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August 24, 2021

QB Index: A week of strong debuts

David Moll/Stampeders.com

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 —  He isn’t at the top of our QB Index this week, but let’s clear some space here for Jake Maier. In his first-ever CFL start, the 24-year-old shook off two early interceptions to make 16-29 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown. Most important, he led the Stamps to a win after the team lost its anchor, Bo Levi Mitchell to a broken fibula.

More often than not, that scenario — rookie QB taking his first-ever snaps in a regular-season game on the heels of some devastating news about your longtime starter — leads to on-field disaster, no matter who your team is. Maier, coach Dave Dickenson and the Stampeders beat the Als and they beat the odds with this win. Add in that the Stamps were 0-2 and Maier’s story becomes that much more incredible.

The Stamps defied the odds this past week. Can they do it again? That of course remains to be seen. They’re in Winnipeg this week against an outright scary defence that will have a bad taste in its mouth after being surprised in Toronto by the Argos. Let’s not forget where Maier is and what this situation will be like. He will have his struggles and there will be ups and downs. A week into filling Mitchell’s sizeable cleats, though, Maier has exceeded expectations and we’re excited to see what the next few weeks look like for him.


RELATED
» Arbuckle, Fajardo, Ellingson named Week 3 top performers
» Landry’s 5 takeaways from Week 3
» By the Numbers: View passing leaders through Week 3


Up against an Ottawa defence intent on slowing things down, Fajardo and the Riders found their way to their third-straight win (Photo: Saskatchewan Roughriders)

CODY FAJARDO SSK
THIS WEEK: 1 | LAST WEEK: 2

Fajardo and the Riders got a different kind of game thrown at them in Week 3, with Ottawa’s defence trying to slow things down the way it did against Edmonton in Week 1. That loud little golf cart with the siren on it at Mosaic Stadium didn’t get the same workout it has in the previous two games, but Fajardo found a way. He was 30-35 for 325 yards and used his feet instead of his arm to get the Riders their only TD on the night, with the team leaning on Brett Lauther (six field goals) to remain undefeated. It wasn’t as pretty as the other wins but the Riders navigated it and Fajardo still had an efficient night.

MICHAEL REILLY BC
THIS WEEK: 2 | LAST WEEK: 1

Reilly put up his lowest passing totals of the season (15-24, 128 yards, zero touchdowns or interceptions) against an Edmonton defence that was on a QB-stifling mission. In Week 1, his elbow was clearly affecting his play. In Week 3, a lack of protection seemed to be his downfall. We know that if Reilly gets the time he can find his targets and make big plays. If this is a week-by-week issue, it could be a long season.

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

Collaros’ numbers (18-33 passing, 204 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) weren’t outstanding but they weren’t a huge drop from what he’d given his team in their previous two wins. What might have hurt the Bombers’ offence the most was the tilted time of possession that saw the Argos with the ball 39:46 to their 20:14. The Bombers had it taken to them by the Argos in Toronto. It’s not likely something we’ll see in back-to-back performances from this group.

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

Adams and the Als may have given us the best finish of the week, but the QB and the team will have lots of takeaways from the film sessions that follow. Despite the less-than-flattering stats (20-42 passing, 261 yards, two TDs and one INT), Adams found himself in Calgary where he’s at his most lethal: Leading his team up the field in the final seconds of a game with a chance to win it. It wasn’t his best performance, but he and the offence almost stole a win away that they ultimately didn’t deserve on a sloppy, penalty-riddled night.

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

Harris and the Elks may have had their breakthrough game in BC last week. He finally found the career-long chemistry that he’s had with Greg Ellingson, he threw a ball into the end zone at a meaningful moment in the game and he kept the Lions’ defence at bay with some excellent run-game balance. You’d like to see more finish in the end zone, but the Week 3 work was a good step forward for a talented group.

NICK ARBUCKLE TOR
THIS WEEK: 6 | LAST WEEK: 11

Arbuckle, like just about every QB that had faced the Bombers this season, had his struggles against them when he relieved McLeod Bethel-Thompson in Week 2. A week later in Toronto, he was keyed in with a 22-32, 310-yard, one TD performance that handed the Bombers their first loss of the season. After a year-plus of waiting, Arbuckle looked like the starter that he showed flashes of being when he played in Calgary. Now, the tough part: He has to do it again. He won’t be perfect every week, but for the dual QB storyline to die down in Toronto, Arbuckle will have to play consistently at a high level. He’s off to a great start.

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

Masoli comes out of the bye week with plenty of time to have looked at what went wrong against Winnipeg and Saskatchewan. He was also limited in Monday’s practice with a rib issue, which will be something to keep an eye on as we inch closer to Friday’s game in Montreal. If he’s good to go, we expect a different performance than what we’d seen in the first two weeks of action. The Tiacts need some offensive punch to get their first win of the season.

JAKE MAIER CGY
THIS WEEK: 8 | LAST WEEK —

Credit where it’s abundantly due: What Maier did in his first-ever start as a rookie in the CFL was impressive. The pair of interceptions he threw early could have deflated him and his team, but the Stamps fought their way into the game with the Als and Maier put the bad plays behind him and wasn’t afraid to go for the big ones as the game moved along. There’s no question he can play, but he has a tough road ahead of him with that Bombers’ defence waiting for him in Winnipeg this week.

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

We saw steps forward in Ottawa’s offence from Week 1 to Week 3. The numbers still won’t blow you away — Nichols threw for 176 yards and the REDBLACKS generated 238 yards of offence — but if you’re willing to play the waiting game, you could argue that something could develop in Ottawa, now that Nichols says his arm is feeling good and strong. The next steps need to come quickly, though. A touchdown or two against BC this week would obviously go a long way.

DANE EVANS HAM
THIS WEEK: 10 | LAST WEEK: 8

Evans was in tough for his on-field debut two weeks back in Saskatchewan. The Riders were rolling, the game had gotten pretty well out of reach and Evans had to go in cold to replace Masoli. We saw what he was capable of in 2019, so it’s fair to say that a proper start would make a big difference for him. If Masoli’s rib injury is a serious issue, we might get a better look at Evans this week and his stock would likely in turn rise here.

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