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Old 02-15-2021, 02:55 PM   #451
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: New Season, new opportunities!
And we kick it off with a loss... Again.

After three seasons of starting it on the road, finally, we got a season opener in Oranje Haven. As per usual, one of our division rivals came to town and the Bordeaux Vineyards were the lucky ones. After a 6-1-1 series in the first four seasons against quarterback Walter Czech, last season he turned the tide and lead the Vineyards to victories against us. Given that, he has grown into the kind of player maker that we have to fear.

First quarter, Merchantmen draw first blood with a field goal after Earnest Ashley had found Clay Gaynor for 27 yards and Ed Schulz for 35 yards. Bordeaux tied it up 3-3 after Czech found Reggie Springer for 32 yards and Rusti Siavii ran for 28 yards. With a steady drive, Ashley drove us down field, saw rookie Ronnie Vanden Bosch run for 22 yards, inches short of a touchdown, but two plays later Ashley found touchdown machine George Stuckey for the 10-3 lead. A team effort strip sack by the defensive tackles gave us a chance to rack it up, but Ashley immediately followed up with an interception on a short pass.

Bordeaux got their engines running in the second quarter and leaning heavily on their running game eventually saw one of their backs pound it in for the 10-10 tied score. After three and out and a quick stop after four plays, We were at bat next and this time Earnest Ashley found Ed Schulz on a 44-yarder to set up Jack Crane's touchdown run for the 17-10 lead. On second and very long our defense chocked and long before the big break, Walt Czech connected to Derrick Velazquaz (yes, that kid that we once drafted and traded as a rookie to Bordeaux) to tie it 17-17. We choked our chance to take the lead before half time, even gave Bordeaux the ball back, but the half time score was 17-17 after all.

Second half, Bordeaux drove deep, but we avoided a field goal attempt and saw Ronnie Vanden Bosch run for 33 yards on our first play from scrimmage, followed by Earnest Ashley's passes for 15 yards to Theodore Bondy and then a 19-yarder for the touchdown to George Stuckey and a 24-17 lead. The ball went back and forth on medium drives, but neither team got a shot to even kick in the remainder of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter pretty much started with a blocked punt from our punter Shaun Barlow, which two plays later resulted in a quick touchdown pass by Walt Czech. After a missed extra point, we were still leading 24-23, thankfully. After three and down with two dropped passes by Theodore Bondy (oh, boy), we lost our run blocking tight end Renaldo Crawford for the rest of the season with a severe achilles injury. Otherwise bad was our defense on a third and five pass from Walt Czech to his tight end Reggie Springer for a 59 yards touchdown, putting us down 30-24, our first time trailing all game long. After three and out and a defensive meltdown, we were ripe for the picking, but Zachery Weisz blocked a short field goal to keep us alive. We drove downfield, anchored by Earnest Ashley's 22-yarder to Theodore Bondy, but our first play inside their red zone ended up in an interception. Our defense held ground to force one more chance for us, but a coaching blunder to punt on fourth down with less than a minute to go and only 1 time out remaining, ended the game for us after Bordeaux went into victory formation three times.

Ashley completed just 19 of 42 passes for 277 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions. Yes, he's still in that 50% zone. Maybe we need to give him more easy short throws in our game plan? Clay Gaynor made 6 catches on 16 targets (are we overusing him?) for 80 yards. Ed Schulz had 93 yards on 3 catches (are we underusing him?) George Stuckey had 2 touchdowns, Theo Bondy had 3 catches on 8 targets. Rookie Ronnie Vanden Bosch ran for 62 yards on 5 carries, while veterans Beyer and Crane combined for 76 yards on 20 carries. The defense? They gave up 445 total yards. Still, we had chances, but we didn't take advantage of them and eventually lost this coin flip game.

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

Yup, the reigning division and conference champions Gothenburg Giants lost 28-6 at home against the Paris Musketeers. Paris had quarterback Cary Bradford starting for the first time in 7 seasons in the league, completed 17 of 25 passes for 212 yards. He once was the Orlando Talons' mr. Irrelevant.

No time to keep sogging about our performance today, we have a new game upcoming, at the Outer Banks Ospreys, the only team to start the season with a shutout, handed to them by the Moontown Illuminati. Yes, based on our player collective, we have every reason to think we can't just win there, but do it by a good margin. Which usually is the kind of game we end up losing.

But not this time, team. Don't be like that. We've had our brain fart decision in week 1, a monumental one, from here on it can't get worse, can it? Go make us proud, go Merchantmen!
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Old 02-17-2021, 02:43 PM   #452
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Another whirlwind?
Or was week 1 the anomaly?

Two games further into the season and we're suddenly a winning team, at least for now. We came back from 14-0 down in Outer Banks to beat the Ospreys 23-17, while we kicked a lot of field goals while beating the Orlando Talons 26-6 in Oranje Haven. So yes, we're 2-1 and back in the mix.

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

Ok, hold on, let's get back to those games and how we won them.

In Outer Banks, we got ran over (26 carries for 152 yards), failed to put down a running game in return (52 yards on 26 carries? seriously, OL, you're a lot better than that!), but in a 50-50 passing game game, Earnest Ashley was mistake free, while our cornerbacks combined for 3 interceptions to help set up a field goal, nullify a punt return fumble and to secure the win.

Against Orlando, we got outgained in total yards again, but penalties and solid return yardage added up to winning the turnover battle. Our running game was reborn (140 yards on 25 carries), while Earnest Ashley struggled, yet got the job down with a rare under 200 yards showing. Ronnie Vanden Bosch ran for 62 yards on 10 carries, too bad the rookie lacks the stamina to tote the rock more than that. Richie Piotte had 3.0 sacks and also lead the defense with 6 tackles.

Overall, our investment in run stoppers isn't getting any results at all. We're giving up 5.13 yards per carry, 147 per game. Our pass defense is giving up a second worst 13.3 yards per catch. Overall we're allowing 391 yards per game, 4th most in the league. Imagine what our statistics would be like had we not had a roster loaded with topnotch defenders (Piotte, Fletcher, Brady, Grant, Farrell)... Oh, right: 3 games, small sample size.

So, next up, we're going to get a real test. Or not really, as per usual, week 4 is once again our bye week.

Last and almost ignorable: we placed tight end Renaldo Crawford on injured reserve and signed Jeffery Blake as his replacement as our run blocking TE3. He's returning to Maassluis after three seasons of floating around for one-season stints in Augusta, Gothenburg and Harlem. He returned in the road game at Outer Banks. His previous game with us? Our last playoffs game in the 2092 season after an 11-5 campaign and as a wild card reaching the conference semi finals. With Blake back on board, we've won back-to-back games. Let's hope he'll turn out to be our lucky charm, an unjinxable one.
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Old 02-21-2021, 12:28 PM   #453
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We're winning games
But so is the rest of the division.

Once again, I'm going to start with the division standings, because after 6 weeks of small sample size football, this division is as tight and competitive as one can be.

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

Yup, that's right: we're in last place, despite a winning record. Not unique, but rare enough to wonder what more we can do, other than make sure we stopping losing games.

