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Old 10-22-2018, 08:03 AM   #51
revrew
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Just outside Des Moines, IA
4-4 Dragons at 1-7 Green Bay

QB Nathaniel Witt returned from injury to face the cellar dweller Packers on their frozen tundra home turf. And the Packers showed why they're so pathetic, unable to even get a first down before the final drive of the first half.

Witt was nearly flawless, completing 25 of 30, no picks, no sacks, and tacking on 41 rushing yards, powering a convincing 26-10 victory at Lambeau.
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.

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Old 10-23-2018, 08:02 AM   #52
revrew
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5-4 Dragons vs. 0-9 Raiders

Who could be worse than the Packers? Well, the Raiders came to town and … ended their first 3 drives with turnovers in their own territory. On their fourth possession, they botched the punt, giving Des Moines the ball on the Raiders' 14 yard line.

Before the first quarter was over, the Dragons were up 24-0, a margin they coasted to an easy 24-3 victory.
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 10-24-2018, 07:40 AM   #53
revrew
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6-4 Dragons host 8-2 Eagles

The turnaround of the Dragons' season, from 1-and-pathetic to 6-4 really fired up the Iowa faithful. Few knowledgeable fans expected Des Moines to really challenge for a title in Year 1, but a winning record and knocking on the door of the NFC North title had far exceeded even what the most ardent Dragon backers expected.

What's more, no one expected the Dragons could keep up the winning streak against the NFC East's crown jewel.

But the Dragons made a name for themselves in defying expectations (0-and-what again, Todd McShay? Oh, that's right, the Dragons haven't been 0-and-anything since they were 0-and-0!).

The Eagles game will long be remembered in Iowa lore. When NFL Films makes their documentary about this amazing season, "The Eagles Game" before a sold-out crowd at Joker Field will undoubtedly steal the show.

On its first possession, Philly drove 76 yards for a TD.

On his first possession, Nathaniel Witt drove the Dragons 77 yards and capped it off with a scrambling TD.

Philly answered back with a field goal. Des Moines followed up with a field goal of their own. Then the defenses of both squads clamped down, and it became a slugfest, both teams grinding it out for field position, trading turnovers, swapping sacks, scratching and clawing for the lead.

But Philly had found the upper hand, and with 1:53 left in the ballgame, Nathaniel Witt was given a 17-10 deficit and one more chance for glory.

He ran, he threw, and with 7 seconds left in the game, he found WR5 Lucas Stephens down the sideline, 35 yards for the score!

In overtime, Philly again got the upper hand, winning the coin toss and, consequently, first possession. But on the second play of the extra period, Eagles RB Adam Gribbon tangled with Dragon LB Ross Flanagan, and the ball hit the dirt. Des Moines nickelback Broderick Garcia dove on the fumble, and gave the Dragons the ball in Eagle territory.

Five plays later, Dragons kicker Gerald Small lined up for the biggest kick of his career, a 51-yarder, which just glanced inside the upright to seal the stunning upset victory, 20-17!

And just like that, the upstart Dragons took possession of first place in the NFC North.
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 10-25-2018, 08:01 AM   #54
revrew
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7-4 Dragons host 2-9 Packers

Hosting the Pack on a beautiful fall day, a long-overdue hero emerged. RB Drake Boyette ripped off a long run on the first drive and capped it off by catching a TD pass.

Then, at the start of the 4th quarter, trailing by 10, Boyette fired up the engines. The young runner ripped of a TD run to pull the game close, then with 33 seconds left, he ran in another to put the Dragons up for good. On the day, Boyette ran for 124 yards, a 7.29 average, 2 TDs, and another in the air. Game ball to the running back in Des Moines' 24-20 victory.
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 10-26-2018, 07:34 AM   #55
revrew
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8-4 Dragons travel to 3-8-1 Rams

Despite the string of good news, there was some bad news brewing in Week 14: The Dragons' lauded secondary was banged up bad. Star CB Ashton Dodge was out with a strained patellar tendon, and secondary leader FS Herb Dallesandro was on the bench with a sprain. Both looked doubtful to return in the regular season. But would there be a playoffs to return to?
The Rams game definitely left the question in doubt. The turnover bug returned, and the secondary was clearly suffering. Dragons lose, 9-29.
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 10-29-2018, 08:22 AM   #56
revrew
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8-5 Dragons visit 5-8 Saints

The Dragons' hopes for postseason play were quickly fading as fast as their health. In a game where QB Nathaniel Witt was constantly running for his life, being sacked 6 times, and yet running for 96 yards, the rest of the team let him down. Dragons lose, 24-16.
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 10-30-2018, 11:31 AM   #57
revrew
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8-6 Dragons host 6-8 49ers

The Dragons' secondary was in shreds, as CB Broderick Garcia was also lost to injury. Des Moines had to resort to signing people off the street to play. But would their playoff hopes also be torn to shreds?

WR1 Myles Kinney had been relatively quiet all season long, but not in this one. Kinney scored his first 100-yard game on 8-of-9 targets, and a special teams TD allowed the Dragons to win their final home stand, 23-17.
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 10-31-2018, 10:47 AM   #58
revrew
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9-6 Dragons travel to 8-7 Chicago

Going into the final game of the season, Des Moines held the slimmest possible lead over the 9-6 Vikings for the NFL North lead. But with Minnesota playing lowly Green Bay, the Windy City bout was a must-win for Jack Ledger's crew.

But in a game that will forever tarnish the legacy of what he did, lifting this team on his back so many times in its inaugural season, QB Nathaniel Witt laid and absolutely rotten egg. 113 yards. 3 INTs. 3 sacks.

His final play of the day – maybe of his career – came midway through the fourth, when the Dragons got a tiny glimmer of hope following a blocked punt that set them up on the Bears' 22-yard-line. But on the first play, Witt throws a poorly timed pass that's picked off, dashing not only the Dragons' hope for a victory, but their playoff hopes as well.

Backup QB Tony LaBrosse came in afterward to try to inject some life into the team, but it was too little, too late, and the Dragons' season ends with a loss, 27-6.
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 11-01-2018, 11:00 AM   #59
revrew
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Alas, so close, and yet to have just missed. The Des Moines Dragons close their regular season 9-7, just outside the playoff picture.

Statistical Season Recap

Team Passing: 28th
Team Rushing: 12th
Total O: 27th
Team Scoring: 26th
Team Pass D: 3rd
Team Rushing D: 10th
Total D: 3rd
Team Scoring D: 12th
Turnover margin: 21st (-2)

Individual top performances:

QB Nathaniel Witt: 2676 yards passing, 13 TDs, 19 INTs, 69.2 rating. Led the team with 766 rushing yards.
RB Drake Boyette: 690 yards, 3.69 ave, 5 TDs.
WR Myles Kinney: 68 catches on 116 targets, 724 yards, 6 TDs, 8 drops
MLB Dale Griffin: 90 tackles
RDE Ricardo Heuring: 7 sacks
LDE Myles Harmon: 23 hurries
CB Mitch Wells: 5 INTs, 83.6 PDPct
FS Herb Dallesandro: 8 passes defensed
LG Burt Taylor: 34 KRBs, 7 pancakes, 17.8 OPct
P Rick Clark: 49.2 Ave, #1 in NFL

Team profit: $118, 360,000
Attendance: 98.9%
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 11-02-2018, 08:07 AM   #60
revrew
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Des Moines Dragons: Post-Mortem
Dick Grayson, sports reporter, Des Moines Register

I'm not sure I will ever experience an NFL season like this again.

