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Old 12-10-2021, 07:36 AM   #601
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Quote:
Originally Posted by tzach View Post
i haven't realized that the box scores are still in the website -- nice. the sequence of the 2038 and 2039 conf games against jackie collier have to be among the top 10
Oh yeah, I can say without hesitation that at some point in Jackie Collier's career, the Maassluis Merchantmen had to consider him (and kind of vice versa as well) as the biggest rival. It feels like we lost to him a dozen times in the playoffs, but it's probably 5 or 6 times, which is still quite a lot, with probably only 1 win, which would have top be in the top x games in team history.

And that actually reminds me of yet another story, that I think I have barely written about...
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Old 12-10-2021, 04:55 PM   #602
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2102 a season to forget
Or a season to learn from?

The season is done. We put up a fight in week 17 against the Gothenburg Giants, but in the fourth quarter, we let the victory slip through our hands. Or more literary, on fourth and ten, Earnest Ashley get sacked, fumbles and the game ends there, as his Gothenburg counterpart Mercury Pierce can knee drop to victory, showing Ashley once again what Pierce and his team can do: reach the playoffs.

But Pierce and company needed to air it out the way Ashley did, proven by the top of the list of yards per reception, which is flooded with not just the three Merchantmen wide receivers all in the top 3 in the league, but also with 4 Giants in the top20, with their two tight ends actually dropping out of the top10 after an underwhelming performance today.

But at the dn of the day, it were the Giants winning 34-27, scoring 17 unanswered points in the last 10 minutes of the game. As a result, they pick up the second and last wild card in the Atlantic Ocean Conference. And their next stop will be in Paris, as the Musketeers choked a bye week by losing 15-9 at the Bordeaux Vineyards in a touchdown free game. It has become quite the tradition for a European wild card team requiring to visit the division champion in the wild card round.

European Division standings:
1. Paris 11-5
2. Gothenburg 10-6
3. Bordeaux 9-7
4. Maassluis 4-12

Ramble rant warning!

4-12. This is the second worst win/loss record in franchise history, doing even worse than the 2098 team that went 4-11-1 and only the 2004 team had a bigger claim to infame with a 1-15 record. But things are worse if you're looking at the point scored and allowed differential: -122 is a new all time low, beating the previous low of -105 set by the aforementioned 2098 team.

Browsing through our team roster, there are few players that actually were on our team in both that dreadful 2098 campaign and the today finished regular season. The list has 11 names of players that went through both disaster seasons. Linebacker Trey Ford wasn't to blame in 2098, we kept him inactive all season long. That also applies to then also rookie safety Blaine Wright and to a lesser degree for defensive end Robbie Dobreski, active in only 4 games that season. Fullback Owen Johnston played in only 2 games back then, but this season he was a member of our special team unit. But 7 players can't get away with their name being associated with both -100 seasons. Safety Devon Farrell can at least claim that he was also on the last playoffs making Merchantmen team, with 4 playoffs games played he's the only one on the team having seen post-season action in orange-white-and-blue of today's roster. Leaves 6 guys to give more blame to: cornerback Zachery Weisz, defensive tackle Harold Gough, fullback Damien Wanamaker, wide receiver Ed Schulz, wide receiver Vinny Buysse and quarterback Ernest Ashley.

As a mid first round pick, Ed Schulz hasn't been a real disappointment, being the third most productive receiver of his class, despite being taken as the sixth highest wide receiver and also behind a tight end. 2098 rookie Vinny Buysse is by far the most productive receiver of his class, baring in mind that he also got a lot more targets than his peers, but still not bad fo the fourth highest taken wide receiver. Nobody is going to blame a fourth round fullback (Wanamaker), a third down rushing downs defensive end (Gough) or a third round nickelback (Weisz), which means all eyes are on that one guy that's called the quarterback: Earnest Ashley.

Ashley kind of revitalized his career this season, posting his third 4,000-yard season after coming short of that 6 seasons straight. With just 49.2 percent of his passes completed, he lived up to his 50/50 reputation, but with 6.97 yards per pass attempt and 15 interceptions in 587 attempts, it wasn't all bad. He was struggling a bit behind a young inexperienced offensive line, getting sacked 44 times, but that wasn't all that far of the mark of 37 in the previous two seasons behind an overpaid underperforming quintet. His left tackle Johnnie Houston has finished the regular season without finding a job elsewhere, but tackle Isaac Delgado (starter for 3-12-1 Atlanta), guard Nickolas Toler (starting for Paris), guard Roger Staigvil (backup for 7-8-1 Outer Banks) and Robbie Zinn (initially starting for 5-11 Harlem, but currently riding the bench) did.

It raises the question once again: what to to with Earnest Ashley? Next season we'll be spending $30.12M of cap space on bonus money for him and the same figure applies for the 2104 season. His base salaries of $40M and $45M are market value for a playoffs making quarterback, but after 9 seasons he's brought us 59 victories and 81 losses, with 1 tie to mix it up. More importantly, only twice did we come within 2 games of the division champion and both times we finished the season with an 8-8 record. In 2099 a win in week 17 would have gotten us to the division title on tie-breakers over Paris and Bordeaux. We lost 23-3 in Gothenburg, Ashley threw for 160 yards on 40 attempts, we got outgained 466 to 183 yards. Nope, we were not worthy and sadly enough that was the best season with him, on an offense that was already loaded with then rookies Calvin Maxwell and Ken Torphy, Vinny Buysse and Ed Schulz as the other two wide receivers, the offensive line still composed of the five guys I mentioned earlier and with Clarence Gore still our receiving tight end.

Which reminds me, Gore was also on our team this season, but when he showed up, it seemed that he had no memory of every having played together with Ashley, completely unaware of having 409 receptions for 4,621 yards for us. The majority of that production obviously from the hands of Ashley. At least Gore can claim to have played in 4 post-season games for us, just like safety Farrell can.

The good news? In the last bunch of games, not only did we play along with teams that smoothly rolled ito the playoffs, it was almost like our offense was clicking in a way that it hadn't clicked before. Don't get me wrong, Buysse and Maxwell have been second and third in the league in receiving yards, with Torphy third in rushing yards to boost, but it never felt like this offense was actually capable of beating their opponents. Boosted by the #1 defense in points allowed as recently as 2099, this offense has struggled, week in, week out.

Brining us back to the original question: who to blame? Ashley or is there somebody else out there who has been on the team all this time and quite responsible for how our offense operates? Is it time to axe our offensive coordinator, on duty with us since the 2097 season? Has his leeway based on the very first season - a 10-6 record that kept us out of the playoffs by just half a win, a result of chocking with 5 losses in the last 7 games of the regular season - finally vanished? Not quite though, the plan was to replace him in each of the last three off-seasons, but there were no suitable replacements available on the market. But maybe the 2103 off-season will make a difference...

As a result of our dreadful season, we'll be picking #5 overall in the draft. The last time we were supposed to pick this high (the 2101 draft), we had already given the pick to Arizona for the rights of Ken Torphy. Which was during the 2099 draft, when we actually used the #3 pick on Calvin Maxwell. This does mark the third time in 5 off-seasons that we have been bottom5 material, that's something we've never ever done before.

To end my rant of disappointment, missing the playoffs marks our 10th season straight of doing so. We were close twice in that timespan, but most often we were out of the picture a couple of games before the regular season final. It would be nice to snap this streak, as this ties our longest drought earlier set in the 2013-2022 seasons. We bounced back in 2023 with a phenomenal season, with a 12-4 team that actually deserved to get much further than the wild card round loss.

So, maybe in 2103 we'll finally get our rebound. Which will be the 100th season in the existence of the IHOF and with that the Maassluis Merchantmen. Will it be a season just like any other, or a more special one? Hopefully, correction, it will definitely mark the start of a new era for the Merchantmen.
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Old 12-14-2021, 07:56 AM   #603
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 28 down, 4 remaining
Yeah, playoffs...

The 2102 IHOF season is winding down, after 256 regular season games and 8 more in the playoffs, there are 4 teams still standing. On the NAC side of things, the top two seeds were beaten. The third seeded Chesapeake Chitterlings (11-5) won at the second seeded Oakland Black Panthers (12-4), while the Texas Sharks (10-6) pulled the bigger upset by beating the Chicago Norsemen (12-4). The Sharks are still missing their star quarterback Keith Vitale, out with a concussion, but they are somehow holding up well without him. It means there will be a new champion, as the Black Panthers were the title holders. And also means that the two seemingly strongest NAC teams go one-and-done, while the good, but not great, Sharks and Chitterlings face off for a ticket to IHOF Bowl XCIX.

In the Atlantic Ocean Conference, our conference, the Gothenburg Giants (10-6) travelled to the top seeded Toronto Lake Monsters (13-1-2), after having beaten the third seeded Paris Musketeers (11-5) in the wild card round. In a sensational back and forth game, the Lake Monsters prevailed in overtime. Next up a clash with the second seeded Tucker Tigers (12-4), after they beat the Rochester Razorbacks (12-4). Toronto and their quarterback Terrence Levingston are to be considered the favorites, despite that the Tigers and their this season acquired veteran quarterback Angel Henson were arguably the second best team in the league so far.

Far away from the action on the field, the off field activity is slowly getting started up. We'll have some work to do in the off-season, determining what to do with the 53 players currently on roster and the 7 draft picks we're entitled to. Out of those 53, 16 are out of contract, but 8 of them will be restricted free agents. QB Jay Bates was inactive all season, while RB Van Goodwin WR Calvin Hancock, LB Mo Fausel and second year LB Wally Cooley were on our special teams group. WR Gage Greer was inactive most of the season, but played 1 game on the special teams unit. TE Darnell McKie looks like an interesting prospect, he could develop into a reliable third down short yardage receiver and a special teamer. Left tackle Carson McCormick had a respectable season, but with 10 starts, his agent might come with absurd demands.

6 veteran free agents have been late signings, hence their one-year contracts. TE Clarence Gore returned to Maassluis in an inactive mentor role, but the 35-year old could still be a reliable route runner. G Joey Arnold and CB Eric McCool were exclusively signed for an inactive mentor role as well. T Junior Karr was initially only meant to mentor the rookie tackles, but we decided to make him start in 6 games ahead of McCormick. LS Francisco Griffith is a player we want to return to Maassluis next season, unless we find a better snapper who can also mentor our unpolished starting center.

More prominent could be the talks with DE Warren Mendelssohn, who was our leading pass rusher despite his cheap one-year contract. S Blaine Wright became a fulltime starter in his 5th year with us, it'll be a challenge to fend off other teams, although we fully expect his agent to come up with unreasonable demands, scaring away the competition and meaning that Maassluis could be the only team that could use him.

Last but not least, what to do with the Lost Cause Ken Torphy? His talent should be undisputed, but he's coming off a season with just 848 yards with a 2.77 yards per carry average and 2 touchdowns. But the lack of experience on the O-Line didn't just plummet his running performance, he had lows in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns as well. But he bounced back a little bit in the last 6 games, where he was basically good for 20 carries for 70 yards. Maybe his underwhelming numbers will scare other teams or make his agent undersell him. I doubt that though, which means that if we want to bring back Torphy, we'll have to make him a better offer than the one he was supposed to have signed on opening day, but for silly reasons never received.

Does that mean the other 37 players are safe to stay? Well, no. Let's not forget that despite the promise of some players, our roster isn't just one of the most underdeveloped in the league, but our staff assesses the potential of our roster as bottom 5 as well. Which for some teams (like the Merchantmen) doesn't always mean the team is a bottom feeder, but in this instance, there's reason for concern, despite an exceptionally talented WR duo.

Which brings me to the plans for the draft and free agency. It's always tricky to share too much in the public, but it won't come as a surprise that the 2102 Merchantmen were lacking in some areas the fans are used to seeing us play much better in. Let's go over the team quickly group by group.

Quarterback
Is Earnest Ashley the answer? He's still mister 50-50, even when he throws for 300 yards. Overall he's scouted as a mediocre starter, but we're getting playoffs level yards per attempt out of him, he's got the ability to avoid interceptions. Yet, he flipflops from good to bad games, and usually when he has a great game, he throws an uncalled for late game pick that either turns a blowout into a nailbiter, or worse. So, yes, quarterback is a position to look at. Ashley is locked up for two more seasons, $30M in bonus for 2103 and 2104 would be the dead cap hits if we turn away from him. If we don't restructure, but keep him, he's in for $70M next season.

Skill positions
Rookie TE Garrett Alcala needs to start developing, he's still very green, especially his route running is lacking, it has to improve for him to be a factor and we know that a Merchantmen offense without a decent receiving TE can't work. Another question mark will be whether WR Ed Schulz wants to return for an 11th season. I hope he does, he's still got the skills to be a great WR3. I mentioned the RB Ken Torphy situation already, but it's not just him, it's more about whether we want to invest in one guy or want to go to our old school two or three back system. Or can we find a Walt Blair kind of wow-factor, which is what we hoped to have gotten in Torphy.

Offensive Line
The starters are all young and underdeveloped, but mostly, half of them are basically not going to yank up an O-Line to being world class. But we did see rough diamond signals on basically all four of the starting rookies, which should be a reason to give them another chance, no? Maybe just finding one extremely talented veteran would boost this unit up enough.

Front seven
Yeah, this unit will get addressed. Popular belief is that some positions are overrated, but the Maassluis Merchantmen have thrived when there was a world class defensive tackle on the team. We can't demand any new guy to become the new Charles Gomez or Shaun Hartman, but we do need a guy that can do it all on all downs and keep enough o-linemen busy to give the defensive ends even more opportunity to reach the quarterback. Behind the D-Line, we've been lacking a stud linebacker. Don't tell the kids that got the action last season, they might disagree. I'm not sold on Abraham Desimone and Micah Halvorson, but they do actually should be considered to be roughly middle of the pack in this league, which should be good enough, no?

Secondary
We need a new safety. Devon Farrell is about to fall apart, we can't rely on him anymore. I'd love to find a new shutdown cornerback like Peter Tucker, Kirk Hitchock or more recently at a slightly lower level Ernie Grant. But sometimes a kid like Donnie Dogins can get the job done. There's a much bigger risk that we'll lose both starting safeties Farrell and Wright. So, safety is where we'll have to look at.

Special teamers
We're always willing to look at these positions, we've made a tradition of being that team that drafts a kicker in the second or third round. And do it again four seasons later to replace that guy. Even guys I think are good, are never safe to stick around. The support cast roles are not locked up either. Long snapper will need t be addressed, punt returner might be if Rondell Robertson doesn't improve.

Pretty much that.
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* 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
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Old 12-16-2021, 10:14 AM   #604
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Welcome into 2103!
Season 100 is here!

First things first. A congratulations to our long time rival Lake Monsters after seeing them win IHOF Bowl XCIX.

Second order of business, a couple of players retired.

Linebacker Brandon Brady said goodbye to IHOF after 13 seasons. In 2090 our 19th overall selection, we picked him to become our new leader of the defense. He started on our defense from day one, proving to be a tackle machine, capable as a run stopper and pass defender. The best of it came in 2091 and 2092 as we reached the conference semifinals both seasons. His position was never undisputed, talks over contract demands were always tough, but we kept him around for 11 seasons, even after bringing in replacements that we eventually felt not enough of an improvement to sit Brady, or at the very least keep him in a lot of packages. He still was a key figure on the team that allowed the least points in the league in 2099. But following the 2100 season we let him walk as a free agent and ended up not matching the one-year deal he was offered by the Williamsburg Colonials. In his last two seasons in the league, he made a surprisingly good switch to defensive end and although he flirted with such a role in his final season with us, he kind of rediscovered himself as a part-timer in a pass rusher role in Williamsburg and hung around there in 2102 for a final season.

Tight end Clarence Gore was our 5th round pick in 2091 and as a rookie already made a good impression making 75 receptions for 863 yards and 7 touchdowns. He played exceptionally well in the playoffs that season and followed up with a similar performance in 2092. But as the struggles of the Merchantmen offense began, Gore's role got smaller and smaller. One could argue that his lack of targets was part of the problem, but the counter argument we used was his lack of run blocking skills, at which he was lacking. Still, the tight end getting more targets (Clay Gaynor) never reached the efficiency levels of the young Gore. In 2100 we inactivated Gore, until reinstalling him in the last 3 games. He found a new home in 2101 in Colorado and surprisingly returned to Maassluis for the second half of last season to mentor the young players on roster.

It may come as no surprise that both Brady and Gore were part of the Merchantmen 100 club.

A less spectacular retirement came from tackle Junior Karr, initially signed last season to mentor the two starting rookie tackles, but in the last 6 games he was put on the line after all to give the running game a boost. It helped as Ken Torphy played his least underwhelming football in those games. Before this last stint, Karr was an important run blocker for the Capital City Blues for 10 seasons and after losing his starting role there, was picked up by the division rival Texas Sharks in 2101 for a season. His last action came in Maassluis, with 2 key run blocks and no sacks allowed in a close game against the Gothenburg Giants.

So, with that, our 2103 off-season began. Without a lot to do at first. We're looking at a positive cap figure of $119M with 40 players signed, which means there's plenty of room to go out there and have some fun on the open market. But will we? The draft class will officially be revealed tomorrow, so, at the moment, we just have to do with staff hiring decision. It turns out that at every position, we have the best suitable candidate already hired, ignoring potential staff members that get sacked by the teams that draft in front of us. We'll see how things go there, biggest question probably being: will we stick with Clarence Byrd as our offensive coordinator?
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Old 12-16-2021, 12:57 PM   #605
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: More retirements
Not on the team, but just some alumni.

Safety Jon Brotzman quit the game after sitting out the 2102 season without a team. It makes it really too bad that he didn't want to sign a one-year deal with us last season. Sometimes undrafted rookies work out and Brotzman was one of those. Although he sat out most of his 2090 rookie campaign and was limited to special teams duties in 2091, in 2092 he became a regular on the defense. Mostly a zone defender, naturally he was more of a nickel and dime back than a true safety. He played 179 games for the Merchantmen, including the 4 in the playoffs back in 2091 and 2092.

Left tackle Johnnie Houston also sat out 2102 and decided to stop waiting. A disappointing decision, but sadly we couldn't afford him anymore last season, amongst others. A second round pick, he kind of lived up to expectations and turned into a solid, non-exceptional pass protector, good enough to play on the blindside. We made him a starter from his rookie season onwards, which resulted in 126 regular season games of action. The 2096 season was the most bizar one for him, recording just 1 key run block in 13 games, while at the same time allowing just 4 sacks. He was the weak spot on our O-Line in terms of run blocking otherwise, but good enough to stick around, until cap woes arose. Alas, now his football career is over.
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Old 12-20-2021, 04:01 PM   #606
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Ken Torphy has left the team
So it goes.

After four years of mediocre running, three of them from behind a very skilled experienced and cohesive offensive line, and 2/3rd a season of playing "No way, not until I get better blockers", followed by "oh wait, maybe I do need to work harder", Ken Torphy has left the team. For dubious reasons still unknown to the lesser informed, the contract offer that was too good to turn down, never got to Torphy. It was an eleventh hour offer, but the damage was done. We made him a fair offer, about 1.5 times his demands, but a couple of other teams went all in on him, most notable one of the three teams we really didn't want him to end up with: the Paris Musketeers. Unless The Lost Cause continues to play the way he did in the first 10 games of last season, that would be awesome, as it would basically take out one of our division rivals. If it wasn't for the fact that they still have that Chandler Ferguson guy running around, a ninth year veteran coming of a 2,365 yards rushing on 437 carries.

In return, we decided to spend the #5 overall pick on rookie Vincent Dorenbos, one of the dutchiest names in the draft and a player that seriously resembled Torphy in all of his skills. He spent about 5 hours on our roster as we traded his for the #10 overall pick and a high second rounder, unintentionally making our first ever trade with the Harlem Apollos, after which we dillydallied for about 15 minutes over picking defensive end Gabriel Morris.

We interviewed Morris and, indeed, my staff was impressed by him. He could be the most skilled player of this class, or second best, or third. Does it really matter? More importantly, we hope he has the framework to play defensive tackle, because, well, we want a monster defensive tackle like in the old days, with Charles Gomez circa 2010 and Shaun Hartman circa 2070.

Yes, we had a chance to draft another stud wide receiver, but how would we distribute all those targets if we're rarely going to play any 4WR sets? Or would we throw an expensive rookie waiting in the wins? Of course not.

It does mean we'll be going to need to do something about the running back situation as we did already lose Dashawn McIntyre in the 2102 off-season, a kid that would have been a suitable replacement.

In another "d'oh" moment, we accidentally laid open one of our hole cards as it's now in the open that we offered quarterback Angel Henson a two-year contract that he's still talking about with his agents. Yup, the highly touted quarterback that never beat us, not even when wearing a Tucker Tigers uniform. That quarterback.

Aside from that, we'll continue looking on the open market, as we'll got a lot of cap space on our hands. I do want to lock up some of our restricted free agents early, to get the roster filling off worked out in a timely manner. And worry about the wheelin' and dealin' of the draft.
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Old 12-21-2021, 06:51 AM   #607
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: New DT, but no new QB
Yup, I dropped the ball on Angel Henson.

We had a good, but not overwhelming offer out there for QB Angel Henson. The 34-year old was out of contract and we put in an early $165M for two years offer. His team of the last two seasons had an outstanding offer for much less, but still a far offer. Instead of tweaking that $165M bid into being a bit more bonus heavy, I tried to semi-lowball and as a result we ended up offering a sound contract (2 years, $120M, with a $100M bonus), but it couldn't beat the Tigers' $121 bonus.