Because "losing" is how we continued the season. In a back and forth game against the North Plainfield Plague, defenses weren't just impressive, they kind of dominated. We were held to 267 total yards, while we allowed only 253 total yards. With 4 turnovers on each end, you'd think we'd probably won this one? To the contrary though, our special teams unit allowed 148 punt return yards, but in return we blocked a punt and scored a touchdown on that play. In the end, it wasn't sufficient at all. The Plague scored their 31-23 lead taking touchdown with less than 5 minutes to go and in the final two minutes a pick six was the final nail in the coffin for a 38-23 deficit on the road. Earnest Ashley in particular must not have slept well after this game: 3 interceptions, 7 times sacked and 3 fumbles on those plays.

Week 6, at home against the Rochester Razorbacks. The Merchantmen defense was once again impressive, but this time around Earnest Ashley displayed another side of him, earning Solecismic Offense Player of the Week honors as he completed 24 of 40 passes for 318 yards, 3 touchdowns, no turnovers and a running touchdown to boost. The defense allowed only 155 total yards, anchored by second-year professionals defensive end Richie Piotte (2 sacks) and cornerback Ernie Grant.

Next up a new chapter in the Futility Bowl rivalry against the Toronto Lake Monsters. The current Northeast division leaders as per usual will be visiting Oranje Haven for this clash. An opponent that will give Earnest Ashley favorable flashbacks as he posted his first career victory in a 34-14 victory in the 2094 season, the then rookie threw for 245 yards and 4 touchdowns. More of that tomorrow would be very welcome, we need everybody to up their game or continue playing like they did in week 6 to stand a chance in this strong division. Keep this up, Merchantmen!
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 02-23-2021, 03:32 PM   #454
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Too early to throw the towel...
... but I can't deny I'm reaching for it.

Goodness, can football be a weird ball game. We gain 176 total yards, give up 330, don't win the turnover battle, have more penalties and we lose just 23-17 to the Toronto Lake Monsters. Then we gain 391 yards, give up 224 yards. don't lose the turnover battle, but 127 yards in penalties hurt us and we lose 17-13 against the Paris Musketeers at home.

Fair to say, I think our season is in ruins, impossible to fix. We've played 7 games, 5 of those at home and we've already lost 3 of those in our place. That's a recipe for a 6-10 season. Sure, we're still outscoring opponents, but these last two games were a confidence breaker followed up by a game of whatever we do right, we'll find a way to lose anyway.

Is there reason to lose confidence in our quarterback? I don't think so. Despite completing 47 percent of his passes, he's moving the ball 241 yards forward. I don't think he's a pick machine, despite 8 in 7 games and 56 in 39 career games. I'm skeptic that our game plan is terrible, although I must admit I made some chances for the game against the Musketeers. His receivers are far from replacement level players, I truly believe that a trio like Ed Schulz, George Stuckey and Clay Gaynor should be able to combine for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns every single game, no exceptions allowed.

Should we give the ball to Ronnie Vanden Bosch more often? He's our leading rusher with 236 yards, despite the third most carries of the running back trio. But his elusiveness isn't just his problem, unexplainably it's catching on to the guys that don't have that disease, even Jack Crane.

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

Are we still alive? Of course we are! Win the next 9 and there's quite simply no way we'll miss the playoffs. And if Richie Piotte keeps this up (he's leading the league with 9.5 sacks), we should be able to run havoc on every offensive line and quarterback we'll face in the last 9 regular season games.

Merchantmen, this season isn't over. It's far from, we're not even half way there yet! Chin up, don't be afraid to catch the wind in your face, it's part of life. This too is football. Stand firm, don't give up, we've got what it takes, just start acting like we do!
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Old 02-25-2021, 04:24 PM   #455
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: When it rains, it pours...
No wait, the sun is shining!

Two more games in the bag and we've returned to winning football in them. We bounced back with a 36-23 victory at the Harlem Apollos, scoring touchdowns while they settled for field goals. It was a breakthrough game of sorts for Ed Schulz. So far, our lighting speed quick wide receiver had struggled to even top the 100 yards mark, doing it 5 times in 52 games, but at Harlem he made the most of his 7 catches with 202 yards. Earnest Ashley spread around the touchdown slings to his three tight ends and the legend Theodore Bondy.

We followed up with a solid, yet scoreboard technically underwhelming 3-0 victory at the Bordeaux Vineyards. Holding them to 220 total yards with Walt Czech completing just 18 of 36 passes for 111 yards was the most impressive statline from our defense. Earnest Ashley posted his second straight 300-yard game, but as we were consistently pushed back deep inside our own half to start drives and struggled to reach midfield as well, it remained to be a game where Bordeaux just needed one big play to bounce back and in the final two minutes, they came one or two plays time short of field goal range.

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

Wait, what? Indeed, the Paris Musketeers have managed to sweep the Gothenburg Giants and are the shocking division leaders. Yes, we found a curious way to lose to them as well, in week 9 they saw the Giants' kicker miss a potential game winning field goal in their 30-29 victory. Is Bordeaux done? Never say never, but this appears to have turned into a lost season for them. Unless they bounce back tomorrow in Paris.

Our next stop is Gothenburg. Sure, there's reason to be optimistic, but I'm skeptic nevertheless. They're not the best in the league this season, but are third in the league in points scored. A big test for our defense that all of a sudden ranks second in least points allowed. It won't last much longer for one of those units. Heck, if we somehow come away with a 50-49 victory in Gothenburg, I'd still be happy. We'll see what happens, the Giants usually have a trick up their sleeves. I doubt we have one this time around, but never say never. Feel free to bring out the clichés on how every game is a new game, and so on...
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Old 02-26-2021, 08:42 AM   #456
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Nope
I give up, 2096 won't be our season.

Today we didn't just lose, we laid down a Merchantmen unworthy result. Losing is one thing, getting crushed is bad enough, but getting shutout 38-0 makes zero sense. This team isn't crappy enough to score just a single field goal in 2 full games. I don't have the motivation to make drastic changes right now, but status quo means regression. It's time for change.
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Old 02-26-2021, 02:28 PM   #457
Kodos
Resident Alien
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Time to root for your pals over in the Northeast Division!
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Old 02-26-2021, 04:09 PM   #458
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kodos View Post
Time to root for your pals over in the Northeast Division!
If y'all were helping, sure, but the Northeast went 0-4 against Gothenburg.
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Old 02-27-2021, 07:58 AM   #459
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Stayin' Alive mode
5 games to go and we're not out of the picture yet.

Granted, unless we start getting more efficient in our red zone offense, we'll be a long shot. But today's 23-13 win over the Capital City Blues at least keeps us in pursuit of both the division title and the wild cards. We gave up an 82-yard pass play in the first quarter to fall behind 10-0, but from there on we regrouped and the defense was strong enough to allow for two more visits to our half of the field and a failed and succeeded field goal on their end was enough to give us a chance. And the offense did just enough to get there. Earnest Ashley struggled once again, 17 of 39 completed passes, but gaining 251 yards with 123 of those by Ed Schulz was just enough to get the job done. Defensively, our should be state of the art pass rush actually lived up to our potential and broke up 15 of 48 passing plays. Richie Piotte was once again the big man, leading the unit with 3.0 sacks. In the secondary, Ernie Grant continues to improve and is turning into the shutdown corner that we thought we selected in the 2095 draft a full round ahead of Piotte.