From the elation of learning the NFL was coming to Iowa, to the contentious controversy over the expansion draft, the dire predictions of gloom, the elation of the very first Dragon game (and victory!), the crushing first home loss, the unforgettable Eagles game … the biggest roller coaster ride in Altoona wasn't at Adventureland, but at Joker Field.

And now, I can't help but feel like a young child at a birthday party whose balloon has just been popped. Nine and seven. One game, one breath, one sliver shy of the most improbable of endings, a playoff run for the expansion, all-Iowa Dragons.

But let us not allow the current deflation to lead us to despair.

The friggin' Dragons won 9 friggin' games, man!

Remember when the pundits said we wouldn't win one? When they laughed at a team made exclusively of "corn-pickers" and "pig (expletive)ers"?

How 'bout dem apples, y'all! This isn't a season for discouragement! This is a season for celebration! An expansion team won NINE games. NINE! And they did it with all … Iowa … players.

Dragons owner Jack Ledger did something astonishing: He put Iowa on the map! And not just for presidential primaries and state fairs on a stick. It was a gutsy, all-on-the-line gamble, and while Ledger didn't exactly hit jackpot, he at least made every head in Vegas and beyond spin like a maple seed in a tornado!

And can you even imagine what this is going to do for recruiting to Iowa's college programs?

Nay, I say put aside the Templeton Rye of despair for another day. This is a day to break out the champagne! NFL football is alive and thriving in Iowa. Who would have ever thought we'd see this day?
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:11 AM   #61
revrew
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DES MOINES DRAGONS YEAR 2:

A huge shakeup happened in Des Moines following the Dragons' first year. Coach Jim Wells and GM Jack Ledger parted ways. Speculation ran wild, but true answers to what happened were hard to come by. Wells' refusal to talk to the media except when compelled to and Ledger's policy of acting on social media like he wasn't an NFL owner and general manager left the sports media nothing but scraps to speculate upon.

The most anyone heard about the situation was leaked reports from a closed-door players' meeting Ledger held with the returning veterans. According to certain "sources," Ledger was diplomatic in wishing Wells well, but said only that the Dragons were "transitioning from an experiment to a legitimate, NFL contender" and that required "a different kind of coach."

Whether that meant Ledger canned Wells, saw some greener grass on another hill, or whether Wells had asked to be released from his contract … no one knows to this day.

But after the meeting, Coach Wells took an assistant coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals, and the Des Moines Dragons went searching for a new coach.
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 11-06-2018, 07:12 AM   #62
revrew
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Dragons get new coaching staff

In their second season, the Dragons brought in an entirely new coaching staff, led by former Tampa Assistant Head coach and new Dragon Head Coach Kevin O'Dea. The 56-year-old former offensive lineman and O-line coach was considered a "players' coach" in Tampa, where he often worked with mentoring the young players. He was also a critical part of Tampa's draft day war room, and the consensus in the media is that he was brought in to repair some of the Dragons' abysmal O-line play.

The Dragons also scored a major coup in the offseason by luring Seattle Offensive Coordinator Tom Cable to Des Moines. Cable had become one of the most respected names in offensive gameplanning, and his presence gives O'Dea's staff instant credibility.

O'Dea brought with him Tampa's former secondary coach Andrew Hatchette to be the Dragons' defensive coordinator. Hatchette was a scheme master in Tampa, but he has never been in a coordinator role before and is considered a bit untested.

Finally, the Dragons brought in Nickolas Troutman of Penn State to be the assistant head coach. Troutman had shown an excellent eye for recruiting, for developing young players, and for churning out productive running backs in college, and the hope is that he'll be able to repeat that success in the NFL.
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 11-07-2018, 07:52 AM   #63
revrew
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Business

The Dragons actually dropped their ticket prices, looking to keep the fan enthusiasm going. They did not use their franchise tag, and with a 9-7 record, they tied for the 18th draft pick spot.

In Free Agency, the Dragons only targeted two players, and – as expected – both boast an Iowa pedigree. Both also signed with Des Moines:

TE Darren Crozier, 48/48, a 6th year player out of Perry, Iowa, was signed away from Oakland, who didn't really use the undersized, but all-guts bowling ball who is both a powerful blocker and a tenacious receiver over the middle.

RT Percy Yanez, 15/40, a 2nd year player out of the University of Iowa, is green, but shows good technique in the run game.
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 11-08-2018, 08:07 AM   #64
revrew
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ESPN Draft Profile: Des Moines Dragons

The Dragons have to be considered one of the most intriguing teams in this years' draft. Not because of speculation over what they might do, but because of the absolute certainty over what they seem bound to do. Des Moines GM Jack Ledger steadfastly refuses to field any player who hasn't played either high school or college ball in Iowa. That severely limits his choices come draft day.

Despite what they say about "best talent available," every typical NFL team takes into account two factors on draft day: How good the player is and where the team's needs and future needs lie. But for the Dragons, a third factor has been introduced: Where the players are from.

Not only are Ledger and new Head Coach Kevin O'Dea handcuffed by the third factor, but they're also facing the reality that every other GM in the league knows who they're targeting. If the Dragons want to trade up, for example, teams will know exactly who the Dragons are after. And the teams sitting behind the Dragons in draft position know which players are safe. This puts the Des Moines team at yet another competitive disadvantage in a league where every coach and GM is scrambling for the tiniest of advantage over their rivals.

That said, let's take a look at who everyone in the NFL knows the Dragons have their eyes on - the talent from Iowa - and where said players are currently project to be drafted:

1st Round
OT Dashawn O'Connell attended South Carolina, but he went to high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He would also fill a major need position for the Dragons. But he's considered by many a top 10 talent, so if Ledger and O'Dea want O'Connell, they will likely need to trade up from the 18th spot to land him.

FS Darren Terrell out of Iowa State could fall to the bottom of the first or top of the second. If the Dragons trade down, he's a likely target, but the Dragon secondary is already the team's top position of strength.

2nd Round
No Iowa native players are projected to be picked in the 2nd, unless Terrell falls, so expect the Dragons to use their 2nd rounder as natural trade bait.

3rd Round
Both of Iowa's offensive tackles, Myron West and Bob Hansen, could be selected in the third, as well as Notre Dame grad Mitchell Riepl, who originally hails from Dubuque, Iowa. Hawkeye CB and KR Calvin Minnig might also land here. If the Dragons do trade out of the second, it might be to pick up extra picks in the third to grab more than one of these players.