We did end up signing Ben Courcy, a big 29-year old all around solid DT, previously with the Colorado Cutthroats, to a 4-year low bonus contract. He should be solid enough for a couple of seasons to help rebuild the defense, together with rookie DE Gabriel Morris. I'm seriously considering to switch Morris to DT.

We also signed a quintet of our unrestricted free agents to close to minimum 2-year deals: QB Jay Bates, RB Van Goodwin, TE Darnell McKie, WR/ST Gage Greer and LB/ST Mo Fausel. We'll have to talk with WR/ST Calvin Hancock and LT Carson McCormick next, but both are requesting a bit more, hence we're going to wait a bit for their demands to drop. LB/ST Wally Cooley surprisingly let his agent tell us he doesn't want to sign a new contract with us. Apparently he became livid about his playing time, being our key special teamer wasn't apparently enough and he felt that the superior talent of our actual starters at LB wasb't good enough.

There are some sports on the roster that we're going to look at in the next couple of days, as the draft moves on and the free agency period continues. It won't come as a surprise that the focus will be on RB, LB, OL, S and you never know where as well. But the details, that's not to be disclosed at the moment.
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Old 12-21-2021, 03:22 PM   #608
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Merchantmen acquire QB England
QB Winfred England will move from the Augusta Greenjackets to the Maassluis Merchantmen. It means the departure from his original team for the 40-year old after 15 seasons in which he missed only 6 regular season games and guided them to the playoffs 8 times, including a 7-season streak from 2095-2101. The 2102 season was his first to throw more interceptions than touchdowns and he fell out of favor.

The Merchantmen missed out on Angel Henson earlier today and apparently quickly readapted by sending their 4th and 6th round draft picks for the veteran, he had been on the trade block throughout the off-season. This could spell the end of the Earnest Ashley era, despite that England would most logically be just a short-term successor. Ashley has been the Merchantmen starting quarterback for 9 seasons and so far hasn't guided the team into the playoffs at all. The only other 10-season playoffs drought in Maassluis saw the Merchantmen quarterbacked by Hall of Famers Louie Flannery and "Rusty" Harrison from 2013 through 2022, with Harrison taking over in 2020. The Merchantmen hope to snap this streak in the upcoming 2103 season.
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Old 12-21-2021, 04:13 PM   #609
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: A QB comes and then he doesn't come
Rules are rules.

By fear of violating the anti-tanking rules, the Augusta Greenjackets GM/owner and I have decided to cancel the trade of QB Winfred England to Maassluis. The anti-tanking rules set forward in the IHOF would have come into play here and after consulting the commissioner, it was clear to both of us that our premonition was right, that the trade wouldn't be right. A bummer for both teams, as we were very interested in this upgrade of the position, while Augusta has a plan for replacement in the works. It is what it is, all part of the game. The situation will be re-evaluated if the circumstances change to make a swap abide within the rules.
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Old 12-21-2021, 06:41 PM   #610
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: A LB and a QB!
Yup, our second round picks are in.

Boy, oh boy, should we be happy. Through the eyes of my staff, specifically my defensive coordinator, we managed to land the best LB of this draft class with the 2.4 pick, being Gus Coleman. You may remember that I picked a LB late in the 1st round last draft and was already kind of happy with Abraham Desimone and Trey Ford. And also with Micah Halvorson and Micah Nichols. But Coleman could be the kind of talent that we have missed since we found out that Brandon Brady is very good but not great. And that was over a decade ago. A fellow GM/owner suggested that he could play SS, but I'll have to wait and see about that upon arrival. He's going to need to gain weight to play LB well anyway, while for SS he'll have to drop.

With the bonus pick, a result of the swap down from #5 to #10 overall, we selected the first QB of this class in Randy Walters. A QB from Michigan with a very high Soleciscmic Test score, what's not to like here? He doesn't fit the sense rush ability school, but with his scrambling ability, I'm hoping that he can compensate. But he'll first have to develop, a lot, because he's very raw. It doesn't mean I'm no longer interested in the future Hall of Famer Winfred England, he could even mentor Walters while the rookie rides the bench, for a season or two, but that will be pushed back until the post-draft free agency period, most likely.
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Last edited by MIJB#19 : 12-21-2021 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 12-22-2021, 09:55 AM   #611
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: one of those typical days...

If you have any experience with being a general manager for a football team, you'll be familiar with the feeling that you wake up, look at the news about which players did or didn't sign with your team and you'll find out that most of the players that you thought you offered a fine contract, you got outbid and the player signed elsewhere. We lost out on WR Don McClung, C Tevin Bratsch and RB Liam Diaz today. The consolation prize of the day was returning our sack leader from last season DE Warren Mendelssohn.

The biggest loss there was missing out on Liam Diaz, as he would have been a fine short-term stop gap for the loss of the Lost Cause to the Paris Musketeers. Bratsch returned to Bordeaux, only to find out a certain Robbie Zinn also got hired by them and he found himself on the trade block hours after signing a new one-year deal. Yeah, such can be the life in the IHOF too foor a player. McClung also signed with Bordeaux. He would have been only the WR4 for us, so basically a luxury, but I figured we've got some cap space to throw around, so why not?

The roster is up to 47 players now, including the 3 incoming rookies, excluding the 5 yet to be made draft picks (which would add up to 52 already). Point of attention still remaining:
* QB Winfred England, if the opportunity arises that a trade would be satisfactory within the IHOF's competitiveness (anti-tanking) rules, we'll work out a deal with the Augusta Greenjackets
* the RB situation, we're very thin with just second year pro's RB/ST Van Goodwin and RB/PR Rondell Robertson, neither had a carry for us last season
* the tight end situation, we're mostly looking for a mentor to help develop TE Garrett Alcala and TE/ST Darnell McKie
* a WR4, because you never know when you need one, we're going to try to re-sign WR/ST Calvin Hancock
* the O-line, we need a backup center and offensive tackle, even after re-signing promising LT Carson McCormick, because we have just 5 guys signed
* the secondary, we have 7 guys signed, ideally we'll add up to 9 or 10, at the very least for the pre-season
* long snapper, because we're going to require one
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Old 12-22-2021, 05:07 PM   #612
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Winfred England to Maassluis after all?
And we got a center and running back!

QB Winfred England might come to Maassluis after all. The Augusta Greenjackets today agreed terms with the Chicago Norsemen for another quarterback, paving the way for them to have a suitable replacement, all that a result of the Norsemen re-signing their starter from last season. We ended up making the same deal, sending our 4th and 6th round draft picks to Augusta. The trade has still run through the league office, but we might be getting there now. It creates an interesting situation with the incumbent QB Earnest Ashley, 2nd round rookie QB Randy Walters, QB/KH Malachi Manning and the recently re-signed 2nd year QB Jay Bates. The latter likely will be released sooner or later, Ashley's situation could be the most peculiar one, being our most expensive player at a cap cost of $70.12M on the $558.8M salary cap.

Our 5th round pick in between is supposed to be traded to Bordeaux for the rights of C Tevin Bratsch. Yes, the same guy that turned us down, but the hiring of Robbie Zinn made Bratsch expendable there. This trade too still has to run through the league office, but it's likely to pass, because although Bratsch signed his new contract in Bordeaux today, he was originally on their team as a left over from last season.

That almost wraps up our 2103 draft actually, as we're down to just the 7th round pick now, after we used our 3rd round pick on RB Bennett Holmes. The 5'7" 210 pounder caught my eye as soon as we decided to not hang onto RB Vincent Dorenbos. Holmes probably lacks the endurance to carry it 25 times per game, so we'll have to make work on getting another RB, or work in the two second-year pro's. And probably keep our eyes open for a mentor for the threesome as well.
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Old 12-23-2021, 08:09 AM   #613
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The 2103 Off-season continues
We got a new long snapper, yay.

A busy couple of days has finally resulted in some changes to the roster. QB Winfred England has officially been acquired through trade, as has been C Tevin Bratsch. CB/ST Eric McCool signed a new two-year deal with us, while LT Carson McCormick signed a 4-year deal, which for him means he banked his semi-decent rookie season. We also signed one of the best in business in LS Bennett Brock. The bummers of the day were TE Riley Bridges, he took a slightly cheaper offer from the Tucker Tigers over returning to Maassluis after a season in Williamsburg. And Calvin Hancock's agent has some explaining to do after he turned down our very modest contract offer, which was extremely close to their request.

This means that we're now at 49 players signed, with 5 incoming rookies, including the not yet used 7th round pick, with a cap figure of $26.59M under the $558.8M cap. The rookies still need to be factored in, which means they will increase the cap figure used by $18.24M. That means we're down to $8.35M in cap space left, keeping in mind that a new player will cost us the offered figure minus $2.11M, which is the cap figure of our now three lowest cap numbers. But, I'm going to unlock some cap space by doing the thing that usually gets us in cap trouble: renegotiate with one of the expensive players. It will be WR Vinny Buysse's turn, as it will give us an additional $21M to work with (and will cost us an additional $10M in each of the next two seasons).
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Old 12-25-2021, 09:55 AM   #614
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: And then there were 62!
Draft completed and we signed a bunch.

Our training camp roster is pretty much set. We finished the draft with a couple of 7th round picks in FB Randy Julian and DE Mel Adams. They were the top 2 on our board remaining and I figured they'd deserve a training camp and potential a pre-season to prove themselves. The selection of Adams came after we acquired the 7.23 pick from the Williamsburg Colonials for LB Trey Ford. I like Ford, but he had become an unpopular leader. But, aside from that, it wasn't cut and dry that he would make our 53-men roster anyway.

On top of that, we saw a good bunch of veteran free agents sign with us. Most prominently S Blaine Wright, he flirted with the Colorado Cutthroats for weeks, but eventually re-signed. He was joined by LS Bennett Brock (previously Fort Wayne Fury), S Pete Weaver (Capital City Blues), LB/ST Luke Thompson (Paris Musketeers), RB/KR Morris Pritchard (Fort Wayne), TE/ST Bryan Goldade (Chesapeake Chitterlings), LT Andres Blair (Orlando Talons) and G Bruce Strong (Williamsburg Colonials). And we re-signed restricted free agent WR/ST Calvin Hancock.

This brings us to 62 players signed. One of them is threatening to sit out the season: LB Abraham Desimone. The 4th year pro thinks he had a career year (he didn't), so we'll have to determine where we go with him and the rest of the front seven group, which has become crowded after the signings of DT Ben Courcy and LB Thompson, selections of DE Gabriel Morris and DE Mel Adams and in return the departure of LB Ford and LB/ST Wally Cooley (unwilling to re-sign with us), which means we'll likely have to let at least 2 of the bunch go.

We'll be offering contracts to 8 free agents, to potentially add up to 70 for training camp, but I won't be upset if we end up with the 62 we have so far. Or 61 if we don't work something out with LB Desimone before camp.

The five rookies have already reported in Maassluis for their first medical checkup and first evaluation. We have to be very optimistic about them. The staff assessed them on a 1-100 scale roughly as:
5/55 QB Randy Walters
35/50 RB Bennett Holmes
25/40 FB Randy Julian
25/45 DE Mel Adams
40/80 DE Gabriel Morris
30/80 LB Gus Coleman

Especially Morris and Coleman, jump out, but I can't be unhappy with Holmes either. Walters is obviously an unknown for now, extremely green, while the 7th round picks will be longshots to make the eventual 53-men roster. Upon training camp, we'll make a decision on DE Morris whether he will make the move to DT, depending on his ability to bulk up, while LB Coleman should also gain wait to earn his spot as a MLB. It's unlikely we'll move him to SS, which was the suggestion of a fellow IHOF owner/general manager, but our staff predicts he'll be close to worthless at that position.

Our cap situation is kind of healthy. We're $7.12M under the cap, with 52 players signed through next season. 10 players are in the final year of contract, being QB/KH Malachi Manning, TE/ST Bryan Goldade, TE/ST Wesley Martin, C Marvin Bratsch, P Manuel Szymanski, DE Robbie Dobreski, DT Harold Gough, LB Abraham Desimone, CB Zachery Weisz and S Devon Farrell. We'll talk with them at mid-pre-season. QB/KH Manning should be easy to extend, TE Goldade will be free after the season, TE Martin wants bit of a raise, C Bratsch needs to be talked with, P Szymanski wants a raise, DE Dobreski an extension that's roughly in the same salary level, DT Gough wants a bit of a raise, holdout LB Desimone wants a big raise (from $3.69M to $11.76M), CB Weisz just an additional year and S Farrell asks an additional year at a reduced salary. That's a healthy situation to me.

So, up next: additional pre-season signings and then we'll take a look at where to go from there.
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Old 12-25-2021, 04:46 PM   #615
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Undrafted rookies 2103!

Okay, usually we find a hidden gem or two in the undrafted rookie free agents pool, but we signed only 3 of them this time around. The odds won't be with us. 5 undrafted rookies signed elsewhere, lured by a big bonus, hence the smaller than usual harvest. Who did we get? P Tommy Hodges, LT Carlton Simmons and WR Lorenzo Gaines. Gaines has some potential to return punts and kickoffs, which could boost his chances to make the team. Simmons will have to wow us in training camp to jump ahead of other linemen, which seems unlikely, but you never know. Hodges is basically here to challenge P Manuel Szymanski. After camp I'll figure out whether we have a roster spot available for 2 punters in pre-season. Veteran G Joey Arnold signed with the Tucker Tigers, we weren't interested in him anymore after signing the less demanding G Bruce Strong in the first free agency phase.

A pressing issue could arise at our middle linebacker situation. LB Abraham Desimone is holding out and I'll have to make a decision on offering him a reasonable starter money contract. His demands are, well, quite reasonable, but we don't have the $8M in cap space available that he's asking in his increase. At the same time, rookie LB Gus Coleman looks very talented, but it turns out he's unable to bulk up, which is a little bit surprising given his 229 pounds. Never mind that we spent a 1st round pick on LB Tony Burks in the previous draft and still have a Micah Halvorson and recently signed Luke Thompson, while we still have the promising Marco Nichols waiting in the wings. Okay, it may feel like a luxury issue, but our defense was dreadful last season. We may have addressed some of it by signing DT Ben Courcy and drafting DE Gerald Morris, on top of the selection of Coleman. So, stop complaining, I suppose?

Onwards to training camp preparation. And then forward to pre-season. The 100th season is coming, starting soon...
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Old 12-27-2021, 09:51 AM   #616
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Training Camp 2103 report
And Albert Desimone signed a new contract.

The preparation for the 2103 season continues. Just before training camp we agreed terms with LB Abraham Desimone on a new contract, which I think he deserved. We gave him a typical minimum salary first year, increasing salary contract, with a big bonus. Yes, these are the type of contracts that have gotten us in cap troubles many times before, but it's the type of contracts that help get us addition cap space to work with in the 'current season'.

We also made a decision on a couple of position switches. Our MLB group was getting crowded and it made me decide to flip LB Tony Burks to SLB. It's a more natural position to him and makes it probably easier to fit within positional requirements. We also made DE Gabriel Morris make the announced switch to DT. It suits him well and he should be the run defense plug that we really lacked for quite some time. Mind you, he's also an awesome pass rusher and has the endurance to actually play on all downs. LB Gus Coleman could play the MLB or WLB role, which probably means we'll put him at WLB in 4-3 formations, MLB in the nickel and fighting for the lone LB spot on the dime formation with Desimone.

And then there was the arrival of QB Randy Walters and RB Bennett Holmes through the draft. Well, I'll wait about them until after the training camp report.

Let's breakdown the team by position group, with in brackets the training camp results, if there was improvement to report.


Quarterbacks
65/65 QB Winfred England
55/55 QB Earnest Ashley
10/55 QB Randy Walters (+5/-2)
25/35 QB/KH Malachi Manning (+3/nc)
15/35 QB Jay Bates (+2/nc)

Okay, so Walters had a decent camp. His improvement to me hints at that he indeed is starting QB material, but overall similar to Ashley, although with a different skillset, making them very different quarterback types. Early hierarchy for 2103 is projected as above. Manning continues to improve and to be the best kick holder in the league. Bates won't make the pre-season roster, that's the result of the addition of England and Walters.


Backfield
45/45 FB Damian Wanamaker
40/45 RB Bennett Holmes (+3/-2)
35/40 RB/ST Van Goodwin (+3/nc)
35/35 RB/KR Morris Pritchard
35/35 RB/PR Rondell Robertson (+1/nc)
25/40 FB/ST Randy Julian (+3/-2)
20/20 ST Owen Johnston

Yes, Holmes looks pretty neat. His hole recognition and breakaway speed are better than the outgoing Lost Cause. But Holmes does lack the receiving skills and endurance that Ken Torphy did provide. Torphy left us after 4 seasons, with one dreadful 2102 campaign, but still left as our all-time leading backfield receiver. It will mean that we'll have to figure out which backup or backups can be worked into the rotation. Robertson and Goodwin make a bit more sense than Pritchard. Wanamaker continues to be an elite blocker, but he still hasn't lived up to that hype by making his way into the key run blocks leaders. I'll make a decision on Johnston or Julian as our backup fullback for the upcoming season. Julian's blocking skills are quite good for a rookie, actually.


Tight ends
45/60 TE Garrett Alcala (+4/nc)
45/45 TE/ST Wesley Martin
40/40 TE/ST Bryan Goldade
30/45 TE Darnell McKie (+3/nc)

Alcala's development, or slow progress thereof, is a bit discouraging. Hopefully having Goldade around to mentor him for a full season. Martin deserves to be involved as well and the 2TE formations could be his savior. McKie is a promising third down receiver. If only we had somebody who could truly game plan well and work these two guys into the plan (as well as aforementioned FB Wanamaker)...


Wide receivers
80/80 WR/KR/ST Calvin Maxwell
70/70 WR Vinny Buysse
45/45 WR Ed Schulz
30/35 WR/ST Rick Emerson (4/nc)
30/30 WR/ST Calvin Hancock (+2/nc)
20/30 WR Lorenzo Gaines (+2/-5)
20/25 WR/ST Gage Greer (+1/nc)

Yeah, the top2 is undisputed, they'll go into 2103 as the best WR duo in football, although the Hanalei Dragons' young duo (2102 #3 overall pick Solwold and 2103 #1 overall pick Rivera) are in pursuit. Schulz hopefully holds up for another season of being a lightning fast WR3. The rest of the guys will have to fight for two active spots as special teamers. Gaines has to live up to his name in pre-season, or his underdeveloped return skills won't help him enough to make the team, if I even give him a chance there.


Offensive Line
65/65 C Tevin Bratsch
45/65 G Brett Stickney (+5/nc)
50/50 C Lincoln Stonge (+4/nc)
35/45 LT Harold Gruenwalder (+3/nc)
40/40 G Bruce Strong
35/45 G Floyd Graham (+3/nc)
40/40 G Corwin Driver (+1/+1)
30/45 LT Carson McCormick (+5/nc)
35/35 LT Adam Blair
25/40 LT Carlton Simmons (+2/-4)

Quite some decisions to make here, first and most of all: Bratsch or Stonge? The younger Stonge looks promising, but if Bratsch holds up, he'll be a much needed run block anchor out of the center position. The guard roles will go to Stickney and probably pre-season will tell me Driver, Graham or Strong. On the tackle side of things, I'm going to commit to the second-year pro's Gruenwalder and McCormick, with run blocker Blair mentoring them. Simmons won't make the pre-season team.


Special teamers
85/85 K Oscar Harrington (+6/+1)
50/50 P Manuel Szymanski
35/40 P Tommy Hodges (+3/+1)
20/20 LS Bennett Brock

Brock is the second best in business, welcome to the Merchantmen tradition of state of the art special teams! Which quickly brings us to Harrington, he's up to third best in the business in overall assessment. He's acceptable as a kickoff guy as well, which is always tough in Maassluis where the all-tme greatness of Al Bettis forever makes it impossible to ever come in and become the new best of all time. Szymanski probably secured his role as our punter for another season, Hodges didn't do enough to unseat him. Pre-season might be good for Hodges, but I doubt I'm going to wait for it.
I'll elaborate on the other special teams situations as well a bit here. We have Calvin Maxwell as top10 kickoff returner, while Rondell Robertson is roughly an average punt returner. Usually I want better than average there, but it's not easy to improve here. rookie Lorenzo Gaines needs to wow in pre-season to show whether he's actually in potential a suitable KR2 and PR alternative, or just a fata morgana.


Defensive Line
65/65 DT/ST Ben Courcy
45/80 DT Gabriel Morris (+7/+1)
50/50 DE Robbie Dobreski
45/45 DT Alexander May
45/45 DT Harold Gough
45/45 DT Jacob Buckey (+5/nc)
45/45 DE Warren Mendelssohn
40/40 DT/ST Mitch Potchynok (+4/nc)
25/45 DE Mel Adams (+4/nc)
35/35 DE Deon Rosas
35/35 DE/ST Spencer Crawford

Okay, we invested in this group, but even before that, I was wondering why they were not living up to their potential. The injection of talent with Courcy and Morris should make this a Merchantmen worthy group again. It will be really tough to figure out which players to keep after pre-season, hopefully. It's bad news for 7th round rookie Adams.