We lost one of our running backs for the remainder of the season. Jack Crane dropped out with a severe hamstring pull. On the offensive line I made one major change: benching free agency signing Todd Springer. Rookie Nickolas Toler will step in at left guard and get a chance to prove he's a top10 guy from his class. Good old Howard Humphrey will continue to play at right guard, we need him to maintain cohesion on the line. Youngsters Johnnie Houston and Isaac Delgado are undisputed at the tackle slots, Robbie Zinn at center. The only alternative is Delgado at left guard, Toler at right guard and Humphrey at right tackle, but that would put our best run blocker on the left side of the line, while we're running slightly more often to the right.

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

Yup, Bordeaux is done, they lost 6 in a row now. That team is too good for such a record, but there they are, the strongest roster in this division. Gothenburg has 4 road games remaining, but the only way we can catch up with them is not just beating them in our place in week 17, but to get tie-breakers we need to beat Paris in week 15 and hope for the strong Bordeaux team to beat the Giants in that same week.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves, to even be in the mix by then, we'll have to put down a good display at the Fort Wayne Fury in next week's game. Despite their 4-7 record, we know their quarterback Max Dillon too well, he used to be Paris' guy in previous seasons. Sure, we crushed Paris and Dillon twice last season and we beat the Fury in the last three clashes with them, but results in the past are no guarantee on the day after tomorrow. We'll have to stick to the plan, yet find a way to improve it at the same time. The season is far from over, but one game at a time might be the only way to approach it and have a chance come week 17.
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Old 03-02-2021, 01:44 PM   #460
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: I don't get this team
One day we suck, the next we beat the champions. Huh?

The rollercoaster that the 2096 season so far has been reached a new low and high. A visit to the Fort Wayne Fury turned from quick 7-0 lead into a 30-7 pummeling, we had no answer at all to quarterback Max Dillon, but in particular were really dreadful offensively. Earnest Ashley was heled to below 200 yards passing, with Ed Schulz making just 2 catches for 16 yards. Meh...

Much less meh-worthy was the home game against the reigning IHOF champions the Texas Sharks. It wasn't like we really outplayed them, I think we didn't, but we got the job done just enough, both in forcing them to kick, while we saw a defense heavy second half result in our go ahead touchdown with just under 3 minutes remaining, while we somehow held them to just a missed field goal to give us an 18-15 victory.

Defensive end Richie Piotte has continued his quest for leading the league in sacks. He reached the 16.0 mark after 13 games, he's second half a sack behind. With that number he's already the second best Merchantmen player in this category, ever, with only Hall of Famer Daquan "Da Machine" Strugielski three times capable to do better than 15.5 in a season. Da Machine's record is 19.5, so if Piotte keeps this pace, he'll get there. The sad part is that his productivity isn't resulting in the whole team racking up the numbers, the guys around him are mindboggling disappointing. I mean, second best is Darien Fletcher with 4.0 sacks. That's unacceptable bad. 29 sacks as a team is below the ability of our defensive line, no, this entire defense. Sure, it's not league worst by all means, but I have greater expectations from a unit like this one.

European Division:
1. Gothenburg 10-3
2. Paris 8-5
3. Maassluis 7-6
4. Bordeaux 4-9

Our next stop? Paris. Yup. The team that we dominated earlier this season but an unprecedented distribution of penalties between the teams handed us a loss. Served us right for our discipline that day, I suppose? I can only hope we avenge that stupidity, as it has made a difference in being in the middle of the playoffs race and hanging on by a last thread.

So, Paris next. We're going to play spoiler from here on. If we luck into the playoffs? So be it, but at this point I just want to regain our pride with a winning record, preferably with wins over Paris and Gothenburg. Paris first. Do it, Merchantmen.
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 03-02-2021, 03:07 PM   #461
Kodos
Resident Alien
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by MIJB#19 View Post
If y'all were helping, sure, but the Northeast went 0-4 against Gothenburg.

Yeah, they kicked our butts.
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Old 03-04-2021, 01:47 PM   #462
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: no winning season, again...
But if we pull the upset, we can end up at 8-8. Yay?

A dreadful season has not quite come to an end yet, we added a couple of losses to the results. The Paris Musketeers didn't play all that well on their own place, but we failed to take advantage, outgaining them by 80 yards, posting 5.7 yards per play versus 3.5 yards per play, it all was not enough to avoid a 20-17 loss. And at that end our last chances for a trip to the playoffs.

You'd think we'd bounce back in a road game at a team fighting for the #1 spot in the draft. Yeah, think again, nothing in this season makes sense. The Moontown Darksiders made the best of all 4 of our giveaways (we had no takeaways) and 2 missed field goals, beating us 26-3. That's right: the fourth game in seven where we were held to 7 or less points. Wow.

At Moontown, Earnest Ashley completed 15 of 48 pass attempts, with 3 interceptions, for 192 yards. A passer rating of 18.7 was his reward. I had no idea he was capable of such a low point in his career, despite thinking he's the kind of player that deserves $40M per season. In 15 games he completed 46% of his passes for 3,609 yards, 18 touchdowns, 20 interceptions. His worst season to date, without a doubt. Even as a green rookie he played better, much better.

Division standings:
1. Paris 10-5
2. Gothenburg 10-5
3. Maassluis 7-8
4. Bordeaux 6-9

Yeah, Gothenburg has been freefalling and we're here to make it worse for them, there's no way we'll roll over for them. Last game of the season is in our house. They have their playoffs ticket booked, contrary to the division leading Musketeers, who can still miss out on tie-breakers if all the other hopefuls from Harlem, Toronto and Augusta all win their last game, as well as the Giants. Which of course is what we will try to not make happen. Our points differential is atrocious at -35. If we tie the last game, it will still go down as the 7th worst season ever. Thankfully a worst ever would require losing by 46 points, I don't see that happening tomorrow. Right? Right!? I mean, you never know with this team, not the way our offense has been playing this season. Goodness, have we completely lost the ability to play football. The offensive coordinator will no longer hear he's the worst in the league in terms of judging player talent, he's clearly unable to get results out of the players at all.
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Old 03-05-2021, 12:32 PM   #463
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: .500 land it is
And the unlucky loss of a game report makes me keep this short.

I was working on a big report on how we played the Gothenburg Giants today, had our spoiler role in the playoffs race in the Atlantic Ocean Conference. Then in the middle of my writing, I hit the wrong combination of keys on the keyboard. Gone all my work.

What happened on the field? We beat the Giants 21-6, a quick pick six put us 7-0 up and before the second half was over, the final score was already on the score board. Both teams had a couple of okay drives in the second half, but none came close enough to put points on the board. Earnest Ashley threw for 301 yards, Ed Schulz was his main receiver with 6 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.

European Division
1. Paris 10-6
2. Gothenburg 10-6
3. Maassluis 8-8
4. Bordeaux 7-9

The season ended here for us, while Gothenburg will have to continue their season in the wild card round at the Harlem Apollos, while a win would have made them the #2 seeds. Paris lost in Bordeaux, also missing out on the #2 seed, as a result hosting the Augusta Greenjackets. The #2 seed went to the Atlanta Vipers, who lost in San Antonio, extending their streak to 3 losses, but with Gothenburg on their 3-loss streak and Paris flipflopping their way into a 10-6 record, it seemed like nobody was capable of holding onto that #2 seed. Atlanta got it in the end after all. I'll spare you the drama in the other conference, it got even crazier there in the race for the last two tickets.

