July 3, 2024

June in Review: 4 observations from 2024’s opening month

Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca

Welcome to July!

We’re now through the first month of a 2024 season that has been full of surprises and fascinating storylines. We’ve got two unbeaten teams, three winless squads, and some promising individual performances along the way.

Here are four observations now that the first month of the season is in the books.

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THE CANADIAN AIR FORCE

I’ve had the privilege of covering this league for almost two decades and I can’t remember a time we’ve seen so many Canadian receivers playing at such a high level.

It starts in Montreal where Tyson Philpot has put the league on notice. Through four weeks, the University of Calgary product is averaging more than 100 receiving yards per game and leads the league with four touchdown catches. Teammate Kaion Julien-Grant is off to another great start, too, and has racked up 268 receiving yards to help the Alouettes to a 4-0 record.

Overall, Canadians make up half of the league’s top ten receivers through four weeks. It’s a group that also includes BC’s Justin McInnis (338 yards, two touchdowns), Edmonton’s Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (263 yards, two touchdowns), and mainstay Nic Demski of the Blue Bombers (233 yards).

EXPERIENCE COUNTS

 

It’s nice to see Bo Levi Mitchell show everyone he’s still got lots left in the tank. After a couple injury plagued seasons, including a nightmare first year in Hamilton, 34-year-old Mitchell leads the league with four touchdown passes and sits second with 1,297 passing yards. It’s great having one of the league’s all-time greats back in familiar territory after a few off years.

Mitchell is one of a few veteran pivots showing that experience still counts for a lot. Back in the CFL after a year away, Edmonton’s McLeod Bethel-Thompson sits third overall with 1,225 passing yards while Montreal’s Cody Fajardo leads the league with 115.9 passer rating. And before he sustained an injury, Trevor Harris looked great for the Roughriders in helping them to a 3-0 start.

SAY HELLO TO THE CHAMPS

 

The Alouettes are in a league of their own right now and it’s important to give them as much love as possible. Because, at this rate, Montreal’s dominance is going to become somewhat old hat. It’s the ultimate compliment to the defending Grey Cup champions, but we want to make sure they get the recognition they deserve.

Fajardo is a Most Outstanding Player frontrunner through the first month of the season and he’s helming the league’s most terrifying offence. The Als lead the way in offensive points-per-game (31.8) and offensive touchdowns (14), and they sit top three in categories like net offence, passing yards, and average yards per play.

And it’s not like this team is winning a bunch of high scoring shootouts, either. Montreal is the CFL’s best statistical team on the other side of the ball, too. The Alouettes lead the way in average points by the opposition (16.3), opposition offensive touchdowns (5), and opposition net offence, among others.

Montreal may have shocked the CFL world with their Grey Cup win last season. Four weeks into their title defence, however, the champs have served notice they’re still the team to beat.

A CHANGE OF SCENERY NEVER HURTS

 

We saw significant player movement over the winter, which saw several prominent players end up on new teams for the 2024 season. And a good chunk of those players have made significant impacts already.

On offence, the league’s two leading rushers are members of new teams starting with Ka’Deem Carey in Toronto. Carey left Calgary after four seasons and sits on top of the league through June with 230 yards rushing yards. Right behind him with 229 yards is William Stanback, who signed in BC after five seasons with Montreal.

Then there’s Dru Brown who’s settling in nicely as a first time CFL starting quarterback. Brown was acquired by Ottawa during the off-season and has helped them to an encouraging 2-1 record. Through three starts, Brown has thrown for 795 yards and three touchdowns and has plenty of room to grow with the REDBLACKS.

Three of the league leaders in sacks are on new teams, too. Hamilton’s Brandon Barlow leads the way with three after a couple seasons with the Argos. BC’s Pete Robertson and Toronto’s Jake Ceresna each have two sacks and are also on new teams.

And don’t forget Calgary’s Demerio Houston. One of the league’s premier lockdown corners leads the league with two interceptions after doing the same in 2023 as a member of the Blue Bombers.

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