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August 17, 2021

QB Index: Winning pivots rising up

The Canadian Press

The QB Index is a weekly power ranking of quarterbacks across the CFL. The ranking reflects recent performance, historical value, statistical indicators, team success and overall on-field evaluation.

TORONTO — Just two weeks into the season, it’s been a wild ride for the BC Lions. Michael Reilly went from a last-minute backup to a last-minute starter from Week 1 to Week 2 and looked like a vastly different player in that span.

It’s been a herky jerky process, but when Reilly took to the field last week in Calgary, he looked much more like his old self, making 26-33 passes for 342 yards, while finding the end zone once on the ground. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but given his pedigree in the league and the fact that the Lions got a win that might be bigger for morale than it is in the standings at this point, was enough to put the veteran QB at the top of this week’s QB Index.

Some of the names that have grown used to being around Reilly in these rankings are heading in the opposite direction. There’s been an expectation of rust and offensive hiccups in particular across the league and some QBs have been hit with that harder than others in the early days of the 2021 campaign. Heading into Week 3, we should start to see better chemistry and results, as that gap between defences and offences should start to close. If that doesn’t happen in Weeks 3 and 4, it could be a sign of bigger problems. Those are conversations and rankings for another day, though.


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» By the Numbers: View passing leaders through Week 2


With his elbow looking much better in Week 2, Michael Reilly came in as a game time decision and led the Lions to a win in Calgary (Photo: The Canadian Press)

MICHAEL REILLY BC
THIS WEEK: 1 | LAST WEEK: 3

The point total wasn’t where you might like to see it — BC won 15-9 — but Reilly’s accuracy was there in Calgary, as was the zip on his passes that was missing in the Lions’ Week 1 loss in Saskatchewan. It remains a day-by-day, game-by-game process with Reilly but when he plays the way he did this week, he makes a tremendous difference for his team.

CODY FAJARDO SSK
THIS WEEK: 2 | LAST WEEK: 2

The Riders looked like a force in their convincing win over Hamilton on Saturday night, with the defence creating turnovers and Fajardo taking the offence out on the field and cashing in on them repeatedly. While the offence has produced early on, it’s exciting to see just where offensive coordinator Jason Maas can take things and just how productive Fajardo and co. can be out there.

ZACH COLLAROS WPG
THIS WEEK: 3 | LAST WEEK: 4

It was another very tidy (32-40, 292 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) performance from Collaros, whose poise is shining through two games into the season. Collaros has an obvious chemistry with Kenny Lawler (14 catches, 168 yards, two touchdowns) but he’s also spreading the ball around to a talented receiving corps. It feels like Nic Demski, Rasheed Bailey or Drew Wolitarsky could have the next big outing for Winnipeg. They’re in a good place.

VERNON ADAMS JR. MTL
THIS WEEK: 4 | LAST WEEK: 6

It was a very impressive debut for Adams, who showed the same dual threat ability in Edmonton that he did throughout the 2019 season. His impact on the game felt bigger than his final numbers (13-21 passing, 211 yards, two TDs), which were just a part of a team that made an impact in every phase of the game in a convincing win over the Elks.

BO LEVI MITCHELL CGY
THIS WEEK: 5 | LAST WEEK: 1

This is unchartered territory for Mitchell, who threw a career-worst four interceptions in the Stamps’ loss this past week. A Monday report suggested that Mitchell is dealing with a leg injury and that Canadian QB Michael O’Connor could start this week against the Als. Health has to come first for Mitchell, but the chemistry issues with his receiving corps could be impacted by any kind of absence.

TREVOR HARRIS EDM
THIS WEEK: 6 | LAST WEEK: 5

Harris and the Elks’ inability to find the end zone — the team has one offensive TD so far this season — is a perplexing and surprising storyline. The ingredients are all there, from a talented QB to all-star calibre receivers and the re-emergence of James Wilder Jr. as a dominant RB. The Elks just need to find a way to get cooking with what they’ve got.

JEREMIAH MASOLI HAM
THIS WEEK: 7 | LAST WEEK: 7

Masoli’s play (41-66 passing, 377 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions) has drawn some criticism, but consider this before we get into talk of benchings and QB controversies. The Ticats are without their two best receivers and just ran a gauntlet of arguably the two top defences in the league to start the season. Also remember that Masoli missed the majority of 2019 and some leeway may be required here. The reigning East MOP will likely figure this out.

DANE EVANS HAM
THIS WEEK: 8 | LAST WEEK —

With the game pretty well out of hand in Saskatchewan, Evans got back in the offensive saddle this week and, well, he got a taste of what his QB counterpart was dealing with. Evans’ 3-10, 21-yard showing isn’t who he is. Chalk the numbers up to going in cold and playing what amounted to extended garbage time. The positive here: Both QBs got out healthy and have a bye week to regroup.

MCLEOD BETHEL-THOMPSON TOR
THIS WEEK: 9 | LAST WEEK: 8

Speaking of running into Goliath defences, we have McBeth, who was in tough against a Winnipeg unit that’s looked sensational through two games. Bethel-Thompson had a TD that he overthrew and he knew it, but his play on the night — 10-20 passing for 70 yards — was essentially what Nick Arbuckle put together when he got in the game. These kinds of numbers mirror what Winnipeg did to Hamilton in Week 1. The bad news here is that these two teams get to do it again this week, only in Toronto this time.

MATT NICHOLS OTT
THIS WEEK: 10 | LAST WEEK: 9

Nichols’ 71-yard passing outing in Week 1 is underwhelming, but the veteran QB comes off of a bye week and gets a great challenge in front of him for Week 2. In Saskatchewan, the Riders and their home field advantage are for real. The REDBLACKS will need some offensive production if they want to double their win count on the road this week.

NICK ARBUCKLE TOR
THIS WEEK: 11 | LAST WEEK —

Similar to Evans, Arbuckle was thrust into a game where he needed to produce and was up against a tremendous defence. To his credit, he got his team in the end zone, with John White’s 30-yard run capping Arbuckle’s first drive of the game. Again, similar to Evans, it’s difficult to judge Arbuckle’s outing too harshly, given that he went in mid-game and that he’s been dealing with an injury since training camp. This week’s rematch should be interesting in terms of how coach Ryan Dinwiddie doles out the QB workload.

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