Rockstar QB Index: Matt Nichols provides calming stability

The Rockstar QB 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 — Matt Nichols has proven his point.

After plenty of criticism this season, the Bombers’ quarterback has let his play do the talking, winning three straight starts and getting his team in a favourable position in the hotly-contested West.

It was only a month ago, after all, that some fans were calling for a quarterback change in the Manitoba capital, with the fleet-of-foot, strong-armed Chris Streveler quickly emerging as a popular figure.

While Nichols has failed to replicate the success of his first three seasons in Winnipeg — in which he totaled 56 touchdowns and just 24 interceptions — the 31-year-old has had a calming influence on the team, helping overcome a four-game losing streak.

Nichols has proven he’s the uncontested starter in Winnipeg, and is rewarding his head coach’s faith as the final stretch of the season arrives.

Elsewhere in the CFL, Mike Reilly‘s grip on a top-two spot has softened, while Johnny Manziel is trending downward after his fifth career start.

Who’s landing where in this week’s Rockstar QB Index? CFL.ca ranks the pivots:

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

Bo Levi Mitchell had little to be thankful for on Monday in Montreal, throwing three interceptions in his worst performance of the season. It was the first major blemish in an otherwise standout campaign, though it still ended with two points as the Stamps pulled out a victory. The 28-year-old remains the likely favourite to win Most Outstanding Player.

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

The struggle endures for Mike Reilly, who failed to complete half his passes and threw three interceptions in a loss to the Riders over the weekend. The worst was late in the game, when, protecting a slim lead, Reilly was intercepted by defensive end Willie Jefferson for the game-winning points the other way. With the Esks already in free fall, Reilly is in danger of dropping further in the ranking.

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

Jeremiah Masoli and the Ticats clinched a playoff spot over the weekend without even stepping on the field. It’s a big accomplishment considering where this team was a year ago, when Masoli and Head Coach June Jones took over a winless 0-8 team. Masoli’s name is starting to be mentioned among the elite, and deservedly so.

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

Despite taking the ‘L’, Trevor Harris was full marks in an overtime loss to the Bombers on Friday night. It’s been an up-and-down season for the third-year REDBLACK, but Harris has been ‘up’ as of late, putting together three straight games of 300-plus yards with six touchdowns and just one interception. A road trip to Edmonton will provide another test.

MATT NICHOLS WPG
THIS WEEK: 5 | LAST WEEK: 6

Matt Nichols had arguably his best game of the season over the weekend, throwing three touchdown passes in a wild 40-32 overtime win in Ottawa. Considering where he was just a few weeks ago — with Bombers fans calling for his job — it’s been a nice turnaround for Nichols, who’s won three straight starts and has his team in a good position to make the playoffs.

ZACH COLLAROS SSK
THIS WEEK: 6 | LAST WEEK: 5

Zach Collaros played the role of game manager on Monday, leaning on a dominant Rider defence to notch a win over the Eskimos. The Riders’ pivot is quietly enjoying a bounce back season in green and white, improving to 8-3 as a starter and occasionally flashing the same upside that once made him one of the best in the CFL.

JONATHON JENNINGS BC
THIS WEEK: 7 | LAST WEEK: 8

It wasn’t a work of art, but Jonathon Jennings was efficient and took care of the football over the weekend, helping the Lions defeat the Argos and stay in the West Division playoff race. Despite keeping the seat warm for an injured Travis Lulay, there are still plenty of questions regarding Jennings’ long-term outlook as a starting quarterback.

JOHNNY MANZIEL MTL
THIS WEEK: 8 | LAST WEEK: 7

Johnny Manziel continues to be inconsistent through five CFL starts, most recently throwing for a season-high 250 yards but also turning the ball over twice in a 12-6 loss to the Stamps. The potential is clearly there, and if the Als are patient and give Manziel a chance to develop properly, there’s no cap on his ceiling.

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

McLeod Bethel-Thompson was pulled in the second half of Saturday’s game in BC after throwing four interceptions and averaging a season-low 5.4 yards per attempt. After starting out hot in back-to-back wins, the Argos’ pivot has lost six straight starts, throwing just four touchdowns and eight interceptions in the process.

INJURED: TRAVIS LULAY (BC), RICKY RAY (TOR)

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