Other notables:
ISU WR Bernard Russell – He's small and clocked a slow 40, but he was productive in college at a position the Dragons need help
University of Iowa Safety Brock Riley
ISU Guard Amos Shepherd
NC Guard Edgar Edge, who was O'Connell's high school teammate in Cedar Rapids
ISU DE Frankie Rhodes – More of a run stuffer than a pass rusher, and the Dragons really need help in sacking QBs
Ol' Miss TE Dustin Murphy, who originally hails from Camanche, IA

Could the Dragons be baited into overpaying in draft or trade capital in order to land exactly and only these players? Almost certainly. So how will the Dragons avoid being raked over the coals?
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 11-09-2018, 08:43 AM   #65
revrew
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Inside the Dragon draft room

At 6 a.m. on draft day, the new Dragons' coaching and scouting staff rolled into the Omni Hotel at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans to make final preparations for the 2026 NFL draft. When they turned on the lights in the designated "war room" for the Dragons, however, they were greeted by a grinning figure in the dark, already hard at work.

Dragons' owner and GM Jack Ledger had the phone to his ear, furiously working the trade lines.

The wide grin, however, soon turned to a grimace. Over the next few hours, while the staff set up the draft board, computers, and phones, Ledger grew increasingly agitated. The staff gave the maniacal mastermind a wide berth when he reportedly threw a cell phone across the room, crushing it against the wall. They gave him an even wider berth when he calmly pulled another phone from his pocket and resumed calling … like he had meant to destroy the first phone all along.

The phone he crushed had an exclusive line set up to the Baltimore Ravens. It was no secret that Ledger's top target in the offseason was Ravens offensive guard Branden Evans, the young stud out of Iowa State who had future All-Pro written all over him. But Baltimore would not trade the fan favorite Evans, despite all Ledger's pleadings.

Ledger then began working multiple teams, looking to trade down in the first. The scouting staff was not as high on Cedar Rapids kid OT Dashawn O'Connell as other GMs, and Ledger's eyes had fallen to Cyclone safety Darren Terrell at the bottom of the first instead.

But here again Ledger was thwarted. Perhaps the other GMs knew they had Ledger over a barrel. Perhaps Ledger had burned too many bridges. Whatever the case, the draft bell was nearing, and still there was no trade in place to position the Dragons to take an Iowa player.

The staff looked nervously toward Ledger. Would he finally relent and choose a non-Iowa player at 1.18? Or would he make the reach pick and take Terrell ten picks too high by most draft estimates?

When the bell struck and the first pick was on the clock, nervous eyes looked toward Ledger. But still the Clown Prince of Social Media kept to himself, and then …

… and then he was overheard quietly giggling. A mischievous gleam came to his eyes. And he turned to the war room with a renewed, powerful confidence, saying, "So this is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object!"
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 11-12-2018, 08:02 AM   #66
revrew
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The 2026 Draft begins

Ledger strolled up to the huge touch screen at the front of the room, which both televised the draft and marked the Dragons draft board, with player names that could be dragged and dropped into any place at a whim.

Ledger's fingers hovered over any number of names, while he mused to himself, "Now, our operation is small, but there's a lot of potential for aggressive expansion. So, which one of you fine gentlemen would like to join our team?"

When the 10th pick came in, the San Francisco 49ers unexpectedly passed on the top tackle on the board – including on the Dragons' board – Dashawn O'Connell.

Instantly, the Dragons' phone lines lit up. Multiple trade offers started to gather steam, as GMs began to wonder what price Ledger would pay to move up for O'Connell.

But the Dragons weren't as high on O'Connell as some believed. Ledger rejected multiple offers.

And still, O'Connell slipped down the draft.

At 1.16, the Houston Texans were on the clock. They had a passable interest in O'Connell, but Tampa Bay at 1.17 would definitely target the tackle. If the Dragons did want the Cedar Rapids native, it was now or never on the trade clock. Houston or bust.

While the Texans were on the clock, the call came in. Ledger had traded the 1.18 and 2.14 to move up to the 1.16, while also snagging the Texans' 3.14 and next year's 4th.

A first and a second for a higher first, a third, and a fourth. It was a reasonable deal after all.

And to no one's surprise, the Dragons selected South Carolina alum, but Cedar Rapids native, OT Dashawn O'Connell with their first ever rookie draft pick.
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 11-12-2018, 11:02 AM   #67
BYU 14
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Just catching up on this, good stuff!
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:49 AM   #68
revrew
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BYU 14 View Post
Just catching up on this, good stuff!

Thanks!
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 11-14-2018, 10:07 AM   #69
revrew
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The Dragons 2026 Draft Class

1.16 – OT Dashawn O'Connell, South Carolina (Cedar Rapids, IA)
3.14 – CB/KR/PR Calvin Minnig, Iowa
3.20 – OT Bob Hansen, Iowa
4.19 – S Riley Brock, Iowa
5.18 – RG Edgar Edge, North Carolina (Cedar Rapids, IA)
6.17 – TE Renaldo Barrett, Iowa State
7.20 – DE Frankie Rhodes, Iowa State

Commentary:
Mike Mayock: "I give the Dragons credit for addressing the offensive line and special teams with their first three selections. Ledger's trade up while adding picks was a reasonable move, and I don't feel the Dragons stretched with any of their choices. My biggest concern, however, is the team has not really addressed its receiver corps, and I can't help but wonder if they would have had better trade and draft choices if Ledger wasn't committed to his Iowa-only approach."

Mel Kiper: "I have O'Connell graded as the top tackle in the draft, but it's a weak O-line class overall, so his stock wasn't as high as many predictions, and we saw that play out in the draft. He's well coached and was effective for the Gamecocks, but he lacks the elite athleticism to be a true, top 10 talent. Looking down the draft list, Minnig should help solidify the Dragons' return game, and he's mature for his age. He could find a nickel or dime spot in that capable Dragon secondary sooner, rather than later. I'm not as sold on the later picks in this draft. They appear safe enough, but you'd like to see a team take a few chances with high-upside guys in the later rounds."

Skip Bayless: "The Dragons' draft is crap, just like I told you it would be. You can't build a team through the draft by ignoring 95 percent of the available players. And here you see the results of that. Overpaying to get an overrated tackle, then settling for scraps through the rest of the draft, when what they really need is a quarterback, some receivers, a running back – heck, anybody who can make a play on offense. Iowa colleges didn't produce playmakers this year, so the Dragons couldn't draft any? Stupid! This is the kind of boneheaded strategy that is going to send Jack Ledger's little experiment down in flames."
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:50 AM   #70
revrew
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Dragons Pre-Season Preview
Dick Grayson, sports reporter, Des Moines Register

Training camp for the Des Moines Dragons has come to a close, the NFL preseason schedule is about to begin, and it's time for a look back at what we've learned about the all-Iowa roster.