Linebackers
35/80 MLB Gus Coleman (+7/-1)
55/55 SLB Micah Halvorson
50/50 MLB Albert Desimone
45/50 SLB Tony Burks (+3/-2)
45/45 WLB/ST Luke Thompson
35/40 SLB Marco Nichols (+4/nc)
30/35 MLB/ST Mo Fausel (+3/-1)

Okay, with Coleman in, this should be a swell group, almost bringing back the talent levels of old times. I'm actually fond of Halvorson and it's weird to have Banks, a second year 1st round pick likely to be our LB4. I even switched from cohesive Ford to Thompson as our group leader to restore peace in the front seven. I suspect Nichols won't make the final 53-men list.


Secondary
56/60 CB Logan Wallace (+4/+1)
45/45 S Pete Weaver
40/40 SS Blaine Wright
40/40 CB/ST Zachery Weisz
35/40 CB Wesley Cabrera (+4/nc)
35/40 S Wesley Centers (+4/+1)
35/35 CB Donnie Dogins
35/40 CB Eduardo Cowdrick (+4/nc)
30/30 S Devon Farrell
10/10 CB/ST Eric McCool

This group will hopefully tested more than last season, when we got ran over and the secondary didn't have a truckload of pass defending to do. Wallace is developing into a nice shutdown corner, although he's a liability in a zone defense scheme and lacks the endurance to play all downs as well. We boosted the safety position with Weaver, anticipating on more decline of Farrell, the cohesion bomb of the unit, together with Weisz. Dogins is turning into a fine nickelback. Centers and Cabrera are likely the question marks for making the 53-men roster. But both made good progress in training camp, which is a signal of them being still underrated.


That summed up, it's time to think about which 5 players will not make our pre-season roster. And then, after the first two pre-season games, re-evaluate where we are.
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Old 12-28-2021, 09:11 AM   #617
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: PrePre-season cuts
We're down to 60 now.

Our 2103 pre-season roster is set. There were big surprises on our transactions log today. We released all three undrafted rookie free agents LT Carlton Simmons, P Tommy Hodges and WR Lorenzo Gaines, 7th round pick DE Mel Adams and second-year undrafted QB Jay Bates.

Our first couple of pre-season games we'll send out basically our youngsters on offense and our likely starters on defense. And after those games, we'll have to reassess where we are.
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Old 12-29-2021, 08:56 AM   #618
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: And then came that moment between pre-season week 2 and 3
shivers...

Pre-season 2103 is here and we played our first couple of games. But IHOF owners/general managers can barely be bothered to look at the results and stats of those games, all we care for is what our staff thinks of our players after the pre-season week 2 games. I'm obviously one of them and, there was some (not completely unexpected) bad news. So, here we go with the pre-season re-evaluation of the team.

Quarterbacks
55/55 QB Earnest Ashley (+1/+1)
55/55 QB Winfred England (-10/-10)
25/35 QB/KH Malachi Manning (+1/-1)
10/50 QB Randy Walters (+1/-6)

Something inspired Ashley to improve, while the new arrivals fell. England's drop wasn't completely unexpected, but a bummer nevertheless. I don't really know what to say here, but for now have no doubts that the plan is to go with England to start the season. One thing to keep in mind here is that Ashley will be signed through 2104, which means we can't afford to let him become upset over playing time, if we want to be able to extend his contract in that off-season. Ashley thinks he's worthy of a $90M cap figure this season and $102M next season. England is more modest, requesting a 3-year deal worth $41M this season and $47M and $48M in the next two seasons. Walters will be on the bubble to make the opening day roster, I should probably just keep faith here and let him ride the bench for the first two or three seasons. Manning is undisputed. It's really a decision on whether we think going with 4 QBs on roster won't hurt us elsewhere...

Backfield
35/40 RB Bennett Holmes (-1/-6)
35/40 RB/ST Van Goodwin
35/35 FB Damian Wanamaker (-8/-8)
35/35 RB/KR Morris Pritchard
35/35 RB/PR Rondell Robertson (nc/-1)
30/35 FB/ST Randy Julian (+1/-3)
15/15 ST Owen Johnston (-6/-6)

Ouch, ouch, ouch. Or not? Holmes played somewhat okay in the two pre-season games (3.8 yards per carry), but got a bit too little action to make a clear observation on him. Goodwin got a lot more carriers and floated around 2.4 yards per carry, but did score our only 2 offensive touchdowns as a receiving target for Winfred England. The decisions to make here: Julian or Johnston and will we keep Pritchard as a 4th RB.

Tight ends
45/60 TE Garrett Alcala
45/45 TE/ST Wesley Martin
30/45 TE Darnell McKie (+1/nc)
35/35 TE/ST Bryan Goldade (-5/-5)

Alcala made 0 catches on 5 targets in pre-season action. That's discouraging. Otherwise, this unit seems to be set.

Wide receivers
80/80 WR/KR/ST Calvin Maxwell (+1/+1)
70/70 WR Vinny Buysse
45/45 WR Ed Schulz
35/35 WR/ST Calvin Hancock (+2/+1)
30/35 WR/ST Rick Emerson (+1/nc)
15/25 WR/ST Gage Greer (-1/-1)

Only one decision to make here: do we have the roster spot for a 6th WR? Aside from that, what's not to like here?

Offensive Line
60/60 C Tevin Bratsch (-4/-4)
45/65 G Brett Stickney
50/50 C Lincoln Stonge
40/45 LT Harold Gruenwalder (+1/+1)
35/50 G Floyd Graham (+1/+1)
40/40 G Corwin Driver
40/40 G Bruce Strong (-2/-2)
30/45 LT Carson McCormick (-1/-3)
35/35 LT Adam Blair (-2/-2)

The tough decision is at guard as Graham, Driver and Strong are extremely close. I think we'll have to release one of them and one of them will be the starting right guard. Bratsch will likely start ahead of Stonge, although I seriously consider playing Bratsch at right guard. The tackle slots are clear (Gruenwalder and McCormick).

Special teamers
85/85 K Oscar Harrington (+2/+2)
50/50 P Manuel Szymanski (+2/+2)
20/20 LS Bennett Brock

Nothing to report here, other than that we're in okay to good shape.

Defensive Line
65/65 DT/ST Ben Courcy (-2/-2)
50/80 DT Gabriel Morris (+3/-1)
45/45 DT Alexander May
45/45 DT Jacob Buckey (-1/-1)
45/45 DE Robbie Dobreski (-6/-6)
40/40 DT Harold Gough (-4/-4)
40/40 DT/ST Mitch Potchynok
40/40 DE Warren Mendelssohn (-7/-7)
35/35 DE Deon Rosas
35/35 DE/ST Spencer Crawford

Crowded group and one decision I have already made: Mendelssohn will be released. Dobreski and Rosas are quite similar in talent, younger and longer on team (cohesion!). It's a waste of the $7,5M signing bonus that we gave Mendelssohn in free agency, but that's the risk we took. I'm undecided at the moment between May, Buckey and Potchynok as the odd man out at defensive tackle. It might even be two casualties as the likes of Courcy and Morris have the endurance to play a lot.

Linebackers
35/75 MLB Gus Coleman (+2/-4)
55/55 MLB Albert Desimone (+2/+2)
50/50 SLB Micah Halvorson (-2/-2)
45/50 SLB Tony Burks (+1/+1)
35/35 WLB/ST Luke Thompson (-8/-8)
35/40 SLB Marco Nichols
30/35 MLB/ST Mo Fausel (+2/nc)

Th worst news here was the sudden decline of Coleman's endurance. We hope he improves on it, but that would suggest he can't be an all downs linebacker. We are somewhat deep of course, we could throw Desimone, Halvorson or Burks out there on passing downs rather than Coleman. Nichols won't make the team, that's for sure.

Secondary
45/55 CB Logan Wallace (+2/+3)
40/40 SS Blaine Wright
40/40 S Pete Weaver (-5/-5)
30/30 CB/ST Zachery Weisz (-10/-10)
35/40 CB Wesley Cabrera (-1/-2)
35/40 S Wesley Centers (-2/+1)
35/35 CB Donnie Dogins (+1/+1)
35/40 CB Eduardo Cowdrick (nc/+3)
25/25 S Devon Farrell (-7/-7)
_5/_5 CB/ST Eric McCool (-4/-4)

Note that I mistyped on Wallace after training camp, he was "45/50" then. That aside, he's clearly our passing downs shutdown guy. Weaver turned into a typical veteran free agent signing, showing up out of shape at his new team. He will maker the team though, probably. Farrell is far from what he used to be, but his cohesion value will be so crucial and will boost him up from not being the worst guy of this group. Weaver, Cabrera and Centers are the bubble guys. McCool should make the team as a mentoring special teamer.
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Old 12-30-2021, 12:23 PM   #619
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2104 roster is ready
Wait, isn't it 2103?

Okay, the 2103 pre-season hasn't even finished yet, but old habits have returned to Maassluis. We locked up 8 players that were scheduled to become a free agent in the next off-season while we also agreed terms with WR Ed Schulz on a contract extension from 2 to 3 years. We locked up the veterans CB Zachery Weisz, DT Harold Gough, S Devon Farrell and DE Robbie Dobreski, with Dobreski even through 2105. Additionally, we agreed terms with C Tevin Bratsch on a 2-year deal, extended with KH/QB Malachi Manning for 2 years, agreed terms for 3 years with P Manuel Szymanski and for 4 years TE Wesley Martin.

We also announced the release of 7 players, which brings us down to 53 players on roster. RB Morris Pritchard was an off-season acquisition, initially with the intent to mentor and be an alternative for special teams and kickoff returns, but I'm confident that the youngsters at RB will develop quickly enough without a mentor. DE Warren Mendelssohn was our sacks leader last season (a career high 13.0), but it will end after that one, as we chose the longtimers at DE. He's still very capable, really, but cohesion and cap figures trumped here.

More shocking might be the release of two 2nd round picks from last season in DT Jacob Buckey and S Zachary Centers. They're kind of decent, but I didn't see how they would have a role on or defense in 2103 or beyond. Ditto on last season's 5th round LB Marco Nichols, but in that round you don't expect to find a starter, which you usually do in the 2nd round. Another 5th round pick of last season's draft, G Floyd Graham, was the toughest decision. It was between mentor and more skilled veteran G Bruce Strong, 4th year G Corwin Driver and Graham. Our crowded 2103 draft is quickly turning into one that was great in quantity, but seriously lacking in quality. Although, there are still 12 draft picks and 6 undrafted players from that class still on roster.

The most notable release has to be FB Owen Johnstone. He leaves us after 9 seasons of service. As an undrafted rookie in 2094 jumped onto the team right away, although initially exclusively as a special teamer. In 2096 we left him inactive all season, but in 2097 he was our starting fullback. In 2098 he was back to an inactive role, in 2099 returned to the offense as our starter and the last 3 seasons went back to just playing on special teams. All in all, he played in 114 regular season games for us.
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Old 12-31-2021, 07:08 AM   #620
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Is this the best we've got?
Or what is a 1-3 record in pre-season worth?

No more practice, it's time for the real games. We completed our pre-season campaign with a couple of losses: 23-3 at the Williamsburg Colonials and 24-17 at home against the Outer Banks Ospreys. Earlier on we beat the Frederick Red Menace 20-13 and lost 15-12 at the Moontown Darksiders.

The last two games we sent out the projected first team offense to start the games and let the backups finish it off. But that's usually not how pre-season games play out. S, I actually didn't start RB Bennett Holmes, to make sure he would get the majority of the carries, and so he did indeed: RB Van Goodwin had 6 carries, while Holmes had 34 carries in the last two games. Winfred England and Earnest Ashley took place under center, in that order. It's safe to say that, at least in pre-season, England can't do much better (or worse?) than Ashley has done for so long here as he completed 24 of 50 passes for 310 yards, with 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. Calvin Maxwell carried the offense, completing his pre-season with 4 100-yard games. And as per usual, the staff botched the usage of players on the offensive line, although this pre-season we didn't get to see our wide receivers, fullback and backup quarterback play on the right side of the line, they just substituted the guys out that needed the reps, while those that didn't need it, played a full game. Awesome, staff, awesome.

The defense was a bit less daunting than in the first two pre-season games, this time not holding the opponents to under 300 total yards. The pass rush pressure was downright disappointing, with just 1 sack, 3 blocked passes and 8 hurries in 68 pass plays. Yes, that's very pathetic for a unit as talented as ours.

All in all, almost nothing to get excited and optimistic about. I'd rather have the unrightfully feared 4-0 campaign. The Paris Musketeers were the only team to win all four 2103 pre-season games. To be fair, the last time we did go 4-0 in pre-season, we indeed missed the playoffs with a 7-8-1 campaign. That was in 2093, the first season in currently tied longest playoffs drought, which could extended to being the longest ever if we fail this season. More worrying is that we scored only 52 points, the least of all 32 teams. It's not our worst pre-season in that regard, we scored only 42 points in 2097, 41 in 2088, 47 in 2063, 44 in 2027, 45 in 2022, 42 in 2012, 37 in 2010 and 51 in 2005. Of all those seasons, in 2012 we went 10-6, going from 5-0 to 5-5 to 10-5, upset the division winning Bordeaux Vineyards in the wild card round and then got ran over by the Tucker Tigers RB R.J. Ellard. And in 2027 be rebounded from a 3-4 start to still win the division with an 11-5 record and make it to the AOC Championship game, where we lost to - you guessed it - the Tucker Tigers. But more importantly, it's a reason to not get too worked up about it, but it sure doesn't feel comfortable to see this talented offense still struggle, while the defense got basically ran all over just like in the last regular season campaigns.
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Old 01-05-2022, 03:23 AM   #621
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: New season, old habits?
Or how 2103 hasn't started all that great...

The first couple of regular season games is in the books and we've started basically where the trend of the last couple of seasons has brought us as well. We lost 17-10 at home against the Paris Musketeers, in a game where we got ran over by - get ready for this - the Lost Cause himself, Ken Torphy. Winfred England played kind of okay, throwing for 294 yards, but apparently he too is turning into a 50-50 guy on our offense, completing 21 of 43 passes. Calvin Maxwell had 8 catches (on 14 targets) for 151 yards and a score, but Vinny Buysse was held to just 5 catches (on 12 targets) for 45 yards. Oscar Harrington missed a field goal and our pass rush was just as much missing in action as our run defense.

We followed up by a clobbering at the hands of the Kansas Creationists: 32-7. Albeit drawing first blood, after a couple of giveaways, they kicked a field goal to get on the scoreboard at the end of the first quarter. More importantly, from there on it got really lopsided, as we got stalled or even saw Winfred England add more interceptions to his stat line, while they extended their streak of scoring drives to 6. They put the final score on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter. Our running game was missing (only 15 carries for 38 yards), while Winfred England couldn't find his receivers (17 of 39 completed for 186 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions), especially Calvin Maxwell (6 catches on 16 targets for 52 yards and 1 touchdown).

European Division:
1. Bordeaux 2-0
2. Paris 1-1
3. Gothenburg 1-1
4. Maassluis 0-2

But other than the disappointment, I try to remember that 2 games is a small sample size, in football every now or then a game can feel like throwing snake eyes and there's no remedy to that. We have 14 more games to rebound and make this 100th season not become the downswing of the franchise by making this the longest playoffs drought. It's bad enough that we went 10 seasons watching from the sidelines, despite that we used to be with the last 12 more often than not.

By now we're sitting at 47 seasons with post-season football and on the all-time regular season wins list, our 3rd place that looked once so safe, peaking at a 38 wins in 2089, is now down to 4 wins over the Kansas Creationists (and their predecors), not accounting for the 3 ties more that basically makes it just 2.5 wins ahead. The gap with the Tucker Tigers and Chesapeake Chitterlings has widened. Although, back in 2089, we were already 191 and 114 wins behind, the gaps have quickly risen to 261 and 148 wins behind them. So, point being, there's some additional motivation from the management/ownership perspective to fix this team fast and cling onto this almost meaningless stat. After all, without a ring (or just 1 in 99 seasons), it ain't worth a thing.
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* 2005 Golden Scribe winner for best FOF Dynasty about IHOF's Maassluis Merchantmen
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Old 01-05-2022, 01:06 PM   #622
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
100 Years of the Merchantmen: The top 10 players that were better than "average"

With the 100th season of the IHOF ongoing, thus of the Maassluis Merchantmen as well, it's interesting to look back on some interesting moments, players, or what not. Today, we take a look at a list of Merchantmen greats that were never considered to be better than average, but certainly managed to play above average.

Football fans in the IHOF are aware of that every team has a lead scout (in ancient times) or a coordinator who makes an educated guess of how talented a player is at playing his position. After almost a full century of tracking the numbers, these are the Maassluis Merchantmen that were never considered to be better than average (which means graded 49 or lower on a 0 to 100 scale), but could or should be considered to have exceeded their grade and played well enough to fairly be called underrated. After going through the all-time roster, there were far more than 10 players suitable to tell about, so, in between, we'll throw around a bunch of also rans. We'll kick off with the most fitting player of all.



Number 10: K Al Bettis (2006-2019, peak 45)
As an undrafted rookie, in the second to last game of the 2006 regular season, Al Bettis was given a chance to show his kicking skills. He completed a field goal and an extra point, in a 13-10 loss at the Boulder Blizzard. But a week later, just like in the previous 14 games, he had to hand over those duties to Cary Coles. But Bettis had his own special role: kickoffs. And for 223 regular seasons games in 14 straight seasons, he showed he was the very best in the business. Clear numbers are hard to come by, as software changes have seen kickoff stats from his era getting lost in the migration, but due to rule chances, it's likely to expect to never see anybody exceed Bettis' ability and performance as a kickoff expert.


The Merchantmen don't find all their hidden gems in the undrafted rookie pile, they do their homework well at times for the actual draft as well. In the first half of the 21st century, the Merchantmen had a reputation of finding starting linemen in the mid-rounds of the draft that ended up being suitable starters. As a result, most of them turned out to be also graded as above average and not quite fit into this top 10 list. Few do fit, like Guard Andre Watson (2086-2096, peak 47) and right tackle Mitchell Glover (2046-2056, peak 44), a 5th round pick. Glover was an All-IHOF second teamer in 2053, but it's fair to put a teammate of Glover, from the same draft class even, ahead of him and inside this top 10.


Number 9: LT Scott Null (2046-2058, peak 44)
Rarely does a 7th round pick get the chance to start in his rookie season, let alone an offensive tackle. A left tackle even. But that's exactly how Scott Null's career with the Maassluis Merchantmen started in 2046, with impressive stats to boost: 24 key run blocks and only 3 sacks allowed in 559 passing plays. Null continued to be a reliable pass protector, for 10 full seasons, holding up as the true left tackle of a line with, supposedly more talented starters side by side. A line that helped Norbert Talley turn from a very talented running back into a Hall of Famer, first in carries, second in rushing yards all-time.


For their offense, the Merchantmen have at times also found receivers that exceeded expectations while playing behind a legendary WR1, even reaching a 1,000-yard season. Tight end D.J. Cahill (2030-2041, peak 38) didn't reach those levels, but was a viable alternative to keep defenses guessing. Although as a first round bust, does he really belong in this category of underrated players? WR Artie Blazewicz (2080-2087, peak 43) did reach the 1,000-yard level, while another first round bust WR Marvin Badger (2047-2056, peak 43) got there twice. Other receivers were even better than them, we'll continue with one of them.


Number 8: WR Vince McAlister (2015-2018, peak 38)
Shortly after the 2015 draft, the Maassluis Merchantmen realized that they failed to address the hole on the offense created by the retirement of 5-time All-IHOF selection Alfredo Bass. The Merchantmen rang the Boulder Blizzard and traded their 2016 2nd round draft pick for the Blizzard's 4th round pick and third-year former #65 overall pick Vince McAlister. Coming off a season with just 2 catches for 31 yards, this seemed like a bad deal, but the Merchantmen saw promise in the young fast wide receiver. McAlister delivered with 77 catches for 1,116 yards and 8 touchdowns. Those being basically WR2 numbers, that's the role he got in 2016 and 2017 behind Gabe Springer, a #8 overall draft pick and eventual Hall of Famer. McAlister got another 1,000-yard campaign in 2017.

On pace for his third 1,000-yard season in 2018, McAlister's destiny changed in a game at the North Plainfield Plague, where he tore his MCL. He was subsequently placed on injured reserve and the next season failed to make the Merchantmen pre-season roster due to the lingering problems that severely decreased his speed and agility. In 2020 he did return for a a couple of days, but lost the try outs to Geoff Ward for a short stint to fill an injuries plagued team and he was released without making the game day selection. McAlister retired after 54 regular season games for the Merchantmen, in which he made 259 catches for 3,735 yards and 28 touchdowns. Most notable are his exceptionally high yards per catch (14.42) and yards per target (9.02).


On the other end of things, the Merchantmen have had mixed results with finding underrated players for their defensive front seven. It's actually tricky to find some, but they are there. Like DT Brian Lincoln (2040-2051, peak 45), a late third round pick. And there's the undrafted duo of DE Archie Exner (2087-2097, peak 46) and DE Johnnie Warren (2031-2041, peak 44). The story of DE Andy Russell (2082-2091, peak 47) belongs in the book of fifth round steals. Russell was initially a linebacker, which is the position where we'll find our next entry in this top 10.


