The Canadian Press
As we wind down the regular season there is – checks notes – only one team that knows they are out of playoff contention (Edmonton) and one team that knows exactly where and when they will be playing (Winnipeg). An incredible reality for a season with so much parity.
With the Winnipeg Blue Bombers resting the newly re-signed Zach Collaros last week, we got a look at Dru Brown, but all seven of the other starters continue to push forward as they look to secure playoff positioning. Let’s take a look back at how the arms of the CFL faired in week 19.
Trevor Harris, Montreal Alouettes
For the majority of this game running back Walter Fletcher was the Montreal Alouettes best offensive player. Receiver Tyson Philpot seemed to be primed for a 15-catch kind of night in the nation’s capital, but faded as the game became dominated by William Stanback controlling the clock and Dominique Davis setting a season-high eight sneak attempts.
As for Trevor Harris, only five pass attempts travelled beyond eight air yards. It’s clear what the Alouettes playoff attack is going to look like. The only question now, is whether they play in the Eastern-Semi Final, or head straight to the Eastern Final.
Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa REDBLACKS
It was another night filled with hope and flashes of progress, only to end in a loss. Ottawa REDBLACKS fans are an incredible bunch and have set a new standard in my books for remaining passionate in the face of adversity.
Nick Arbuckle rewarded RNation with an absolute fireworks display in the first quarter, including his only two passing touchdowns of the night. Which also happened to be the first Ottawa passing scores at home since July. As the game went on the dink-and-dunk offence led to a 77.7 per cent completion rate, but couldn’t generate the same excitement of the early game attack.
Dane Evans, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
It might not be the prettiest of stat lines, but Dane Evans made the throws he needed to at the end of the game to finish the job and put an end to Hamilton’s seemingly endless losing streak in Calgary. The long ball to Tim White was an absolute prayer that was somehow answered, but the following two throws resulting in the touchdown and two-point conversion were clinical.
Jake Maier, Calgary Stampeders
I’m not sure if Jake Maier having only one attempt over twenty air yards, or zero completions on the same depth is more concerning. Regardless, the Calgary Stampeders quarterback threw three interceptions in the same area of the field, prompting me to wonder whether Maier has an issue with front side throws or if Friday night was a one-off.
Whatever the case, the Stampeders will need better play at quarterback come the playoffs if they have any hope of toppling Collaros and the Bombers.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Toronto Argonauts
Don’t look now, but McLeod Bethel-Thompson is once again leading the CFL in passing yardage down the home stretch of the regular season and the Toronto Argonauts are in control of their playoff destiny.
The deep ball accuracy wasn’t exactly where it needed to be in this game, similar to Toronto’s previous trip to Alberta in Week 17. However, the precision underneath and a healthier dose of the Argos run game to support Bethel-Thompson earned them a win.
Taylor Cornelius, Edmonton Elks
The final target chart of 2022 for Taylor Cornelius tells a familiar story. While it’s unfortunate he sustained a spleen injury and will miss the end of the year. The fact remains, his completion percentage numbers are well below CFL averages in many places including the all important intermediate and deep areas.
On to 2023, and the next step in his journey to figure out the CFL game.
Dru Brown, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Nobody is going to make that Blue and Gold passing game hum like Zach Collaros, but there were a few moments of really confident footwork, reads and passing from Dru Brown. I liked what I saw and understand why many in the organization appear to think highly of him. More important than the final result here was getting game-time reps for the backup should Collaros get dinged at any point in the Bombers chase for a three-peat.
Vernon Adams Jr. BC Lions
In arguably the least attractive performance of the week Vernon Adams Jr. completed just 59 per cent of his passes – including one to himself off a knock down. In a year where he has battled a Montreal-benching, there is no doubt the Lions leading man – for now – is looking over his shoulder as Most Outstanding Player candidate Nathan Rourke appears to be getting closer and closer to an improbable return to play.