And with that, our season came to an end.

Earnest Ashley had his worst season so far, and I'm afraid the kid and his agent will completely lose sight of what makes sense when you're unable to complete even half of your passes, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns, so I'm sure they'll come up with a completely unrealistic $250M over 5 years kind of contract demands. Yeah... About that... I'm not sure we're going to do that.

Our running game was very "meh". Not just the lack of touchdowns, lack of yards per carry, lack of key run blocks from our linemen, but also the lack of actually carrying the ball. We actually had 1 carry more than last season, which comes to show we've had this problem a season ago as well. We also threw the ball 1 time more than last season. How about that...

Our run defense was improved. Our pass defense even more improved than the run defense. Which makes me draw a simple conclusion: our offensive system is broken. The offensive coordinator can't just not judge player ability, he's not making us play well when we have the ball either. Oh yeah, our special teams unit took a step back as well, which is not something to ignore either.

The outlook for the off-season? We'll be going into it with 51 players signed and roughly $50M in cap space. We'll have our draft picks, with a bonus second round pick from the 4-12 Houston Mustangs, which will be the #36 overall pick. Nice on top of the #15 and #46 picks that we 'earned' with our 8-8 campaign. But the loyal reader knows darn well that I take too much pride to ever consider throwing a game away. Unlike Earnest Ashley has been doing for us this season...
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Old 03-06-2021, 09:10 AM   #464
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Six new members for the Merchantmen Club of 100
As the 2096 regular season came to an end for the Maassluis Merchantmen in the home game against the Gothenburg Giants, on the field safety Devon Farrell started in his 100th straight game for the Merchantmen. As he's been a day one starter and is yet to miss a game due to injury, with 4 playoffs games in that timespan, he reached the number in his sixth season. Most players need 7 seasons to get to 100, the quickest route would be 5 seasons of 16 regular season games each with 4 playoffs games in each of those 5 seasons. Wide receiver George Stuckey wasn't a day one starter, but he too played his 100th game for the Merchantmen in the final game of the 2096 season.

Farrell and Stuckey join a long list of players, several that are Hall of Famers, while others were long time support cast players. All of them get their name and picture on the walls in Oranje Haven for this achievement in loyalty and longevity. They were two of six players to join the Club of 100 during the 2096 season, as they were preceded by linebacker Brandon Brady, tight end Clay Gaynor, safety Chuck Murray and cornerback Adam Harmon. The walls have gotten pretty full, as with the addition of Farrell and Stuckey there are now 287 players to make it.

Five players are within a football season of joining the club. Safety Jon Brotzman is just 1 game short, as is tight end Jeffery Blake, who returned to Maassluis during the regular season for a second stint. Tight end Clarence Gore is 2 games short. Free agent defensive tackle Kurt Ackermann will have to return for a third stint in Maassluis to join the club, being 12 games played short. Current punt return specialist Mark Perkins is 18 games away, which means he'll need more than just a regular season to jump in.

Where membership of the Club of 100 is achieved during their active careers, so far 83 players have had their name and fame enshrined into the Ring of Honor of the Merchantmen, for which one player is selected and announced at the first exhibition home game of each season. Linebacker Craig McCorkle got his name called this off-season, shortly after being inducted into the leaguewide Solecismic Hall of Fame. McCorkle already was a member of the Club of 100.



Notoriously missing from the Club of 100 are wide receiver Alfredo Bass, running back Stanley Givens and cornerback Randall Allen. The three of them do have their name and fame in the Ring of Honor, where they were added when no candidates were available with 100 games played. All three joined the Merchantmen later on in their careers, retiring shortly before their 100th game played in orange-white-and-blue.

Alfredo Bass played only 48 games for the Merchantmen, but he was a phenomenal wide receiver back in the early years of the IHOF and in only 3 seasons with the Merchantmen, bowing out with a then very respectable 82 catches for 1,229 yards and 9 touchdowns. one might that the Solecismic Hall of Fame restrictions were too harsh back in his day to give Bass a chance to get in.

Randall Allen played 5 seasons for the Merchantmen, was an outstanding shutdown corner back in the '10 and '20s and he too is notoriously missing in the Solecismic Hall of Fame. Allen's 49 career interceptions, 173 defended passes, 13 forced fumbles and 607 tackles in 166 regular season games would in today's era be good enough to make it.

Stanley Givens played only 60 games in 4 seasons for the Merchantmen in his Hall of Fame worthy career. He put his name in the football history books as one of few running backs to truly improve the running game from above average to very hard to stop. Although, his 4.40 yards per carry is deceivingly low, he was part of a phenomenal offensive unit, including fellow Hall of Famers quarterback "Rusty" Harrison and wide receiver Gabe Springer.
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Old 03-11-2021, 05:37 PM   #465
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2097 begins with end for Theo and Humphrey
Is this the start of a new era?

The off-season in the International House Of Football traditionally starts with a wave of retirements. The wave in Maassluis was sky high, the Merchantmen and Oranje Haven were overwhelmed, can we withstand it? At the same time, we were prepared we knew this day was coming.

Theodore Bondy, wide receiver
8th overall pick in the 2082 draft. Last player standing of his draft class, and we still hoped he wouldn't quit the game at the age of 37. As a rookie impressed with 95 catches for 1,469 yards. In his second year broke out with 153 catches for 2,030 yards and 13 touchdowns and All-IHOF First team honors. 2084 was an off-year, but he bounced back with three sensational seasons. In 2085-2087 "Theo" was a phenomenon, racking up 39 100-yard games, nearly 170 catches per season, 17, 19 and 16 touchdowns, 2,100+ yards with the extreme in 2086 with 2,449 yards. Those seasons Bondy was an undisputed All-IHOF First Team selection and guided the Merchantmen into the playoffs, shined with two 200-yard playoffs games, but the ultimate reward didn't come, the team didn't get past the conference finals. Bondy and the Merchantmen got back to the conference final in 2091, but by then Bondy had turned from phenomenal to extremely good. After 15 seasons, 233 regular season games (Bondy misses 7 games), 13 playoffs games, 1,728 catches (3rd most in league history) for 21,524 yards (also 3rd most in league history) and 150 receiving touchdowns, the journey is over. The #80 jersey will forever be tied to Theo, to never be used again by the orange-white-and-blue.

Howard Humphrey, offensive tackle
#9 overall pick in the 2085 draft. Humphrey was a rare offensive lineman to start as a rookie for the Merchantmen. He delivered immediately with 44 key run blocks in that rookie season. As the starting right tackle, Humphrey was the key run blocker for the Merchantmen for nearly a decade, being a six time All-IHOF First Team selection. After a nasty injury mid-way through the 2093 season, he continued to be a good player, but never returned to be a dominant force. With Humphrey on the team, the Merchantmen got into the playoffs 5 times, never went one-and-done with him as a starter, but the conference championship game was their best performance, achieved in 2085 and 2091. With 178 regular season games played (177 started) and 11 playoffs games in 12 seasons, racking up 422 key run blocks (2nd most in Merchantmen history) in those regular seasons, Humphrey proved to be an unprecedented run blocking right tackle. No doubt Merchantmen fans and historians see him as the best at his position to ever put on the orange-white-and-blue jersey.

