CFL Week 21: PFF Team of the Week & Player Awards

2T4224P Calgary, Canada. 27th Oct, 2023. Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Dru Brown, left, hands the ball off to running back Brady Oliveira during first half CFL football action against the Calgary Stampeders in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. Credit: The Canadian Press/Alamy Live News

• QB Dru Brown playing for a chance to start somewhere next year: Brown posted an adjusted completion rate of 83.3% despite a ridiculous 16.2-yard average depth of target. He threw beyond the sticks on 61.1% of his attempts and made no turnover-worthy plays.

• Strong finish to the season for Calgary’s Julian Howsare: The edge rusher finished with one sack, three hits and four hurries in 17 pass-rush snaps. Those eight total pressures led the league, and his 90.8 pass-rush grade also ranked first.

• Huge day in coverage for Alouettes’ LB Darnell Sankey: Sankey made a diving pass breakup and snagged an interception to seal the game. He also produced three total tackles and a solo stop in the passing game as the non-primary coverage defender.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes


In the final week of the regular season, many lesser-known players got more playing time than usual. Some teams used this week to rest starters and get them prepared for the playoffs, so guys like QB Dru Brown, WR Cole Spieker and DI Cameron Lawson were able to make it onto the CFL Team of the Week for the first time.

There were also plenty of familiar faces to make the team, too, like WR Kenny Lawler, DI Mustafa Johnson and HB Mason Pierce, to name a few.

 OFFENSE

 QB: Dru Brown, Winnipeg
RB: Dedrick Mills, Calgary
Outside WR: Kenny Lawler, Winnipeg
Slot WR: Cole Tucker, Calgary
Slot WR: Cole Spieker, Montreal
Slot WR: Justin Hardy, Ottawa
Outside WR: Rasheed Bailey, Winnipeg
LT: D’Antne Demery, Calgary
LG: Geoff Gray, Winnipeg
C: Justin Lawrence, Montreal
RG: Ryan Sceviour, Calgary
RT: Jermarcus Hardrick, Winnipeg

DEFENSE

DI: Cameron Lawson, Winnipeg
DI: Mustafa Johnson, Montreal
Edge: Julian Howsare, Calgary
Edge: Brandon Barlow, Toronto
LB: Brian Cole, Winnipeg
LB: Jameer Thurman, Hamilton
Cover LB: Darnell Sankey, Montreal
CB: Alijah McGhee, Ottawa
CB: Kabion Ento, Montreal
HB: Mason Pierce, Toronto
HB: Alonzo Addae, Ottawa
S: Justin Howell, Ottawa

 SPECIAL TEAMS

 K: Sergio Castillo, Winnipeg
P: Joseph Zema, Montreal
Returner: James Letcher Jr., Montreal

QUARTERBACK OF THE WEEK: QB DRU BROWN, WINNIPEG

With starting quarterback Zach Collaros getting the night off ahead of the playoffs, Brown got another chance to showcase his talents at quarterback. He knocked that opportunity out of the park, finishing with a 90.4 passing grade, the highest grade among quarterbacks this week.

Brown posted an adjusted completion rate of 83.3% despite a ridiculous 16.2-yard average depth of target. He threw beyond the sticks on 61.1% of his attempts and made no turnover-worthy plays.

Brown’s work as a backup this season — 82.9 passing grade, five big-time throws, two turnover-worthy plays and a 75.8% adjusted completion rate —  has likely helped earn him a chance at a starter’s job next season.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: QB CAMERON DUKES, TORONTO

 While Brown was the best passer this past week, Dukes was the best all-around offensive player, accounting for 356 total yards and a touchdown.

As a passer, he finished with a 75.8% adjusted completion rate despite posting the second-highest average target depth in the league this week (13.9 yards). He made two big-time throws and just one turnover-worthy play.

As a runner, he picked up six first downs, forced five missed tackles and finished with a league-best 85.0 rushing grade.

Dukes’ 86.2 overall grade was the second-highest among all offensive players this week, and his performance was more than enough to earn Offensive Player of the Week honors.

OFFENSIVE LINE OF THE WEEK: WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS

The Bombers opened up plenty of holes for their running backs to hit, as a league-best 51.6% of their rushing yards were gained before first contact. In the passing game, they allowed just one sack and eight total pressures.

The unit was led by left guard Geoff Gray, who didn’t allow a single pressure and finished with a 79.8 overall grade this week, the highest mark among offensive linemen. Right tackle Jermarcus Hardrick deserves praise, too, as his 73.6 grade ranked second among that same group of players.

PASS-RUSHER OF THE WEEK: EDGE JULIAN HOWSARE, CALGARY

The Calgary edge rusher finished with one sack, three hits and four hurries across 17 pass-rush snaps. Those eight total pressures led the league, and his 90.8 pass-rush grade also ranked first.

Howsare finishes the year with an impressive pass-rush win rate of 14.1% and the sixth-most total pressures in the CFL (68).

RUN DEFENDER OF THE WEEK: LB BRIAN COLE, WINNIPEG

Cole didn’t play many snaps against the run, but when he did, he made them count. He finished the game with two tackles in the run game and zero negatively graded plays. But his most impressive play came in the first quarter when he ripped the ball out of Calgary RB Peyton Logan’s hands for the forced fumble and recovery.

Cole hasn’t played much on defense this season, but his role as a core special teams player for the Bombers should not go unnoticed. Cole has played the fourth-most special teams snaps on the Bombers this year and has a solid 71.5 special teams grade.

COVERAGE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: LB DARNELL SANKEY, MONTREAL

Sankey was all over the field for Montreal in this regular-season finale, and his 91.1 coverage grade shows it. He was targeted four times and didn’t surrender a single catch, though one of those incompletions was down to a dropped pass.

He made a diving pass breakup and snagged an interception to seal the game. He also made three total tackles and a solo stop in the passing game as the non-primary coverage defender.

This was Sankey’s first 63.0-plus coverage grade since returning from an XFL Championship in the spring. Could he become the first player to win an XFL and CFL championship in the same year?

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