Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: fifth best means a wild card
Yup, we won, but so did Gothenburg.
1. Gothenburg 12-4
2. Maassluis 11-4-1
3. Paris 9-7
4. Bordeaux 4-12
Playoffs order/wild card race:
1. Tucker 14-2
2. Gothenburg 12-4
3. Houston 10-6
4. Toronto 9-7
5. Maassluis 11-4-1
6. Orlando 11-5
7. Paris 9-7
8. Ft Wayne 9-7
9. San Antonio 8-6-2
So yes, we did beat Paris and it wasn't a close one either. We had a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter (twice Moe Sheldon to Theodore Bondy for a touchdown), and by the end of that, our lead was 20-0, with Paris missing a field goal after Moe Sheldon's only interception of the game. In fact, they needed a fumble from our side to set up for their second field goal attempt of the game, which resulted in their only 3 points for the day. Sheldon to Clarence Gore and a Reggie Thongchanh run yanked it up to 34-3.
I'm flabbergasted, we've held 4 of our last 6 opponents to a single field goal. Sure, playing those all at home helps, but the opposition wasn't cupcakes. All 4 teams went into week 17 fighting for a ticket to the playoffs (Houston got theirs, Paris wouldn't have made it with a win either, Moontown and Capital City both fell to Outer Banks' last second 55-yard field goal against Capital City).
Okay, let's do that small bit of individual glamour, I suspect some of the readers like it and many think it's part of football (news flash: this is a team sport, any yard gained or touchdown scored is the result of what the 11 players on the field did and what those 11 on the previous pay on the field did, and the 11 on the play before that, etc).
Moe Sheldon finished the season completing 58% of his passes for 3,839 yards (6.93 per attempt), 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. It was the first time he played (and started) in all 16 games for us. Francisco Farley completed 5 of 6 passes for 48 yards and a touchdown in garbage time (okay, Sheldon was actually driving for a one score behind touchdown, but he got pulled mid-drive) and finished the season with the highest passer rating in the league. Sample size, you know.
Reggie Thongchanh ran for 1,068 yards with a 4.6 average and 6 touchdowns, while Francisco Patter ran for 795 yards with a 4.91 average and 5 touchdowns. Patter recovered well after I benched him for a couple of games, but Trey Beyer showed he wasn't quite ready yet. So it goes. Patter exceeded his previous best yards per carry figure (it was 4.04), while Thong' was slightly below his best (4.67).
The receivers saw Theodore Bondy miss 4 games, but he still had 90 catches for 1,070 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tight end Clarence Gore had a slow start but finished the season with 70 catches for 857 yards and 6 touchdowns, which is basically on par with his rookie campaign. George Stuckey had just 45 catches for 590 yards and 6 touchdowns in his first season as the true WR2, which in fact is no longer true as from about midway through other teams were starting to consider him as our WR1 [FOF technically, you got to love a WR2 with higher route running than the WR1]. Branden Sandlin had 42 catches for 510 yards and 2 touchdowns, Rickey Lyle had 28 catches for 283 yards and 3 touchdowns (this kid did better than expected when he filled in for Bondy) and TE2 Clay Gaynor had 24 catches for 255 yards and 1 touchdown.
The offensive line struggled a bit with Moe Sheldon's troubles under pressure. RT Howard Humphrey got 'credit' for 11 sacks, but in return he excelled as our main run blocker with 53 key run blocks (second best in the league). An extraordinary figure for a tackle as (50+ is rare, since '71 he was the only OT to achieve it. This season he was bested by Douglas Grosz. Yes, that Douglas Grosz, that kid that we accidentally drafted instead of wide receiver Tristan Powell, traded to Oakland, where he had a sensational season with 54 key run blocks and just 2 sacks allowed. The rest of the line was above average in their stats. Clay Brosseau was obviously far and beyond the most prominent run blocking fullback.
Kicker Mark Giles missed a lot of kicks. I'm afraid switching to a new kick holder has had a negative impact, but we really couldn't afford Brandon Bell at his salary demands for just that role (despite that he can claim he was a serviceable QB2). Punter Doug Guynes might be on the decline, but we'll worry about that in the off-season. Our return specialists score no touchdowns. Rookie Mark Perkins' 15.4 yards per punt return were pretty good, with 3 fumbles, which is scary, but we know by now that fumbles on punt returns aren't rare. Santiago Messenger continues to be a decent kickoff returner (26.3 yards per return), but it was a bit of a down year for him.
The defense? What about the defense? I really struggle to see individual stats as a result of individual excellence, a lot of it is a result of playing a good system, manouvering players into a role that suits their skills. Our number of sacks was unacceptably low for the kind of talent that we have on the D-Line, we finished 26th in the league in sack percentage and 14th in overall pass rush pressure. DT Darien Fletcher lead the bunch with 5.0 sacks, good old A.J. Ritt lead the team in most total pass rush credits, tied with Fletcher for 22 sacks, blocks and hurries combined. Was Andy Russell that crucial to this unit? No player had more than 2 interceptions, we had 6 guys make that many. Four players had 10 or more passes defended, but our shutdown corner Jackie Richardson wasn't one of them, neither was elite zone defender Adam Harmon or our free safety Jon Brotzman. Linebacker Clayton Jackson was arguably the best asset in our pass defense, but as I mentioned before, defense is much more of a team effort than the stats on the offense for the skill players, who can still be a product of the system.
Enough glorification. The real season starts now. We'll be visiting the Toronto Lake Monsters. Their offense is lead by 7th season former #1 overall pick Shane Shelton, a kid that has struggled to live up to his potential, perhaps by a lack of sidekicks (the Lake Monsters traded away their one chance to make it happen in Bryson Zimmerman, a player that we missed out on a good trade offer back in his draft). Shelton does have a 2-1 record against us, let's not underestimate him. Their running game is above average, their run defense rock solid, their pass defense decent. We'll be down one player: TE2 Clay Gaynor, he's out for the duration of the playoffs with a concussion.
Not to be underestimated, but going one and done here would be a downright disappointment and in no way fit with the kind of season we've had, at least not the recent stretch of 6 games. Last season, Moe Sheldon and his gang showed they can up their game come playoffs time. Well, here's your chance to prove it wasn't a fluke, guys!
* 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