Former Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Jim Mora said it best when asked about the playoffs back in November of 2001, “Playoffs?! Don’t talk about playoffs! Are you kidding me? Playoffs?! I’m just hoping we can win a game, another game!” That seemed to be the sentiment surrounding the Edmonton Elks during the first half of the 2023 CFL season when they went 0-9. However, as inconceivable as it may seem the Elks still have a shot at making the CFL playoffs as the leaves start turning into their majestic fall colours in 2023. But a lot of good things have to go the Elks way in their remaining four games for them to have a shot.
After winning their last two games against the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders, the embers of hope have started burning a bit hotter among the Edmonton faithful (including kicker Dean Faithfull) that their team could make the playoffs. The good news is the Elks are just two wins back of Saskatchewan in the West and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Allouttes in the East. The bad news is, the Elks have a tough schedule down the stretch as they play the BC Lions, Toronto Argonauts, Montreal and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in their final four games of the season. I guess if you’re going to make the playoffs you might as well start by trying to beat three of the top four teams in the CFL. The Elks have little room for error and will need help from other teams, but at least there’s a chance. And that’s saying a lot for a team that started the season 0-9.
A Resurgent Elks Offense
Elks Quarterback Tre Ford and Running Back Kevin Brown have been deservingly grabbing a lot of the headlines lately, but the Elks offensive line deserves a lot of credit for the team’s recent turnaround. Led by Canadians David Foucault, Mark Korte, Brett Boyko, Tomas-Jack Kurdyla, Josiah St. John and American Martez Ivey, the Elks O-Line, have been blasting holes in CFL defenses, opening the door for Brown to reach 1,000 yards. Brown is now in second place among CFL rushing leaders, trailing only Winnipeg’s Brady Oliveira by less than 200 yards.
A Stingy Elks Defense
Elk’s Head Coach Chris Jones has always been known for strong defenses. With the offense finding their footing in the past month, the Elks defense has also improved recently with veterans such as Jake Ceresna, Ed Gainey and Adam Konar leading the way. During the recent rough stretches including the 0-9 record to start the season, the Elks defense seemed to keep the team in many games with the exception of the two games against the BC Lions this season. That’s why the Elks Friday, September 22 home game against the Lions will be intriguing. It’ll be an interesting litmus test to see how the Elks really stack up against BC. If the Elks win at home against BC they could turn even more skeptics into believers. Lose against the Lions, and you realistically have to start looking ahead to next season and a clean slate for the 2024 CFL season.
CFL Fans Missing Out on a Battle of Top Canadian Quarterbacks
The upcoming Quarterback matchup between the Elks and Lions features Tre Ford vs. Vernon Adams Jr. Both have had strong seasons so far, especially Adams who currently ranks in the top three in numerous categories among CFL Quarterback leaders. However with the emergence of Tre Ford, there’s still the “what if?” question regarding former BC Quarterback Nathan Rourke. Last CFL season, they never got a chance to square off as both Rourke and Ford were injured for stretches of the season.
But now with Tre Ford playing inspired football, and Rourke holding a clipboard for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL, it’s too bad Canadian Football fans never got to see the two Canadian quarterbacks go head-to-head. Rourke can ill afford another season on the sidelines next year in terms of experience and development, and if can’t land at least a back up position in the NFL in 2024, you have to hope he would consider resuming his career back in Canada.
Doug Flutie, who many consider the greatest Quarterback to ever play in the CFL, came to Canada to kick-start his career, and after an incredible career north of the border, he truly proved he belonged in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots.
You have to hope that a player such as Rourke might get a similar opportunity. He’s shown glimpses of greatness in the CFL and in the NFL pre-season and deserves to play somewhere to show off his natural ability. But that’s an another story for another day. Vernon Adams Jr. versus Tre Ford will provide CFL football fans with a lot of fireworks in their upcoming matchup at Commonwealth Stadium on September 22, and it should be a heck of a game.
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