Training camp highlights

All eyes are typically on the rookies, but it's awfully difficult to discern how well offensive linemen will play based on camp performances. So far, first rounder Dashawn O'Connell is looking solid, and he will likely push veteran RT Malachi Ellison for playing time. And though he's not as physical as the other members of the secondary, Iowa CB Calvin Minnig is smart beyond his years and nothing short of explosive in the return game. The Dragons may have gotten a steal, snagging Minnig in the third round of the draft. Fourth round pick, S Riley Brock, showed a good nose for the football with some showy picks in camp and could push to provide some playmaking punch at dimeback.

As for the veterans, the most outstanding performance came from MLB Dale Griffin, who is flying all over the field, and I daresay, at only 24 years of age, has the look of a cornerstone leader and possible all-star player for the Dragons. The other player that impressed was 22-year-old DE Ricardo Heuring. The "Man-child," who led the Dragons in sacks last year as a 6'5", 295-pound, peach-fuzzed 21-year-old, is starting to grow into his size 14 shoes. His ability to get around the corner and get to the QB is really starting to develop. Not bad for the final pick of the expansion draft!

Training camp question marks

The biggest problem last year was offense, and it's hard to see how it's not going to be an Achilles' Heel again. The receiving corps continues to struggle against the Dragons' accomplished secondary, and while GM Jack Ledger added depth at the O-line in the offseason, he didn't bring in the kind of game-changers that one would think could ignite last year's stagnant O.

Predictions
The Vikings are still the class of the NFC North, and it's hard to see the 3rd overall pick, QB Ross Jamison, being enough to lift the Packers out of the basement, especially in his rookie year. This leaves the Bears and Dragons to duke it out for a wildcard spot, and I'm afraid that without big improvements on offense, the Dragons will miss out on the postseason again.
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Old 11-16-2018, 08:05 AM   #71
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Dragons Pre-Season Recap

The Dragons finished the preseason game schedule 2-2, winning both home games, while dropping both road contests. The two losses, however, were by a combined 4 points, so it should give fans some hope.

And while the preseason doesn't provide as accurate a predictive look at the regular season as we might like (see last year's raving reviews for Dragons' RB Drake Boyette), there were a few players who managed to stand out.

1. Shakeup at backup QB – Last season, Tony LaBrosse beat out Bart DuBord for the #2 spot. But this preseason, DuBord was absolutely on fire, while LaBrosse was equally abysmal. There's no question DuBord has passed up LaBrosse for the #2 spot, and if veteran QB Nathaniel Witt falters, some might wonder if DuBord has shown enough to be the answer.

2. Punter keeps up the power – Des Moines Punter Rick Clark led the NFL in gross punting average last year, and in the preseason averaged over 50 yards per boot. This guy just kicks the ball like he's on the moon, and gravity is no object. It remains to be seen, however, whether the Dragons' special teams can cover his monster kicks.

3. An emerging force – In the Dragon expansion draft, final pick of the day Ricardo Heuring was a physical specimen (6'5, 295 pounds at RDE), but his skills lagged far behind his physique. So far this season, he's looking far more disruptive, and his 4 sacks in the final preseason game definitely turned some heads.

4. A spark on offense? – RB2 Cooper Saucedo busted off some big runs in limited action. Look for the new Dragons' coaching staff to try to get Saucedo the opportunity to make some plays in the regular season.

5. A new ballhawk in the secondary – Fourth round pick Riley Brock showed a nose for the football at Iowa, and with two picks in the preseason, the young safety has secured a spot on the roster.
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Old 11-19-2018, 12:24 PM   #72
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New coach, new Dragons?
Dick Grayson, sports reporter, Des Moines Register

It's time to retire the "Nathaniel Witt and the No-Names" nickname for the Des Moines Dragons.

It's true that last season's squad seemed to ride the shoulders, or rather the legs, of a scrambling QB who not only led the team in rushing but seemed to lead the team by heart and grit alone. And it's true that few players outside the secondary truly distinguished themselves as playmakers. The only Dragon to finish on the NFL leaderboard in any statistical category, whether rushing, receiving, tackling, sacking, or forcing turnovers, was the punter.

But all of that is so last season.

If Week 1's thrilling, exasperating, shocking, ugly, messy victory over the Green Bay Packers revealed anything, it's that the young Dragons have some emerging stars ready to make a splash in the NFL.

Chief among those young stars may be the 24-year-old MLB Dale Griffin, who showed flashes last year, but in the 19-16 win over the Packers was seemingly omnipresent, racking up 17 tackles as a big part of holding Green Bay to only 6 offensive first downs.

Even the offense showed some star power, as 22-year-old RB Drake Boyette topped 100 yards rushing, including 5 runs of 10 yards or more, and the 27-year-old "graybeard" WR Miley Kinney scorched the Pack for 13 catches and 195 yards. These young guns ain't last years' Dragons!

And how fascinating that that these young stars seemed to emerge even as Nathaniel Witt was forced to retreat. A broken foot suffered in the second quarter will sideline the old guard for most of this season. Meanwhile, though it's far too early to declare that 2nd-year QB Bart Dubord has officially taken the baton from Witt, his performance both in preseason and in relief of Witt has definitely caught the attention of the fans, media, and you have to believe the new coaching staff.

What's more, these young playmakers have come ready to put on a show. If Week 1 is indicative of what's to come, watch out world, the Dragons have some bite. Though special teams was a complete and utter disaster that nearly cost Des Moines the game (3 missed FGs, 3 fumbled punt returns), the rest of the stats are stunning: 545 yards of offense for the Dragons, to a mere 195 for the Packers; 28 first downs to 8; and a time-of-possession advantage of 43 minutes to 29.

In short, the young Dragons completely dominated week 1, and if it weren't for special teams blunders, would have dominated the scoreboard. But most noticeably, they're doing it without Nathaniel Witt. And for the first time, a handful of them are looking like All-Stars while doing it.
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Old 11-20-2018, 09:04 AM   #73
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Season 2, Week 2: 1-0 Jax visits 1-0 Dragons

The Dragon defense held strong again, led by young stud SS Mitch Plante, but the offense under 2nd-year QB Bart Dubord was mediocre. In the second half, Dubond withered under six sacks and threw a pair of pick sixes, crushing not only hopes of victory, but much of the enthusiasm that the young gun would be the heir apparent to the QB mantle. Dragons lose before a sold-out crowd, 27-10.
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Old 11-21-2018, 08:40 AM   #74
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Season 2, Week 3: 1-1 Tampa visits 1-1 Dragons

QB Bart Dubord is dying on the vine. So are hopes for this season. Without a viable quarterback … how can the Dragons hope to succeed? With a line that's given up 11 sacks in the last two games, how is even a viable QB to succeed? 93 net passing yards in a total stinker of a loss, 19-11.
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Old 11-26-2018, 08:42 AM   #75
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Season 2, Week 4: 1-2 Des Moines visits 2-1 Dallas

Two things are now certain for the Dragon D: 1. This defense is legitimately formidable, and 2. MLB Dale Griffin (on pace for 126 tackles) and SS Mitch Plante (PDPct of 92.7) are cornerstones.

Two things are certain for the Dragon O: 1. The O-line still sucks, and 2. QB Bart Dubord, while not useless, is not the answer.

