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October 5, 2021

QB Index: Collaros goes big, holds top spot

Photo: 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 — In his most productive game in over five years, Zach Collaros reinforced a point that was already widely known about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The defence is outstanding, yes, but the offence can do its share of damage in a game, too.

The Bombers have rolled through this season so far and now stand at a league-best 7-1. Already considered the cream of the crop in the CFL, seeing the offence string together a 500-yard night should strike fear in the hearts of rival fans, at least, if we assume their opponents get up for these kinds of challenges every week.

While Collaros deservedly leads off our rankings this week, there’s some love in here as well for rookie Caleb Evans, who injected some desperately-needed energy into the Ottawa REDBLACKS, getting them their second win of the season and snapping the team’s five-game losing streak. There’s plenty of excitement and things to think about between those two QBs, after a batch of strong games in Week 9.


RELATED
» Power Rankings: The rise of the REDBLACKS
» Landry’s 5 takeaways from Week 9
» By the Numbers: View passing leaders through Week 9

REDBLACKS’ rookie Caleb Evans steered Ottawa to a big win over a favoured Edmonton team last week and pumped life into his team in the process (Freestyle Photography)

ZACH COLLAROS WPG
THIS WEEK: 1 | LAST WEEK: 2

This season has been something of a throwback for Collaros, who has shown the poise, quick feet and big play making ability that he so often did at the start of his career. Last week’s performance marked the first time he’s broken the 400-yard passing mark since Aug. 28, 2016, when he was with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He’ll be without Kenny Lawler this week against Edmonton, but the Bombers seem to have little issue with sliding players into the lineup. We don’t necessarily expect another 400-yard game from him, but we expect that Collaros will continue to play at an MOP level.

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

Reilly was stymied against Winnipeg and with that, we can welcome him to the club of opposing QBs that have found the same fate against the Bombers’ defence. BC’s bye week comes at a good time, after two tough losses at home and a game against the Stamps on deck. A win next week would help separate the Lions from the logjam that exists league-wide for teams not named Winnipeg and Saskatchewan.

CODY FAJARDO SSK
THIS WEEK: 3 | LAST WEEK: 3

Fajardo was frustrated with the lack of big plays he was able to conjure up in last week’s loss to Calgary. The arrival of Duke Williams, coupled with the eventual return of Shaq Evans will go a long way to lift the QB’s spirits. In the meantime, the Riders will need a receiver other than Kian Schaffer-Baker to step up and find those big gains for what should be a very explosive offence.

BO LEVI MITCHELL CGY
THIS WEEK: 4 | LAST WEEK: 4

Mitchell got off to a great start last week against the Riders, putting a pair of touchdowns on the board in the first quarter, but the offence slowed back down again in a game that almost got away from the Stamps. This week presents its own set of challenges, with Mitchell saying he’ll be able to go despite a shoulder injury. Getting some familiar faces like Kamar Jorden and Josh Huff back in the lineup would no doubt help Mitchell find that elite groove that he’s had for his entire CFL career.

VERNON ADAMS JR. MTL
THIS WEEK: 5 | LAST WEEK: 5

Adams showed the same guts and determination last week that we came to expect from him in his breakout season in 2019. It wasn’t the prettiest at times — he had 209 yards with a pair of TDs and INTs — but Adams and the Als found a way to get a win that they’re hoping can turn their season around. Stuck in the middle of the pack of what might be an increasingly competitive East Division, they’ll need some consistent play to get where they want to go.

MCLEOD BETHEL-THOMPSON TOR
THIS WEEK: 6 | LAST WEEK: 6

Bethel-Thompson played a clean game against a tough Alouettes’ defence in Week 8 and gets rewarded with the start against the REDBLACKS on Wednesday. This is a team he’s had success against in the past, but after their win against Edmonton last week, there’s a bit of a wildcard feel to Ottawa. Does a convincing performance on Wednesday lead to a third McBeth start on Monday against the Ticats, or will Ryan Dinwiddie want to have Nick Arbuckle ready for a key divisional showdown?

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

Masoli’s return to the field yielded results that we might expect from a QB that’s been out of action since Week 2. Keep in mind he had a touchdown taken back after it was reviewed and that he found Bralon Addison — one of two key receivers also just back from a prolonged injury — for a two-point convert and there were positives to take from what stands as a zero TD, zero INT box score. Getting a presumably tired Argos team at Tim Hortons Field on Thanksgiving Monday might help things for the offence, as will another week of practice that gets those key players on the same page.

CALEB EVANS OTT
THIS WEEK: 8 | LAST WEEK: –

It wasn’t a Collaros-like stat-stuffing effort last week from Evans, but the rookie had an excellent debut, all things considered. He was able to help the REDBLACKS come out of the gates strong and didn’t make any crucial mistakes against an Edmonton defence that many expected to eat him up. Most important, Evans pumped some life into a down-and-out team that had gone through its two experienced QBs with undesirable results. He’ll likely have his bad moments to go with the good ones, but his impact on the team was obvious last week.

TAYLOR CORNELIUS EDM
THIS WEEK: 9 | LAST WEEK: 9

Cornelius’ performance is the yang to Evans’ ying of last week. Rookies will eventually struggle as they learn the ropes of the pro game and we saw that with Cornelius in his second start. As he slides back to the sidelines with Trevor Harris slated to return this week against the Bombers, Cornelius will no doubt see the game differently and will be able to put the past two weeks’ worth of work to use to make him better for his next opportunity.

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