Aside from these obvious hall of fame candidates, the Merchantmen lose 5 more players:
Clay Brosseau, fullback
undrafted rookie signing in 2086. Spent two seasons watching from the stands, but eventually became the fullback of the team, playing in 145 regular season and 4 playoffs games. Meant to become a premier run blocker, Brosseau ended up making 56 key run blocks in 9 seasons in an active role. Unimpressive from a distance, but the most by any fullback in his time of action in the IHOF.

Andre Watson, guard
late 4th round pick in 2086. Had to wait two seasons in the wings, but then became the starting right guard. Held on to his starting role for 6 seasons, but the last 3 seasons saw his role diminsih to 6th and 7th lineman. Had 4 seasons with 30+ key run blocks, playing in 129 regular season and 6 playoffs games.

Renaldo Crawford, tight end
Originally a third round pick with the Toronto Lake Monsters in 2087, release in pre-season of his rookie season, picked up by the Frederick Red Menace late in that season. The Merchantmen signed him as a free agent in his second season in the post-draft free agency period. His role flipflopped from starter to fourth (inactive) choice, but the faith in his ability to be a suitable run blocker and special teamer never vanished. Last season was a disaster with a season ending injury in the first game of the season, which turned out to be the last as well, his 100th regular season game played for the Merchantmen. He didn't need the 2 playoffs games to join the Club of 100.

Jeffery Blake, tight end
Undrafted rookie signing in 2088. As a rookie was forced into action as the TE2. Held on to an active role for 5 seasons in Maassluis, then bounced around in the conference from Augusta through Gothenburg and Harlem back to Maassluis last season to fill in for Renaldo Crawford, as Blake too was known as primarily a run blocker and special teamer. Blake comes 1 game short of joining the Merchantmen Club of 100.

Todd Springer, guard
One-season rental for the 2096 season. Originally signed to mentor first round pick Nickolas Toler, but ended up starting in 11 regular season games after all. Was benched after the 38-0 drubbing in Gothenburg, but got has vengeances in week 17 in the 21-6 payback game in Oranje Haven. Before his one season in Maassluis was a respectable run blocker for the Houston Mustangs.

God speed guys.

And with that, it's time to move on. An off-season to figure out whether we want to spend all of our post draft cap space (roughly $62M) on quarterback Earnest Ashley, or want to look elsewhere. Our offensive line is depleted, we're down to 4 starters all 27 years or younger and what looks to be a career backup.

The defense is completely unchanged, only run stuffing linebacker Hayden McNeil isn't locked up. Second-year stars sack machine Richie Piotte and shutdown cornerback Ernie Grant are coming off All-IHOF worthy breakout seasons.

The off-season focus will go to the offense, exclusively, I suspect. A new offensive coordinator, a new look at the QB situation, the RB situation, the WR situation, the look for a fifth lineman and perhaps the biggest challenge: constructing a game plan that fits the players we have. Oh yes, new era, it is. Let's do this!
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Old 03-13-2021, 12:57 PM   #466
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: How little things can cheer you up
Or how little things might mean a lot more than we perceive.

The Maassluis Merchantmen have a new offensive coordinator! Alexander Petty has been replaced after two seasons of not getting our offense anywhere. Coming in is Clarence Byrd, a smashmouth adept, previous the San Antonio Tidal Force head coach. It wasn't much of a success, they won 12 games. Not, not in a single season, in those 4 seasons. Byrd is returning to his old profession, he used to be an offensive coordinator, a job he held for 15 seasons with four difference franchises. Initially with the Kansas Creationists for 4 seasons, then 2 seasons with the Capital City Blues, 7 with the Chesapeake Chitterlings and 2 seasons with the Tucker Tigers, with whom he won an IHOF Bowl in his first season. The 'promotion' to head coach in San Antonio was clearly not much of a success and as the Tidal Force hired a new head coach, Byrd got his chance to return to what he does best. Alexander Petty didn't have to wait long to get his name called, he ended up with his dream job: he was hired by the Hanalei Dragons as their new offensive coordinator.

Next order of business: investigating which players will be out of contract after the season, to get a sense of which will require an investment in cap space and which will be somewhat easy to hold on to. Early outlook of players that want to get paid: LT/RT Isaac Delgado (+$11M), LT Johnnie Houston (+$15M), TE Clay Gaynor (+$22M) and most prominently QB Earnest Ashley (+$42M). All four are a risk for going into hold out.

Bad news of the day? Quarterback Marty Forland was traded to the Paris Musketeers. Not only does that bring one of the best passers in the league into the division, it also means I got outbid by the Musketeers. They paid two future first round picks for a 33-year old 13th year veteran. I was willing to pay a couple of second round picks, but a couple of first rounders felt too much. Don't tell Earnest Ashley though, despite his absurd $55M/year request, I do feel like we're in the business again to invest in a QB. A guy like Forland would cost something like $75M/year, even as a short term solution.

The situation reminded me once again of the 2078 off-season, when I signed free agent QB Bennett Morris and drafted RB Walt Blair. Those two guys turned a decent offense into one of my favorite offenses ever. J.R Mills regressed from 2,228 receiving yards to 1,756, but also improved to 17 touchdowns. We reached the AOC Championship game that season. Blair's season was cut short after 10 games, but boy was that a fun RB to watch. So much different from the two Hall of Famers Norbert Talley and Stanley Givens. A bit more of Donald Terry, but with the endurance to actually carry the ball 25 times.

So yeah, I can sometimes daydream of good decision made in the past and hope I can recreate them.

We're coming off two seasons with a negative point differential. Last time we went through that back-to-back was back in 2022... Back then we were very bad, we were outscored 8 straight seasons. Then came the 2023 off-season. We traded for RB Stanley Givens, drafted WR Terry Thomason to give the legendary Gabe Springer a sidekick. Even the injury to Russell Harrison wasn't enough to have him and Patrick McDonnell become the best QB (duo) in the league that season.

Sure, sure, 2078 was kind of an era ago, 2023 was like 3 or 4 eras ago. Still, turnaround is possible, both times it did require some investment in players and that's where I should go this off-season. No tipping of my hand, but I think this is where we are this off-season and what has to be done. The defense is ready, the offense needs a new starter or four to get into a truly good shape. With or without Earnest Ashley? We'll see about that after pre-season...
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Old 03-14-2021, 07:37 AM   #467
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The quarterback crossroad
Give it to him or start all over?

For decades Merchantmen fans have been spoiled. We may not have had the best quarterbacks in football suiting up for us, but it's undeniable that I've done a good enough job as the general manager of this team to almost consistently make sure we had a quarterback that could legitimately be called playoff caliber. From Louie Flannery, to Rusty Harrison, to Jay McGee, Perry Coleman, Bryson Chow, the underrated Lester Lowe, Alfred Hickman, the one- or two-year rentals until we switched to Ellis McAlister, McAlister himself and most recently Moe Sheldon and now Earnest Ashley.

