We are officially through a trio of weeks in the CFL’s 2022 season and as the sun rises on the fourth Thursday of this young season it could not be a better time to play the best game of trios known to slumber parties everywhere: two truths and a lie. Feel free to let me know what else you think could slide in here or if you think I’m wrong on any accounts (not that I’ll change my mind since this is my game but football talk is always welcomed).
Statement #1: Bo Levi Mitchell still has it.
TRUE. There really is no debating this one, the 32 year-old Texas native still has all kinds of gas left in the tank. Just three games into his 10th CFL season, Mitchell has 70 completions on 104 attempts for 833 yards. Sure his four touchdown to two interception ratio isn’t something to marvel at, it’s really the stuff beyond the stat sheet that confirms that the Stamps’ pivot has as much of the ‘it’ factor as ever; the grit, gumption, and guidance have all been on display when needed this season. In the team’s razor thin victory over Montreal in the season opener, Mitchell had his lowest yard total of the season but he played the part of the veteran perfectly, guiding the new version of the Stampeders through every phase of the game with the calmness of a gentle mare with her foal. In what is an early contender for game of the year, Mitchell went into the locker room down 21 at the half but came out for the second with gritted teeth and a determination typically only seen in a cowboy fighting for his life to stay atop a bucking horse. Finally, in the renewal of the Battle of Alberta (Turf Edition) it was doubtful if Mitchell would even take the field due to an ankle injury, but of course through layers of tape he moved relatively undeterred in the pocket on his way to keeping his team undefeated.
Statement #2: The rule changes are working.
TRUE. Those of us deeply entrenched with the league and its future spent the offseason in countless debates over the proposed rule changes, both real and rumoured. We knew the intention of any change was to find ways to make the game more attractive to newer fans, but it remained to be seen if any of what they were suggesting would actually work. I am pleased to say that after 12 games, the changes are making the game far more dynamic and have opened up the field for stars to be stars, which means they’re doing what they needed to do. One of the big ones was the move of the hash marks to be closer to centre field, being pushed an additional four yards inwards. The previous placement made it so that the 12th man (another fun difference between CFL and NFL) was consistently taken out of the play based on the judgement that a throw to him would be too risky. This meant, in essence, that the 12 defenders only had to worry about 11 attackers which contributed heavily to the quick stops that disrupted the flow of the game. Now, it is true 12 on 12 football, being played on 87,750 square feet, a field nearly 30,000 square feet bigger than an American football field. Stay tuned for a further breakdown of all rule changes and they’re impact (but trust me they’re working)!
Statement #3: The BC Lions are the team to beat.
FALSE. I know, I know, they’ve won their two games by a combined score of 103-18, their Canadian QB is setting records, they’ve only punted six times in 2 games, and did I mention the 103 points??? But here’s the thing: they haven’t exactly played any top notch competition. The opening week romp of Edmonton looks uncharacteristic of the Elks after their last two games yes, but at the time Edmonton truly did look that bad. As for Toronto, well I would argue they are that bad. All that being said, I’m hesitant to put the 2-0 Lions ahead of the 3-0 Blue Bombers or Stampeders because of the smaller sample size, yes, but also because those 103 points were racked up against teams that are more than likely going to finish the season as roommates in the league’s basement. Had BC cracked the 50-point plateau against Toronto, and had Nathan Rourke, who yes set records, not doubled his incompletion total I would be more inclined to take them seriously. But hey, I’m willing to change my tune depending on how they perform against another bottom-dweller in Ottawa this week.
Don’t forget to open CFL Files again next week after the Redblacks host the Lions and the Tiger Cats try to sharpen their claws for a visit from the Elks. Plus, the Roughriders get a second crack at the Alouettes, this time on their turf, and the Argos try to row the Bombers’ momentum to a stop.