MITCHELL GETS STAMP OF APPROVAL
Teammates figure quarterback a shoo-in to be named CFL’s Most Outstanding Player
He’s the best player in the CFL.
Which is why Bo Levi Mitchell will be feted Thursday night as the league’s Most Outstanding Player.
Bank on it.
The two-man ballot between the Calgary Stampeders quarterback and his counterpart, Jeremiah Masoli from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, is really a one-horse race.
Bo Levi Mitchell. MOP. End of story.
Sorry, Jeremiah. “Hands down,” said Stampeders offensive lineman Derek Dennis of his quarterback.
“He’s had a great year, threw for 5,000 yards and didn’t have the same receivers all year, so I think that’s a testament to how special a player he is. I don’t think any quarterback has had to deal with the adversity he’s had with his receivers this year.
“To still put up gaudy numbers and not have the same receivers to throw to, I think that’s big.”
It’s true that the way Mitchell has remained an effective, winning quarterback while handling the revolving door at receiver — thanks mostly to injury — can’t be overstated.
It’s the No. 1 reason the quarterback will take home the top honour from the Shaw CFL Awards.
“For everything that we’ve been through this season — all the injuries at receiver, all the lost weapons — and to still keep us on course, still finish first in the West and still take us to the Grey Cup, he deserves it, without a doubt,” said Stampeders receiver DaVaris Daniels.
“He’s the best in the league, he’s at the top of the totem pole,” Daniels continued. “He’s set a standard, like (Winnipeg Blue Bombers QB) Matt Nichols said (after the Western Final). And everybody wants to beat out Bo Levi Mitchell.”
Masoli won’t do that in Thursday’s ballot count as decided by the Football Reporters of Canada.
Stats-wise, Mitchell, 28, completed 356 of 585 passes for 5,124 passing yards and 35 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.
The touchdown count is the highest of his seven-year CFL career, and his yards compiled through the air is the second highest of his career. Back in 2016, he tossed for 5,385 yards in winning the MOP Award for the first time.
In 2015, he was the West nominee for Most Outstanding Player, even though he believed the honour should have went to his favourite target on the season, receiver Eric Rogers.
“I don’t disagree with him,” Rogers said with a grin Wednesday of a season four years back that saw Rogers finish as the CFL’s leading receiver with 87 catches for 1,448 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“No, Bo had a great year that year, as well. But I had a good year because of him.”
This year, Rogers is lobbying for Mitchell to win the award.
“Just because of everything he’s had to deal with,” Rogers said. “There was a lot of injuries at the offensive-line position. And dealing with all the receivers he had to deal with, it’s probably the second most important position for a quarterback to be familiar with. We were down one or two guys in the West Final, and he still played his heart out.
“To still put up the numbers he put up and to lead us to No. 1 in the West, that’s something.”
Yes, Masoli rolled up a few more passing yards for 5,209 total and had a stronger completion percentage — 66.1 per cent to Mitchell’s 60.9 per cent. He also outran the Stampeders quarterback, 473 yards to 108.
But the Tiger-Cats QB threw for just 28 TDs against 18 INTs.
And the stat that jumps off the page the most when comparing the two signal-callers?
Mitchell led his team to 13 wins against five losses for the league’s best record, while Masoli was streaky at best to guide the Ticats to a sub-par 8-10 campaign, mostly against weak East Division competition. The Tiger-Cats limped to the line at year’s end — when it counted most — losing five of their last eight games and getting shellacked 46-27 in the Eastern Final by the Ottawa Redblacks.
All said, the winning leadership displayed by Mitchell has been second to none.
“Oh, man, Bo is a great captain. He’s the leader of the ship,” said Stamps running back Terry Williams. “He makes sure everybody’s on the same page. He’s a big hype guy — he makes everybody play fast. Everybody can rely on him.”
“We play hard for him,” added receiver Chris Matthews. “He’s a real hands-on guy, and I take my hat off to him.”
“Yeah, Bo’s my vote for MOP every year,” added Stamps middle linebacker Alex Singleton. “I think he’s going to win this year, so to win two out of the three years I’ve been here is pretty cool. He’s my roommate on the road so maybe I should vote against him so I can poke fun at him for the next few days.
“But he’s my MOP whether he wins or loses until the day I’m done playing football.”
His Stampeder teammates are singing the praises of quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who had 35 touchdown passes this season, threw for more than 5,000 yards, and is up against Hamilton’s Jeremiah Masoli for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award.