3DownNation CFL awards: the best and worst of Week 1

Courtesy: Saskatchewan. Roughriders

Week 1 of the 2024 CFL regular season is in the books as all four underdogs started off the year 1-0. Before we look forward to Week 2, let’s take a moment to recognize some standout performers, plays, and games from the season’s opening slate.

These awards are selected by 3DownNation’s contributors and will be presented weekly throughout the 2024 season on Tuesday mornings. Enjoy.

Offensive player of the week: REC Shawn Bane Jr., Saskatchewan Roughriders

Shawn was the Bane of Edmonton’s existence on Saturday as he caught five passes for 125 yards and three touchdowns, tying Saskatchewan’s all-time single-game record. His third and final score came with a little over one minute remaining in the fourth quarter, helping secure a 29-21 victory for first-year head coach Corey Mace. Bane had a breakout year with the Roughriders last season but appears primed to reach new heights in 2024.

Honourable mention: REC Tyson Philpot, Montreal Alouettes

Defensive player of the week: DL Jared Brinkman, Toronto Argonauts

Toronto’s defensive line terrorized Vernon Adams Jr. for six sacks on Sunday but no player was as effective as third-year defensive tackle Jared Brinkman. The 25-year-old native of Holland, Mi. entered this season with only one sack in 11 career games but finished the contest with three defensive tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble. The Argonauts may have lost some key pieces this past off-season, though their defensive line appears to be the best in the league.

Honourable mention: Rolan Milligan Jr., Saskatchewan Roughriders

Special teams player of the week: K Rene Paredes, Calgary Stampeders

The five-time CFL all-star got off to a red-hot start this season, making all six of his field goal attempts to help the Stampeders spoil Bo Levi Mitchell’s return to McMahon Stadium. Paredes made three field goals over 40 yards in length with a long of 52 yards, overcoming windy conditions in Cowtown. He also made both of his one-point convert attempts and averaged 65.8 yards on three kickoffs.

Honourable mention: DB Cre’Von LeBlanc, Montreal Alouettes

Courtesy: Kevin Sousa/CFL

Breakout player of the week: QB Cameron Dukes, Toronto Argonauts

The 25-year-old native of Shepherdsville, Ky. was excellent in his third career CFL start, completing 21-of-27 pass attempts for 254 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 37 yards and a score. Dukes has already topped his touchdown total from his rookie year in 2023, which bodes well for the Argonauts as he appears primed to be their starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.

Honourable mention: DL Bryan Cox Jr., Saskatchewan Roughriders

Offensive line of the week: Calgary Stampeders

D’Antne Demery, Bryce Bell, Sean McEwen, Zack Williams, and Joshua Coker consistently opened holes for Dedrick Mills and B. J. Emmons, as the pair of running backs combined for 110 yards along the ground. Jake Maier, who showed improved mobility from a year ago, remained mostly upright playing against a revamped Hamilton defensive line as the Stampeders allowed only one sack.

Honourable mention: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Coach of the week: HC/OC Ryan Dinwiddie, Toronto Argonauts

The 43-year-old native of Elks Grove, Calif. was tasked not only with helping the Boatmen set sail following the off-season turmoil surrounding Chad Kelly, but was also responsible for getting Cameron Dukes ready to be a full-time starter for the first time in his career. Dinwiddie had the young passer ready to play as Toronto’s offence hit the ground running, producing 318 net yards, 23 first downs, and four touchdowns.

Honourable mention: HC Corey Mace, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Best play of the week: Montreal’s flea flicker

The flea flicker is always an exciting play, especially when it’s executed to perfection. Cody Fajardo’s handoff to Walter Fletcher froze Winnipeg’s defensive backs, allowing Tyson Philpot, who scored the game-winning touchdown in last year’s Grey Cup, to get wide open for a 76-yard bomb midway through the fourth quarter. The score sealed Montreal’s upset win over Winnipeg and broke the hearts of over 30,000 fans at Princess Auto Stadium.

Honourable mention: Robert Nkemdiche’s first career CFL sack

Worst play of the week: Tim White’s dropped touchdown

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats dropped a ton of passes during Friday’s loss to the Calgary Stampeders but none were as egregious as Tim White squandering a would-be touchdown. The fourth-year receiver beat Tre Roberson in man coverage up the sideline but dropped a 46-yard bomb from Bo Levi Mitchell that would have given Hamilton a lead midway through the second quarter. Mitchell posted decent numbers in his return to Cowtown but they would have been much better if his receivers hadn’t wasted so many opportunities.

Honourable mention: David Knevel getting bull-rushed by Jared Brinkman

Photo courtesy: Steven Chang/B.C. Lions

Best game of the week: B.C. Lions at Toronto Argonauts

This matchup had the week’s second-widest point spread but turned out to be an upset as Cameron Dukes threw for three touchdowns and zero interceptions in only his third career start, giving fans in Toronto hope that the team can remain competitive without Chad Kelly at the helm. This was the highest-scoring game of the week and it featured two fourth-quarter lead changes. If you wanted a classic, high-flying CFL game, here’s hoping you didn’t miss this one.

Honourable mention: Saskatchewan Roughriders at Edmonton Elks

Worst game of the week: Montreal Alouettes at Winnipeg Blue Bombers

What was supposed to be a high-intensity Grey Cup rematch turned out to be a dud as Zach Collaros struggled, Kenny Lawler got hurt, and Montreal failed to establish their ground game. Cody Fajardo’s late 76-yard bomb to Tyson Philpot on a flea flicker was sensational but, other than that, this game failed to start the season with a bang. Even head coach Mike O’Shea called it “a bit of a yawner” for the fans in attendance.

Honourable mention: Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Calgary Stampeders