‘MOP’ and more: CFL awards season is here

‘MOP’ and more: CFL awards season is here
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‘MOP’ and more: CFL awards season is here

It’s awards season in the CFL. Which means the Divisional nominees for the major awards have been announced. Because of this we can focus on a few individuals who have had fantastic seasons, and see who might pick up some silverware.

The MOP and more awards will be handed out soon. So, the easiest way to do this is to look at each award of interest in turn. And see what each player/coach has achieved this year to merit nomination.

Each award is pared down to two finalists. With one being the East Division represnetative and one repping the West. Out of that comes our overall winner.

The MOP award

The MOP (Most Oustanding Player) award comes down to Zach Collaros of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and Eugene Lewis of the Montreal Alouettes. So, once again we will not see a defensive MOP.

Both were league All-Stars in 2021. While Collaros is the reigning MOP. Plus he was the MVP of a thrilling Grey Cup in 2021. Now he is on a mission to lead the Blue Bombers to a threepeat as they won in 2019 too.

This year he has led Winnipeg to their first ever 15 win season (15-3). It is clear that he has added an element of leadership they required. Because since his arrival they have done nothing but win. Winnipeg are now 32-4 in games Collaros has started since arriving in October 2019. He is now looking to become only the second Blue Bomber to win the MOP in consecutive seasons. The first was QB Dieter Brock in 1980 and 1981.

For 2022 he has 305 completions on 436 attempts for 4183 yards and 37 touchdowns.

This is the second season in a row Collaros has faced an Alouette for the MOP award. Last year it was running back William Stanback. This year it is wide reciver Eugene Lewis.

Over the season Lewis saw different QB’s under centre but still put up five 100+ yard recieving games and logged a 14.3 yards per catch average.

He also had 22 catches for 20+ yards, alongside 30 second down conversion receptions.

Over 17 games Lewis had 91 catches for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns.

I would say this award is nailed on for Collaros to pick up his second MOP award in a row.

The MOC award

The MOC award (Most Outstanding Canadian), comes down to Nathan Rourke of the BC Lions and Kurleigh Gittens Jr. of the Toronto Argonauts.

Rourke, (a 2 time time Cornish trophy winner), burst onto the CFL season and generated a lot of excitement. He was sidelined by injury in August. But, prior to that he led the league in pass completions (248), passing yards (3,281), & passing touchdowns (25).

In an early season 44-3 win over Toronto he threw for 436 yards. Breaking a 41 year old record for Canadian QBs formerly held by Gerry Dattillio.

His 2022 stat line reads 255 completions on 324 attempts going for 3349 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also had 30 carries for 304 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Gittens Jr. set career highs for receptions, yaradge and touchdowns. Leaving him with the most receiving yards for a Canadain national receiver since Brad Sinopoli in 2018.

From a league wide perspective he was fifth in receptions, sixth in receiving yards, first in yards after the catch and tied for seventh in touchdown receptions. He becomes the fourth Canadian pass-catcher to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season in the last decade.

Of the 81 catches he snared on the season, 26 were second down conversions.

Gittens Jr. finished with 81 catches for 1,101 yards, and 5 touchdowns. He averaged 13.6 yards per catch.

This award also feels like we know who will win it. Depsite an injury shortened season, Rourke had such an impact you cannot see people looking past him.

The MODP award

The MODP award (Most Outstanding Defensive Player), comes down to Lorenzo Mauldin IV of the Ottawa REDBLACKS and Shawn Lemon of the Calgary Stampeders.

Mauldin led the league with 17 sacks. Alongside which he had 43 tackles. He was a real bright spot on a 4-14 Ottawa team. Mauldin is the first Ottawa based player to lead the league since Angelo Snipes did it in 1992. That year he had 20 sacks with the Ottawa Rough Riders.

Games played: 18, Tackles: 44, Sacks: 17, Forced Fumbles: 2 TFL: 5

Shawn Lemon was tied for the league lead in forced fumbles (5). He was also Mauldin’s closest challenger in sacks, being just 3 away.

Lemon is the first Stampeder to be up for this award since Alex Singleton won it in 2017. He was at the heart of a Calgary D that led the CFL in sacks, and allowed the second fewest rushing yards per game (89.6 yards).

Games Played: 17, Tackles: 29, Sacks: 14, Forced Fumbles: 5

This award depends how people see it. Some will see Mauldin having a statistically better season on a poor team as a real feat. Others will point to the Stamps making the playoffs and Lemon contributing to a D that has had real impact. I think it will go to Mauldin.

The MOOL award

The MOOL award (Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman), comes down to Stanley Bryant Jr. of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers & Brandon Revenberg of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Bryant is a fondation stone in Winnipeg. He has been named the Blue Bombers’ most outstanding player an incredible 6 times. Stanley has already won this award on three occasions. In 2017, 2018 & 2021. Plus, he was the runner-up to Hamilton’s Chris Van Zeyl in 2019, missing out by just two votes.  The 6 time All-Star is the West Division nominee in this spot for a fifth consecutive season.

Led a line that allowed only 28 sacks, had 58 TDs and helped average 110.5 yards per game on the ground.

Revenberg is a three time CFL All-Star and has been named the East Division’s Most Outstanding Lineman for the second consecutive season. The six-year CFL veteran has played all 102 of his career regular season games with the Tiger-Cats.