What's really tragic, however, is the way the Dragons are in complete self-destruct. Four turnovers and 10 penalties in this one, and a cumulative -7 turnover margin on the season, has led to Des Moines being the cellar dweller, #32 in points scored, accentuated by this brutal road loss, 16-3.
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Old 11-27-2018, 08:15 AM   #76
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The Dragons' Disastrous First Quarter
Dick Grayson, sports reporter, Des Moines Register

I look back now at the glowing column I wrote after the Des Moines Dragons' season-opening victory, and I can't help but wonder if I jinxed the team.

Since that opening win, the Dragons have dropped three straight, have stumbled into becoming the worst offense in the NFL, and the young QB I praised now appears to have been a one-hit wonder.

Yes, the gloom lies heavy over the Dragons like a fog wafting up from the Des Moines River into the East Village. And even while sit here at Zombie Burger and rap out these words, I fear it’s the Dragons who, without captain, my captain Nathaniel Witt, have become the walking dead.

Two, glaring, statistical realities have marred the season thus far: The Dragons are dead last in points scored per game at a paltry 10.8 per contest, and the Dragons are almost dead last in turnover margin, having lost seven more than they've gained through four games.

Yet not everything I wrote in that first column is off target. Dragons MLB Dale Griffin is playing like an All-Star, on pace for a whopping 168 tackles on the season. Safety Mitch Plante is outstanding in a secondary and a defense that is stifling opponents, ranked #2 in the league in yards allowed.

But where, oh, where will the Dragons find some offense? After the opening victory against Green Bay, the running game has completely gone to sleep, and young QB Bart Dubord has managed a mere 3 TDs … on the season.

After last year's 9-7 winning record, I think Iowa fans came to expect the Dragons would be competitive, even with the all-Iowa angle owner Jack Ledger insists upon. But to win in this league, you need playmakers, and outside of the injured rookie kick returner Calvin Minnig, the Dragons really didn't add any in the offseason.

If the Dragons are going to break the jinx, it's going to take more than we've seen from the squad so far. But with Nathaniel Witt sidelined for most of the season, perhaps the most we can hope for is Iowa high schools and universities to produce some playmakers for the high draft picks we're likely to "earn" this year.
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Old 11-28-2018, 09:01 AM   #77
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Season 2, Week 5: 1-3 Des Moines visits 3-1 Philly

A 42-yard rumble by unlikely hero FB Richard Robinson sparked an 80-yard opening drive for a touchdown. And while the rest of day offensively was hardly much to look at, MLB Dale Griffin and SS Mitch Plante once again led a gem of a defensive game, as the Dragons get an unexpected win, 16-10.
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Old 11-30-2018, 10:44 AM   #78
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Season 2, Week 6: 3-1 Giants visit 2-3 Dragons

The sold-out home crowd got to see more of an aerial show than advertised, as QB Bart Dubord and WR1 Miles Kinney lit it up early, pushing the Dragons to a 20-7 lead at half time. Dubord finished the day with 315 yards and a 102.8 QB rating, while Kinney racked up 151 yards and a score on 10 catches.

But the running game proved unable to sustain a more conservative second half, and the Giants powered back into it. Injuries to Dragons' nickel and dime backs softened up the secondary, and somehow, the Dragons fell to a heartbreaking 23-20 loss.
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Old 12-03-2018, 08:09 AM   #79
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Season 2, Week 7: 2-3 Bears visit 2-4 Dragons

In a game that would either spell the end of the season or could potentially breathe new life into the Dragons, the offense was truly offensive. Young QB Bart Dubord didn't even top 50 yards in passing (that's right, 8 completions for 50 yards … total).

But in th kind of support performance Nathaniel Witt could have only dreamed about last season, the rest of the Dragons put on a show. Safety Herb Dallesandro started things off right with a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter. RB Drake Boyette put up 148 yards and 2 scores with a 7.8 ypc average. The defense swarmed the Bears QB, registering 7 sacks and 10 defended passes, as a resilient Dragon squad gave the sold-out crowd a victory, 27-13.
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Old 12-04-2018, 08:14 AM   #80
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Season 2, Week 8: 3-4 Dragons travel to 4-3 Green Bay

Stick a fork in him. Bart Dubord is done. Sacked 5 times in this one, only 5 TDs in 8 games, he's just not ready for the main stage. And with Nathaniel Witt coming back, hopefully, after the week 9 bye, Dubord should not see the field again this season.

In a game where the defense just couldn't hold, the offense gave its usual inept effort, and the Dragons drop a brutal 37-10 loss against the worst-to-first Packers.
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Old 12-05-2018, 07:56 AM   #81
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Hope for the Dragons?
Dick Grayson, sports reporter, Des Moines Register

There isn't much joy in Altoona these days. At 3-5, the Des Moines Dragons aren't completely out of the playoff picture, but their chances look dim.

Could there yet be hope for this season?

Let's be honest. This team is mostly dead. Not quite dead. But mostly.

The biggest problem, of course, is the rookie class, which has failed to make any sizeable impact. Granted, GM Jack Ledger's first-round pick was an offensive lineman, and his performance has been solid, but a team that lacked playmakers last year still lacks them after an offseason that didn't bring any new spice into an already bland mix.

The Dragons' leading receiver has one touchdown. One. TE Kelvin Satterfield, who may be a sweet grape just rotting on the vine in Des Moines, has none. To go with his one from last year. The team leader in sacks, Ricardo Heuring, has a total of 4 this season. And only two players have even a single interception.

In many ways, the wheels have fallen off the bus.

But these things I hold as bright on the horizon: First, I have seen with my own eyes that MLB Dale Griffin is a stud. So is SS Mitch Plante. The secondary is collectively strong (when they aren't decimated by injuries, which seems like often). And second, after the Week 9 bye, last year's hero, QB Nathaniel Witt, is expected to return from injury.

Will it be enough? Last year, Witt led the Dragons to just short of the finish line. It was a truly legendary feat of will. This season, it may take more than that. It may take a miracle.

Statistical NFL Rankings for the Dragons at halfway point:

Rushing O: 13th
Passing O: 24th
Total O: 27th
Scoring: 30th
Turnover margin: 30th
Rushing D: 9th
Passing D: 5th
Total D: 2nd
Scoring D: 15th
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:14 AM   #82
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Bye week business

Once again, this season, Dragons GM Jack Ledger used the off week to do more than rest. Instead, he completed negotiations that have been quietly going on behind the scenes to bring back key Dragon players for next season and beyond.

Specifically, Ledger renegotiated the contracts of:
OLB Ross Flanagan (38/49) – At just 22 years of age, Flanagan has nailed down a starting OLB spot on a top-level NFL defense. Flanagan is undersized, but the former Hawkeye is a sound technician and versatile athlete.

TE Bradley Coles (42/42) – The 26-year-old product of Iowa's Waukon High School, Coles is a mentor in the locker room, a special teams contributor, and a lunch pail worker.

CB Ashton Dodge (57/57) – Fan Favorite and anchor of the secondary, Ledger signed Dodge to a team-friendly contract that may make him a Dragon for life.