Number 7: SLB Clayton Jackson (2087-2097, peak 48)
A bit of a reach or let's see where he can go pick in the third round of the 2087 draft, the Merchantmen didn't have high expectations of Clayton Jackson. After he was switched to become a strong side outside linebacker and sitting out his rookie season, he saw a couple of starters leave over cap issues and Jackson showed enough promise to be promoted into a starting role. Initially in a do-it-all role, it became clear that he was a suitable pass defender and could make a bunch of sacks per season. He continued to be a premier pass defender throughout the 2096 season, but 2097 saw his decline and in 2098 he was released after training camp, to never see the field again. With 94 defended passes and 11 interceptions, he's solidly in the top10 best pass defending linebackers in Merchantmen history, which isn't an easy task given their reputation to grab the best of the best at this position.


Sticking with the defensive theme, the Merchantmen have a long history of trying to find suitable starting defensive backs in late rounds, or spend a decent pick on a corner that never reaches the talent level of the round he was picked in. It still resulted in several serviceable, yet underrated players like S Bernie Gordon (2036-2047, peak 43), CB Jackson Gomez (2050-2059, peak 39), CB Steve Uribe (2054-2063,peak 44) and very recently CB Adam Harmon (2090-2021, peak 40), S Jon Brotzman (2090-2101, peak 33) and CB Zachery Weisz (2094-now, peak 47).

Not quite the same has been the picking of cornerbacks that excelled as return specialists, like kickoff returner Warren Pennell (2015-2023, peak 36) and punt returner Gabe Broady (2081-2087, peak 18). Broady has scored 8 touchdowns and averaged 17.0 yards per punt return, phenomenal numbers. Wide receiver Mark Perkins (2092-2101, peak 24) retired as the IHOF's all-time leader in punt return yards. But even that isn't good enough to get mentioned as the best return specialist ever.



Number 6:WR Jack Money (2037-2046, peak 32)
Late in the seventh round of the 2037 draft, the Merchantmen decided to take a shot at the return specialist Jack Money, said to have potential in both returning punts and kickoffs. A surprisingly rare combination, which the Jack-of-all-traits indeed appear to have. As a rookie, he was immediately thrown out there delivered with 12.0 yards per punt return and 34.4 yards per kickoff return. Money continued to be the main returnman through the 2043 season, after which the decline set in. Rarely good for a touchdown, always good to pick up an extra couple of yards that other return specialists couldn't. His 33.8 yards per kickoff return are the best in IHOF history, with more than 2 yards margin over the number two. So yes, Money deserves his place on this list.


We'll quickly head onwards to a lightning speed fast wide receiver!


Number 5: WR Terry Thomason (2023-2035, peak 49)
A curious case has to be made for the #9 overall pick of the 2023 draft. The Merchantmen figured they could afford spending another top 10 draft pick on a wide receiver. Thomason turned out to have the big-play ability to do well, but in other areas of his game he was lacking. In a way it makes sense to call him a bust, but at the same time, as a rookie, he came in as the WR2 on the memorable 2023 Merchantmen offense with hall of famers QB "Rusty" Harrison, RB Stanley Givens and WR Gabe Springer. Thomason scored 12 receiving touchdowns that season, a fantastic number for a rookie.

But lacking the overall talent, he struggled to ever become a viable WR1. It wasn't until his sixth season (2028) where he finally got a money off his back by breaking the 1,000-yard barrier. He succeeded in that in the next two seasons as well, while the team saw their other stars, on both the offense and defense one by one fade away and see a streak of post-season participation end at 6 seasons. Thomason was still around in 2035, when the Merchantmen finally returned to the playoffs, a season in which he scored 10 receiving touchdowns, a season after his fourth 1,000-yard campaign. With 11,996 yards receiving and 91 touchdowns, longevity turned into his claim to fame, although short of the IHOF Hall of Fame.


Before we continue the top 10, let's mention a couple of running backs that didn't make this list, starting with a long-time teammate of Terry Thomason: RB Mark McConnell (2027-2035, 40) racked up 5,217 yards and 39 touchdowns rushing, including a phenomenal 277-yard game in a lost effort in 2032. Another good, but not top10 worthy rusher is RB Reggie 'Thong' Thongchanh (2085-2094, 38), who ran for 8,353 yards and 50 touchdowns for the Merchantmen. But albeit outdone in production by them, another running back actually lead the league and carried his team to the IHOF Bowl.


Number 4: RB Donald Terry (2037-2044, peak 26)
The Maassluis Merchantmen always clamor their ability to find hidden gems in the fifth round of the rookie draft and in the 2037 draft they actually lived up to it. Almost a one-trick pony, Donald Terry was elusive, but especially gifted with phenomenal breakaway speed. Him being basically the perfect fit for a RB2 role, the Merchantmen were obviously happy to pick Terry.

In 2039 the Merchantmen decided to part ways with their feature back Darrin Keegan and rather than looking for replacement, they decided to stick with third down back Greg Brass and speedy Terry. He delivered big time, leading the league with 1,489 yards and a 5.60 yards per carry average, while scoring 12 touchdowns on the ground. The season ended with the Merchantmen first (and lost) IHOF Bowl appearance, in a game where Terry ran for 102 yards and was one of few bright spots on the offense.

For two more seasons he remained the main ball carrier in Maassluis, in 2041 running for 1,250 yards, with a 4.98 per carry average. He co-lead the league with 13 rushing touchdown. With Terry active, the Merchantmen went 11-3, but they lost all 3 games without him, including the wild card round game at the Toronto Lake Monsters. Although his speed didn't really decline just yet, the Merchantmen demoted Terry to the RB2 role in 2042 and even further down the depth chart in 2043. Although his replacement never reached Terry's level of play, he hung around through the 2044 season. In 2045 he was released before the rookie draft and failed to find a new home in that and the next off-season. But his 2039 campaign is impossible to forget.


Quickly some name dropping of a bunch of run blocking fullbacks that at the top of their game were also considered to be the top of the league at it: Quentin Malicki (2010-2020, 46), Gilbert Taliancich (2070-2080, 41) and Clay Brosseau (2086-2096, 43). All three lead the league in key run blocks amongst fullbacks at least once during their careers. Taliancich earned All IHOF honors twice. Second team honors were the highlight of the individual career of another offensive player, who did make our top10 "better than average players".


Number 3: WR Bubba Ellard (2058-2069, peak 47)
In the second round of the 2058 draft, the Merchantmen decided to bolster their already impressive receivers group. it helped Riddick Stanley breakout in his second season to a 1,536-yard campaign, while fellow first round pick Kai Oburn bounced back with a respectable 1,000-yard season. Amidst these other two wide receivers and arguably the two best tight ends in Merchantmen history, Ellard tried to show his big play ability out of a WR3 kind of role.

It wasn't until 2064 when he finally became a 1,000-yard receiver and a season later his 1,535-yard campaign finally got him into that echelon of Merchantmen receivers. He missed 4 games during the 2066 regular season, proving to have become indispensable to the offense that was carried by the defensive class of 2064 into the 2066 IHOF Bowl victory.


Let's head onwards to another member of the 2059 Merchantmen team, that both surprised the world with a 15-1 regular season, outscoring opponents 562 to 254, and by dropping hard in the divisional round with one of the most unexpected one-and-done's in league history.


Number 2: RB Fernando Scott (2055-2062, peak 47)
Imagine being a 4th round pick in the 2055 draft, joining a team that has all-time great Norbert Talley, then not yet knowing he'd retired after that 2055 season as the all-time IHOF leader in rushing attempts. It meant Fernando Scott got to play the RB2 from behind the best mentor one ever could have, no? Scott got 80 carries that season and the season right after Talley's retirement, he took over as the main ball carrier of a team that ended up losing the AOC Championship game 42-34 in Toronto.

Scott turned into an improvement over the future Hall of Famer, putting down six straight 1,000-yard seasons, shining with 5.63 and 5.68 yards per carry in the 2058 and 2060 seasons. In the 2059 season his average was slightly down, but still very high (4.78) and he also co-lead the league in rushing touchdowns. We've already mentioned the one-and-done, but Scott tried to keep doing his thing: lean heavily on his unmatched hole recognition, combined with great breakaway speed and just enough endurance to be able to carry the ball between 15 and 20 times per game. The decline set in in 2062, in terms of playing time, and right before opening day 2063 he was released. He kept waiting by the phones for 2 full seasons, but no team rang. he retired with a 5.01 yards per carry average, with 7,919 yards and 39 touchdowns rushing.


Okay, it's almost time to reveal the number one better than average player in Merchantmen history. We'll start this teaser by mentioning others at his position, which could be a give away who we've been counting down to. Those who know their classics, remember the years where QB Patrick McDonnell (2022-2026, peak 49) had to step in for an often injured Rusty Harrison and the duo combined for leading the league in 2023 with 46 passing touchdowns between the duo. This insurance was needed though, as he ended up playing in 24 regular season and 2 playoffs games in just 3 seasons in Maassluis. He threw for 4,850 yards, 40 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions in those regular seasons. It's fair to say that he must have been close to top10 worthy for this list.

Other passers that could have been considered, but probably have even less of a resume to speak of than McDonnell are QB Erick Loera (2075-2077, peak 39) and QB Sammy Erickson (2077-2080, peak 48) and it would be incomplete to not mention the duo of the 2040 quarterback controversy
QB Harry Osborne (2035-2044, peak 20) and QB Harvey Corbett (2040-2041, peak 47), and QB Moe Sheldon (2088-2095, peak 43). He peaked in 2091 with a 10-3-1 record, throwing for 24 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

But really, these are the kind of quarterbacks that we should consider to be "average", aside from McDonnell. And quite simply, they have nothing on the number one of this list.



Number 1: QB Lester Lowe (2057-2065, peak 46)
Early during the 2057 draft, the Maassluis Merchantmen started negotiating with the Augusta Greenjackets on flipping first round picks. Maassluis wanted to move up from #29 to #14 to be able to pick WR Riddick Stanley. But to strike a deal, they had to offer their 2058 first round pick as well. With QB Bryson Chow in the twilight of his career, finding a replacement for the future, at the very least a worthy caretaker for a couple of seasons, wouldn't be a bad idea. As the Greenjackets were openly shopping QB Lester Lowe, the 5th year veteran became the missing piece to make the trade happen.

So, the 2053 third round pick that played in only 17 games with 7 starts was exchanged hands like a couple of dimes. Despite a 3-2 start, the Merchantmen benched Bryson Chow after 5 games and Lester Lowe was from there on the new starting quarterback for the Merchantmen. Blessed with a strong arm, enough ability to get out of sticky situations and clutch-ness on third downs, Lowe was apparently the quarterback the Merchantmen had been waiting for.

The 2057 campaign finished with a 34-27 loss to the Williamsburg Colonials in the IHOF Bowl, but Lowe had stolen the hearts of the fans, and especially ownership/management. Chow hung around for another season, but had to sit and watch Lowe guide the Merchantmen to a 13-3 record in 2058. In 2059 the Merchantmen steamrolled through the regular season, losing one close game in Chicago en route to a 15-1 record. The crashing out in the playoffs remains as a bad memory.

Despite the one-and-done and the slow increase in interceptions, Lowe's position was undisputed and by his hand, the Merchantmen bounced back with a 12-4 record in 2060. They got clicking again and reached their second IHOF Bowl in 4 seasons time. The Chicago Norsemen won a close contest (17-14). Another disappointment, but Lowe continued to impress the season after. Another 12-4, yet a one-and-done followed in 2061.

The 2062 season was disrupted with injury to Lowe, missing 5 1/2 games and the Merchantmen missing the post-season despite a 10-6 record. The physical decline for Lowe set in during the 2063 season, no longer able to make up the interceptions with enough long passes for touchdowns. The 2064 saw the team almost bounce back from a 2-7 start, as the class of 2064 defenders started to quickly mature and carry the team. other games fell the wrong way, tie-breakers kept the Merchantmen outside the playoffs.

In 2065 the Merchantmen traded for Alfred Hickman, ending Lowe's tenure as the starting quarterback. He was given some playing time in a blowout victory, but that was all the action during that 12-4 season with a division round exit. After that little action, there wasn't enough drive anymore to watch from the sidelines and Lowe retired in the 2066 off-season.

Lester Lowe goes down as the only quarterback to guide the Merchantmen into the IHOF Bowl twice, with that 2059 season in between. He has the best passer rating of all Merchantmen passers with more than 1,000 attempts, leaning heavily on his superior completion percentage and touchdowns per attempt figure. Not to mention his win-loss record that trumps all other quarterbacks in Merchantmen history.

And the scouts at work told management he was only average. Lester Lowe exceeded those expectations, he quarterbacked the Merchantmen into belief they could win an IHOF Bowl. Which came true much earlier than anybody could have imagined: the exact season Lowe signed his retirement papers.
__________________
* 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

Last edited by MIJB#19 : 01-05-2022 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 01-07-2022, 04:54 PM   #623
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: A winning streak!
And we're still in last place, how about that.

Loyal readers of this journal might be familiair with my general disappointment in that the bye week in the regular season always comes early and rarely at around mid-season when a break is neat to recover some injuries. Things were different in week 5 of the 2103 season, kind of at least. After a hard fought battle in a windy and not so cold Oranje Haven, an influenza outbreak ran havoc in our locker room. No players were ruled out exactly, but more than a dozen felt woozy and wobbly throughout the week. At least that's what the team doctors made of it. But I don't count out the option for some of them wanting a bit of time off after an overtime game that was a torture for the home fans, until the game was won in overtime after all.

European Division Standings
1. Bordeaux 4-0
2. Paris 3-2
3. Gothenburg 3-2
4. Maassluis 2-2

Ok, let's backpaddle just a little bit here. Last time I wrote something about us, we were sitting at the same last place spot, but still winless and now after our first back-to-back wins since weeks 8 and 9 of the 2101 season, we're supposedly back into the mix? Yes, actually, we are back into it. But y'all know victories come by easily in Maassluis in the 2100s.

Week 3 was a game circled by not just the home fans, but also in particular by QB Winfred England. His previous team, the one that shipped him overseas to us, the Augusta Greenjackets, were coming to Oranje Haven. The neutral media proclaim the Augusta quarterback player of the game, but it was England who won the battle and outgained his successor 269 to 187 passing yards on 31 attempts each.

Besides England, the Merchantmen outgained the Greenjackets barely, but boosted by superior field position, a sign of life for the running game, while WR Vinny Buysse and WR Ed Schulz became welcome targets for England during a bit of a down game for WR Calvin Maxwell, the 17-7 victory wasn't quite underserved. Perhaps the visitors deserved a closer score, missing a couple of field goals to help sway the score into the margin it ended up in.

Well, we also know that kind of luck can even out sooner or later and such was the faith of K Oscar Harrison in the next home game against the San Antonio Tidal Force. While the offense was clicking and the defense doing its job, the points weren't always coming on the board. Turnovers hurt us a bit more and amidst all that, no less than 3 field goals didn't get between the Y-sign. Twice the snapper was called out by Harrison and the neutral journalists for the mishap. Things could have been saved by the end of regulation with another field goal attempt, but the staff decided to throw the ball on third down and rather than setting up the game winning field goal, an interception forced overtime. Our kickoff returner Calvin Maxwell and P Manuel Szymanski deserve the credit for nailing them deep and a catch and run from good old WR Ed Schulz, obviously thrown by QB Winfred England, ended the game: 30-24 Merchantmen.

The good news? Well, the winning streak, in spite of it coming at home, we should really cherish this. We'll already reach our home games mid-season point in week 6, so we're really, really, really going to need to keep this up. The bad news, as if that wasn't bad enough, the rest of the division is winning more games than we are.

Vinny Buysse appears to be the greatest beneficiary of the England arrival. With back to back 100-yard games, he actually lead the league in receiving yards after week 4. Calvin Maxwell isn't all that far behind though, while Ed Schulz is the other guy besides Maxwell making the touchdowns, they have 3 each. The RB Bennett Holmes and RB Van Goodwin duo is still struggling, but their combined production is getting better game by game. In front of them, I'm still puzzling with the interior linemen options. C Lincoln Stonge and G Corwin Driver are not impressing me much, which makes me want to try G Bruce Strong at the right guard spot, side by side with C Tevin Bratsch. And FB Damien Wanamaker is showing his face on the run blocking unit for a change. It's about time, kid.

All that said, I'm not quite optimistic about the team just yet. We got clobbered in Kansas, remember? Losing at home against Paris didn't just hurt, but losing divisional games at home is usually that one game you come short to make the playoffs. Maybe I should check the data on it some day, because I'm going completely anecdotal here...

The influenza outbreak has close to vanished. 5 players are still ailing, but I'm confident they'll get by. But as two of them are WR Calvin Maxwell and WR Ed Schulz, guess who might need to make the big catches again? WR Vinny Buysse, I suppose. And we'd applaud it, we have to take every win we can for now. Making the playoffs remains the goal, despite this young, green, non-cohesive bunch. It might still come, while we train up our rookies and other youngsters. DT Gabriel Morris is improving fast, while LB Gus Coleman is trying to stay in pace. A duo to hold onto. Maybe it's time to go old school and try to revive some class of 2064 magic with the 2066 playbook?
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Old 01-09-2022, 09:39 AM   #624
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Winning record!
Will 2103 finally be the turnaround season?

Facts first: we continued our season with yet another home game, facing the Atlanta Vipers. In 2100 division champions, the Vipers have dropped hard the last two seasons and actually had a worse record than we had in 2102, although by just half a victory. Although the defense struggled to hold the not so impressive Atlanta offense off, by the start of the fourth quarter, the offense had done quite enough to we managed to take a 20-point lead and eventually won 36-26.

The biggest news of the day was RB Van Goodwin's 133 rushing yards and 1 touchdown (with a 9.5 yards per carry average), while RB Bennett Holmes also added a score on the ground. Winfred England continued the 50/50 kind of play, but it was all just enough to keep the chains moving, with WR Calvin Maxwell bouncing back with a 114 receiving yards and a touchdown. Even TE Garrett Alcala scored a touchdown!

European Division:
1. Bordeaux 4-1
2. Gothenburg 4-2
3. Maassluis 3-2
4. Paris 3-3

So, a 3-game winning streak, when did we achieve that most recently? Week s 12 through 14 of the 2100 season, also a 3-game stretch at home, then we finished it by upsetting the eventual NAC top seeded Texas Sharks. Gothenburg is also on a 3-game winning streak, pushing Paris to the bottom of the division in a game where the loser was always going to end up there. Bordeaux lost their unbeaten status in a 54-17 humiliation at home, by the hands of the Fort Wayne Fury. Some kid named Billy Russell threw for 6 touchdowns, missing his chance to join the 7-touchdown club by getting replaced in the fourth quarter.

Guess what, we'll be visiting those Fury in week 7. We won only 3 of our last 28 road games (yeah, I took the silly selective stats route here, we actually won 5 of the 9 before that). It will be an interesting matchup, because the Fury have a loaded defense in terms of talent and their management appear to be able to turn a random off the streets QB into the best performing one in the league: in 5 games, Russell threw for over 400 yards per game, 18 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. And the kid has legs as well...

So, yeah, it'll be time to go to the drawing board for a defensive game plan. Or take the double bluff card and stick with our current game plan. We actually flipped between 3 completely different defensive game plans, so it won't be possible for the Fury to predict which one we'll use anyway. Most likely, I'll indeed take the time to think hard on what kind of plan we can make for this specific game.

On a more overall scale, it's good news to be 3-2 and on a winning streak, but reality is that we've already played 4 of our 8 home games. Based on that we're basically not far ahead of what we managed to do last season (3 wins at home, 1 on the road). But for now, it's much better to clamp on the positive side of things and try to tweak the things that can be improved.
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Old 01-10-2022, 04:49 PM   #625
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Setting new records
A negative one today.

So, the bottom of the barrel wasn't in sight at all yet. After all these seasons of torture from far below average football, started with an offense that completely refused to play up to their talent level, to a #1 defense that fell from the face of the earth within two seasons. And now, today, we set a new defensive dreadfulness record.

The trip to the Fort Wayne Fury resulted in a two-faced game, with an exciting and closely contested first half. The shocker in the stadium happened when Billy "Who?" Russell went down on a play that saw a pass of his getting blocked, less than 5 minutes from half time. By then already having thrown for 208 yards, he was bound for another big game. Part-time tight end Trent Upshaw was repromoted to the quarterback position and, well, he never looked back. That is, going into the break, we managed to lay down a tremendous quick drive to take a 21-17 lead.

From the second drive onwards, the Trent Upshaw show was on. Our defense had no answer to the Fury's passing power and neither had our offense. Although, a pick six yanked up the score for Fort Wayne to 44-21 and even a 45-yarder throw from QB Winfred England to WR Vinny Buysse was brushed away by a strip sack at the Fury 8-yard line as we were driving for our now or never touchdown. The last 7 minutes were barely watchable, but by then the 52-21 final score was already on the scoreboard and we even decided to give QB Earnest Ashley some playing time. Trent Upshaw finished half a game with 375 yards passing, 4 touchdowns through the air, 1 by his legs. Nobody was talking about Vinny Buysse's 200-yard receiving game, Upshaw was the player of the week.

Elsewhere in the European division, Bordeaux regrouped and posted a 22-17 win at San Antonio. Gothenburg and Paris had their bye weeks, bringing the number of games played inside the division back to all the same.

