The QB Index is a weekly power ranking of quarterbacks across the CFL, voted on by CFL.ca staff. The ranking reflects recent performance, historical value, statistical indicators, team success and overall on-field evaluation.
TORONTO — A funny thing happened as the votes for this week’s QB Index were being tabulated.
As the digital ballots rolled in, there was a steady back-and-forth with the top-two spots. Zach Collaros, the long-running No. 1 around these parts, was going vote-for-vote with Nathan Rourke, the up-and-coming first-year starter that’s essentially set the league on fire through the Lions’ first seven games.
For the first time this season, we had a tie for the No. 1 spot.
As the vote tabulator and final voter in this weekly process, that got me thinking. This moment was the first (admittedly unimportant) time that many of us will have to make this decision as things like All-Star selections and if things continue to play out the way they are, end-of-season award decisions are made.
When it comes to these two forces of nature in the West, who do you choose? Collaros or Rourke? There can only be one.
Collaros, of course, is the reigning Most Outstanding Player and a leader on the two-time defending Grey Cup champion Bombers. He’s gone 26-2 as the team’s starting QB since landing there in the fall of 2019. This year, his team is a sparkling 9-0 as they work week-by-week toward their goal of the CFL’s first three-peat champion since Edmonton did it in its five-in-a-row dynasty.
He’s more than worthy of that No. 1 spot.
Rourke, on the other hand, is letting his play beat the door down on the No. 1 conversation. Just 24, he has helped revitalize a Lions team that hasn’t seen the postseason since 2018 and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2018. The Lions last won the Grey Cup in 2011.
Seven games in (with a 6-1 record), all of those things seem to be on the table for the Lions this year. In our best Kevin Harlan voice, Rourke has been a flame thrower from Week 1 of the season onward. On the heels of his 477 passing yard, five-touchdown performance on Saturday against the Elks, Rourke now leads the league with 2,418 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Rourke’s 133.2 passer efficiency rating, if he can maintain it, would top the league record set by Ricky Ray in 2013 (126.4). He’s on pace to deliver the sixth-ever 6,000-yard passing mark in a season (and, as Steve Ewen at the Vancouver Province notes, his strong play recently emptied the Lions’ team store of his jersey).
As the descriptor above this writeup explains every week, the QB Index considers weekly performance, stats, historical value and team success and overall on-field evaluation in its rankings. So staring at the top-two performing quarterbacks of the season, all knotted up in voting points, I considered that in their one head-to-head meeting this year the Bombers convincingly walked away with the win at BC Place.
That gives Collaros the edge in this (again, admittedly insignificant) vote. It’s a precursor though, of bigger decisions that await between the two biggest stories of this season as it nears its midpoint.
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