LG Burt Taylor (40/40) – The 27-year-old Taylor is a leader in the locker room and a dominating run blocker. His pass blocking may leave something to be desired, but Ledger has shown quite a bit of loyalty to players who are a positive influence on their teammates.

Of note, Ledger did NOT sign K Gerald Small to an extension. Small will be a free agent at the end of the year, but rumors are the Ledger is not happy with Small's accuracy, which has slipped precipitously this season, especially from long range.
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Old 12-11-2018, 09:06 AM   #83
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Season 2, Week 10: 5-3 Washington visits 3-5 Dragons

Joker Field was sold out to see the long-anticipated return of QB Nathaniel Witt. What they got instead was a heckuva show put on by the Dragons' secondary.

Witt was abysmal. Yuck. Nevermind that.

RB2 Cooper Saucedo showed some of the flash he hinted at in the preseason with a pair of rushing TDs, but the real story was a pick 6 by CB Mitch Wells, another pick by SS Mitch Plante, and yet another pick 6 by FS2 Amari Kantkowski. The secondary held Washington to a pathetic 88 yards in the air on the way to a defensively decisive victory, 34-9.
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Old 12-12-2018, 08:47 AM   #84
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Season 2, Week 11: 4-5 Dragons visit 5-4 Minnesota

The Dragon offense is still stumbling. But with a defense like this … do you even need an offense? Judging by this week's game, the answer appears to be no.

FS Herb Dallesandro, SS Mitch Plante, and FS2 Amari Kantowski all racked up picks, while P Rick Clark booted 9 punts with an average of 53 yards per in this ugly, bone-crushing defensive victory, 10-3.
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Old 12-13-2018, 10:12 AM   #85
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Season 2, Week 12: 6-4 Colts visit 5-5 Des Moines

The 2nd hardest schedule in the league thus far continued for the Dragons … but so did Nathaniel Witt's winning streak since returning from injury!

This time, Witt found his groove, and the Dragon offense – while still not flashy – was relentlessly efficient. The running back tandem of Drake Boyette and Cooper Saucedo each ran for more than 4.5 per clip on the way to a combined 164 yards rushing, and Witt completed 16 of 19 and a pair of TD scores.

Rookie DE Frankie Rhodes somehow managed to find the quarterback three times as the sold-out crowd witnessed a 17-9 victory.
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Old 12-17-2018, 08:25 AM   #86
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Season 2, Week 13: 6-5 Dragons visit 4-7 Arizona

Yes, Nathaniel Witt plays QB, which means he plays on offense. But somehow, he's inspired the Dragon defense. The overall numbers may not look good, but two key numbers stand out: Des Moines held Arizona to 0-for-12 on third down; and 3 INTs, including a pick-6 for CB Mitch Wells.

Is it just me, or do Des Moines fans everywhere hope this secondary never, ever ages?

Dragons win, 23-13.
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Old 12-18-2018, 08:07 AM   #87
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The Three-Quarters Surge
Dick Grayson, sports reporter, Des Moines Register

My, how four straight victories can change the feel of a season.

The Des Moines Dragons now sit at 7-5, 2nd in NFC North behind upstart 8-4 Green Bay. The Dragons are currently holding the NFC's top wild card spot … for now.

What is it about QB Nathaniel Witt that inspires such performances from the rest of the team? Because the Dragons have been en fuego since his return, yet very little of that credit can be attributed to him.

The offense is still sputtering, ranking 26th in yards gained and 29th in NFL in scoring, with a grand total of 9 passing TDs in 12 games. Truthfully, Des Moines would be dead last in total points were it not for defensive touchdowns.

The #2 ranked defense, however, has come to bat for the team in recent weeks – stiff against the run (#5 in ypc) and devastating vs. the pass (#2 in ypa and total yardage).

Looking ahead, the next four opponents have a combined losing record, and with two NFC North tilts against the two teams behind them in the division standings, the Dragons hold their fate in their own hands.

Can Witt and the Dragon D power their way to the playoffs after such a shaky start? Time will tell if this recent run of success is a true resurgence … or just a temporary power surge.
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Old 12-19-2018, 08:21 AM   #88
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Season 2, Week 14: 7-5 Dragons visit 3-9 Texans

A three-headed Dragon rushing attack pulverized the Texans today, as RB Drake Boyette, RB2 Cooper Saucedo, and QB Nathaniel Witt all topped 4 yards per carry on 10-15 carries apiece, gobbling up tons of clock in chewing their way to 14 unanswered points in the second half.

The underdog Texans' fate was sealed, however, by another outstanding performance from the Dragon secondary. CB Ashton Dodge swiped a pair of picks, while FS Herb Dallesandro added a pair of passes defensed and a pick, without surrendering a single catch.

The Dragon passing attack wasn't much, but TE Kelvin Satterfield's first TD of the year, a go-ahead score in the third quarter, was enough to hold on for a 24-21 victory
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Old 12-20-2018, 11:35 AM   #89
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Season 2, Week 15: 7-6 Minnesota visits 8-5 Des Moines

The Dragons' 5-game winning streak was put to the test against last year's division winner. The Vikes, led by star QB Kris Van Pelt, are especially capable on 3rd down, a fact made even more formidable by the temporary loss of Dragon SS Mitch Plante to injury.

All of that meant precisely jack to Nathaniel Witt, however, who completely took over the game with 78 yards rushing and a 106.2 QB rating day. Once again it was a TD to Witt's new favorite target, TE Kelvin Satterfield, that brought home the bacon, padding a lead that not even a furious charge from Minnesota in the fourth could overcome. Dragons get a very heartening win, 29-27.
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Old 12-21-2018, 08:27 AM   #90
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Season 2, Week 16: 9-5 Dragons visit 8-6 Titans

Winners of 6 in a row, the most dangerous threat to the Dragons' improbable playoff run now came in a trip to Tennessee. Boasting one of the best running backs and offensive lines in the game, Tennessee came to play, not needing to test the Dragon secondary to hold their home field.

The truly brutal blow, however, came early in the first quarter, when Nathaniel Witt went down to injury. And with the loss of "The Captain," you could feel the air quickly deflate from the Dragons' sails.

Could a playoff berth still be salvaged? It didn't feel like it after a heart-breaking 31-12 loss.
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Old 01-02-2019, 08:06 AM   #91
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Location: Just outside Des Moines, IA
Season 2, Week 17: 9-6 Dragons visit 5-10 Bears

Going into the final week of their second season, the Dragons held on to the wild card spot for dear life. What they couldn't hold on to, however, was a capable starting quarterback. The Dragons were forced to enter the game with Bart Dubord back at QB and with star SS Mitch Plante watching from the sidelines with a bum knee. The Dragons were also missing two starting O-linemen, and the injuries looked insurmountable.

But the lowly Bears entered the contest with an offense even worse than the Dragons. Could they be bad enough to allow the Dragons to slip past and into the playoffs?

