June 19, 2023

Steinberg’s MMQB: All kinds of quarterback questions

Jimmy Jeong/CFL.ca

We have a trio of 0-2 teams through the first two weeks of the season and all three of those teams have major quarterback questions to address going into Week 3. In one team’s case it’s Week 4. How those questions are answered could very well determine how quickly some of these seasons get back on track.

Let’s start in Hamilton and the uncertain status of Bo Levi Mitchell. The two-time Most Outstanding Player, already going through an adjustment period with his new team, left Sunday’s 32-14 loss to Toronto with a lower body injury and didn’t return.

The most concerning part of Mitchell’s injury sequence was how he seemed to know immediately there was something wrong after taking a fourth quarter hit from Wynton McManis in his own end zone. Mitchell didn’t attempt to shake things off on the sidelines, which feels ominous knowing how much of a gamer we’re talking about.

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Matthew Shiltz entered the game for the final nine minutes or so and completed 13 of 14 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Re-signing Shiltz was an under the radar important move for the Tiger-Cats this winter for just this reason. Now in his sixth CFL season, Shiltz has plenty of action under his belt and is a nice option for Hamilton to have if Mitchell ends up missing time.

Injury questions are also present in Ottawa, as Jeremiah Masoli’s status remains unknown after missing his team’s first two games. Because they’re on a bye for Week 3, the REDBLACKS get a little more time for Masoli to rest before having to determine who gets the start in their next game. If Masoli is ready, it’ll obviously be him. But what if he’s not?

Will the REDBLACKS turn to Tyrie Adams again if Jeremiah Masoli isn’t ready to play yet? (The Canadian Press)

Nick Arbuckle has struggled in his two starts this season. He’s yet to throw a touchdown pass against four interceptions and was replaced by Tyrie Adams in the second quarter of Thursday’s 26-15 loss to Calgary.

While his numbers didn’t jump off the page (113 passing yards and an interception), Adams gave Ottawa’s offence a little more unpredictability and explosiveness upon taking over. I’m curious if the REDBLACKS go to him against Montreal in Week 4 if Masoli isn’t quite ready to return.

Finally, will we see a quarterback change in Edmonton? The Elks struggled mightily to generate offence in Saturday’s 22-0 loss to BC and starter Taylor Cornelius finished with just 91 passing yards and an interception while completing 13 of 23 passes. It’s been a difficult first two outings for Cornelius, but Elks’ head coach Chris Jones remains firmly behind him.

“We’ve got our quarterback,” Jones said following Saturday’s shutout loss. “We’re going to do a better job of coaching him. We’ve got to get his confidence back.”

I’m curious to see how patient Jones will be if Cornelius doesn’t take quickly take a step forward. Kai Locksley is as athletic as they come and would be exciting to watch if given the opportunity. That said, it’s encouraging and bolstering for Cornelius to have his coach remain publicly in his corner.

Edmonton is back at home Sunday night when they host Toronto.

Quick hits

From Chad Kelly’s performance at quarterback to a great effort defensively, there was a lot to like from the Argos as they opened their Grey Cup defence with an emphatic win over Hamilton. I loved the way Toronto used their two-headed monster at running back. A.J. Ouellette ran for 60 yards on 13 carries while Andrew Harris added 24 more and a touchdown on four touches. Those two are going to be a handful this year.

It feels like we’re going to be talking about a different receiver lighting it up each week for Winnipeg. It was Nic Demski going for 113 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 before Dalton Schoen led the way in Friday’s 45-27 win over the Riders. Schoen caught eight passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, which makes it easy to forget that Kenny Lawler has yet to suit up. I’m sure it won’t take us long to remember once that happens.

Jake Maier rebounded in Week 2 and so did the Stamps, as they topped the Ottawa REDBLACKS at TD Place (The Canadian Press)

Stampeders fans had to be breathing a sigh of relief after Jake Maier’s performance in Ottawa. After struggling in Week 1 against BC, Maier looked far more comfortable on Thursday and completed 22 of 33 passes for 270 yards in the win. Most encouraging was how Maier completed 15 of those passes to Reggie Begelton and Malik Henry, who both had strong nights. Those are Calgary’s two best receivers and they need to be heavily involved.

Finally, how motivated does Bo Lokombo look for the Lions? He was all over the field for a second straight week as BC blanked Edmonton with a dominant defensive effort. Lokombo finished with seven tackles in the win and is up to 14 on the season. Remember, Lokombo returned from injury last season to a timeshare with Jordan Williams at WILL linebacker. With Williams now in Toronto, that spot is all Lokombo’s once again and he’s making sure that doesn’t change.

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