Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: favorites to win it all once again...
Yes, you read that correctly, for the third season in succession, we're tagged top team in the league by the power rankings.
Sometimes you wonder what league pundits were smoking when they cooked up their formula, but I bet the numbers don't lie and we are, in fact, a team with the ingredients to have a wonderful season. Sure, we do, but these last two season have been frustrating, underwhelming, mindboggling and confidence destroying. This team consistently struggles with barely outscoring opponents, unsurprisingly resulting in a Merchantmen unworthy streak of seasons with 6 or more losses.
Should we let our heads down and let the flow keep going? Of course not, we will regroup, do what we can do to keep the hype alive as long as we can for this upcoming season. And we've got our roster of 53 players pretty much ready to get that job done. Let's break the roster down.
55/55 QB Ellis McAlister
30/30 KH Karsten Muchnick
15/30 QB Ernest Andrews (rookie)
left team: 25/30 QB Kelly Blalock (cut)
For the seventh season in a row we've counting on Ellis McAlister to get the job done. For the first time, we've seen him decline in the off-season in terms of ability. By now, he should know he's no longer a must-start. But realistically, we don't have a replacement sitting ready. Blalock looked promising, but nothing more than a typical QB2. Our second round pick this draft Ernest Andrews has underwhelmed in training sessions, but looked pretty solid in pre-season action. Odds are, we'll go the McAlister route with Andrews, giving him a reasonable amount of time to learn from the current starter (McAlister) and if he outdoes his current image, we'll give him the same kind of chance that McAlister got. Have I mentioned that Muchnick is our kick holder and nothing but our kick holder? I suspect my staff still hasn't gotten the message and continue to disobey. Although this time around, the kick holder actually looks like the lesser of liabilities.
50/50 RB Leonard Belin
50/50 FB Tristan Cochrane
30/35 RB Monty Digler
25/35 RB Reggie Thongchanh (rookie)
30/45 FB Ken Warren (rookie)
left team: 25/25 RB Ronald Graham (cut), 15/15 FB Darien Latischaw (cut)
Ah yes, the ball carriers. Our quarterback actually desires to carry the peanut himself, but Belin, Digler and Thong' are the designated ball carriers. Belin obviously the RB1, but lacking the endurance to be a fulltime workhorse, we're going to need power back Digler and Thong's speed in the change of pace roles. Cochrane continues to be a key blocker on all downs, as such, we'll try to work him into our game plan. Warren looks promising as a run blocker, perhaps even better than Cochrane, but his chances to see action are limited.
75/75 WR Theodore Bondy
45/45 WR/KR Artie Blazewicz
30/50 WR Tucker Gaylor (rookie)
30/35 TE Miles Barker
40/40 WR Rico Techen
30/35 TE Jessie Taylor (signed from Fort Wayne)
25/25 WR Riddick Bunting
25/25 TE Nicholas Grundy
25/25 KR Ross Willbrandt
15/25 TE Tyler Kotz (rookie)
out: 50/50 TE Monty Elliott (retired), 40/40 TE Gavin Stern (signed with Iowa), 30/30 WR Grant Herndon (cut), 20/25 KR Travis Gellings (unwilling to re-sign)
Oh, Theo... In 2083 he lived up to the hype of best wide receiver in football, best in franchise history. In 2084, he looked bleak, struggled to get open, catch the ball, get downfield and gain yardage after catch. Mind you, we know he picked up something in the 2084 off-season that hurt him, but he went from best receiver by a landslide to the very best by the slimmest of margins. We want to build this offense around him, but so far, we failed, despite his 4,912 yards receiving in his first three seasons. Big-play receivers Blazewicz, Techen and Willbrandt stuck to be the guys to keep opponents from stacking it all on Bondy. Losing Elliott at the tight end position was tough, also losing Stern was really tough. We've downgraded to run blocking tight ends, it'll be hard to expect anything else from these guys, of whom Barker looks like the best blocker, with acquisition Taylor as the backup. The most interesting player is rookie Gaylor, who might be our steal of the draft. He's got the speed, intelligence and stamina to become a true WR2, but this season he'll be the WR3 and given the state of our tight ends group, might get quite some targets anyway.