Alas, not even the Bears could be as bad as Dubord behind a decimated line. The Dragons barely managed 200 yards of offense, and suffered a snoozefest loss, 13-10.
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Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 01-03-2019, 08:16 AM   #92
revrew
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Just outside Des Moines, IA
Des Moines Dragons are playoff bound!
Dick Grayson, sports reporter, Des Moines Register

Last seasib, QB Nathaniel "The Captain" Witt compelled the Des Moines Dragons to a winning recird by seemingly sheer willpower alone.

This season, Captain Witt outdid even that monumental feat. Witt could only stay on the field for six complete games … but all six were wins! And now, thanks to that six-game win streak and some fortuitous bounces of the oblong pigskin, the Des Moines Dragons are playoff bound!

Yes, the Atlanta Falcons dropped their last game of the season as well, allowing the now Captain-less Dragons (for Witt is injured again) to back into the playoffs for the first time in Des Moines history.

There's just something magical about Witt and the Dragons. Few expected the team to be any good, much less a winning squad last year. Few expected the Dragons to recover from losing their starting QB early this season. But somehow, some way, the Dragons have built a team of players from Iowa alone and have managed not one, but two-for-two winning seasons.

Now, the Dragons are off to familiar ground – the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field - to take on the 11-5 Packers in the Dragons' first ever playoff game.
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Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:42 AM   #93
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Season 2, Wildcard Round: 9-7 Des Moines travels to 11-5 Green Bay

Captain Witt was sidelined with injury. Backup QB Bart Dubord suffered a similar fate. In its first ever playoff game, the Dragons were forced to field their #3 QB Tony LaBrosse, a 5th year veteran from the University of Iowa with only 1 start to his NFL resume.

SS Mitch Plante returned from his injury, but would it be enough to stop the Packers? Green Bay boasted a stellar defense, #3 in the league overall and #4 in rushing the passer. Against the Dragons' porous O-line, it didn't look good.

As expected in a matchup between two top-10 defenses, the game was a brutally low scoring slugfest. Green Bay was clearly the better team, but the Dragons' outstanding punter kept pinning Green Bay deep, with 5 of 8 punts downed inside the 20. As the Packers pushed forward, any hope of a big play was ripped away, as the Dragons picked off not one, not two, but three passes.

Meanwhile, Des Moines kept grinding the ball forward, running surprisingly well and keeping their young QB from the deep drops the Packer pass rush feasts upon. The Dragons notched a field goal, only to see Green Bay return. Another Dragon field goal. Another from Green Bay. Another Dragon field goal. Yet another from Green Bay. And at the end of regulation, the score stood an ugly tie, 9-9.

In overtime, Des Moines got the ball first, but true to the day, suffered a 3-and-out. Green Bay got the ball next and did the same.

Then, tragedy struck.

Green Bay punted the ball to Dragon rookie Calvin Minnig. The youngster desperately tried to make the play that Des Moines was missing all day, but on the return … fumbled. Green Bay recovered. Four plays later, Green Bay ran it into the end zone, handing the dominant Dragon D and impotent O a heartbreaking 15-9 loss.
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Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 01-09-2019, 03:12 PM   #94
Chas in Cinti
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Cincinnati, OH
I'm following along... great idea and looking forward to the continued adventures...
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:53 AM   #95
revrew
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chas in Cinti View Post
I'm following along... great idea and looking forward to the continued adventures...

Thanks!

I'm further along in the dynasty than what I've reported thus far. So I can say with both ominous and hopeful tones, that both darker and lighter days are ahead for the Dragons!
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:54 AM   #96
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Just outside Des Moines, IA
Season 2 Statistical Season Recap
* Previous year's rank in parentheses

Team Passing: 28th (28)
Team Rushing: 14th (12)
Total O: 25th (27)
Team Scoring: 28th (26)
Team Pass D: 5th (3)
Team Rushing D: 15th (10)
Total D: 6th (3)
Team Scoring D: 4th (12)
Turnover margin: 19th (21)

Individual top performances:
QB Bart Dubord: 1830 yards passing, 8 TDs, 8 INTs, 71.1 rating.
RB Drake Boyette: 810 yards, 3.84 ave, 4 TDs.
WR Myles Kinney: 82 catches on 137 targets, 916 yards, 7 TDs, 3 drops
MLB Dale Griffin: 111 tackles
RDE Ricardo Heuring: 6 sacks, 18 hurries
CB Ashton Dodge: 6 INTs
SS Mitch Plante: 5 INTs, 9 passes defensed, 86.6 PDPct
LG Burt Taylor: 38 KRBs, 8 pancakes, 38.4 BPct
P Rick Clark: 50.6 Ave, #1 in NFL gross ave, #1 in yards, #1 in net yards, #4 with 43 punts downed inside 20, All-League 2nd team

Team profit: $32.9 M (118.3 M)
Attendance: 99% (98.9)
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:56 AM   #97
revrew
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All work an no play not enough for the Dragons
Dick Grayson, sports reporter, Des Moines Register

Historically, the Bears, Broncos, and even Jaguars in recent years have all had some measure of success with a team that's all defense but lacking on offense. Yet, with the exception of the '85 Bears, those teams typically all fell short of the ultimate prize.

Even the '85 Bears, however, had Walter Payton. And those Broncos eventually did find their way to Super Bowl glory once they swapped out Tim Tebow for Peyton Manning.

So … who is our Payton? (Or Peyton?)

The Des Moines Dragons' dominating defense may be a thing of beauty, but you just can't win enough playoff games to get to the dance by only kicking field goals. The Dragons' nine total points in their first-ever playoff game is evidence that something's missing in Des Moines.

Look, I love being a Dragon fan. I love the Iowa-only angle. I think the last two seasons have been a glorious ride, showing the whole league that you can win (even make the playoffs!) by fielding an entire team of Hawkeyes, Cyclones, and other Iowa homies.

But we gotta get an offense. Nathaniel "Captain" Witt has a heart bigger than all Iowa – heck, bigger than Texas – but in two years, the Dragons have not had a single 1,000-yard rusher nor 1,000-yard receiver. Witt has yet to eclipse 3,000 yards passing. That's not merely an underemphasized offense; that's offensive.

The 2026 season was another gut-wrenching, roller coaster of a year. And even if he never plays another game for Des Moines, Captain Witt deserves to have his number retired to the ring of fame at Joker Field, because he's a walking legend.

But please, Mr. Ledger, please … would you get us an offense?
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:36 AM   #98
revrew
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DES MOINES DRAGONS YEAR 3

Business:
Modest price increase. No franchise tag. No coaching changes. 23rd draft pick in the upcoming draft.

Free Agency:

The Dragons only made one free agency signing, but it was perhaps the most significant free agency signing to date: C Emmanuel Almodovar (50/50), a 26-year-old Hawkeye who has been a respectable starter for Cincinnati last 2 years. He looks to become the Dragons' starting center for years to come.
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:38 AM   #99
revrew
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Location: Just outside Des Moines, IA
ESPN Draft Profile: Des Moines Dragons

Des Moines enters the draft in need of playmakers – a starting-caliber quarterback, a wideout, perhaps a running back, and a pass rusher. The offensive line and defensive line could use an upgrade. A replacement at kicker should be a consideration.