Division:
1. Bordeaux 5-1
2. Gothenburg 4-2
3. Paris 3-3
4. Maassluis 3-3

Yup, we're back to the bottom, there where we've resided way too much in recent seasons. Our next stop is in Paris, where we'll try to do anything to stop the Lost Cause from running all over us. The Musketeers beat us in week 1 and contrary to us, they did have an answer to the Fury, beating them 37-21 in Paris in their only home game so far. We're going to need to show a performance here, if we think we're contenders in 2103. But after a drubbing like today's, giving up 625 total yards, 12 yards worse than our previous worst set back in 2006, in Paris, in a season where the Musketeers played 4-12 football and we played 8-8 football.

Trust in our own ability, that's what we need. Look back on what we've done in the past, with these same players, stick to what worked and for the things that didn't, do the opposite. Yes, we'll have to work on our game plan once again. As long as we're still trying, it shows we're still caring, still have the perseverance to keep our backs straight, chest forward. The best remedy to get over a terrible loss is by winning the next one, preferably on the road against a division rival that's bound to think they should cakewalk to victory.
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Old 01-11-2022, 10:02 AM   #626
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We stuffed the Lost Cause
And beat Paris in the process, yippee!

A crucial victory in what basically was a stay in the race or fall far behind game. It's always a lot to ask from the team to win on the road in a divisional clash, but the visit to Paris was in particular one that I was particularly wanting us to see win. Preferably, or honestly maybe more importantly, by keeping the Lost Cause Ken Torphy in check.

First play from scrimmage, Paris in possession at their own 35-yard line. The Paris quarterback handed off to Ken Torphy and in his attempt to run around the right end, Torphy bumped into second year LB Tony Burks to get tackled for a loss. His fullback and backups got some action on the same drive, as Paris still managed to move inside our redzone, but on his second carry, Torphy was stopped by DT Gabriel Morris and LB Abraham Desimone for no gain. A couple of plays later Torphy's QB ran the ball in for Paris 7-0 lead, but Torphy's production was held to 3 carries for 0 yards gained. Surely the team wasn't happy about falling behind a touchdown on the first drive already, but the owner/general manager of the Merchantmen was smirking, the Lost Cause was put back to earth.

A defensive battle followed, Paris nailed us at our own 1-yard line late in the first quarter, we were stopped on 4th and not so short when kicking wasn't really an option nor was punting, but in particular off-season acquisition S Pete Weaver showed himself. Recently I instructed for letting him play a bit more in neutral and run oriented downs and with a couple of interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, he made the best statement for why he deserved more playing time.

In between all this, RB Van Goodwin struggled once again, while RB Bennett Holmes played okayish. QB Winfred England had a typical 50/50ish day, completing less than half of his passes, but when he did, it was usually for the first down and usually with a good gain as well (he threw for 297 yards). WR Calvin Maxwell bounced back with 120 yards on 7 catches, making up for WR Vinny Buysse having a bit of a down game. But TE Garrett Alcala won over some doubters. Amidst the turnover battle that the Merchantmen defense was winning, the second-year tight end caught a long pass and turned it into an 83-yard touchdown.

A couple of forth quarter giveaways could have hurt us, as it helped trim our 21-7 lead to 21-14 and saw us miss the opportunity to bring it back up to a 2-score lead. But we stuffed the Lost Cause once again and as Paris ended up in a pass on all downs catchup mode, good old CB Zachery Weisz made a crucial interception just before the two-minute warning. We failed to run out the clock, but the defense was solid enough to keep Paris from a miracle last minute drive.

European division:
1. Bordeaux 6-1
2. Gothenburg 5-2
3. Maassluis 4-3
4. Paris 3-4

Bordeaux is currently tied at the top of the AOC with the league champions Toronto Lake Monsters, while Gothenburg sits in the first wild card slot. We're currently a game behind the second wild slot, but a victory in Houston (our next game) would actually virtually put us in that spot, knowing that the virtual #6 seeds Tucker Tigers won't have their bye until after their home games against Harlem (2-5) and Snapfinger (2-6). So, yeah, it's not very likely we'll jump into that virtual wild card slot anytime soon. Maybe if Gothenburg loses in the upcoming game of the week in Bordeaux.

But, why would be have the confidence to actually win in week 9? We'll be visiting the Houston Mustangs, a team that we lost 35-21 at last season, which was the worst of our 6 late season games were we kind of restored some confidence in our ability to play good offense. The change of quarterback has brought some additional boost to our star receivers, both are performing as league top10 receivers.

Speaking of quarterbacks, QB Earnest Ashley is unhappy about his playing time. It hasn't come as a surprise, it's likely that by the end of the season he'll be demanding a trade, unless we flip back to him for whatever reason. It could create a peculiar situation as both Ashley and England are signed through the 2104 season and out of contract in 2105. England is signed for $37M with no bonus (which means a retirement wouldn't cost us dead cap space), while Ashley is signed for a $45M salary and a $30M bonus. And then there's QB Randy Walters, our rookie project. I see a couple of scenarios.

No changes in 2103, England sticks around
This will be a scenario where we'll have to take our losses with Ashley and either trade or release him, assuming he doesn't retire. Walters would hopefully hold up over pre-season and look like our 2105 and onwards option.

No changes in 2103, England retires
If this happens, we'll have a choice between Ashley and Walters, hopefully. If that happens, we know Ashley will be non-negotiable in the off-season, costing us $75M in cap space. We could either start Ashley for one final season and figure out in the 2105 off-season whether we can re bring him back after he returns to happiness after a season of starting again. If we go with Walters, we'll have to decide whether we want Ashley as very expensive mentor and backup behind Walters. All that, providing Ashley doesn't retire after one season of riding the bench...

But that's all future talk, right now, we're in the middle of the 2103 season and for now are in an okay enough spot to think that we're still in the hunt for a playoffs ticket. The Solecismic playoffs probabilities calculator currently gives us roughly 1 in 6 odds. That's good enough for me though, as of right now, if we would win all of our 9 remaining regular season games, we'll be division champions. Quite simply because we've still got both games against Bordeaux and Gothenburg still to play. And all could look much different if we fall to 2-5 Houston in the next game and see Paris jump back ahead of us by winning their game in Atlanta...
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Old 01-13-2022, 10:08 AM   #627
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We're far from ready to compete
2103 isn't going all that well after all?

Two more games in the books for the Merchantmen. And boy, did we not play up to where I thought we could be, just yet. We lost 24-10 in Houston and, more painful, 34-20 at home against Bordeaux. The last one stung, because the divisional games at home are the ones you really need to win to stay in the race for the playoffs.

Against Houston the offense wasn't up to ability. In particular the passing game was underwhelming as QB Winfred England completed 21 of 45 for 212 yards. He was sacked 7 times. I repeat: he was sacked 7 times. That's just not going to help the case at all. The defense clearly wasn't up to their potential either, giving up 5.87 yards per run and, in particular unacceptable, letting a pedestrian rookie QB complete 22 of 31 passes.

Against Bordeaux, the defensive woes continued. They ran for 187 yards on us, 5.19 per carry, while the still very skilled QB Walt Czech completed 23 of 32 for 293 yards. Our pass rush was below standards, the pass defense missing in action. Quite the bummer, given that the offense actually put up a fight. It's just very rare for us to lose a game while having a 100-yard runner. QB Winfred England once again struggled to complete passes, completing 20 of 45 for 272 yards. It almost makes you think there's something in the water here that makes talented quarterbacks unable to complete more than half of their passes.

Division:
1. Gothenburg 7-2
2. Bordeaux 7-2
3. Paris 5-4
4. Maassluis 4-5

We're defensively a disaster again. We're tied 28th in points allowed, giving up the most yards of all teams. That latter doesn't always bother me, having a topnotch special teams unit (and we are one of the best) and offensive power (which we're not quite) can force opponents to need to gain more yards, but we're also 27th in yards per carry allowed, 25th in yards per pass attempt allowed and 31st in completion percentage. Our pass rush is moderate, which means it's playing below its ability.

If you think our passing game (6th in yards per game) with two top4 wide receivers is sufficient to make up for the defensive flaws, it's not. Our running game has somewhat improved, but despite that the game plan is designed to play a 50/50 run/pass variation, we're near the bottom in rushing attempts. Which is really too bad as we've improved to middle of the pack in the yards per carry department.

Next up a game in Gothenburg, which in recent years, decades almost, has become a guaranteed loss. Our last victory there was in week 17 of the 2087 season, the last one in a series of 6 straight wins there. The Giants still feel like we dominate them, but that's the reality of how the cards have shifted towards them, we're even just 5-10 in home games since that most recent victory in Gothenburg. 5-25 since then, ouch. That's beneath us.

The defense is what worries me the most, as I kind of pointed out earlier. In particular because I see a lot of talent on this unit that somehow isn't coming to life yet. DT Gabriel Morris is making good progress and combined with DT Ben Courcy, it's tempting to say that in pure talent they're sniffing at the bowl winning duo of Shaun Hartman and Preston Urquoila of the 2060s. And the linebacker foursome is a good one, with rookie ILB Gus Coleman making slow but steady progress, despite that we're not putting him out there on all kinds of downs. Maybe we should though. Or we should get even more creative as LB Micah Halvorson and DT Gabriel Morris already see a lot of action in the defensive end slots. Which might be a hidden cause for the reason why the pass rush isn't up to standards? Or are we so used to phenomenal cohesion, that I'm expecting a bit too much from this unit?

Anyway, Gothenburg up next and it'll be a huge test. I'm afraid of another big loss. We've lost too many games by more than one score so far and the victories that we had, some we're way too close for what they should have been... I'm preparing for the worst, as has become the norm for the road game in Gothenburg. I'm not really motivated to figure it out, but this could be the longest losing streak to one particular team and at a specific site be in team history.
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Old 01-16-2022, 09:08 AM   #628
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Still in pursuit
2103 is far from over yet!

Hang on to your seat, because the last two games the Merchantmen played well enough to upset the Gothenburg Giants in their house and follow up with a big win at home against the Chicago Norsemen. And with that, we're not just back to winning record and one game behind the wild card spots, we've already tied our best win total so far in the 2100s. Which doesn't say much as our previous best was a lousy 6-10 record.

Gothenburg first, a game where we tried to prepare well with our defensive game plan. The result was a weird one as we were basically atrocious until the Giants came close to our 40-yard line and then we'd raise a wall to keep them from getting into the end zone. And with a fabulous first quick drive with QB Winfred England connecting with WR Vinny Buysse and WR Calvin Maxwell on back to back plays, we took the lead first and never looked back from there on. The offense did just enough, the defense woke up near our red zone. We picked off Mercury Pierce 3 times en route to a 17-12 victory. Our first in the current Gothenburg Giants stadium after 15 failed attempts.

The victory over the Chicago Norsemen may have been set up on the first play from scrimmage for them, as their quarterback Brady Spencer limped of with a strained foot ligament to not return to the field in the remainder of the game. But earlier on this season, the same injury to Forth Wayne Fury quarterback Billy Russell inspired his backup Trent Upshaw to play a player of the week game and lead his team to a blowout victory. Not so much for the much maligned Stanley Moroney. The Merchantmen defense showed an ability to stop the run and forced plenty of turnovers to never give the Norsemen a chance, despite that our star receivers Maxwell and Buysse were held to a combined 7 catches (for 159 yards still). We came out of it with a 39-13 victory, giving up just 1 touchdown.

Europeasn Division:
1. Bordeaux 8-3
2. Gothenburg 7-4
3. Paris 6-5
4. Maassluis 6-5


Next up for us will be a visit to the North Plainfield Plague. They're on a downswing with a 3-8 record after 11 games and surprisingly an even longer streak of seasons without a winning record than we do. Which means that the usual jinx of jinxes comes into action as we have a tendency to play terrible against the Plague when they are having a bad season (and vice versa). For the wild card race, this is a big game for us for tie-breakers as this is an intraconference game, while for the tie-breakers inside the division this is one of two games that's completely meaningless. Either way, if we want to keep thepost-season hopes alive, we can't afford to lose anymore games, especially not one where we're actually favored to win. Let's see what we can come up with as a game plan to disrupt their offense...
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Old 01-18-2022, 07:22 AM   #629
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The choking has begun
... or how the easy games turn into the worst.

It would have been something to report here and now that we'd improved to second place in the division and vividly in the wild card race. We could have, but we failed to get there. Turnovers kept us from victory in both of our last two games.

The visit to the North Plainfield Plague turned into a sage of a game. Drama was all over the place as we struggled in the snow that tortured the field. Our running game was, well, it simply wasn't. And with a an almost equally struggling QB Winfred England (3 interceptions in regulation), it was an uphill battle. And we still got our chances...

With 10 seconds to play, we forced the Plague to punt and blocked it. On the next play, we went for the Hail Mary and, lo and behold, WR Calvin Maxwell got down with the ball and dove it in for the game tying touchdown. Overtime it became. And the drama wasn't quite over just yet. The Plague missed a (for a snow game) not so easy field goal on their first possession, defenses ruled, then we blocked another punt and from the 10-yard line, rather than just kicking it for the win, we tried to go for it and Winfred England's pass got picked off. The defense gave us one more possession, we got downfield, but Oscar Harrington missed a short kick, which under normal circumstances would have been a walk in the park for him. So, end result: 17-17 tie.

We followed up with a should win game against the Arizona Miners in our own Oranje Haven. "Should" as, you guessed it, we didn't. Fumbles and yet another dreadful running performance hampered not just enough to fail to take a big lead, we actually saw a defensive touchdown put them back within a field goal and in the fourth quarter they got their go ahead touchdown, while we were completely hopeless offensively. WR Vinny Buysse was held to 23 yard on 11 targets. At least the best receiver in football Calvin Maxwell made the best of his 7 receptions, gaining 157 yards and scoring a touchdown. But all was too little, we lost 20-17 despite that we kept Arizona to 121 yards passing on 27 passing plays.

European Division:
1. Bordeaux 9-4
2. Gothenburg 7-6
3. Paris 7-6
4. Maassluis 6-6-1

The rest of the division is freefallin' as well. Bordeaux has gone 3-3 over their last 6 games. Gothenburg is on a 4-game losing streak, which starter with our visit to them and which they hope to snap in our Oranje Haven in the next game. And Paris has bounced back today after losing back-to-back home games. The division has lost grip on the top wild card and is actually in pursuit now for the second one. We're 1.5 wins behind now, knowing the two 8-5 Southeast division leaders will play head to head in week 17. But really, if we keep playing terribly so often, we're not worthy of post-season football. But if we beat Gothenburg fair and square in our next game, then, yes, I do believe we belong. So, team, go out there and prove you're worthy!
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Old 01-20-2022, 11:11 AM   #630
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Choking complete
All that's left is playing spoiler...

In what was clearly a must win home game against the Gothenburg Giants, our season came basically to an end. We played along for 3 quarters, but in the end we simply had no answer to their running game, despite game planning heavily towards stopping it. We gave up 3 offensive touchdowns, which was the same total in our previous 4 games combined. And the offense once again failed to play up to its ability. Running only 9 times is both depressing and completely unacceptable within our game plan, I'm tempted to say it should be mathematically impossible within our plan, but so it did go down.

Still mathematically alive, we followed up with a 19-16 overtime victory at the Iowa Cobbers. Indeed, yet another overtime game. It's weird that we built a 2-score lead, then won the turnover battle, yet still found a way to choke that lead and allowing things to go to overtime. Our specific game plan on defense somewhat paid off, but the offense, well, it's still just not doing what it clearly has the talent to be able to do. But as they say: a win is a win.

European division:
1. Bordeaux 11-4
2. Gothenburg 8-7
3. Paris 8-7
4, Maassluis 7-7-1

Yeah, the teams in front of us have had their own fair share of mixed results and in week 17 it's Gothenburg at Paris where the winner needs help to get into the post season, needed at least two teams ahead of them to choke. A tie in that game would be the ultimate season end in style, as it would eliminate them both and actually is the life boat for the Harlem Apollos, as they can only make the playoffs with that tie. For us, we can only play spoiler and try to keep Bordeaux from grabbing the #2 seed. The Fort Wayne Fury fans and players will likely hope for that. If we win, we'll finish the season in third place, regardless of the result in Paris.

To be fair though, although we flirted with the playoffs being a legitimate option through week 12, the tie at North Plainfield combined with the home losses against Arizona and Gothenburg wasted our chances, but specifically a team giving up 338 points in 15 games and having a -33 points differential going into the final game at the best team still to be faced, we really don't belong in the post-season anyway.

So, season 100 will have to do without the Merchantmen in the post-season. What we can claim today is being the third franchise to reach the 900-win milestone. But that is something I'll have forgotten by this time tomorrow, because these are the kind of statistics we're not playing this game for. The one number that we failed to change once again is the 1 in IHOF Bowls won. We'll have to wait for the second century to get a shot at that...
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Old 01-21-2022, 08:25 AM   #631
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2103 is over
Another fourth place finish, sadly.

Improvement is there, but at the same time it wasn't. The 2103 season came to an end as we lost 33-21 at the Bordeaux Vineyards in week 17 and finished far away, 2.5 wins behind the required 10-6 record to make the playoffs. We shot ourselves in the foot one more time, fumbling as we were driving to take at minimum a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Turnovers were a problem, but the for this season usual problems also occurred once again: no running game, no run defense, inconsistent passing game and the pass rush once again not living up to their ability.

European division:
1. Bordeaux 12-4
2. Paris 9-7
3. Gothenburg 8-8
4. Maassluis 7-8-1

Bordeaux will be the lone European representative in the playoffs. Paris beat Gothenburg in a close game, but results elsewhere made it all too little too late. Bordeaux missed out on a bye, losing tie-breakers to the other two 12-4 teams in the league. For those wondering, we 'earned' the #14 overall pick in the draft with our performance.

QB Winfred England finished the season completing 47.0% (by far the lowest of all in the league) of his passes for 4,335 yards (3rd highest in the league). Without it being our intent, England threw the 2nd most passes of all players. So much for that very balanced game plan working out as, well, planned. He lead the league with the highest yards per completion figure, but actually a lower one than Earnest Ashley had last season. WR Calvin Maxwell finished 2nd in receiving yards, WR Vinny Buysse 6th. Maxwell was also 2nd in receiving touchdowns. Our running backs were both held below 600 yards rushing by our opponents. Dreadful, I know.

Our defense finished the season in 32nd place in rushing yards allowed, which also added up just enough to also finish 32nd in total yards allowed. Merchantmen unworthy, inexcusable. We finished 29th in points allowed. I'd be willing to claim our special teams unit made up for all the terribleness, but our kicker missed an unusual number of field goals. Sample size be damned.

Other key figures? We're the worst team in terms of yards to go on 3rd down, which is obviously a result of our less than 50% completion percentage and worst running game (okay, technically we rank 31st, but the 32nd ranked team doesn't run the ball other than through quarterback scrambles). Unsurprisingly, we were tied 28th in third down conversions. On the other end, our third down defense wasn't all that great either. And I'll throw our pass rush under the bus one more time: these guys are supposed to be very good, but performed as a below average unit. Unacceptable, guys.

So, now what? On to 2104?

Yes, on to 2104.
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Old 01-21-2022, 07:20 PM   #632
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
The Maassluis Merchantmen All First Century Roster

The Maassluis Merchantmen coaches have spoken. After extensive research based on all the scouting reports over the first 100 seasons of Maassluis Merchantmen football, the all first century roster has been made. This selection includes 53 players, with the number per position selected that represents a breakdown of an average Merchantmen roster. All 1,166 players that were on the roster at any season's end, or were at least 8 weeks on roster before being cut, were up for consideration.

Every player was graded based on a mathematical formula of five measures. Three of them were the overall ratings reported by lead scouts or coordinators at each season's end: their highest scouted value, their median scouted value and their average scouted value. This to reward those that peaked at extremely high levels of football, while also rewarding those that kept their ability consistently high. The fourth element was the number of seasons on roster to reward longevity. Finally, the a recalibrated occurred based on how much better (or not) each player was compared to the 'average' starter at his listed position.

