Into the Limelight: 2023 team award winners

I’m glad the Bombers’ voters did the right thing and nominated Brady O for MOP. Because he IS their MOP…not the MVP, mind, positional considerations mean that the QB is nearly always the MVP, as the offense runs through them, so their competence matters the most. But of the Bombers’ players, Oliveira has been by far the most outstanding this season.

I just hope that the divisional and national voters see it that way. The arguments that the RB is only as good as his team’s offensive line fall incredibly flat for me. This is because it’s a team game, so you can make the same arguments regarding the quarterback, for example. For the Bombers in particular, Zach Collaros is equally helped by the competence of the O-line, and he also depends on the quality of his receivers.* Sure, overall, the QB is the more “important” player - more of the outcome of a game depends on him - but that shouldn’t prejudice us against viewing another player on a team as more outstanding.

Brady has just put together the second-best season EVER for a Canadian running back (based on how many rushing yards he achieved). He leads the league in total rushing TDs (9 rushing, tied for the lead with Crum in Ottawa), and is no slouch when being used as a receiver either (having 4 TDs - his total of 13 TDs leads the league as well, a full 3 TDs more than Ouellette in 2nd place). His breakout season is the one of the main reasons why the Bombers find themselves on top of the West, largely because he is capable of prolonging offensive possession when Winnipeg is leading at the end of the game, keeping the other team’s defense on the field by creating an extended drive that takes a lot of time off the clock (as it keeps moving after a running play) while not risking INTs.

Not a single team has successfully slowed him down for long, proving to the world that the Bombers were absolutely right when they let Andrew Harris walk (rather than offering him an insulting amount of money to stay, they told him the truth - they wanted to move on - and I think that is respectable). Brady was ready to take on this job full-time, and sure, he learned a lot from Harris, but he also has his own way of instantiating the RB position that has proven incredibly effective. Moreover, when he doesn’t have the ball, Brady himself helps out really well at ensuring that Zach has enough time to make a play, despite his smaller size (for a football player).

*As an aside, the Bombers’ O-line has gotten worse this year, which has resulted in Zach Collaros getting sacked more often than in the past (he has also taken a small step backwards in terms of his own abilities). But despite this, Oliveira has put together his best season thus far (a full 50% better than last year), which suggests to me that Brady himself is mostly responsible for his accomplishments this season. Moreover, this is just his second season as the Bombers’ starting RB…something tells me he’s just getting started.


Chad Kelly over Vernon Adams for mop.
Betts for defensive player
Olivera for canadian
Leak over Whyte for special teams
Not gonna predict the lineman cause I have no idea

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MOP Kelly
MOD Betts
MOC Oliveira
ST Whyte
MOR Stiggers
Lineman dude from Argos

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That’s the way I have it as well.

MOP - Kelly over Adams
DMOP - Betts over Pickett
MOC - Oliveira over Metchie or Dequoy
OL - Allen over McEwen or Hardrick
ST - Leake over Whyte
MOR - Stiggers over Korsak or Gray

Can’t disagree with any of those comments. Well done. :sunglasses:


Kelly over Olivera for MOP
Betts will win MOD
Olivera will win MOC
Revenberg over Hardrick for OL
Whyte over Leake for ST
Rookie I have no idea


My predictions:

MOP- Kelly over Oliveira

Pretty much a toss up but thinking the voters will prefer a QB over a RB as they normally do. Collaros vs Kelly would also be a toss up. It’s possible that Adams beats out Oliveira but as Collaros easily beats Adams because of critical head to head performance and Oliveira beat Collaros, Adams should logically fall by the wayside.

MOD- Betts over Pickett

This one could go either way. I think Pickett is the slightly more deserving choice overall but that the voters will side with Betts’ shiny sack totals.

Canadian- Oliveira over Dequoy (or Metchie)

This one is pretty easy.

O Line- Allen over Hardrick

Best lineman on the best O Line should take it.

Special Teams- Whyte over Leake

Could see Leake winning because of flashy returns, but Whyte had a very consistent year and was more important to his team than Leake who also didn’t play the whole season.

Rookie- Stiggers over who knows

Probably the toughest category to pick. Stiggers stands out slightly above the rest. Crum didn’t finish well and Powell didn’t finish at all.


