying campaign thus far full of brilliant performances, fantastic finishes, and classic comebacks. But while Grey Cup hardware is the only thing that teams care about, it isn’t the only trophy up for grabs.

We’ve polled 10 of our contributors to see who has the halftime lead in the race for all seven of the league’s major awards. Some were slam dunk picks, others were contentious debates, but all are deserving selections.

Here are 3DownNation’s mid-season CFL award winners.

Photo: Matt Johnson/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Most Outstanding Player: QB Chad Kelly, Toronto Argonauts

It’s a three-horse race for M.O.P between the CFL’s elite quarterbacks, but Kelly has the edge at the midway point thanks to a career-best performance last week. In his first year as a starter, the 29-year-old has completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 2,041 yards, 13 touchdowns, and just five interceptions while rushing for another 129 yards and a league-high five scores on the ground. His growth from unlikely Grey Cup hero to bona fide superstar is the biggest reason Toronto is favoured to repeat.

Runner-ups: QB Zach Collaros, WPG and QB Vernon Adams Jr., B.C.

Photo courtesy: David Dermer/B.C. Lions

Most Outstanding Defensive Player: DL Mathieu Betts, B.C. Lions

Betts would prefer that voters cast their ballot in favour of his teammate Garry Peters for this award, but our contributors didn’t hear his pleas. With a league-leading 10 sacks to go along with 24 defensive tackles and a forced fumble, no defender has been more disruptive on a down-to-down basis than the 28-year-old Montreal native.

Runner-ups: CB Garry Peters, B.C. and HB Robertson Daniel, TOR

Most Outstanding Canadian: DL Mathieu Betts, B.C. Lions

While there was some pushback against Betts for M.O.D.P., his status as this year’s top Canadian was unanimous among our voters. Despite being held sack-less in the last three games, the Laval product remains on pace to shatter Brent Johnson’s single-season Canadian record of 17 set in 2005.

Runner-ups: RB Brady Oliveira, WPG and REC Nic Demski, WPG

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman: RT Landon Rice, Montreal Alouettes

Arguably the most underrated offensive lineman in the league over the last five years, Rice’s quiet consistency at right tackle for the Alouettes is finally getting the spotlight it deserves. Even while his team sorted through some early-season protection issues, the 35-year-old from Brandon, Man. became an analytics darling in the CFL’s first year of Pro Football Focus grading. The eye test from our contributors sees no reason to disagree.

Runner-ups: LT Jarrell Broxton, B.C. and LG Ryan Hunter, TOR

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Most Outstanding Rookie: QB Dustin Crum, Ottawa Redblacks

With first-year players like Austin Mack ineligible for this award due to time spent in the NFL, the comeback kid Dustin Crum has a sizeable lead over the rest of the competition. Since unexpectedly taking the reins for Ottawa in Week 5, the Kent State product has completed 70.6 percent of his passes for 1,291 yards, five touchdowns, and four interceptions. He’s also eighth in CFL rushing with 52 carries for 409 yards and three majors, making him the favourite to be the first quarterback to be named top rookie in the CFL since Chris Isaac in 1982.

Runner-ups: CB Qwan’tez Stiggers, TOR and KR Tyreik McAllister, HAM

Photo courtesy: Ted Pritchard/Rattleboxmultimedia.ca/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: KR Javon Leake, Toronto Argonauts

You can make the argument that a massive late-game return from Leake in last year’s Grey Cup should have earned him the MVP of that contest, but now his eyes are set on a bigger prize. The most dangerous punt returner in the league right now is averaging 15.3 yards per return, has busted six of over 30 yards, and scored three times — all tops in the CFL.

Runner-ups: KR Mario Alford, SSK and LB Carthell Flowers-Lloyd, HAM

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

Coach of the Year: Ryan Dinwiddie, Toronto Argonauts

Keeping a Grey Cup-winning team at the top of the league is no easy feat, but Dinwiddie has made it appear almost effortless. With a first-year starting quarterback at the helm, the Argos are the runaway favourites to finish on top of the East Division for a third straight season, largely thanks to the guy holding the play sheet.

Runner-ups: Rick Campbell, B.C. and Mike O’Shea, WPG