Way, way too early CFL MOP look

Way, way too early CFL MOP look
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Way, way too early CFL MOP look

After all the waiting the CFL is back. Week one of the 2023 season is in the books. From the Friday night kickoff game between BC and Calgary through to to the Sunday contest between Edmonton and Saskatchewan. There has been plenty to celebrate. Even for Edmonton who lost their 18th straight at home, yet had 32,233 fans on hand – their largest home crowd since 2013.

As ever, there were some outstanding performances over the weekend. But, obvioulsy, one game does not a season make. Even so, certain players really stood out as being in what looked like midseason form. So I thought it would be fun to take a way too early look at who is the leading MOP candidate after week one.

During ‘awards season’ the CFL hands out a number of player honours including,  Most Outstanding Player, Most Outstanding Canadian Player, Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman, Most Outstanding Rookie, and Most Outstanding Special Teams Player.

Awards season comes at the end of the year. Emphasisng once again how way too early looking at this is. But, hey, we can have a bit of fun right?

Way too early MOP candidates

One thing it probably isn’t way too early to say, is that the player chosen as the 2023 MOP more than likely won’t be someone who plays defence. Not least because in the history of the award, only one defensive player has ever won it. That happened, when back in 2014 Solomon Elimimian was named the league’s outstanding player.

The leading candidate, as of week one, is the two-time reigning MOP, Zach Collaros. Having led the Blue Bombers to three straight Grey Cup games, including two wins and being named MVP of a thrilling Grey Cup in 2021, Collaros has been enjoying a period of sustained success.

Winnipeg have won and won since since Zach arrived in October 2019. Last year he became only the fifth player in CFL history to win the MOP award in consecutive seasons. Following in the footsteps of Jackie Parker (Edmonton, 1957-58), Winnipeg’s Dieter Brock (1980-81), Doug Flutie (1991-94 and 1996-97) and Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo (2008-09).

Collaros way out in front

The Collaros way is the Winnipeg way right now. He finished the season last year going 305 of 436 passing for 4183 yards and 37 touchdowns. Which led to Winnipeg finishing first in offensive touchdowns and first downs made, and second in offensive points. While racking up 15 wins.

For Week one this year he went 21 of 31 for 354 yards and 3 touchdowns. Extrapolate that over an 18 game season and you get 378 of 558 for 6,372 yards and 54 touchdowns. Of course, nobody expects that to happen, but it does illustrate the level Collaros is playing at.

It’s not just the stat line either. Collaros looked so poised in the pocket. In complete control of the offence. And, when needed, making those subtle moves that can take a QB away from trouble and towards opportunity.

Anybody else?

The way it has gone, 6 of the last 7 CFL MOP awards have gone to a quarterback. Beyond that quarterbacks have won the award 40 times in a 69 year span. I guess it reflects the way QB is regarded as the most important position on the field.

Of the other QB,s this weekend, Vernon Adams Jr had the best game. He went 27 of 35 for 270 yards, with two touchdowns and one pick. As well as adding 35 yards and another score on the ground.

While his teammate, WR Dominique Rhymes stood out at receiver when he had 8 catches for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. Which, if carried over a season would put either in a potential MOP conversation.

Although, as both are in the West too, they would have to get past Collaros to be nomnated for the overall league award.

As I said at the start, it is way too early to be looking at this. Way, way too early. But it is still fun. Which is what it’s all about.

Roll on Week 2 and some more eye catching performances!

Banner image: two time MOP and leading candidate right now, the Bombers QB Zach Collaros. Image from cfl.ca

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