The end result is the following list of 53 names ^1. Some all time greats as perceived by the fans, or even the Hall of Fame committee might or will be missing, but that was the risk. Decision was made to let the word of staff members and their reports be the objective criterium, this to factor out favoritism. The result is a list of the best of the best, factoring in at least some loyalty. Here's how the depth chart looks like with these 53 players filled in.

startersbackupsmore backups
QB Russell Harrison 2020-2029,2033-2034QB2 Louie Flannery 2006-2021QB3 Ellis McAlister 2074-2087
RB Stanley Givens 2023-2026RB2 Darrin Keegan 2032-2038RB3 Norbert Talley 2048-2055
FB Albert Shalon 2029-2039FB2 Jamel Rosenberry 2006-2011
TE Jim Reiser 2004-2015TE2 Jorge Jurevicius 2049-2060TE3 Emmanuel Forbes 2056-2065
WR1 Theodore Bondy 2082-2096WR3 Riddick Stanley 2057-2068WR5 Calvin Maxwell 2099-2103
WR2 Gabe Springer 2016-2026WR4 Terry Haskell 2036-2048WR6 J.R. Mills 2069-2079
LT Kerry Zumdahl 2031-2038
LG Michael Szott 2084-2094G3 Harvey Hank 2077-2086
C ​Tom Anaya 2065-2078C2 Butch Pearson 2080-2092C3 Robbie Zinn 2093-2101
RG Ricky Castillo 2032-2038
RT Oscar Meadows 2071-2085RT2 Howard Humphrey 2085-2096
LS Jameson Willis 2063-2077
K Charles Anthony 2026-2042
P Malachi Pennell 2044-2058
DE Richie Piotte 2095-2101DE3 Jordan St. Pierre 2057-2067
DE Gene Kondovski 2086-2097DE4 Daquan Strugielski 2064-2075
DT Charles Gomez 2004-2014DT3 Andy Cottle 2023-2035
DT Shaun Hartman 2062-2074DT4 Preston Urquoila 2062-2074
SLB Fred McCorkle 2031-2042LB6 Daniel Duncan 2040-2049
MLB Wesley Devine 2036-2048LB4 Cody Cluff 2004-2016LB5 R.J. Knight 2023-2033
WLB Edward Ross 2064-2075
CB1 Kirk Hitchcock 2081-2093CB3 Tai Wayne 2005-2015CB5 Mark Crum 2040-2050
CB2 Peter Tucker 2064-2075CB4 Ernie Grant 2095-2101CB6 Randall Allen 2019-2023
S1 Devon Farrell 2091-2103S3 Lincoln Gilmore 2004-2014
S2 Jimmy Chellino 2020-2031S4 Perry Walker 2030-2043


^1 Despite all efforts to let the math do the work on its own, there had to be made some debatable decisions:
Most (62+) of the 100 rosters included 3 QB, 3 RB, 2 FB, 3 TE, 6 WR, 9 OL, 4 DE, 4 DT, 6 LB, 5 CB, 4 S, 1 P, 1 K, 1 LS.
The 53rd slot went to a position that was filled next most (42 times).
The starting LT had to be an actual LT, not a RT or another OL.
The starting LG and RG had to be actual G, not another OL.
The 4 backup OL had to include at least one OT and one G.
There had to be a LS, because for 62 seasons there was one required.
No special treatment for special teamers, in particular return specialists.
On average, FB1 was a starter, WR3 was not.
On average, LB3 was a starter, CB3 was not.
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Old 01-22-2022, 10:38 AM   #633
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
The Game of the Century
In 100 seasons of International House of Football existence, there have been many memorable games. Sometimes, games in the middle of a regular season end up kind of forgotten, stuck in the middle fo the bigger picture. Maybe because the actors at business have other struggles to deal with outside the field. In the various volumes of the Maassluis Merchantmen dynasty reports, there's a huge gap between the 2041 and the 2078 seasons. As a result, one particular game was never written about. Until today.

When the dynasty readers were asked to bring up what would be interesting topics to write about to celebrate 100 season of the Maassluis Merchantmen, a request came to bring up the most memorable games in franchise history. It felt impossible to bring up a top 10. The most important game was obviously IHOF Bowl LXIII, that one game in the 2066 season where the Merchantmen won their first and so far only league championship. But today, we're going back to a game that happened several seasons later. A game feature several of that IHOF Bowl winning figures and facing off against a team with a rookie quarterback, 5 seasons away from his own bowl victory at the end of the 2077 season.

We go back to week 7 of the 2072 season.

The location was Oranje Haven, home of the Maassluis Merchantmen. A stadium opened in 2001 and from 2004 onwards one of 32 where IHOF football is being played. In 2029 it was expanded to the maximum size allowed by league regulations, then the third franchise to do so, shortly after the Syracuse Mohawks and North Plainfield Plague started the trend in the early 2020s and today more than half of the league have adapted to it. Oranje Haven was sold out, making for a crowd of 99,900 football fans.

Host of the game were the Maassluis Merchantmen. Then dominating the European Division, having won that division 6 of the previous 7 seasons, the one season missing out, finishing second on tie-breakers and rightfully so after losing in the playoffs to the Paris Musketeers. Following their bowl victory in 2066, the Merchantmen reached the AOC Championship game again in 2067, losing 35-32 at home. The Merchantmen were not so much thinking about regular season games being all that important, it felt almost automatic to win the division and they were more concerned about their 4 season streak of one-and-done in the playoffs.

The Merchantmen were going into this game with a 3-2 record and sitting second in the division behind the 5-1 Gothenburg Giants, while the Lake Monsters were red hot with their 5-1 record and seemingly far ahead of their division rivals. The Northeast division back then had the reputation of being the worst in football, coming off a season with a 7-9 division champion. The Lake Monsters had something to prove, their 5-1 record not being a fluke.


The Lead Actors
In 2072 the Merchantmen were still leaning heavily on their defensive super stars that were key to their 2066 league championship. IHOF Bowl LXIII MVP defensive tackle Shaun Hartman was there to run havoc on opposing offensive lines, in support of the players known as the Class of 2064: cornerback Peter Tucker, linebackers Gabe Hamilton and Edward Ross, and reigning Defensive Player of the Year defensive end Daquan "Da Machine" Strugielski. All but Hamilton were eventually elected into the Solecismic Hall of Fame. They had bolstered their defense that off season with three second round rookies that all turned into long-time starters.

The Merchantmen offense wasn't a bunch nobodies either. Quarterback of choice in 2072 was Alfred Hickman, the ball thrower that fans had to both hate and love, infamous for throwing more interceptions than touchdowns during the IHOF Bowl winning regular season and in 2072 being in season two of his second stint in Maassluis. A then young wide receiver J.R. Mills, into his fourth season and then still not quite being used to the best of his ability in his HOF career. In front of Hickman were, amongst others, center Tom Anaya and right tackle Oscar Meadows, quite possible the best run blocking duo in Merchantmen history, both eventual Hall of Famers. Although the Merchantmen were seriously lacking in talent at the running back position in 2072. Skip Clemens and unsung hero Lance Blackwell split carries.

Coming to Maassluis were the Toronto Lake Monsters. A franchise that always disliked going to Maassluis. They were coming off a 5-11 campaign in 2071 and with the #5 overall draft pick selected quarterback Clayton "Champ" Andrews that off-season. He was thrown into a pass happy game plan and was delivering with 4 400-yard games and 2 300-yards games in his first six. His main target was 26-year old tight end Louis "Lagarfljotsormur" Brentlinger, an eventual Hall of Famer, just like Andrews himself and then fourth-year wide receiver O.J. "Bozho" Baker. The offense also featured Amir Maese jr., playing wide receiver while his father was a running back. The Lake Monsters defense was leaning heavily on strong safety Omar Infante. surrounded by many good, but not great home grown players.


First Quarter
The Lake Monsters had won the coin toss, elected to receive and before Clay Andrews could realized what was going on, he had already fumbled the ball, was saved by "Lagarfljotsormur" Brentlinger on the recovery and thrown an interception that was returned by Peter Tucker to midfield. Welcome to the big boys, "Champ". Alfred Hickman responded with his typical third and long deep throws, setting up Lance Blackwell's pound in touchdown.
Merchantmen 7, Lake Monsters 0.

The Lake Monsters responded by throwing and throwing and throwing. Mixed up with some of Clayton Andrews' charateristic scrambles, he lead his offense downfield and eventually found "Lagarfljotsormur" Brentlinger wide open on a medium length pass to hail it i for a 28-yard touchdown. The kick was good and the game was all level after 10 minutes of football.
Merchantmen 7, Lake Monsters 7.

The second possession for the Merchantmen saw the home crowd collectively throw their hands at their heads. Alfred Hickman attempted a short pass from his own 10-yard line and it got picked off. Two plays later, Clayton Andrews found "Lagarfljotsormur" Brentlinger open in the end zone for their second touchdown of the day.
Lake Monsters 14, Merchantmen 7.

The other Alfred Hickman showed up on the second play of te next Merchantmen possession, as his line gave him enough time, he was able to reach the wide open J.R. Mills on deep throw and Mills turned it into a 66-yard reception, getting tackled 3 yards short of the touchdown by Omar Infante. The Lake Monsters defense held ground in their red zone and forced a short field goal at the end of the first quarter.
Lake Monsters 14, Merchantmen 10.


Second Quarter
On the Lake Monsters' next possession, the ferocious Merchantmen defense forced three and out, sealing it with a sack on third and three. Alfred Hickman immediately found J.R. Mills for 37 yards to move into Toronto territory and several players found Mills again for 25 yards as Mills fended off defenders to jump into the end zone.
Merchantmen 17, Lake Monsters 14.

Rookie Clayton Andrews appeared unimpressed still and on the next drive continued as he had done so far that season. Scramble here, 19-yard dart to "Lagarfljotsormur" Brentlinger there and eventually that duo connected on their third touchdown of the game from 3 yards out.
Lake Monsters 21, Merchantmen 17.

The Merchantmen failed to make much progress on their next possession. Clayton Andrews replied with a 25-yard throw to "Bozho" Baker. Already within field goal range, Andrews scrambled on third and six to move the chains and steered his offense into the red xone with a 17-yarder to none other than "Lagarfljotsormur" Brentlinger. Shortly after the two-minute warning, the Lake Monsters pull a bit of a trick play as Amir Maese jr. hauled in a screen pass for the touchdown.
Lake Monsters 28, Merchantmen 17.

The Merchantmen appeared still unimpressed and knew that there was plenty of time to bring it back to one score and then open the second half with a game tying touchdown. A typical third down thrown from Alfred Hickman to J.R. Mills kept the drive alive, but right after calling their first time out, not only did Hickman's deep throw get picked off, linebacker Darryl Porter silenced Oranje Haven by returning the ball 61 yards for the touchdown. Despite a strong kickoff return right after, the Merchantmen offensive line looked overwhelmed by surprise and after several penalties, the Merchantmen ran out the clock on a first and 30 play to end the first half trailing heavily.
Lake Monsters 35, Merchantmen 17.

By half time, 52 points were scored, was this going to set up for a game for the ages? The Merchantmen and their self-proclaimed all-star defense was getting ran over, while gunslinger Alfred Hickman had already shown both the best and worst of his abilities.


Third Quarter
Right after the break, the Merchantmen responded with their deep ball approach. Alfred Hickman found Brody Stevens for 25 yards to march into Toronto turf. A third down conversion to J.R. Mills kept the drive going and eventually Hickman would find his tight end Toby Newman in the end zone. In fear of this high scoring affair, the Merchantmen decided that trimming the deficit to 10 points would be the smart play and Hickman found Mills for 2 points:
Lake Monsters 35, Merchantmen 25.

Although barely impressed, the Lake Monsters offense couldn't do much on their first possession of the second half. Their defense was even more impressive right after, holding the Merchantmen running game in check and forcing three and out. The Merchantmen defense replied equally, the back and forth ended on the Merchantmen's next possession as Alfred Hickman found his tight end Toby Newman on third down. Completions to none other than J.R Mills brought the Merchantmen into scoring position, but penalties for unnecessary roughness and pass interference helped the Merchantmen into the red zone. Hickman found Brody Stevens wide open.
Lake Monsters 35, Merchantmen 32.


Fourth Quarter
At the beginning of the third quarter, the Lake Monsters passing game showed a sign of life again. Clayton Andrews found Amir Maese jr. on third and long to move the chains, but on the next third down, the Lake Monsters' line was overwhelmed and "Da Machine" Strugielski floored Andrews for an 8-yard sack. The Lake Monsters defense found their answer right away, sacking Alfred Hickman on third down and forcing Maassluis to punt. The punt was long, but not deep, Jordan Washington returned it to close to midfield. In the melee after the tackle, it turned out Washington not only had dropped the ball, but long snapper Jameson Willis had scooped it up before Washington was ruled down and Willis managed to go all the way, 47 yards for a touchdown.
Merchantmen 39, Lake Monsters 35.

With over 10 minutes to go, this game was far from over. Clayton Andrews and his skill positon players were struggling, but on third downs they returned to doing the right things. A 17-yard dart to "Bozho" Baker moved them into field goal range and a 13-yarder to the backup tight end Howard McPhail got the Lake Monster into the red zone. Another throw later, Clayton Andrews got his team back in front, finding Jordan Washington for a touchdown.
Lake Monsters 42, Merchantmen 39.

The Merchantmen took full advantage of their strong special teams unit and ditto kickoff returner J.C. Eschtruth, getting to start their next drive into Toronto territory. Alfred Hickman found Brody Stevens for 17 yards to get into field goal range and an 11-yard run by Skip Clemens got th Merchantmen into the red zone. On third down, Hickman found tight end Toby Newman short of a first down, but Newman promoted the catch into a touchdown.
Merchantmen 46, Lake Monsters 42.


Two-Minute Warning
Clayton Andrews found Jordan Washington for 21 yards to quickly respond to it and right after the two-minute warning, "Lagarfljotsormur" Brentlinger was on the receiving end of a 15-yarder to move into Maassluis' balf. A deep throw to "Lagarfljotsormur" Brentlinger almost resulted in a touchdown as he was tackled a yard short of it after a 37-yard reception and "Bozho" Baker completed it with a 1-yard touchdown reception.
Lake Monsters 49, Merchantmen 46.

Kickoff return phenomenon J.C. Eschtruth showed his legs again, rambling for 40 yards and way past midfield. On his third throw, Alfred Hickman found none other than J.R. Mills for a 29-yard touchdown.
Merchantmen 53, Lake Monsters 49.

Once again had the lead shifted to the other team and by now both teams combined for 102 points scored, a new IHOF record as the previous high was 97 points. It wasn't all over just yet, Toronto had 37 seconds and all of their time outs still remaining. After the kickoff that turned into a touchback, Clayton Andrews overthrew his hand and not only was his pass picked off, Peter Tucker returned it for 40 yards and touchdown.
Merchantmen 60, Lake Monsters 49.

After another touchback, the Lake Monsters had nothing to lose anymore, 26 seconds remaining. Clayton Andrews found Amir Maese jr. for a 42-yard gain and Toronto quickly called a time out to attempt a 50-yard field goal and hope to leave some time on the clock for a miracle. Clyde Sieh missed, but an offside penalty on Maassluis end extended the game. Sieh converted the 45-yard kick, but time expired on that play.
Final score: Merchantmen 60, Lake Monsters 52.


Oranje Haven exploded, 60 points scored and coming back after trailing 35-17 at half time. The back and forth in the second half was sensational. At the end of the day, the massive crowd had witnessed a football game with 112 points scored, thankfully won by their home team. Nobody realized that it was a first time occurrence and, now that the 100th season of the IHOF is 11 playoffs games away from its end, unless something similar happens in this post-season, this game goes into the history books as the Game of the Century.
__________________
* 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

Last edited by MIJB#19 : 01-22-2022 at 05:53 PM. Reason: minor fix, nothing important :D
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:02 AM   #634
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Link to the box score of aforementioned game: TOR at MAA: 2072 WEEK 7 BOX.

Some additional notes on the aforementioned Game of the Century:
TOR QB Clayton Andrews threw for 420 yards and 6 touchdowns
MAA QB Alfred Hickman threw for 363 yards and 5 touchdowns
TOR TE Louis Brentlinger had 11 catches for 164 yards and 3 touchdowns
MAA WR J.R. Mills had 10 catches for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns

TOR QB Clayton Andrews won Solecismic Offensive Player of the Week
MAA WR J.R. Mills won DogBytes Offensive Player of the Week
MAA CB Peter Tucker won both Solecismic Defensive Player of the Week and DogBytes Defensive Player of the Week

To date, it's the only competitive game in the IHOF with 100+ points scored, and consequently is the only one were a losing team scored more than 50 points.


At the end of the 2072 season:
TOR TE Louis Brentlinger was the IHOF's leading receiver with 148 receptions and 2,207 yards.
TOR QB Clayton Andrews won Offensive Rookie of the Year and lead the league with 5,438 passing yards and 43 passing touchdowns.
MAA QB Alfred Hickman lead the league with 25 interceptions thrown.
MAA WR J.R. Mills had only 75 receptions for 1,388 yards and 6 touchdowns.
MAA LB Edward Ross lead the league with 131 tackles, MAA DE Daquan Strugielski with 19.5 sacks.
DE Daquan Strugielski won his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award.

Toronto won the Northeast division with a 10-6 record.
Maassluis finished second in the European division with an 11-5 record, behind Gothenburg and their 12-4 record.
Toronto was 5th in scoring that season (with 487 points), Maassluis 11th (with 429 points). The top three teams scored 500+ points.
Both Toronto and Maassluis lost in the wild card round of the playoffs.
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* 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

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Old 01-22-2022, 04:47 PM   #635
tzach
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Join Date: Mar 2015
thanks a lot for the chronicle, mijb -- that game was the beginning of an era, no doubt. that mini-dinasty with the Lake Monsters was fun.
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Old 01-27-2022, 04:05 PM   #636
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Welcome to 2104!
But we'll be down 6 players.

Every new off-season starts with the retirements papers signing of players. For the Maassluis Merchantmen it means that no less than 6 players that were on roster last season are out. QB Winfred England, C Tevin Bratch and TE Bryan Goldade spent just one season with us. Much longer have been the presence of S Devon Farrell, DT Harold Gough and CB Zachery Weisz. And elsewhere, we took notice of the retirement of FB Owen Johnston, LB Preston Bradford and RB Ronnie Vanden Bosch.

Unsurprisingly, QB Winfred England was elected Legend of the Game and, surely, he'll be in the Hall of Fame in a couple of seasons. Clearly he won't be regarded as a Maassluis Merchantmen, but that's okay, he's an Augusta Greenjackets legend having started more games for them than anybody else. We hoped to give him more than the one season with us to say have a twilight of his football career.

S Devon Farrell will go into the records as quite possibly the best safety in Maassluis Merchantmen history. In 13 seasons with us, he played in 203 regular season games and 4 post-season games. he made 4 All-IHOF selection, 2 of them as a first teamer and unsurprisingly is amongst the top10 all-time Merchantmen players in tackles, interceptions and defended passes. With him also retires the last proof that the Merchantmen once were a team capable of making the playoffs...

CB Zachery Weisz and DT Harold Gough joined us as mid 3rd round draft picks in the 2094 draft. Weisz never missed a game in the 10 seasons with us, while Gough missed 4 games in his next-to-last season. Weisz was our nickelback from the first to last day he was with us. A phenomenal zone defender, backed up by his fare share of interceptions and defended passes. Gough was a pass rush up the middle, although usually seen as too short to play defensive end and too light to play defensive tackle. We still used him a lot on passing downs throughout his 10-season career with us.

FB Owen Johnston joined us as an undrafted rookie for the 2094 training camp and didn't leave until almost 10 seasons later in the 2103 pre-season. For the majority of his time with us, he was a key member of the special teams unit, while for two seasons he was also our run blocking fullback.

LB Preston Bradford was originally with the Outer Banks Ospreys. There, was rarely used and while we saw potential in him as useful zone defending linebacker, we traded for him. For 5 seasons he played quite a bit, although never became an undisputed starter. In the 2102 off-season, before training camp, he was one of many cap casualties, in his case in anticipation of not likely to make the roster as a much used starter anyway. He kept waiting by the phone throughout the 2102 and 2103 seasons, but no team even gave him a trip to training camp.

And finally there once was RB Ronnie Vanden Bosch. Our 5th round pick in the 2096 draft, so obviously he ought to be good. He was on paper our starter in his rookie season, but that was mostly a result of him playing on some formations and specific downs, but in reality he had just 88 carries for 367 yards. Which for a first season should be plenty enough reason to make him at least a RB2 much more and longer, if only for his ability to know the game plan, but we gave him little in the next five seasons and spent his last 3 seasons on the inactive part of the roster. In 2102 we released him and mid-pre-season. He didn't get a second shot in that or last season.

All of the above means that we're going into the off-season with 47 players on roster, as we had everybody signed through this season. We're at a shockingly healthy $87M under the cap, which means we should have plenty of room to go to the market and figure out whether we want to spend it. We still have an unhappy QB Earnest Ashley to consider as our passer of choice for the upcoming season, while the green as grass QB Randy Walters is still graded as potentially starting material. We'll be drafting 14th overall in every round, the result of our mediocre and unique 7-8-1 record. After last season, we can safely say that we can still use every sort of help for our team, so those 47 players currently signed are in no way guaranteed to still be here on opening day when we host the Gothenburg Giants to kickoff the 2104 season.
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Old 01-31-2022, 04:18 PM   #637
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
The 19 of 2102 - start of the 2104 off-season
After a bunch of trades, made during the 2102 draft and several in the off-seasons prior, the Maassluis Merchantmen finished that draft with 19 picks. A long list of young men hoping to win a job in the international house of football. Joining the Merchantmen is, usually, one of the best chances to stick around in the league, at least on the same team. But with 18 others from the same class, will those odds still be the same? On the other end of things, the Merchantmen swept through their roster throughout that same pre-season and were in dire need of fresh meat. Hence, incoming the 19 of 2102. Let's see whether tracking down where these kids end up over time will be an interesting side story in the long history of the IHOF?

The list of 19 could arguably be considered to be slightly longer (like 33 names long) after including undrafted rookies. Which is fair, because they're still from the same draft class. So, let's list them by pick and after that in order of signing. In this first installment, we mentioned whether these guys made the 2102 regular season roster or not and mentioned any possible position switches. In this second installment, we'll go over where they are now going into the 2014 off-season and how likely they are to make the regular season roster this time around.

1.24 ILB Tony Burks - switched to SLB in 2103
Burks has developed into a 50/50 linebacker. Was switched to the outside, which may fit better within his skills and framework. He's a 55 run defender, 60 zone defender, has 80 play diagnosis and has only 30 endurance, while lacking special teams skills (35). He can play, but isn't 1st round worthy and needs to be outside some formations to make up for his lack of stamina.