55/65 LT Nathan Hadinger
55/55 G Harvey Hank
70/70 C Butch Pearson
60/70 G Michael Szott
55/70 RT Howard Humphrey (rookie)
45/45 G Carlos Webb
40/40 LT Louie Murray
40/40 RT OScar Meadows
25/35 C Mario Bromley
Yet another rebuilding of the line is about to be completed. Pearson is already an established starter by now, but Hadinger, Szott and Humphrey are young. Hank will have to bring in the experience on the line. Webb and Murray have turned into one trick lineman, still good enough to be backups. Meadows was kept around with a simple task: mentor Hadinger and Humphrey to become as good as Meadows and Murray were roughly a decade ago. Bromley continues to be an emergency roster filler.
80/80 DT Heath Oliver
45/45 DT Glen Stiegler
45/45 DE Andy Russell
45/45 DE Gino Kemp
40/40 DT Erik Shrader
30/30 DE Ezekiel Wylie
35/45 DE Manuel Scott (rookie)
30/35 DT A.J. Ritt
out: 30/40 DE Jorge Marone (cut)
Okay, from a distance this looks like Oliver and his side kicks. To a degree, that's true, but Oliver isn't Shaun 'The Behemoth' Hartman or Charles Gomez, he's a tackle machine. In the pass rush, he's almost an afterthought, but it's quite possible we'll put him next to Shrader on passing downs. Stiegler has lost some of his speed, but he's still a nice change of pace guy to have. Russell and Kemp are our speedster on he outside. Wylie and Scott the stamina driven backups. Ritt has he speed and skills to fill in whenever and wherever we need him. A slight disclaimer is that it's no secret we're still trying to sign free agent Wendell Marshall, we think he'll be a pleasant addition to our pass rush, which would free up Russell for the running oriented formations.
75/75 MLB Craig McCorkle
55/55 OLB Glenn Brewer
35/35 OLB Billy Springer
10/10 ST Jermaine Page
20/20 OLB/ST Skip Keith
25/30 OLB Daquan Forbes
The same bunch as last season, nice! Brewer is somewhat on the decline, but with McCorkle as the playmaker in the middle, these guys should be the core of the defense. Springer continues to be our third linebacker. Page is unhappy, but he'll have to do with special teams duties, as does Keith. Forbes is our emergency sixth man, again.
80/80 CB Kirk Hitchcock
70/70 S Bart Guthrie
40/40 S Emmitt Miller
50/50 CB Tre Poloski
25/25 CB Giovanni Morton
40/45 S Alexander Marty
15/15 PR Gabe Broady
30/30 S Rex McIndoe
25/30 CB/PR Courtney Blackwell
Another unit with no change in names. Hitchcock and Guthrie are another year older and wiser, hopefully. Both are considered the best in the league at their positions. With guys like Poloski and Miller on their side, this should be an above average secondary. Morton, Marty, McIndoe and Blackwell have the skills to play the nickel and dime roles. Broady has been an elite punt returner in the league.
55/60 P Doug Guynes (rookie)
80/80 K Thomas Robertson
21/21 LS Santiago Sepanski
out: 70/70 P Tito Hornsby (un-signed)
Last but not least? Robertson has the league to kick long field goals and the accuracy to actually convert them as well. Guynes was our recent third round pick, we hope he can do what Hornsby used to do. The first signs are so-so, but we'll have to do, as we let Hornsby walk away. Sepanski returns for a second season, he should be reliable enough.
So yeah, we've got a lot of stars, especially on defense. This teams should be good. No, better than good. Four of our starters on defense are all-world talent. And the offense? A promising offensive line, a useful quarterback, fast and smart runners. And then there's that one guy, that really special one on our roster. Theo.
C'mon, Theo, 2083 was great, 2084 uncharacteristic. Let's make 2085 sensational. You can do it!
* 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