Head to head both Collaros & Adams won 1 game each - so if that is your critical deciding point, Collaros scored zero points in their match up in Wpg (2 FG’s from the ST’s was all the Bomber scoring) & they were both pretty even in the Vancouver matchup. But for a burp from Rhymes who should have headed for the sidelines, it would be 2-0 Adams & Bombers finish 2nd. The season for both teams hinged on that one play.

Collaros had half a dozen sub-par to poor games this year. Oliveira is the rightful candidate. Zach is not there so everything else is moot. VolcanoMan is absolutely right. Zach can be brilliant but this is 2023 & he took a step backwards. If Kelly doesn’t win the MOP there is something seriously wrong so, again, the point is moot.

Whether right or wrong, IMO Betts wins DMOP honours so Oliveira will take top Cdn over Betts. That leaves it open for Adams to take DMOP, deservedly so. I don’t see any double winners this year. Although both Betts & Brady could warrant a double. We will see. :smiley:

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Happy for Brady, but I can understand this perspective.
And yes, I think Collaros would have been worthy of the MOP over Adams and Kelly.

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I agree. The second half comeback and dominance over Adams in the first place game against BC should have sealed that. Brady had a great year but Collaros’ value to the team is greater. I agree with the article that voter fatigue should not have set in. The fact that Zach is expected to do the things he does shouldn’t work against him. If this was his first year in Winnipeg I believe he would easily would have been nominated. Perhaps it will motivate him to excel even more in the playoffs.

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What dominance? Both wbs had a dominant game in Winnipeg, and it was a saw off in the one in bc. If anything, Adams gets a bump from only one home game vs 2 for collaros. Plus Adams has better stats.

1 2023 ADAMS, Vernon BC 18 333 488 68.2 4,769 31 18 105.5 3.7 9.8
2 2023 COLLAROS, Zach WPG 17 291 422 69.0 4,252 33 15 112.8 3.6 10.1

The only stat that was better for Vernon was total yards.
Collaros has better completion %, TDs, Interceptions, efficiency rating, average yards per attempt, etc. Not to mention the composure to come back from adversity, instead of collapsing in the second half. Way to cherry pick your “better stats”.


Answered very well by Arnie.

I was especially placing emphasis on Vernon’s second half collapse in the big game. That should be determinative for any voter, even if they believe their stats are otherwise comparable. No way around that.

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I mean, I get it, I do. But I would argue that there is a bit of hypocrisy amongst those who complain that Collaros was a victim of bias from voters, because he had won 2 straight MOP awards. This perspective is likely at least partially true - voter fatigue is a bias that possibly kept Collaros from being the Bombers’ MOP nominee (and if he hadn’t won the award two years’ running, I doubt Brady would’ve gotten the Bombers’ nomination). But they are ignoring another bias, namely the league-wide bias to prefer QBs for MOP. Because I agree - Collaros absolutely had a better chance of beating Adams or Kelly at the divisional and league-wide level than does Oliveira. But this is not because Oliveira deserves this recognition less than Zach.

To answer those who say that Zach had a better 2023 than 2022, you aren’t competing against your past self in this process, you’re competing against the people who are playing alongside you this season. And in 2023, I would argue that Oliveira had at minimum, an equal impact on Winnipeg’s regular season outcome as Collaros…both because opponents had to plan on stopping (or more realistically, slowing down) the run, frequently giving Zach far more time to make passing plays than he otherwise would’ve had, and because Oliveira almost single-handedly kept the Bombers’ offense on the field in the 4th quarter without risking turnovers, allowing them to run down the clock and close out games (including close games). Without him being their weapon of choice in this circumstance, they wouldn’t have a 14-4 record.

And for the record, Zach has faltered this year when the pressure was on. Nobody looked good, for example, on July 15th, when the Bombers gave up a massive lead to Ottawa, and lost in OT, but as that game was getting out of hand, Collaros could have settled things down, adapted, and overcome their late push. And yet Ottawa’s defense read him perfectly. Over the last 3 seasons, the Bombers’ defense has frequently bailed Zach out when he wasn’t playing his best, eking out gritty wins…when he had a chance to return the favour, he wasn’t able to. And that’s just one example; there were a couple other games this year where Collaros was underwhelming, and a couple more where he was merely above average, playing well enough to get a win, but only despite some major mental mistakes/poor decisions, where if the opponent hadn’t been trash, the outcome would’ve absolutely been different.