2.6 TE Garrett Alcala
Alcala is still learning, now 55/60 and should be fully developed by the start of the season. He's a 70/85 run blocker, with 60 endurance, but his receiving skills are somewhat lacking. Although a 75 getting downfield, 60 big-play receiver and 85/90 third-down receiver, his 35/45 route running is a concern. This guy might be able to be a 50-catch, 700-yard guy, but won't be a 90-catch, 1,000-yard guy.

2.13 CB Logan Wallace
Wallace has developed into a 55/55 cornerback. He's an elite 100 man-to-man defender, with 85 bump-and-run, 40 interceptions and 50 endurance. His zone defense (35), run defense (0) and play diagnosis (25) make him one of those defenders that needs to be slotted in the right places to be effective.

2.24 K Oscar Harrington
This 85/85 kicker has been unlucky in performance in his second season. His kicking accuracy (85) and kicking power (just under 100) are elite. His kickoff skills are decent enough.

2.28 CB Zachary Centers - switched to SS
Centers has retired, making him the only one of the 2102 draft's top two rounds. He played in 5 games as a rookie and was cut mid-pre-season in 2103. He never got a job elsewhere in the league.

3.5 CB Wesley Cabrera
This 35/40 cornerback might be on the bubble to make the 2104 roster in Maassluis. His 25/30 man-to-man and 25 bump-and-run defense are too little to play as a true CB1 or CB2. His zone defense (50/55) and interceptions (65) are okay enough to become a dime back and he's a decent special teamer (55/60) and kickoff returner (60) to make it worthwhile to give him another look in training camp and pre-season before making a decision.

3.18 RB Rondell Robertson
This 35/35 running back is mostly known for his 65 punt returning. His running skills are mostly geared towards his 55 breakaway speed and 55 hole recognition, making him a serviceable RB3. His route running (45/50) and third down receiving (50) support that as well.

4.3 OT Harold Gruenwalder - switched to LT
Has become a 45/45 left tackle. With 65 pass blocking and 75 blocking strength he could become a fine blind side protector, but his 15 run blocking and 30 endurance mean that he's not a complete lineman.

4.7 G Brett Stickney
At 55/65 he's still developing, despite 2 full seasons as a starter with mentors. With his 55/65 run blocking, 60/75 pass blocking, 50 blocking strength and 65/70 endurance, he should be good enough to maintain as a starter.

4.23 S Daryl Heath - released in pre-season
Currently Heath plays for the Capital City Blues. Our scouts see him as a 25/45 safety with mostly run defense and play diagnosis.

5.2 C Lincoln Stonge
At 50/50 he's fully developed (pretty much), but he lost his starting job to a veteran last season and will likely do so again this season to a free agency acquisition. His 55 run blocking is too low for a starting center, while his 25 pass blocking is also lacking. His blocking strength and endurance although decent, are too little to make up for it.

5.6 LT Salvador Horton
Horton is out of football. He was released after 8 games of inactivity in the 2102 season and retired in the 2103 off-season.

5.13 DT Mitch Potchynok
Turned into a 40/40 defensive tackle. Spent all of last season inactive. His 65 pass rush technique, 65 paly diagnosis and 60 special teams make him a suitable passing downs option. He has no endurance (0) and has 35 run defense also make for that decision. With the retirement of Harold Gough, that is a likely scenario for Potchynok.

5.23 G Floyd Graham
Is a 35/50 starter with the Rochester Razorbacks. He was released in the 2103 off-season and Rochester signed him week 1 to make him a starter.

5.24 OLB Marco Nichols
Is a 30/45 project with the San Antonio Volunteers. Nichols was cut in pre-season 2103 after a full season of inactivity in Maassluis, then was signed and cut for week 1 by the Toronto Lake Monsters and during the post-season signed a contract in San Antonio, which has been extended already.

6.5 S Eduardo Cowdrick - switched to CB
Still developed, Cowdrick is now a 35/40 cornerback. His 50/60 man-to-man and 40/50 zone defense are fine, His 65/70 interceptions make him a reasonable play on passing downs. His 90/100 endurance could make him an all downs player, but his 5 run defense and 35/40 play diagnosis are lacking.

6.31 TE Raul Milliken - released in pre-season
Milliken has retired after being released after 8 games of inactivity in 2102 by and with the Merchantmen.

7.7 WR Rick Emerson
Is a 35/35 wide receiver, mostly on roster for his 80 special teams ability. With 55 route running and 40 third-down receiving, he's a viable WR4 option.

7.31 CB Steven Van Pelt
By our staff graded as a 20/35 free agent, Van Pelt might still turn into a reasonable dime or even nickelback. He was released by Maassluis after 8 weeks of inactivity in the 2102 season.

undrafted QB Wendell DeMeester - released in pre-season
Failed to make the 2102 team, is out of football.

undrafted TE Antoine Springer
Failed to make the 2103 team, is out of football.

undrafted TE Tanner Sweeney - released after training camp
Failed to make the 2102 team, is out of football.

undrafted QB Jay Bates
Failed to make the 2103 team, is out of football.

undrafted RB Rod Eafon - released in pre-season
Failed to make 2102 team, but is still in the league, without having played a single game. In 2102 released in pre-season by Maassluis, signed by Fort Wayne Fury that opost-season. In 2103 signed and released by Rochester Razorbacks in pre-season, signed by Augusta Greenjackets in post-season.

undrafted TE Darnell McKie
Still developing, now scouted as a 35/45 tight end. Lacks blocking skills (15/30 run blocking), but besides being a 65/70 special teamer is growing into a 85/95 third-down receiver with 50/75 route running and 45 big-play ability.

undrafted WR Gage Greer
At 15/25 is clearly a special teamer (75/90) and nothing but that. Might make the active roster more often in 2104 if his reaches his special teams skills potential.

undrafted C Stan Cloude - released in pre-season
Failed to make the 2102 team, is out of football.

undrafted OT Carson McCormick - switched to LT
Has grown into a 40/45 left tackle. Has played right tackle, but his 70/75 pass blocking is much better than his 35/40 run blocking. Lacks blocking strength (0) and endurance (30). Might lose his starting role in 2104 and fall to a backup LT role.

undrafted ILB Mo Fausel
At 35/35 not really impressive, but as a 90 special teamer is clearly an important member of that part of the team. A 70 punishing hitter, but overall lacks other defensive skills to be considered to play on defense.

undrafted CB Kendall Boone - released in pre-season
Failed to make the 2102 team, is out of football.

undrafted RB Van Goodwin
As a 40/40 running back has enough to be a RB2. Except that last season he had to move into the RB1 slot, kind of. Has 75 breakaway speed, 55 third-down running, but only 35 hole recognition, 0 route running and 30 endurance. Is a 70 special teamer, so will likely make the team as the RB3 at minimum.

undrafted WR Calvin Hancock
At 35/35 is close to a viable WR4. With 40 route running, 45 getting downfield and 60 big-play ability should be useful if forced into action. Mostly leans on his 75 special teams to be part of the active roster.

undrafted C Gustavo Hartman
Hartman has retired after being released after 8 games of inactivity in 2102 by and with the Merchantmen.


So, out of the long list of 19 drafted and 14 undrafted players, the Merchantmen still have 18 of this class still on team and 5 others are still around in other places or the free agents pool. For the 2104 season, it's likely that TE Alcala, G Stickney, LT Gruenwalder and CB Wallace will be undisputed starters, while K Harrington could reasonably be lumped into that group. TE McKie, DT Potchynok, LB Burks will likely see playing time on specific downs. RB Robertson, RB Goodwin, WR Emerson, WR Hancock, LB Fausel and CB Cowdrick will likely stick on the special teams unit. C Stonge and LT McCormick are suitable backups for the O-line, even as alternatives at G. WR Greer and CB Cabrera are the two players who could be a longshot to make the team. But, training camp and pre-season are still to come, so, you'll never know what happens...
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Last edited by MIJB#19 : 01-31-2022 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 02-01-2022, 03:41 PM   #638
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: It wouldn't be a draft without Merchantmen trades!

We've been busy. At least I was. We've been a bit of a draft picks broker, picking a bunch of from the Fort Wayne Fury and sending about half of those forward to the Iowa Cobbers. In between, we struck a deal with the Brooklyn Fightin' Bums, us sacrificing our 2105 2nd round draft pick to move up from the 46th overall pick to the 27th overall pick. The first round finished the the Merchantmen being one of five teams with two picks. Our score so far: RT Ivan Dole and CB Lincoln Taylor.

Dole is the 5th highest graded offensive tackle of this class and we made him the 2nd of that bunch to be picked. My staff found Dole to be underrated and thinks he's an excellent run blocker (much needed on this offense) with the endurance to still be good late in the game. We missed out on our main targets CB Spencer Cielo and S Cole Cantwell, both were on our radar to bolster our safety group. We fixed that by picking 6'3" 203 pounds Lincoln Taylor. He was the best defensive back left on the board (our board) and we moved up for it. I debated between Taylor and another defensive back, but we went with Taylor here.

As it stands now, we're still rich in picks, with a pair in the 3rd, pair in the 4th, pair in the 5th, a 6th and a pair in the 7th. With 50 roster slots already filled, it's quite questionable whether we should stick with all of them and they are all openly on the trade market available. It's still nice to hold on to some late round picks to hopefully scoop up a couple of 3rd round value guys that slipped through undetected by other teams. But in the IHOF, that's just very unlikely to happen.
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Old 02-01-2022, 08:59 PM   #639
QuikSand
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
We had T Dole rated highly as well, our scouts also graded him as underrated. I also had S Cantwell placed highly on my list.

CUT IT OUT
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Old 02-02-2022, 06:27 PM   #640
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Tradeaholic at work
Yeah, like, nobody saw that coming...

We struck a deal with division rivals Gothenburg Giants for their 3rd and 5th round picks next draft in exchange for the #78 overall pick in the ongoing 2104 draft. We also dealt the #110 overall pick to the Toronto Lake Monsters for their 4th in 2105. And we're awaiting confirmation on a deal that would send the #96 overall pick elsewhere for yet another 3rd rounder in the next draft.

The bummers of the off-season so far have been the contracts that were turned down by free agents we tried to sign. G Lance Gryboski, a 5th year pro and former #10 overall pick, decided to stick with his original team the Capital City Blues. CB Sebastian Ogden, recently released by the Iowa Cobbers and a 10th season veteran, took $100M signing bonus to play for the Gothenburg Giants. And DE Mo Milton, previous with the Paris Musketeers and recovering from a severe groin injury, he took a slightly better offer from the Orlando Talons.

We did manage to sign C Elijah Cyr, a 14th season veteran, possibly the best run blocker in the business and all around a solid lineman. We gave him a good 2-year deal, that apparently makes him the best paid center in the league, which he certainly deserves to be.

In the renegotiations department of news stories, we've been quite quiet as we're still more than $50M on the good side of the salary cap figure. We increased our figure by agreeing terms with WR Calvin Maxwell on a new 5-year deal, including a new $50M signing bonus. It actually makes WR Vinny Buysse slightly higher paid for the upcoming season, unless we rework his contract later on.

Our negotiations with QB Earnest Ashley have been kind of okay, despite that we failed to agree to terms. To my own surprise, Ashley is unhappy, but apparently still willing to talk with me about a new deal. His demands are reasonable for a starting caliber quarterback that isn't guaranteed to be the starter. He's willing to give in about $18M of his salary cap figure, which at $75M is the highest on the roster. Being in the final year of contract, obviously I want to lock him up, if the price is right and if I feel that he could be our starter again at some point during that new contract. He turned down a fair offer of $110M over 4 years and on the second attempt a $83M over 3 years deal. We'll get back to him, but unless we quickly need cap space, it will likely have to wait until mid-pre-season.
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Old 02-03-2022, 08:01 AM   #641
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We got a new running back
But don't get overexcited just yet.

We made bids to a trio of free agents and today learned that two of them chose to sign elsewhere, but one of them did ink a deal with the Maassluis Merchantmen. RB George Shackelford, previously the RB2 of the Iowa Cobbers, signed a 3-year deal with us. Yes, I understand the risks of signing a 29-year old RB, but at minimum he can mentor our youngsters throughout pre-season. If his skills hold up over pre-season, we'll have signed a guy with excellent (95) hole recognition, who can also be our alternate kickoff returner (70) and has the route running (60) and getting downfield (40) skills to be an outlet target on a short route. His endurance (45) is good enough to play on a couple of formations.

Our trading spree also continued and now we're down to 6 late round picks, starting with the 4.31 pick. We also still hold the 5.14, 5.26, 6.32, 7.21 and 7.32 picks. With 49 players signed and 2 1st round picks already incoming, it still means we have basically only room for 2 of those 6 late round picks on our regular season roster. But you never know what happens in pre-season, so it's likely that our spree is about to come to an end and that we'll make sure to grab the players here that we'd otherwise hope to land as undrafted rookies.
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Old 02-03-2022, 05:05 PM   #642
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We have a new quarterback!
Wait, again?

Merchantmen football fans, there's going to be a new ball thrower in town. We agreed terms with the Colorado Cutthroats to acquire QB Evan Drake in return for our 2105 first round pick. Drake was originally drafted in 2094 by the Arizona Miners, in the second round, 2 picks after QB Earnest Ashley. In 2096 he was traded to Colorado after having been demoted to backup duties in only his second season in Arizona. After 8 seasons of starting for the Cutthroats, he has fallen out of interest with the ownership there, despite that he lead them to the NAC Championshipgame in 2098. Drake topped the 4,000-yard mark just once and also only once topped 6.5 yards per attempt in a season. Drake is 3 years younger than Ashley and overall a slightly more talented quarterback, or so says my staff.

So, what happens next with Ashley? Well, he's officially on the trading block, but I'm not convinced we should send him packing his stuff and go play elsewhere right away. I'm going to want to see him at least through the first pre-season action, just in case Drake falls apart. At the same time, our second round pick from last season, QB Randy Walters, I'm going to be open to letting him walk before training camp. Sure, if there are no quick buyers, we'll wait and see where he is after early pre-season games, but it's quite clear that I'm not going to let us go through another season with 4 quarterbacks on roster.

Acquiring Drake will make our cap situation pretty tight again. We've already started talking with WR Vinny Buysse to rework his contract and open up a bit more than the roughly $8M we're short to be able to afford Drake and all the incoming rookies. Worst (or best) case, we'll rework the deal with Ashley at mid-pre-season to get the cap space to lock up players that are out of contract after the 2104 season, as that's something to keep in mind here as well.

So, want to know a bit more about Drake's ability? First of all, he's got outstanding sense rush ability (100) and has the strong arm to throw long (90) and deep (85) passes. he can throw short (100) and what not. He won't scramble, but that wasn't part of Ashley's style either. Will his playing style clash with our offensive coordinator? Possibly, but we'll have to work on our game plan either way. With Drake involved, we need to find ways to make the short passing game work. We have the state of the art receiving duo to make it work, don't we?

So, are there any downsides to this? Although Drake is entering his 11th season (as is Ashley), I'm confident that if we work out an enticing deal with him and commit to him, he'll stick with us until his late 30s. Is that worth a 1st round pick? If he brings us back to the playoffs and then some, then yes. We dropped the ball on The Lost Cause a handful of seasons ago, I hope we don't do that here and do our best to get as much out of this guy as we can.
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Old 02-04-2022, 02:12 PM   #643
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Rookies reporting for duty!
Well, kind of, just a medical check and stuff, I guess.

The bad news first, completely unrelated to the draft. S Blaine Wright has decided that after a season of being the strong safety on the worst defense in the league, he deserves to be paid like he's a starter on a playoff team. Uh-huh... I think I'm going to play the waiting game here and see whether he ends his holdout by the end of pre-season. There's no way he's getting paid. No way.

WR Vinny Buysse isn't going to be paid just yet either. In a sense that, he's already getting about 12% of our cap figure. We're working on a 5-year deal slightly lower than the one we offered WR Calvin Maxwell. These guys will be here for a long time. It will be interesting to see what our new QB Evan Drake will think of it. He's arriving with a modest $46M salary and locked up for another season. He's asking for a 3-year deal, we'll likely give him something close to (or better than) his demands before the season starts.

But the neat stuff today has been the arrival of the 6 rookies we selected. Yup, we finished the draft by sending the last pick of the draft back to the Fort Wayne Fury. The six guys we selected?

RT Ivan Dole (pick 1.14)
I think I elaborated him already, our staff was high on him and they still are, rating him 30/70. Yes, he's green, as most offensive linemen usually are. But his run blocking seems good enough to start him over one of the two pass blocking LTs. Besides, we've got a QB who can sense the rush like the best now.

CB Lincoln Taylor (pick 1.27)
Coming in rated roughly 20/50 and still a cornerback. The plan is to move him to strong safety, but he'll need to bulk up to make that work out. He's very green and we're not going to find a mentor out there for him. Still, Wright holding out, Taylor might be forced into action on opening day anyway.

DE Aiden Preston (pick 4.32)
Only 15/40 like, but I've got to stay confident in him being better than he looks now. He's very green, but we'll give him a chance to improve.

TE Nicholas Heath (pick 5.14)
We needed a 4th tight end and at 30/45 I think he's looking okay. But like most rookies, he's very unexperienced.

P Dana Louis (pick 6.32)
Okay, now we're talking. Is Louis a world beater? We'll have to see, at 45/55 he's looking similar to our incumbent punter. It's basically a coin flip then. Until the end of pre-season, when I have to pick one.

S Martin Glover (pick 7.21)
And this is what one could call a misclick. This kid arrived and I seriously wonder why he made it to our list of selectable rookies. He's 15/40, which says very little about any player. He's the worst zone defending safety to ever be signed by the Maassluis Merchantmen. Yup, misclick. He does appear to be some sort of run defender, so, let's way and see what he will look like after training camp. I doubt we're going to sign enough new guys to brings us close to the to 70 player maximum.
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Old 02-05-2022, 04:34 PM   #644
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Undrafted Rookies Day 2104
We got 5 out of 6, not bad.

We lost out on RB Brady Horner, going to the Tucker Tigers for a $780K signing bonus, but we were overall successful in having the 5 other undrafted rookies we targeted signging with us.

FB Clifton Hitchcock (25/45) has run blocking potential (40/90), can someday pickup blitzes (30/70) and might have the hands to emergency catches.

TE Allen Williamson (25/35) is slightly below our drafted rookie Heath. Williamson's run blocking (35/60) and big-play receiving (50) are his main traits.

WR Lamar Wanamaker (15/30) could be just a training camp signing. His special teams skills (65/80) are nice, but it's still hard to compete with returning veterans. His route running (5/25) is marginal and speed isn't his thing.

OLB Stephen Rhodes (15/25) seemed to be an interesting DE project. His pass rush ability (50/75) is good enough to make the 53-men roster if I had to make cuts today. But the staff reported that he's unable to bulk up and thus can't make the switch. Alas. maybe we'll try him out as playing out of position in a DE slot, or bring back old fashioned blitzing.

S Craig Clancy (25/40) looks like the hidden gem that we were looking for this off-season. Run defense (30/50) a bit lacking still, but his zone defense (50/80) and interceptions (45/50) ability are very nice. His special teams (70/75) ability makes him a suitable active backup if that's his faith.


We found out that our first round pick CB Lincoln Taylor should be able to make the switch to SS after bulking up. So, that will be happening in training camp.

We worked out restructured contracts with DT Ben Courcy, TE Wesley Martin, DE Robbie Dobreski and LT Carson McCormick. As a result, we're going into training camp with 61 players on roster, including 1 holdout, which also means we'll have to trim by only 1 player after camp to set our pre-season roster. S Blaine Wright is still holding out and despite that we renegotiated some contracts to get under the cap, that money will not go to him.

WR Vinny Buysse turned down another very modest 5-year deal worth $260M. Wow, Vinny. Fire that agent. Seriously.
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Old 02-07-2022, 02:44 PM   #645
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Training Camp 2104 report

Training Camp was wrapped up quickly and we had to like some of the things we saw. I'll write on that later, but first the hold out situation with S Blaine Wright.

He made it easy on us, he decided to end it, which means he'll play out the season and then we'll see where his future is in 2105. For 2104, he'll be our starting strong safety, bar pre-season disaster. We're ging to need him to keep the cohesion in our secondary from hitting rock bottom.

Okay, onto the training camp progress report. I'll do what I usually do: break down the roster by position or position group and aside from the actual improvements, round down the overall ratings to the nearest 5s.

Quarterbacks
60/60 QB Evan Drake
55/55 QB Earnest Ashley
30/35 KH Malachi Manning +3/n.c.
20/50 QB Randy Walters +6/n.c.
Okay, that's a bit of a conundrum about to arise here. I'll have to be cautious with the two veterans Drake and Ashley, but with Walters gaining so much, I have to be prepared to see him end up at roughly the same level of ability as Drake and Ashley are showing. That would be a nice luxury to have, no?

Backfield
45/45 RB George Shackelford
40/40 RB Bennett Holmes +2/n.c.
40/40 RB(+ST) Van Goodwin
25/45 FB Clifton Hitchcock +4/n.c.
35/35 RB(+PR) Rondell Robertson +2/n.c.
35/35 FB(+ST) Randy Julian +2/n.c.
35/35 FB Damien Wanamaker
D. Wanamaker is still our best run blocker, no worries. Hitchcock's improvement could be a sign that he is as scouted. That would be nice, especially if D. Wanamaker breaks down in pre-season. The running back situation is interesting with Shackelford bringing excellent hole recognition to the group, if it holds up.

