General Manager Notes: 2088, clearly not or year, but...
The rest of the division isn't doing all that great either.
We're three weeks further into the season since I last wrote. Boys and girls, we've won one and lost two games. We continue to be W-less on the road and followed up the potential season saving road game at the Bordeaux Vineyards with a similar drubbing against the Gothenburg Giants, at home, no less. That back-to-back loss means the 30-6 steamrolling we managed over the Capital City Blues became near worthless, as those games inside the division could have put us in the division lead.
But, we didn't.
European Division standings:
1. Paris 6-5
2. Gothenburg 5-6
3. Bordeaux 5-6
4. Maassluis 4-7
Our tie-breaker situation against the division is problematic. All three of them have beaten us once, which theoretically means we can tie up all the head-to-head situations. Gothenburg will have the division record edge if they manage to beat Paris in week 17, but Paris can get the same advantage that week, if they also beat Bordeaux in week 15. The common games situation after that is somewhat manageable for us as well, as we're actually in better shape than Gothenburg and Bordeaux, but week 13 results can shift things into being all level again (if we win and they don't). Our conference record is lacking, so it's a steep hill to climb anyway.
We toyed around with our game plan, to get less predictable on offense. We drastically toned done the planned targeting of Theodore Bondy. The end result? 25, 21 and 27 targets in the last three games. Beats me what the [bleep] is going on there. The home game against Gothenburg was one of the most best wide receiver in franchise history unworthy stats lines: 21 targets, 4 catches for 45 yards. That's 2.1 yards per target. Yes, that was Theo Bondy's statline, not one of the backups. After 11 games he's at 4.9 yards per target, with 107 catches and just barely over the 1K mark.
Behind him, our for-the-time-being WR2 Branden Sandlin has 23.4 yards per catch and 8.5 yards per target. He's struggling to make the catch when targeted, but when he makes that catch, he's making the best of it. Obviously we planned to throw him more balls and with sensational succes: 10 targets total in the last three games. That's below the average for the first 8 games. Yes, sometimes a game plan doesn't get executed the way you'd think it should.
In case you're wondering what's happening with Francisco Farley? He's got a clipboard and a notebook to make notes. He's firmly in the QB2 slot, behind Moe Sheldon. With a 4-4 record and an 9:6 TD:INT ratio, he's doing a pretty decent Ellis McAlister impersonation. McAlister's quarterback rating with the Arizona Miners is one point better, while he's at a 5-6 W/L figure for them after a seemingly decent 4-1 to 5-3 start.
Our running game is unimpressive. Reggie Thong and Francisco Patter are not making the best use of one of the best offensive lines in the league. I mean, it's not all bad, it's just not like we're playing like the potential elite running game that I thought we had.
The defense is going from solid showing to downright dreadful showings. Some of our losses haven't been all on our underperforming offense, the defense is taking its share. The special teams unit appears to lack the cohesion to be as state of the art it has been for the past decades. All in all, this does make you wonder: are these really the Maassluis Merchantmen?
Why yes, these guys are and we'll have to not just do with it, we expect more from them. We've had a tough schedule so far, albeit sadly home game heavy. Our 'easiest' opponents have been the 4-7 Houston Mustangs, the franchise currently the league's reigning champions. It just comes to show how unpredictable football is in the current state.
But despite all that, our schedule won't get any easier. We're going to the 8-3 Orlando Talons next. We'll be facing 5-6 or better teams in the last 5 games, only twice playing at home. With Houston having won 3 of their last 4 games, our draft position has gotten worse as well. Yes, we're dropping games left and right on our own, but the bonus Houston first round pick only recently looked like we may have hit the jackpot in one of the most surprising first to worst situations. It's not going to be, apparently. But all of that out of our hands and something for the next off-season.
For now, we'll focus on our 5 remaining regular season games and who knows what miracles will turn things around and out of nowhere put us into a situation where we can extend the season? Likely? No. Possible? Yes, nothing is impossible. At least in football.
* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail