- FREE AGENCY
Berg vs. Ferg is back for 2019 as columnists Pat Steinberg and Marshall Ferguson debate over some of the league’s most contentious storylines. This week’s question: Which CFL player will get off to the fastest start this season?
TORONTO — After an off-season like no other, there are plenty of storylines to keep an eye on heading into the 2019 CFL season.
Only four starting quarterbacks return to their post this season, while a handful of top receivers, defensive linemen and linebackers have all found new destinations.
In a sport where continuity often pays off, sometimes a change of scenery can spark something special.
With Burnham, BC Place will still be home this season, but everything else has changed. New head coach, different looking defence and, oh yeah, a former Most Outstanding Player in quarterback Mike Reilly.
For Ellingson, the scenery has changed, moving from the nation’s capital to the grounds of Commonwealth Stadium. But the undeniable chemistry with quarterback Trevor Harris remains as the dynamic duo is intact.
Which player will get out to a faster start in 2019? Pat Steinberg and Marshall Ferguson weigh in.
|BERG VS. FERG: LAST TIME’S RESULTS
Last time, Berg and Ferg debated over up-and-coming quarterbacks.
Poll Result: Which up-and-coming QB has been most impressive?
Last Week’s Poll:
Ferguson: Dane Evans (57%)
Steinberg: Nick Arbuckle (43%)
That told me everything I needed to know about the dynamic pass catcher’s intentions for 2019.
Burnham has always come across to me as one of the more dynamic receivers in the CFL but it is his well-thought-out approach and humble nature that I believe separates him and will allow for an excellent start to the 2019 season.
Burnham has obviously been put in a position of power with Reilly in the fold but the pieces surrounding both are what should open the door for Burnham’s excellence. Not to mention his quarterback friendly route running and unique burst at the top of routes.
The Lions start the first three weeks of the season against difficult Western opponents, but I believe that’s exactly what will drive Reilly and Burnham to new heights. If they can hit the ground running from a training camp — which by all accounts sounded very productive — full of new talented faces, the Lions could shoot out of the starting blocks to a 2-1 or even 3-0 start in the division.
In order for them to accomplish this I believe they’ll have to get great production from Burnham, who I fully expect to embrace the challenge ahead and reach new heights which will only further bolster my — and many others around the CFL — image of his abilities.
The Edmonton Eskimos saw plenty of roster turnover this winter, which would lead some to believe a few of those new faces might be primed for a slow start to 2019. When it comes to free agent signing Greg Ellingson, though, I think the opposite is true. Based on his surroundings and what I saw in the pre-season, Ellingson looks poised to come flying out of the gates in green and gold.
While Ellingson is on a new team in 2019 following four extremely productive years in Ottawa, one thing remains constant: his quarterback. Ellingson joined the Eskimos shortly after the team signed Trevor Harris in free agency. It was a whirlwind free agency period in Edmonton that saw them say goodbye to Mike Reilly while welcoming Harris, Ellingson, DaVaris Daniels, SirVincent Rogers, Larry Dean, and Don Unamba at the same time.
Ellingson’s most productive seasons in this league have come with Harris as his quarterback, and that’ll be the case in 2019 starting in Week 1. If the pre-season is any indication, Harris is going to be looking to Ellingson early and often. The duo was only the field for a few series in Edmonton’s pre-season opener against BC, but during that stretch, Harris targeted Ellingson four times of the 12 passes he threw; Ellingson finished with a pair of catches for 17 yards that night.
With Jason Maas running the offensive show, I can see another really productive season for the Ellingson-Harris duo. Maas’s offences are high octane through the air and are very conducive to reliable, but explosive, players like Ellingson. Furthermore, with the aforementioned Daniels sitting in Week 1 vs. Montreal, Ellingson will unquestionably be the top receiving target for the Eskimos.
If I’m playing CFL Fantasy this year, there’s no doubt Ellingson is in my lineup for the first few weeks. He comes in at a reasonable price and has a lot of things going for him, on top of being one of the league’s elite receivers to begin with. When you factor in the familiarity of who’s throwing the football in Edmonton, all signs point to Ellingson getting off to a great start in 2019.
While both sides are pretty convincing, someone’s got to take it. Whose argument convinced you the most?
The winner will be revealed in the following week’s Berg vs. Ferg.