Tight Ends
60/60 TE Garrett Alcala +4/n.c.
45/45 TE(+ST) Wesley Martin
35/45 TE(+ST) Darnell McKie +3/n.c.
30/45 TE Nicholas Heath +4/+1
30/35 TE Allen Williamson +3/n.c.
A young group with Alcala making another leap into the right direction. If they all hold in pre-season, it will be a luxury situation to be forced to release Williamson.

Wide Receivers
80/80 WR(+KR,ST) Calvin Maxwell
70/70 WR(+ST?) Vinny Buysse
45/45 WR Ed Schulz
35/35 WR Calvin Hancock
35/35 WR(+ST) Rick Emerson
20/35 WR(+ST) Gage Greer +2/n.c.
15/25 WR(+ST,KR?) Lamar Wanamaker +1/-3
Nothing to add to that, really. Or maybe that L. Wanamaker didn't do much, if at all to make me think he should stick around. Maxwell, Buysse, Schulx: easy trio.

Offensive Linemen
85/85 C Elijah Cyr
60/65 G Britt Stickney +5/n.c.
40/75 RT Ivan Dole +7/+1
55/55 C Lincoln Stonge +2/+1
45/45 LT Harold Gruenwalder
45/45 LT Carson MCCormick +4/n.c.
40/40 G Bruce Strong n.c.
40/40 G Caleb Diver n.c.
35/35 LT Andres Blair n.c.
Pre-season battle for the LT slot, while G Stickney, RT Dole and C Cyr look like the guaranteed slots. The other guard slot is up for grabs.

Defensive Linemen
70/80 DT Gabriel Morris +7/n.c.
65/65 DT(+ST) Ben Courcy
45/45 DT Alexander May
45/45 DE Robbie Dobreski
40/40 DT Mitch Potchynok +1/+1
35/35 ST Spencer Crawford
35/35 DE Deon Rosas
20/40 DE Aiden Preston +4/-2
Preston is a disappointment, so far. But the good news is that Courcy and Morris have the endurance to have us get away with 7 active linemen, with Crawford mostly as a special teamer, if needed. We still can pull over a LB or two to fill some gaps at DE. Morris is still improving. We have to be convinced it was a great pick. Now, if the defense start playing like a defense, that would be sweet.

Linebackers
60/75 MLB Gus Coleman +9/n.c.
55/55 MLB Abraham Desimone
50/50 SLB Tony Burks
50/50 SLB Micah Halvorson
35/35 ST/WLB Luke Thompson
35/35 ST Mo Fausel
20/25 SLB Stephen Rhodes +2/-1
Wow, Coleman, wow. This guy can't be our LB4 anymore, we need to make him play, a whole lot. Rhodes looks so interesting, but he's not heavy enough to play DE, it appears. Or we have to play him out of position. It would be shame to let him go. He would be a nice fit for a 3-4 defense in the outside rusher slot. Burks, Desimone and Halvorson look like similar players, Maybe we should just rotate them enough to keep the unit fresh.

Secondary
55/55 CB Logan Wallace
40/40 SS Blaine Wright
40/40 CB Eduardo Cowdrick +3/-2
40/40 FS Pete Weaver
40/40 CB Wesley Cabrera +4/n.c.
35/35 CB Donnie Dogins
30/40 SS Craig Clancy +5/+2
25/45 FS Lincoln Taylor +4/-3
15/40 FS Martin Glover +4/-1
5/5 ST Eric McCool
Glover is out, he's our 61 to 60 cut for pre-season. He's outdone by Clancy, who is already sketched in as our strong safety, not bad for an undrafted rookie. Taylor is the mystery here. I'm afraid he's going to end up on the inactive list, or at least as our 6th or 7th active defensive back.

Special Teamers
85/85 K Oscar Harrington
50/55 P Dana Louis +5/-1
50/50 P Manuel Szymanski
20/20 LS Bennett Brock
Two elite guys and a positional battle at punter. How about that. The punter with the best overall skills after pre-season will make the team, plain and simple.

And that's all we can report for now, because pre-season can do so much damage to the team... What I can report is that our offensive playbook went out of the window. We may want to salvage the long ball plays the Giants management hated, they got lost in the first new print. It's possible we'll run the playbook through a simulation to figure out which plays can and can't work. But more importantly, we need to find a better balance between short and long passes to keep Evan Drake from posting Earnest Ashley like numbers, which then will result in Ashley saying: told you so?

No trade for Ashley just yet, but it is a realistic possibility. Walters is the alternative to go. I may have the roster spots available for both, but I prefer to stick with 2 quarterbacks and 1 kick holder.
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Old 02-10-2022, 04:05 PM   #646
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: And then there was pre-season 2104
The day players' careers can be made or broken.

General managers in the IHOF are always anxious for this stage of the season. Young players reveal a bit more of their actual potential, while some veterans will show a step backwards in their career arch and everywhere around, a handful of players will seemingly randomly turn into much a reborn player, sometimes in a negative way.

Let's go through the Merchantmen roster and let me tell you what I make of these changed and stuff. Yup, once I again, I will round the scouted figures to the nearest 5s.

Quarterbacks
55/55 QB Evan Drake -5/-5
55/55 QB Earnest Ashley -2/-2
30/35 KH Malachi Manning nc/+1
15/50 QB Randy Walters -1/n.c.
The plot thickens? I'm still on board for Drake getting the keys that Ashley had to hand over last season. And if Ashley wants, he's going to get an extension through the 2105 season. Walters continues to not implode, which makes it so weird to keep wondering what this kid could become. But for now, behind a shaky O-Line, Walters would be the one unable to see the rush coming, yet still running for his life, while Drake is the best in business to see it coming. No changes here yet, we'll go into the last two pre-season games with Drake and Ashley both active.

Backfield
40/40 RB Bennett Holmes -1/n.c.
40/40 RB(+ST) Van Goodwin
40/40 RB George Shackelford -5/-5
35/35 FB(+ST) Randy Julian +1/+1
35/35 RB(+PR) Rondell Robertson
25/45 FB Clifton Hitchcock n.c./-4
30/30 FB Damien Wanamaker -5/-5
Despite the decline, Wanamaker will be our run blocker for another season. Julian is more complete and makes it too bad that we have to let go of Hitchcock, a kid that could work out for a team as a potential top run blocker. Shackelford took the typical veteran hit, we could use him as a RB2 though. The three youngsters don't really need his mentoring anymore, so it seems. I still believe in Holmes as a 15-20 carries back, but we'll need Goodwin as an additional receiver and third down runner. Robertson is our punt returner, but otherwise is a Holmes light in terms of speed and hole recognition.

Tight Ends
60/60 TE Garrett Alcala +2/-1
45/45 TE(+ST) Wesley Martin
35/55 TE Nicholas Heath +4/+6
35/40 TE(+ST) Darnell McKie n.c./-4
30/40 TE Allen Williamson n.c./+1
Williamson is out. Heath is the surprise of the off-season and yet I don't see how I can make him active ahead of Alcala and Martin. McKie needs to be on the team as our short passing option on third downs. Still, Heath looks promising, although mostly as a run blocker, and we may need to look at how we can get all four tight ends involved in our offense.

Wide Receivers
80/80 WR(+KR,ST) Calvin Maxwell
65/65 WR(+ST?) Vinny Buysse -7/-7
40/40 WR Ed Schulz -2/-2
35/35 WR(+ST) Rick Emerson
25/25 WR Calvin Hancock -6/-6
15/20 WR(+ST) Gage Greer -5/-5
15/25 WR(+ST,KR?) Lamar Wanamaker n.c./-1
Wanamaker will be out. The decline of the backups is sad, the one for Buysse a bit earlier than anticipated. We still gave him a new deal, but it was much less than what he turned down early in the off-season. Yeah, Vinny, fire your agent, his lunacy cost you about $80M in signing bonus. Buysse is still a top10 receiver in this league and combined with Maxwell, it would be very disappointing if they can't combine for 2,500 yards. Schulz will be worked into the game plan, but probably in a different role than the one he'll get in the last two pre-season games.

Offensive Linemen
80/80 C Elijah Cyr -3/-3
65/65 G Britt Stickney +2/n.c.
40/75 RT Ivan Dole +2/-2
55/55 C Lincoln Stonge
45/45 LT Harold Gruenwalder -1/-1
45/45 LT Carson MCCormick
40/40 G Caleb Driver +1/+1
35/35 G Bruce Strong -3/-3
30/30 LT Andres Blair -3/-3
All of these guys will make it through the end of pre-season with us, but it's up in the air still whether I want to carry 9 linemen into the regular season or 4 quarterbacks. Undisputed starters remain to be Cyr, Stickney and Dole, with Gruenwalder still having my preference at LT over McCormick, while I'm leaning towards Driver's cohesion value at RG. Blair will likely stick around to mentor Dole, which would be bad news for Strong, as soon as Stickney no longer needs him as his mentor.

Defensive Linemen
70/80 DT Gabriel Morris
65/65 DT(+ST) Ben Courcy +2/+2
45/45 DE Robbie Dobreski +1/+1
40/40 DT Mitch Potchynok
35/35 DE Deon Rosas
35/35 DT Alexander May -11/-11
20/40 DE Aiden Preston +1/+2
25/25 ST Spencer Crawford -7/-7
The bad news is on May and it will end his stint in Maassluis after 3 seasons. I didn't see this one coming, but it also means we now have a roster spot for both Preston and LB Rhodes. The latter will be worked into our rotation ahead of Preston. Morris and Courcy will likely be close to all down players, while the rest will rotate. Crawford's drop was also not so great, but he's got other talents.

Linebackers
60/75 MLB Gus Coleman +1/+1
55/55 MLB Abraham Desimone
50/50 SLB Tony Burks +1/+1
50/50 SLB Micah Halvorson +1/+1
45/45 ST Mo Fausel +11/+11
35/35 ST/WLB Luke Thompson -4/-4
20/25 SLB Stephen Rhodes
Fausel looks like great news from a distance, but the reality os that he's still primarily a special teamer and not even close to as talented as the top four. It's actually bad news, as his salary demands have skyrocketed into very high for just a special teams role. Rhodes will get his chance in the last pre-season games and likely and the opening games of the season. We'll have tough contract talks with Halvorson, who wants big money. I'm going to offer him a low bonus contract, as I don't see how I can justify a big bonus with 3 better linebackers on board.

Secondary
55/55 CB Logan Wallace +1/+1
40/40 SS Blaine Wright
40/40 CB Eduardo Cowdrick
40/40 CB Wesley Cabrera +1/+1
40/40 FS Pete Weaver -1/-1
35/35 CB Donnie Dogins -1/-1
30/45 SS Craig Clancy +1/+5
25/45 FS Lincoln Taylor n.c./-3
5/5 ST Eric McCool -3/-3
McCool is out. It's a numbers game, but I don't see much more mentoring for him to do here. Clancy is the surprise of the off-season, he'll be worked into the secondary as a starter. It means first round pick Taylor and his disappointing showing will make him lowest in the pecking order. Wright is still signed for this and next season, which is good for the time being after his short hold out. We didn't make the big improvement that I think we needed.

Special Teamers
95/95 K Oscar Harrington +8/+8
50/50 P Manuel Szymanski
50/50 P Dana Louis -2/-2
20/20 LS Bennett Brock
Szymanski is out, I decided to fall for Dana here. Harrington is now considered the most skilled player in the IHOF. He's going to demand a lot of money when his rookie contract runs out. Brock continues to be an elite long snapper.

Finally, I decided to stick with our starters for the second pair of pre-season games. It means some of the long shot guys that will mostly be inactive this season will come out of it rusty, but so be it. We've been trying some simulations through this game called Front Office Football by modeling a roster after our guys and the results so far are mixed. Some simulations we actually do well (like go 13-3 and win the bowl game) but in most we struggle into a 8-8 kind of season and sneak into the post-season. The biggest challenge is to find a game plan that will not piss away Drake's talent, will not throw us the ball too much to Maxwell or Buysse, or too little to one of them, yet still enough to Alcala as our TE option and have the relief guys Schulz, Martin, McKie and Goodwin all get their looks in suitable situations.
__________________
* 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
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Old 02-19-2022, 04:43 PM   #647
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Good start or 8-8 bound?
The 2014 regular season has begun.

As I'm writing this, I'm sitting here with mixed feelings. Let's start with what looks like good news: the division standings.

1. Maassluis 3-2
2. Gothenburg 3-3
3. Paris 2-3
4. Bordeaux 0-5

How about that, 6 weeks in the books and we're at the top of the division! The caveat is that we've played 3 of those 5 at home, which were the victorious ones. There's more reason for optimism as we beat Gothenburg 30-11 in week 1 and beat the Tucker Tigers (4-2) in week 5 with a 29-16 score. In between we beat the Atlanta Vipers 37-13 and lost at the Outer Banks Ospreys 33-17, whilst outgaining them, but hampering ourselves with interceptions. Today's 34-27 loss at the Augusta Greenjackets was another case of outgaining the opponent whilst losing the turnover battle.

So, why the mixed feelings? Well, it feels like we rolled a lot of sixes already and got only 3 wins out of it. I'm afraid that our awesomeness has nowhere but to go down from here on, but let's go over some impressive numbers anyway.

QB Evan Drake is 1st in the league with 8.17 yards per pass attempt.
That's right, a Merchantmen quarterback is leading in the "per attempt" category, not the "per catch" category (Drake's third in that). The really interesting part is that in all these games he's been spreading the ball around. Not just incidentally, but consistently. Sample size? Maybe, but getting the ball into 10 different pairs of hands has been a trend. WR Calvin Maxwell and WR Vinny Buysse were each targeted 41 times, they have combined for 44 catches 703 yards and 4 touchdowns. Buysse on his own is 4th on the team with just 190 yards receiving. But we're winning, mostly, so, who cares? Yeah, maybe I'm a bit obsessed with wanting our expensive receivers to prove their worth by making 10 catches per game for 150 yards, not just 4 catches for 40 yards.

The defense is 3rd in yards per carry allowed with a 3.60 figure.
That is shocking, since we already played run happy Gothenburg and Tucker. But at the same time, is it really that much of a surprise? We invested in a lot of run stoppers with DT Ben Courcy, DT Gabriel Morris and the linebackers quartet of Coleman, Desimone, Burks and Halvorson. Basically, we should be a strong run defense by now with Morris and Coleman growing into elite players at their position.

The defense is 5th in yards per pass attempt allowed with a 5.70 figure.
Overall, I find pass defense to be erratic or hard to grasp on, at least more so than the run defense. Both are subject to the flow of the various games played, but in essence, we've being doing well in this area, apparently. For one thing, this can't be credited to our pass rush. We're under 20% in pass rush percentage and in particular on an all time low in sacks. But, we all know "sacks" is a volatile figure. You never know when a defense with the kind of pass rush talent we have finds a sack magnet on the other side of the line of scrimmage and pummels him to his back 7 times. The individual players aren't looking particularly awesome in their stat lines in pass defense figures, but if you know me a bit, you know I don't believe in those figures telling the story, they're circumstantial.

Our offense is 3rd in yard per game.
This comes back to the passing game being productive as we're equally 3rd in passing yards per game. QB Evan Drake's low so far was 270 yards. His high of 394 yards? You guessed it, it came in a close loss. That's football, right? Our running game has improved to being medianish.

And then we remember that 5 games is just so little data to seriously prove a point. We're playing well and we're actually having only 3 wins to show for it. Were we lucky to play well (and still lose) and will it even out by us throwing for 250 yards from here on and allowing 350 yards on defense again? Or are we for real and have we had our couple of anomaly losses? Only time can tell.
__________________
* 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

Last edited by MIJB#19 : 02-19-2022 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 02-23-2022, 05:14 PM   #648
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: I'm afraid to jinx us
We're comfortable division leaders at mid-season!

Let's start with a scorerboard update first, specifically the European Division standings:
1. Maassluis 5-3
2. Paris 3-5
3. Gothenburg 3-5
4. Bordeaux 1-7

That's right, we're at the top of the division and have beaten all three rivals already. Surely we were overdo by about 3 seasons, but we're here after all. But, since we're just halfway through the regular season, there's so much that could still happen...

We've played 3 more games since my previous writing. The good news was the sweep of both French teams, both in France. In Paris we needed to come back from behind to win 20-17, but we were the better team on the day and deserved to travel home with the W in the bag. We held Mercury Pierce (yes, the greatest quarterback in the history of the Gothenburg Giants joined the Paris Musketeers this season) and The Lost Cause Ken Torphy both in check, although the latter mostly by seeing Paris barely giving him the ball.

The victory over the Bordeaux Vineyards was quite possibly our worst game of the season. The biggest difference with the games we lost was QB Evan Drake's (lack of) interceptions. Offensively worst, as our defense seriously limited the Bordeaux offense into their only solid drive coming late in the fourth quarter. We piled on into the 21-7 score because Bordeaux had to go for it deep inside their territory and we saw Evan Drake connect with WR Vinny Buysse on a long pass to wrap it up.

In between, we hosted the Snapfinger Jazz, currently sitting atop the AOC with a 7-1 record. We outgained them in raw yardage, but lost the turnover battle and aside from finding too little room to beat their defense, we were way too far down by the time we scored our face saving touchdown in a 34-13 drubbing.

Result of all things, we're in a good spot to have our bounce back season after more than a decade of Merchantmen unworthy results. We failed to have one of the best rosters in the league to even sniff at an 8-8 record, but that thing of beauty (kind of) is part of the past now. A bunch of young defenders in the backbone of our defense (DT Gabriel Morris, MLB Gus Coleman, FS Craig Clancy), combined with the veterans DT Ben Courcy, SS Blaine Wright and DE Robbie Dobreski, these guys are exceeding expectations and giving the offense a fighting chance.

And that offense in turn still has a lot to learn. Although, TE Garrett Alcala is slowly coming into his own by already matching his receptions total of last season, whist RB Bennett Holmes has progressed into a 5.5 yards per carry back. And the arrival of QB Evan Drake, combined with the revamped game plan, has built some sort of state of mind that we're not too rush things, spread the ball and we'll get there. Throw to 10 different players and had of to 3 different running backs, that's what different from the Thing One and Thing Two failure.

And then, two words continue to go through my mind, time and time again: "sample size, sample size, sample size". So be it, maybe we should remember to sometimes enjoy the moment and see the positive side of things going forward.
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 02-24-2022, 02:53 PM   #649
claystone
H.S. Freshman Team
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: NYC, NY
Good stuff, MIJB. Love these write ups.

Oh remember, there is no such thing as jinx. Its just a made up superstition boogey man. Think of all the times when you never mentioned something and you still lost.

Mathematics and probability is what is the cause...��

Keep up the great write ups.
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Old 02-26-2022, 06:01 PM   #650
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Life goes on?
Or how we can get our minds off bad things by enjoying the little good things.

Three more games played for the Maassluis Merchantmen and I can start this report by telling you we lost a crucial game to the Gothenburg Giants, but also won the games around it to keep the lead to two games. Divisional standings first, game reports second, so here we go!

European Division
1. Maassluis 7-4
2. Gothenburg 5-6
3. Paris 4-7
4. Bordeaux 3-8

What's happening here? Bordeaux is slowly recovering, but it's obviously too little too late as the second wild card is destined to go to a team with a 7-8-1 record at minimum. Paris' hopes for the playoffs are about done as well now, coming right after a mid-season ownership change. Gothenburg is somewhat still on our tail, but with the head-to-head series behind us and being split, we're in decent shape to fend them off. We both get the French teams in a trio of home games to close out the regular season.

How did we play in these last three games?

Our 25-17 victory over the Orlando Talons was heavily based on us moving the ball just enough to get into field goal range and not far enough to avoid the field goals. End result: 6 field goals from Oscar Harrington is a game where we completely dominated the field position battle, but our offensive production, especially the running game and unusual number of sacks held us back. We did win the turnover battle for a change, meaning the defense did plenty enough to give the offense just enough room move the chains 50 or so yards into the Harrington's kicking range.

The turnover battle wasn't on our side in the trip to Gothenburg. Before the first quarter was over, an interception and lost fumble had given the Giants a 21-0 lead before we even had an opportunity to score or punt. We fought back, getting two interceptions by our defense on long throws, and on the first drive of the second half we leveled the score 24-24. The Giants immediately responded on a typical long drive to go 31-24 ahead and held us off just enough, with our only true chance to score ending in another fumble.

Today we quickly rebounded with a dominating 30-13 win over the Capital City Blues. Most of their points came on a kickoff return touchdown, as our defense in particular was dominant. We held the Blues to 165 total yards, a thing of beauty for those that were so used to see dominating Merchantmen defenses of past times gone by. Slowly, but steadily, we're tweaking the game plan into a balanced one, while also finding ways to optimize the usage of our super star wide receiver duo.

I have some ideas why and how we're doing it. I have to admit that I'm happy to see that reverting back to some old traditions seem to work. The return of a stud defensive tackle (should I mention Ben Courcy or Gabriel Morris here), supported by a stud middle linebacker (Gus Coleman) and behind them an above expectations performing safety (undrafted rookie Craig Clancy). But is that it? That and the revamped offensive game plan?

I could report on the easy schedule ahead of us en route to ending the longest series of seasons without a division title, but I won't. We should remind ourselves to keep focusing on the next game and only that next game. The only exception to be made if we see a mathematical reason to give more weight to future games, but we haven't reached that point of the season yet.

Merchantmen, sail on.
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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