Hold on, I have to admit that Ashley has far form convinced me as of yet. Yes, he's got the looks of a capable quarterback, our new offensive coordinator (and the one we fired two days ago) both confirm what our staff saw in Ashley as a draft prospect. He's considered to be slightly better than expected back then, so, based on that certainly worthy of a second round pick.
Code:
rookie QB E.Ashley vs 4th year QB E.Ashley sc ps X++_______ 10/25 . sc ps XXX_______ 35 sh ps XX++______ 15/45 . sh ps XXXXXX____ 60 md ps XXX++++___ 25/75 . md ps XXXXXXXX__ 80 lg ps +_________ _5/10 . lg ps X_________ 15 dp ps X+++______ 10/40 . dp ps XXXX______ 35 3d ps XXXX+_____ 45/55 . 3d ps XXXXXX____ 60 accur X++_______ 10/30 . accur XXXX______ 40 timin XXXX+_____ 40/50 . timin XXXXX_____ 50 s rsh XXXXXX____ 60/60 . s rsh XXXXXX____ 65 rd df X++_______ 10/35 . rd df XXXX______ 35 2m of XX+++++___ 25/65 . 2m of XXXXXXXX__ 75 scr f XXX_______ 30/30 . scr f XXX_______ 25 kck h __________ _0/_0 . kck h __________ _0
But after 3 seasons of .500 land football and completing roughly 50% of his passes, we have to wonder where we've gone wrong. Are we too high on Ashley or are we asking things from him he can't do? Some numbers:
Code:
year att/cmp c.pct yards y/cmp y/att td/int '94 312/596 52.3 4,009 12.85 6.73 25/27 '95 320/641 49.9 4,117 12.87 6.42 27/21 '96 302/640 47.2 3,910 12.95 6.11 19/21
Missing from the equation: we've got reason to believe that Ashley, contrary to some of his predecessors, doesn't have pick machine written in his DNA. His 18 fumbles in 48 games aren't a serious concern either, it's very moderate for a starting quarterback. Which suggests that the game plan is forcing him too much into making bad throws. Perhaps it's time to look one more time at what he can do. With a new Smashmouth coordinator, providing we find some improvement in our running backs group and a suitable fifth offensive lineman, we might be able to support the pass with the run again. Our running game has fallen apart recently:
Code:
year att yards y/att td '93 475 1,901 4.00 _7 '94 418 1,965 4.70 16 '95 376 1,551 4.13 10 '96 377 1,482 3.93 10
Simultaneously, the number of sacks allowed by the line has gone from 33 in Moe Sheldon's last season to 26, 29 and 36. Sample size issues come around here, but Sheldon was a notorious sack magnet, while Ashley shouldn't be. Is it the young incoherent line? Who knows.

Game plan changes or not, the decision here isn't just whether we like Ashley, it's also a $50M decision. We've reached the crossroad of whether we want to spend 10% of our salary cap on a quarterback. Ashley's current cap figure is $6.31, the 26th highest figure on our team. His agent is requesting a $238M deal over 4 years, a $41M bonus and increasing cap figures, from $48M this season to $70M in the 2100 season. Preferably I'll give him a flat contract, which should end up close to $60M per year. This would make him jump into the top10 of highest paid quarterbacks in the league.

Strategic decision: can I stick with his current $6.3M figure and wait for free agency next off-season? Perhaps, but of the other 31 teams in the league, I'm sure at least 2 or 3 others would be interested in Ashley. If he remains healthy throughout the 2097 season, his demands will only rise, $75M/year won't be an absurd estimation for what he might get.

The good news? We actually have the cap space available, this season. Next season will be a new test, as Ernie Grant and Richie Piotte will start asking for the moon and the stars as most elite cornerbacks and defensive ends do. But that's the day after tomorrow's concern, we haven't even made it to tomorrow yet.

Which brings me back to the original question to be answered: are we willing to commit to Earnest Ashley? Giving him the money means he'll have to be our quarterback for 3 more seasons, probably the 2100 season as well if we go bonus heavy and decide to cap him out once or twice in the next off-seasons.

The other options? The draft, we're going to interview a couple of quarterbacks, including some that are likely to drop past the first round. Trading for a veteran that looks good enough to me, that ship has probably sailed. Several have been put on the trading block, but aside from Marty Forland, who went from Oakland to Paris, they aren't an upgrade over Ashley. Which basically comes down to this: will I make an offer to Ashley now, or wait until we've seen the results of the first two or three rounds in the draft?

I think I have my plan ready, but not ready to share it with y'all just yet. After all, the competition in this league is also reading along...
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Old 03-15-2021, 05:07 PM   #468
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We have a new quarterback!
Nah, fooled ya.

Trade talks came and went by. We made a sound offer for a veteran quarterback, we stood a good chance to land him. But the other party reevaluated their situation and (rightfully) decided to stick with their man. Too bad for us, I think we would have made a great improvement. It would have ended Earnest Ashley's chances to get that $240M contract he's seeking for here. He would have been stuck in a hold out or play out the rookie contract situation.

The other option, the draft? The top two prospects were out of reach. As in, I could have tried to make a worthy offer for the 1.2 pick perhaps, something like three first round picks, it could have landed us a Michigan quarterback. We didn't make an offer for the pick, unlike another team in our conference. Will I completely ignore the draft from here on? Never say never...

However, we've started the negotiations with Earnest Ashley. We know his opening bid, our counter offer is, may I say so, a very generous $220 over 4 years offer, with basically $100M guaranteed. If he takes it, we're tied together for the next 3 seasons at minimum. If he turns it down, well... Let's not go ahead of that.

For a while I hoped that at the 1.15 slot we would easily land one of the two top prospects at guard. Well, so much for that, before the top10 was over, both were gone. Even the top rated wide receiver was taken after them. Imagine that! I didn't just leave it at that, I reached out to a team that picked ahead of us in the first round, in an attempt to get their rookie. No such luck either. I'm not going to tell which player just yet, maybe after the off-season is over, but fair to say, I think that player would have fit on our team. One of those guards? All in due time.

And that's not where the impasse ended. Once the #15 overall pick went on the clock, I glanced over the list of prospects that we interviewed and I saw three things: the first round prospects were already gone, or I came to the conclusion that he's undersized. The second and third round prospects felt like too much of a reach. It didn't take long to get an inquire from an interested team: the Arizona Miners offered their 1st round pick in the next draft. I got a bit cocky, asked for a bit more, but it's realistically a pick worth settling for, even though I'm not convinced it will be a lock to be a top10 pick. The alternative was a very interesting looking linebacker. It was very tempting, but took the trade out. And Arizona grabbed said linebacker.

So, so far, the off-season isn't getting us places, it's status quo at best. Still a couple of top half second round picks remaining of course. And another inquire or two out there to fill a couple of holes on our team. I've got to keep believing we can turn things around this off-season. It's certainly possible.
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Old 03-16-2021, 02:22 PM   #469
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We have a new running back!
And I'm not kidding, like I did yesterday.

First things first: Earnest Ashley took our lowball offer. One could say "four more years of Ashley", which means we're tied to him for at least 3 seasons at $55M per season, roughly 11% of our overall cap figure. But to be fair, I think he can play ball, otherwise I wouldn't get into the troubles of offering him the money.

To support him, we've made a big trade. Minutes after I decided to make a bid for the Forth Wayne's running back, the said player, Bert Ta'Amu went onto the trade block. We jumped in offering the 2.14 overall draft pick and a swap of future picks to seal the deal. Our staff is convinced this is the best running back in football, what's not to like here? The only minor issue could be his age (he turned 30 in the off-season) and will enter his 9th season in the league. I'm fully aware this might be just a one-year rental.