This year he appeared in 17 games as Hamilton made the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.

Led a line that allowed only 31 sacks, and generated the league’s fourth highest passing yard average.

These things often go on reputation, and with the dominance of the Winnipeg O this year you could see Bryant burnishing his already HOF worthy CV.

The MOST award

The MOST award (Most Outstanding Special Teams), comes down to Chandler Worthy of the Montreal Alouettes and Mario Alford of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Chandler Worthy averaged 24.0 yards per kickoff return and tied a CFL record with two kickoff return touchdowns. He was responsible for 1,862 yards gained in 2022 with the Als. He returned four kickoffs for more than 40 yards and six punt returns for more than 30 yards.

His 547 punt return yards were also the fifth highest total in the CFL. All in all he had 10 big play kick returns, six punts 30+ yard returns and four kickoff returns of 40+ yards.

Worthy finished with 15 games played, 51 KR for 1220 yards & 2 TDs. With 47 punt returns for 547 yards and 3 missed FG returns for 57 yards. He also chipped in on offence with 1 carry for 6 yards and 4 catches for 32 yards.

‘Super’ Mario Alford joine Saskatchewan in Week 5 after a trade from Worhty’s Alouettes. He went on to have a tremendous season.

He is the fifth player in CFL history and first-ever Roughrider to complete the ‘Trifecta’. That is a kick return touchdown, punt return touchdown, & missed field goal return touchdown all in a single season.

Tough to call

Alford also broke the Roughriders’ record for most return touchdowns by an individual in a single season (4). With a penchant for the big play Alford had a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown in Week 10 and a 92-yard kickoff return touchdown in Week 14. Not to mention a 104-yard punt return in Week 20. Plus that missed FG return? That went for 112 yards.

Alford ended the season with 14 games played, (1 in Montreal, 13 in Saskatchewan). 38 KR netted 990 yards and 2 touchdowns. With 44 punt returns for 530 yards and a TD. Plus 3 missed Field Goal returns covering 129 yards and netting another touchdown.

This might be the toughest one to call. Worthy has the consistency but Alford had the more spectacular contributions and set team records along the way. I think voters might go with the razzle dazzle and pick Alford.

The MOR award

The MOR award (Most Outstanding Rookie), comes down to Dalton Schoen of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Tyson Philpot of the Montreal Alouettes.

Schoen had His 1,441 receiving yards this year. The most by a Blue Bomber since Milt Stegall had 1,896 yards in 2002 (he was MOP that year). In his first season in Blue & Gold Schoen managed to grab the seventh-highest reception yardage total in Blue Bombers history.

Well over half of his catches were on 2nd down too keeping Winnipeg moving. Plus Schoen tied for the league lead in touchdowns scored.

Schoen played in a full slate of 18 games and led the CFL in receiving yards (1,441), average yards per catch (20.6) and touchdown receptions (16). 

Tyson Philpot displayed verstility in his rookie season. The 22-year-old was used at different positions by the Alouettes and found plenty of success.

Philpot appeared in 18 games, garnering 986 all-purpose yards and scoring two touchdowns along the way.

Philpot gathered in 39 catches for 459 yards and 2 touchdowns. Alongside 1 carry for 16 yards, 12 kick returns for 342 yards, 11 punt returns for 153 yards, and 1 missed FG return covering 16 yards.

This is another one that seems like a lock. We have already suggested on this site that Schoen was a surefire winner of this award.

Coach of the year

Coach of the year is filled by the same two candidates as in 2021. As Winnipegs’ Mike O’Shea is nominated in the West, and Toronto’s Ryan Dinwiddie is the East nominee.

The Blue Bombers under O’Shea’s are chasing a third consecutive Grey Cup championship after winning in 2019 and 2021. This, after setting a franchise record with a 15 win season this year. That 15-3 mark includes an 8-1 record at home and a 10-1 mark against divisional opponents.

Winnipeg is now a remarkable 28-2 in its last 30 games at home. Including last year’s Western Final playoff win.

Cal Murphy is the only Blue Bombers coach to win the coach of the year honour in consecutive seasons, back in 1983-84. O’ Shea with 82 career wins sits only behind Murphy (86) & Bud Grant (102) now in the Blue Bombers record books.

From embedded success to trending in the right direction

Meanwhile Rayn Dinwiddie has taken the Toronto Argonauts to the top of the East Division for the second year in a row.

After 2 seasons in charge he holds a 20-12 record (going 11-7 in 2022) and has never finished off the top of the division. He led the Argos to a 6-3 road record and went 7-3 in the East.

When Dinwiddie tookover the 17 time Grey Cup champions they were in a sorry state having posted back to back 4-14 seasons. A 9 win (shortened) season plus an 11 win season have both netted home playoff dates for the boatmen too.

A franchise record setting 15 win season and chasing a threepeat? This looks to be going O’Sheas way.

The CFL is full of talent, and awards season is a great time to clebrate that. The ceremony and awards will be handed out on the 17th of November. Let’s see who gets what. But don’t be surprised if you see a lot of Blue Bombers with awards.

Banner image: MOP and more to the Bombers – Zach Collaros looks set to win back to back awards. Image from cfl.ca

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