CFL: Quarterback Index – Let the controversy begin

The CFL.ca Quarterback 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 — Who doesn’t love a quarterback controversy?

As Labour Day fades in the rear view mirror, the drama is escalating for signal-callers across the CFL with three teams facing pivotal questions behind centre.

It starts in Winnipeg, where Head Coach Mike O’Shea has yet to name a starter for Week 15 as the Bombers go on a bye. Matt Nichols has struggled, and promising rookie Chris Streveler has impressed fans with his arm strength and rushing ability.

In Toronto, Marc Trestman will either turn back to James Franklin or continue to ride sophomore McLeod Bethel-Thompson. The defending Grey Cup Champs are 3-8 and could use a spark to climb back up the East Division standings.

Meanwhile, as the Als and Antonio Pipkin continue to win games, Johnny Manziel looks on from the bench. After giving up so much to acquire Manziel, Pipkin will have to continue to impress to hold on to the top job.

Elsewhere, injured pivots Zach Collaros and Travis Lulay are up in the air for Week 14, while Jeremiah Masoli is teetering on the brink of elite thanks to his flashy play.

More in this week’s QB Index:

MIKE REILLY EDM
THIS WEEK: 1 | LAST WEEK: 2

Mike Reilly totaled six touchdowns in Week 13 and his team racked up 48 points and 462 net yards, earning a nail-biting win over the Stamps. Top spot has been a back-and-forth affair in the QB Index, but with 37 touchdowns on the season — a year-long pace of 55 — Reilly deserves to be the No. 1-ranked pivot and the MOP favourite.

BO LEVI MITCHELL CGY
THIS WEEK: 2 | LAST WEEK: 1

Despite throwing for nearly 500 yards, giveaways cost Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stamps in the rematch of the Battle of Alberta. Mitchell matched a career-high with three interceptions against the Esks, though his touchdown to interception ratio of 25:8 and career-high 9.4 yards per attempt are still impressive.

JEREMIAH MASOLI HAM
THIS WEEK: 3 | LAST WEEK: 3

Jeremiah Masoli is starting to work out the numbers after an impressive home-and-home against the Argos, throwing seven touchdowns and just one interception to improve his ratio to 16:11. Masoli also leads all quarterbacks in rushing yards (387) and is second only to Mike Reilly in passing yards (3,576). He should be the East Division’s MOP come season’s end.

TRAVIS LULAY BC
THIS WEEK: 4 | LAST WEEK: 5

With his starting centre carted off on the game’s opening play, Travis Lulay fielded snaps from every which direction and was constantly under siege. The 34-year-old did manage to throw a touchdown pass to Ricky Collins before being injured and going through concussion protocol. Lulay hopes to get back soon to help a team right in the thick of a heated playoff race.

TREVOR HARRIS OTT
THIS WEEK: 5 | LAST WEEK: 4

You never know which Trevor Harris you’re going to get. Harris was temporarily pulled during a 26-14 loss to the BC Lions, throwing for 216 yards with two interceptions in the process. Over the last two games vs. Montreal and BC — games you expect the East Division leader to win — Harris averaged 5.9 yards per attempt while his team has totaled 25 points.

ZACH COLLAROS SSK
THIS WEEK: 6 | LAST WEEK: 6

More time on the injured list could be in store for Zach Collaros, who left Saturday’s victory in the Banjo Bowl vs. Winnipeg. The Riders’ pivot has played well at times during the team’s four-game winning streak, but he’s also gotten a lot of help from a dominant-playmaking defence. Forced to give Collaros a grade, it would probably be ‘incomplete’.

ANTONIO PIPKIN MTL
THIS WEEK: 7 | LAST WEEK: 8

You can’t say Antonio Pipkin hasn’t made the most of his opportunity. Pipkin is in line to get his fourth straight start Friday night, while the Als search for a third consecutive win with a chance to move out of the CFL basement. Still plenty of time before midnight in this Cinderella story, which began with Pipkin being cut back in the spring.

MATT NICHOLS WPG
THIS WEEK: 8 | LAST WEEK: 7

Once ranked as high as third, the fall from grace continues for Matt Nichols, whose job is in jeopardy following a fourth straight loss. The Banjo Bowl was a nightmare for Nichols, who threw three interceptions — two returned for touchdowns — before being pulled for Chris Streveler in a 32-27 loss. Head Coach Mike O’Shea has not determined a starter for Week 15 off the bye.

CHRIS STREVELER WPG
THIS WEEK: 9 | LAST WEEK: NOT RANKED

It’s a full-blown quarterback controversy in Winnipeg, with Chris Streveler joining the ranks after replacing Matt Nichols in the second half of Sunday’s Banjo Bowl loss. Streveler didn’t fare much better, but the 23-year-old is high on upside and could be the spark the struggling Bombers are looking for. Streveler has a combined 14 touchdowns in 12 games this season.

MCLEOD BETHEL-THOMPSON TOR
THIS WEEK: 10 | LAST WEEK: 9

As promised, Marc Trestman has gotten a close look at both of his new quarterbacks following McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s fifth start. Now the head coach has a decision to make, with the Argos on the bye and looking to turn things around following a 3-8 start. The one nicknamed ‘MacBeth’ looks comfortable as a professional passer, but has struggled, at times, with accuracy.

JONATHON JENNINGS BC
THIS WEEK: 11 | LAST WEEK: NOT RANKED

With Lulay out, the O-line struggling and a lead to sit on, Jonathon Jennings played it safe in relief, completing 10 of 12 passes for 68 yards — his late touchdown to Bryan Burnham sealing a much-needed victory for the Lions. Jennings will be back behind centre if Lulay, who was put through concussion protocol, can’t play in Week 14.

BRANDON BRIDGE SSK
THIS WEEK: 12 | LAST WEEK: NOT RANKED

Brandon Bridge didn’t do much in relief of Zach Collaros, but he didn’t lose the game as the Riders earned a 32-27 win over the Bombers in the annual Banjo Bowl. With Collaros potentially sidelined, the 26-year-old from Mississauga, Ont. could, yet again, get the opportunity to prove he can start in this league.

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