We followed up our restocking of the offense with the selection of rookie guard Ronald Staigvil. The 23-year old 6'3" 321 pounds Minnesota graduate looks like a promising run blocking prospect. To help him develop (and to have a worthy backup on the team), we quickly acquired veteran Caleb Turnbull from the Fort Wayne Fury.

This basically means we're a backup center, backup tackle and maybe a sixth wide receiver away from a filled up roster. Well, maybe a backup tight end as well and figuring out which running back to ditch. And we might want to re-sign veteran linebacker Hayden McNeil or a similar run stopper to plug the one real hole on the defense.

Which is an optimistic way to say that I think we're much better than the 8-8 campaign we had last season. Well Ta'Amu make the difference? Hard to tell now, we'll still have to survive pre-season. We haven't even finished the draft yet, let's do that first.

I sent most of our remaining picks to the aforementioned Fury and all that we have left is a couple of mid-seventh rounders. Just in case I get goggles and think there's somebody I might want to sign after the draft, making sure I won't have to go into a bidding war. Don't count out the possibility that I'll trade back in somewhere in the fourth or fifth round as I have a couple of players on 'sleeper pick' list.

Because, never say never?
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Old 03-18-2021, 02:51 PM   #470
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We have a new fullback!
Yeah, we're working down by position.

Where did we find this new fullback? We made a draft day trade, acquired the 4.13 pick from the Fort Wayne Fury (yes, them again) and gave them our third round pick next draft in return. Damien Wanamaker is a 21-year old, 5'10" 233 pounds run blocker with stamina. Nothing spectacular, but if he works out, he might fit in our Smashmouth offense. He was one of 12 players that we interviewed, the only one that got past the middle of the second round.

The two incoming rookies and two to be use seventh round picks excluded, we increased our roster to 51 players. Two of them were our free agent linebacker Hayden McNeil and running back/special teamer Harris Gerhardt. The third is fourth year right tackle Dusty Webster. Because, you know, we're going to need a third tackle on roster to get through the season. But it's fair to assume he's by no means a guarantee to make the final 53-men roster.

Our cap situation had gotten tight after the Ta'Amu acquisition and expensive extension for Ashley, but a restructuring of Ta'Amu's deal and our center Robbie Zinn's had gotten us back into a healthy situation. We might do some more of this to make room for extensions for our offensive tackles Johnny Houston and Isaac Delgado. But preferably that will have to wait until pre-season is ongoing, because, you know, strange things can happen after the second pre-season game.

Anything else to add for now? Not really. The Ashley and Ta'Amu moves have been the clear cut highlights of the off-season, with our fingers crossed nothing crazy happens in terms of holdouts and aforementioned pre-season partying. For now, it's waiting for the draft to wind down to the middle of the third round, see us grab a couple of guys to keep them out of the undrafted rookie free agents pool.
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Old 03-19-2021, 10:43 AM   #471
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We've got a new Tight end!
And a center.

Seventh round of the draft rolled around and in that round we grabbed two more players. Tight end Myron Lofton is the second highest player at his position this draft. He's supposed to be a decent run blocker, able to get open, actually not drop the ball too often and good on third downs. Two picks later we selected center Rickey Mason, a center, second fastest in this class, speed is an important measure for a center. Mason is big with his 6'7" and 304 pounds, while Lofton is kind of the opposite at 5'11" and 243 pounds. Both stand a decent chance to make the final 53 men roster, as we were short a player at both positions to get a healthy number of minimum required plus one.
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Old 03-19-2021, 12:18 PM   #472
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We don't have our tight end?
Clay Gaynor has decided to hold out.

Well how about that. We make our tight end the most targetted player on the team and he starts making exorbitant demands. $105M over 4 years is what mister Gaynor is asking for. Do we have an alternative? Sure, run the ball 40 times per game, but we're still going to need Gaynor in the passing game. We're likely going to pay the man, after I figured out where to get the cap space. Which actually isn't a problem as of now, we actually have the space available to re-sign him before training camp. But who's going to tell our offensive tackles that Gaynor is taking the money reserved for them?
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Old 03-20-2021, 02:21 PM   #473
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We have a new wide receiver!
He's also a kickoff returner, yay!

Another veteran has joined the Merchantmen this off-season. Wide receiver Malachi Pierson joined us after we agreed terms to a two-year deal. A key factor for wanting to sign him is his kickoff return ability. Long ago he was a touchdown machine for the Outer Banks Ospreys, over here he'll be an option as our WR3 or WR4, depending on where Branden Sandlin (yes, he's still on the team) stands after pre-season.

We missed out on a bunch of undrafted rookies, but two of them did join us. Safety Artie Hall will get a shot to prove us he's good enough to join our secondary. Odds are slim, but never say never for a zone defender. Bruce Nekolny is an interesting defensive end. Very green, but if he develops, he could be the kind of pass rusher we like to have in our rotation. At the very least, the kid has a good motor.

We're going into training camp with 58 players signed.

Hold on, 58, does that mean Clay Gaynor is going to report for camp? Why yes, he is indeed, after signing an improved and extended contract. To make the cap room available, we gave wide receiver George Stuckey a contract cap out. We're going into training camp with $5.6M cap space. Of course, things will be completely different once we're in the middle of pre-season. Which is still far away.

For now, we're going to take it as it is. We have a surplus at all the non-special teamer positions. We haven't even tried to sign a second long snapper, Travis Hamilton should be the best in the game, according to our new offensive coordinator.
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Old 03-21-2021, 06:41 PM   #474
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We have a new play book!
It was about time.

Time for change. I said this before, several times. Many times? At least more often than just now. We took some advice from other owners/general managers across the league and after a couple of training camps of stalemate, this became the one to make a difference. It's tricky, because before training camp it's hard to see what offensive personnel you'll have heading into the new season, but it's the uncertainty we have to live with.

Things I took into consideration? First of all, our return to a Smashmouth offensive coordinator. Things hopefully fall into place with Bert Ta'Amu as our running back. Ta'Amu will likely lose some of his skills, but for now, we'll have to consider this is the best running back in the league. Hole recognition, third down skills, decent breakaway speed, little elusiveness, can protect the blitz, has receiving skills and the endurance to be an all downs back. This is a player to build an offense around.

Our fullback situation is simple: we have a gun that can run block. Owen Johnston is a 4th season Merchantman, rookie Damien Wanamaker is most likely too green to jump in right away, but I hope he'll be indeed an excellent run blocker. Our tight ends aren't much of run blockers, those guys retired. Clay Gaynor is actually half decent at it, but Clarence Gore isn't. 7th round rookie Myron Lofton is just as green as Wanamaker, while 5th year backup Ike Nixon is a probably the better option than Gore. Gore and Gaynor do have something in common: we can use them as additional pass blockers when we don't target them, which is seemingly something our offensive coordinator likes to do. Directional running won't be too complicated, we'll go all over the place, slightly more to the middle over Robbie Zinn and over the right side, where right tackle Isaac Delgado will step into the role Howard Humphrey used to have.

Our passing game? Earnest Ashley likes to throw it deep, but he's supposedly at his best when he's going to to throw for 0 to 20 yards. How convenient, no? We'll still let him try the occasional long bomb, like we used to do, but this is where we'll be focusing on.