There is no question that Oliveira has had the most outstanding season we’ve seen from a RB in a decade (an incredible feat, given that Andrew Harris played throughout that entire decade). His rushing yards performance this year is a full 33% better than the second-best RB, and he’s doing it with an offensive line that is actually WORSE this year than last in many respects. I call that outstanding. And while I do think Kelly or Adams is a more likely overall winner of the award (given the league’s preference for QBs in the MOP debate), I don’t really think ANY QB set themselves apart with a season-for-the-ages as much as Oliveira did in his own season. Adams was probably the best, but not in a way that screams “no other QB will replicate this feat for another 10 years.” Oliveira’s consistency, his ability to will himself to 3 more yards than most other RBs could even DREAM of, his ability to seek out contact to HELP him to the first down marker…we are privileged to be witnessing the birth of an all-time great here, and while Zach is also an all-time great, this season, Brady performed at a higher level. He was more outstanding.

So I don’t think he’ll win MOP …but he absolutely should.


I agree with most of what you said but not all of it.

Clearly Oliveira is as deserving an MOP as Collaros or Adams or Kelly and perhaps even more so but is unlikely to win given the historic voter preference for QB’s. His nomination I think seals the award for Kelly.

I just hope Oliveira prevails over Adams as he should. Adams had a great year and established himself as an elite CFL QB, but faltered when it mattered most in the second half against Winnipeg with first place and perhaps the season on the line. That was the same game Collaros and Oliveira excelled when it mattered most. Adams also faltered badly in BC’s only game against Toronto, throwing a mind boggling 6 interceptions.

Kelly was consistently good all season but played on probably the most complete and consistent regular season team. He made his mistakes as well but generally came off to me at least as one of the best game managers ever. Most notably he failed to answer the bell against Winnipeg in a game that should have decided the issue between him and Collaros and his inability to meet that challenge clinches it for me. Clearly given Kelly’s ability to call the shots over Dinwiddie as we have seen more than once when he overruled his coach and stayed in games he shouldn’t have tells me that Kelly could have overruled his coach and played against Winnipeg but chose not to. There was no need for him to rest that particular game as there were plenty of other games available for him to rest.

I give the edge to Collaros on the guts and character factor as a result. It’s a shame he won’t have the chance to go head to head with Kelly for the MOP in my books. To me leadership should be a factor in this award and Collaros wins on that metric hands down, never publicly challenging his coaches decisions, although as I have said previously, Kelly should now win the award given the actual nominees.

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Dodgy logic.

  1. Five players had 9.1 yds/pass attempts or more this year. Don’t know why throwing for longer average passes gets in the conversation. Stats show Kelly tops the list @ 47.1 % completion of 20+ yards so most don’t even get completed. To then minimize the 48 TD’s as being somehow tainted is bizarre - the CFL record for most TD’s in a season is STILL 48. Let THAT sink in.

  2. Why bring Flutie into the conversation? If he was erroneously given an MOP that doesn’t mean you should make the same error twice. Oliveira had the 2nd most rushing yds by a CDN ever.

  3. In QB circles, 5000 yds is the gold standard - 3 active QB’s have hit that mark at least once - Bo, Trevor & Jeremiah. Zach has never led the league in passing yards & eclipsed the 4,000 mark for the 1st time last year. This year again & his 4,252 yds is his high point. Three QB’s have hit 6,000 yds. The past decade Reilly threw for over 5,500 yds three consecutive years. As far back as 1956, Etcheverry threw for over 4,700 yds in an era where the passing leaders were putting up numbers in the 2 & 3 thousand range. Oliveira may not have put up among the greatest rushing yards in history but if that’s the comparison, Collaros has yet to pass the 4,500 yd mark so he’s way behind in that category himself.

Lastly, Collaros just came off a game with the Elks in wk 20 where he ranked last with a PFF passing grade of 44.6. That surpasses his previous performance with the Elks where he was 2/5 with 6 yds passing & left after a pick 6 to a 22-0 deficit - 15/21 for 131 yds over 5 Qtrs against the lowly Elks? Poor performances & this was 1 of a half dozen. Zero points in the BC trouncing from the offence, 50% completion on Labour Day, 3 INT’s in the Hamilton loss. Heck, vs the Argos they didn’t take the lead until Dukes left - who had better stats. In fact in their 4 losses, Zach lost the “critical” head to head vs 3rd string QB’s three times.