This is somehow, improbably, a playoff team, largely based on the strength of its secondary and budding star MLB Dale Griffin. But to be a legitimate contender, Des Moines has to find a way to put more points on the board.

Unfortunately for GM Jack Ledger, who has inexplicably limited himself to drafting and signing players exclusively from Iowa, those needed pieces may not be available in this year's draft. The University of Northern Iowa's team has been abysmal in recent years; Iowa State is on a major downturn, and the University of Iowa is hardly an Alabama or Michigan, producing multiple NFL players each year.

That said, let's take a look at which Iowa prospects the Dragons might target:

1st Round
OT Roman Glover, Iowa State – Glover is a powerful run blocker who shows excellent technique in both the run and passing game. He doesn't have the elite measurables of a top 10 pick, but would likely fall to the bottom of the first, right were the Dragons sit at 1.23. If they want him, he will likely fall into their lap.

2nd Round
SS Manuel Pinkerton, U of Iowa – An instinctive, hard hitter, Pinkerton would be projected higher, but for a slow 40 time at the combine that leaves some to wonder if he can keep up in coverage. The Dragons don't really need a safety, but if they want him at 2.22, he'll likely be on the board.

Other notables:
Iowa just hasn't produced any other high draft picks, but in the mid to late rounds, you could see the Dragons draft:

P Dylan Jefferson, Cal – a consistent, refined punter who grew up in West Des Moines
QB Dakota Corriveau, U of Iowa – The Hawkeye signal caller has a decent arm and a decent head on his shoulders, but his consistency and completion percentages aren't eye-popping enough to consider in the higher rounds
RB Lamar Boldin, U of Iowa – A workhorse for the Hawkeyes who put up solid, between-the-tackle numbers over a 5-year college career.
WR Kaleb Lyon, U of Iowa – Corriveau's main target in college, Lyon might be effective in slot, but he doesn't have downfield speed the Dragons need or that the NFL requires
RB Logan Cyrus, ISU – A potential special teams contributor at the next level, Cyrus is a 6'1, 236-lb freight train with surprising speed.

Sleeper
LB Dustin Cable, U of Iowa - Cable who showed flashes as pass rusher and could be a special teams contributor, but he's more zealous than talented and lacks discipline. Still, as a project with upside …
__________________
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:54 AM   #100
revrew
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The NFL's "Agent of Chaos"
by Adam West, Sports Illustrated

Down a disturbingly dark and purple hallway, deep in the bowels of Joker Field in Altoona, Iowa, a security guard apologized for the flickering lights overhead.

"It's all kind of creepy," he admitted, referring to the buzzing and popping of the lights that feel more like an abandoned subway tunnel than a brand new NFL stadium. "The bulbs actually work fine. So do the circuits. But Ledger keeps the electricity on some kind of interrupter. He actually likes it this way."

The guard was referring, of course, to the reclusive and mysterious owner and general manager of the NFL's Des Moines Dragons, the "Clown Prince of Social Media" himself, Jack Ledger. The owner who bought the Lions and moved them to Des Moines, only to stock the team with players exclusively from Iowa, has been a virtual recluse since the controversial move. No media interviews. No podium talks. Many of the players have never even met him.

His eccentric ways have even spawned a meme that runs on his own social media network, a tagline question, "Who IS the Joker?"

For the first time since the Dragons came to life, I was about to find out. Granted the first, exclusive, one-on-one interview with the mastermind who lives not in a press box, but in the basement. Not in the spotlight, but down a hall with flickering lights.

The security guard keyed a code into a metal door painted neon green, in sharp contrast to the purple. The door unlocked with a clang. Then the guard merely nodded me through and left me at the end of the hallway, either to go in … or not.

Upon entering, it was clear I was in no ordinary NFL GM's office. No mahogany desk. No crystal decanter of scotch on a side table. No trophies on the wall or autographed footballs.

Only a plain, metal desk in the center of a room filled with televisions and computer monitors. And sitting behind the desk, his fingers steepled before him and his unusually wide grin, sat Ledger.

"Come in," he said. "Sit."

I tried to make small talk. To break the ice. Start with pleasantries.

He would have none of it.

"You came here to ask questions," he said, cutting me off. "So ask. Question number one? What's behind door number one?"

I looked over my notebook filled with bullet points and potential questions. In the stark light of the office, lit only by the radiating light of the screens all around me, many of my planned questions suddenly seemed so quaint. Trivial. Even chummy. And with Ledger's disquieting grin almost leering back at me, the Dragon king seemed more interested in making chum out of me than being a chum.

I decided to cut to the heart of it while I still had time.

"How long do you intend to maintain your commitment to Iowa-only players?"

His answer was brief: "I'm a man of my word."

"But what's the bigger plan? Surely you can't hope to win Super Bowls that way."

"Do I really look like a guy with a plan?" he asked, skeptically. "You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just ... DO things."

It was not the answer I had expected. For the rest of my all-too-brief 20 minutes in the belly of the Dragon beast, none of the answers I got matched my expectations.

I tried pressing the issue of his larger goals: "You're Iowa-only strategy has been incredibly effective at building a fan base. The Dragons are selling out nearly every game now."

"It's not about money," he replied, cutting straight to the heart of my implied question. "It’s about sending a message."

"Which is?"

“Nobody panics when things go 'according to plan,' even if the plan is horrifying!" he said. "No, my philosophy is to introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos."

"So you're purposely antagonizing the NFL with your unorthodox ways? Won't football fans eventually feel … I don't know …"

"No, you don't know, do you?" he asked. "You think I'll be the villain, the bad guy. But I assure you, Mr. West, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve."

"So you're an innovator?" I asked.

His response still chills me as I write this. I can't honestly say I know what he meant by it.

"I'm an agent of chaos.”

Part of me wanted to believe the Clown Prince was putting on a show for my benefit. Like I had stumbled into a Halloween performance or perhaps down the rabbit hole. But Ledger seemed so … sincere. He also seemed … dare I say it?

Insane.

How else do you describe an interview so utterly surreal? What kind of billionaire works from an isolation chamber that looks more like a surveillance room in an inner city police precinct than an office? Who purposefully flickers the lights in the hallway on the way to his inner sanctum?

I wanted to understand him more. He wanted to speak in vagaries. I wanted to understand his plan. He insisted he had none. I wanted to know where the Dragons are going. He led me down paths until I got lost.

I'm sorry, dear reader, that I can't give you a more comprehensive picture of the man behind the Dragons. I'm sorry that the interview didn't answer many of your questions, for it didn't answer hardly any of mine.

I can only conclude that of among all the obscure and disjointed things Jack Ledger told me that day, before I tucked tail and power walked back up that creepy, flickering purple hallway into blessed daylight once more, he did say one thing that couldn't have been more clear and couldn't have been more true:

“They laugh at me because I'm different," Ledger said. "I laugh at them because they're all the same.”
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Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.
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