Zack can be brilliant but he laid some eggs this year. Dru Brown should have gotten the wins vs the Elks, Oliveira was largely responsible for the win vs the Argos.

Let’s not besmirch the season Oliveira had. The votes were cast by Winnipeg media & the coach. Milt Stegall said Brady won & it wasn’t close on TSN. There’s no reason those voters should be biased, is there?

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Dodgy logic. Probably more accurately, spinning isolated numbers to fit your argument.

I wasn’t aware Zach even got to the 4,252 yards you say he did but considering the almost 4 games in total he didn’t play and the several games he played injured that’s still pretty good on the best running team in the league and had he played more I think 5,000 was easily doable if that matters. He also threw for the most TD’s in the league once again, highlighting his ability to finish.

Mike Reilly was a great QB in his own right but hardly on par with Zach. He won one GC as a starter in 2015 and was MVP of the game. He won another as a 3rd stringer in BC in 2011 but didn’t start his first CFL game until 2012.

Zach does nothing but win and was the MVP for back to back Bomber Grey Cup wins. He nearly won last year on one leg and did enough to secure the win but unfortunately isn’t a trained place kicker. There is no question he is tough as nails, as was Reilly.

Stats aside, for me the difference is Zach’s ability to show up in big games and if necessary will his team to victory. His ability to flush mistakes and never stop competing is unparalleled. Compare that to Adams and his apparent inability to overcome adversity and disappearing act in the most important game of the year, where he was schooled by Zach in the art of clutch performance. Kelly didn’t even have the balls to go head to head with Zach when he had the opportunity to do so (see above post).

Zach is of course nearer the end of his career than Adams or Kelly and will no doubt be surpassed by them as a result, but as of now I have no doubt who I would want to rely on in the clutch. At least until proven otherwise I’ll take the character guy with the proven winning track record, no matter what selected stats might say.

Oliveira had a great year as well of course, but the nature of his position means that he cannot consistently influence a game to the same extent a QB can.


I absolutely agree with your final sentiment that Brady should win the league MOP. He already beat out the top contender, Collaros, imho. And you’re right about the league holding RB’s to a higher standard than QB’s. Traditionally, RB’s need at least 1,700 yards rushing to win the MOP (Mike Pringle, Jon Cornish, Williard Reaves, Willie Burden, etc.). Oliveira had an amazing season, especially for a Canadian, which is why he should win MOC. And he was definitely close to Collaros in importance to their team. The 2,000 yards from scrimmage is another incredible accomplishment, but I think he needed another 200 yards rushing to clinch it from his team, as Collaros also had very impressive numbers, albeit a little less stellar than the previous year.


Here are the stats for the passing leaders, with the highlights showing where Adams, Collaros and Kelly led. Collaros led in 11 categories (compared to 8 for Kelly and 7 for Adams), but we can all draw our own conclusions as to which stats we feel are more important to back up our arguments. In the end, all three QBs had very good years and close, impressive stats. IMHO, I still value Collaros’ overall performance above the other two. I don’t expect everyone to agree. But as I stated above, by the league’s traditional metrics, a running back has to produce more than the amazing numbers Oliveira has for the season. I’m a huge Brady fan, and I hope and expect that he will only get better as a player and a team leader as he matures. Bigger results and numbers in the future should showcase Oliveira as one of the greatest, Canadian or otherwise.


Last year one of the reasons you dismissed talk of Rourke as MOP is because he missed too many games. It works both ways. Rourke was on pace for 6,000 but so what. You either achieve the milestone or you don’t.

I’m not getting into tnis, Jon. The only thing preventing Zach from being a candidate was Brady, a favourite son of Winnipeg - no one else. So I’m not sure why so many are dismissive of his right to the candidacy. Stegall, a former Bomber, a majority of Winnipeg scribes & coach who vote, obviously disagree with you. Isn’t it strange that it is left to me to get upset when people keep questioning Oliveira’s credentials? I didn’t vote him there - all the Wpg guys did. Enough of the pity stories for poor old Zach already. Just erect a statue @ City Hall & get it over with. :smiley:

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