Ed Schulz is our big play guy, he can get downfield and when he gets there, he's one of the best to break away for a big gain, fastest player in the league they say. First and second down material. George Stuckey is better at getting open, can get downfield too, but lacks that big play ability to be as special as Schulz. Both have the courage to run all kinds of routes. Ta'Amu will get looks too, stepping into the WR3 role in a way. Kind of, because we also have Malachi Pierson now, a third down receiver, this man might have to sub in for Schulz on third downs. Rookie tight end Myron Lofton could grow into that kind of receiver that can only get you a third and less than 10 catch. But so can Clay Gaynor, our TE1, who might be overall our only guy that can play well in all kinds of situations. WR4 Branden Sandlin is still a guy that can get open and make a big play. So yeah, in theory we have something nice here.

What to expect from here on? Tomorrow we'll be getting training camp results, primarily reports on the progress of the youngsters and a second assessment on the rookies. Later on pre-season action, with a complete new scouting report of the roster. Followed by renegotiations, 25 of 58 players are in the final year of contract. We can get about $50M available in cap space after cap outs, so we're in a flexible position, but we'll see where we stand after we've made our 5 final cuts to trim down to our 53 men regular season roster.
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Old 03-22-2021, 06:32 PM   #475
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Training Camp results
Little surprises.

My staff made an assessment of our players before and after training camp and on a 1-100 scale, below is what our youngsters look like, with the progress in actual numbers and as always the overall numbers rounded to the nearest 5s.

The rookies:
+6/-2 to 35/65 G Ronald Staigvil
+5/nc to 20/55 C Rickey Mason
+4/+1 to 30/50 TE Myron Lofton
+4/+1 to 25/50 FB Damien Wanamaker
+4/+1 to 20/35 S Artie Hall
+3/nc to 15/40 DE Bruce Nekolny

A lot to like here. These numbers make me believe that Staigvil is the real deal, roughly a 60s rated guard, with 80s potential in run blocking and the endurance to still be good in the 4th quarter. Mason doesn't have endurance at all, but his run blocking potential might be closer to the 80s potential than I could have hoped for. Lofton, Wanamaker and Hall made the kind of progress that on par for a guy that floats between an active backup and a guy that starts because there's no clear cut starter. Which isn't fair, because Lofton already looks like a decent third down receiver and potentially a viable run blocker. Wanamaker will possibly be our new fullback, depending on where he stands compared to veteran Owen Johnston after pre-season, but I really like his 90s potential in run blocking. Hall looks okay, but a longshot to survive the final cuts. Ditto for Nekolny, despite his endurance and 70s potential in pass rush technique and play diagnosis.

The 2nd year players:
+7/nc to 65/70 G Nickolas Toler
+5/nc to 25/50 CB Omar Leszynski
+2/nc to 15/30 QB Kelvin Everett
+1/nc to 35/35 RB Ronnie Vanden Bosch
+1/nc to 15/15 WR/KR Darien Thompson

Toler is a true starter, very good run blocker, solid pass protection, a bit on the low side in endurance. Leszynski was +3/+1 previous camp, so another sign that he might be the run stopping, man-to-man, interceptions making defender. A very useful player on likely running downs. The Everett project might end a pre-season earlier than I'd like to, but other than his sense rush ability, scrambling and presumably a decent ability to avoid interceptions, can we really give him the active roster slot a project quarterback needs to develop? Vanden Bosch has another bad camp, we'll have to trust him by his over 4.0 yards per carry to be a worthy RB2. Thompson should hang around as the kickoff return alternative to veteran signing Malachi Pierson.

others?
+3/nc to 30/40 RT Dusty Webster
+2/nc to 30/40 G Vince Henselman
+2/nc to 30/30 TE Ike Nixon
+2/nc to 25/30 KH/QB Jon Giles

The fourth-year right tackle Webster made some progress, but is still a liability in the running game, if we'll ever field him it can only be in a game where we won't run much over his side of the line. Third-year guard Henselman looks like the prime suspect to not make our 8-men offensive line group. Fifth-year tight end Nixon may not sound like he improved a lot, but he's making a very solid case for being a suitable special teamer and a receiver that can get downfield and make a play. Kick holder Jon Giles actually sat out 2096 as we went with Efrain Batcheck in that slot, there's still no reason to think we'll ever want Giles throwing the football for us, but he's worth something as a mentoring kick holder, if we find an active roster spot for his this season.

The lineups have been set for the first two pre-season games, with a random game plan, which is usually asking for silliness. But we'll see what will happen. We'll be playing with the projected starters, hoping to give the 53-men roster making youngsters additional playing time (if the staff doesn't substitute them!) in the last two pre-season games.

Two more days and we'll know where to go with the remainder of pre-season. Can't wait to see what we'll have by then.
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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 03-24-2021, 06:36 PM   #476
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: When Father Time comes around
Or how pre-season can end a player's career.

Pre-season action has started and boy were we in for a mixed bag. As I mentioned before the action, the plan was to throw the starters out there. The defense kept up their side of the deal, giving up 503 total yards, combined. That's encouraging, isn't it? Well, except that we gave up a lot of rushing yards, usually a bad omen for things to come. The pass defense was at their A game, seemingly, yanking up 8 sacks in 60 pass plays, none of the four quarterbacks that we faced completed 10 or more passes or reached 100 yards.

But really, what's it worth when the starting quarterback is pulled from the game at half time? We let Earnest Ashley throw the ball 25 times in total spread over the two games, completing 16 of those for 161 yards. Sure, this wasn't my game plan, just the staff randomly throwing around some plays from our play book, there was no general idea behind the play calls.

What about Bart Ta'Amu? Well, he fumbled the ball in both games, which is exceptional for a running back that had 10 fumbles in the last 4 seasons combined. He fumbles about once ever 100 touches, that's very good in my opinion. With 5 catches for 33 yards, he didn't excel there, but we don't really want him to, he'll be there as an additional receiver, not the primary target.

Elsewhere on the offense, Ed Schulz and George Stuckey both had a decent and a horrible game. Good old Branden Sandlin was our top receiver so far: 9 catches, 124 yards. Clay Gaynor scored the only touchdown. Yes, we lost 14-3 in Chicago and won 19-13 against Oakland with 4 field goals.

But after all that jibber dabber, we all know that pre-season is the moment in the season where the staff completely re-evaluates the team. And for some players the re-evaluation will result in an unexpected departure from the Merchantmen. Let's go over the team position group by group, as usual with players graded 1-100, rounded to the nearest 5's, while I'll add what my staff thought compared to right after training camp.

Quarterbacks
55/55 nc/nc QB Earnest Ashley
35/35 -8/-8 QB Efrain Batcheck
25/30 nc/+2 KH Jon Giles
15/30 nc/nc QB Kelvin Everett
Batcheck played well in pre-season, before he fell apart. Ashley is the starter, which is no surprise, we're tied to him for $55M/season for 4 seasons. Giles might make the active roster as the kick holder, if we find a roster spot. Everett still puzzles me, but this second-year 3rd round pick is no Ellis McAllister, we have to admit that. Still, too early to give up on him, no? But do we really, really, really need to go into the regular season with 4 quarterbacks?

Backfield
60/60 -9/-9 RB Bert Ta'Amu
35/35 nc/-1 RB Ronnie Vanden Bosch
25/45 +1/-2 FB Damien Wanamaker
30/30 -7/-7 RB Trey Beyer
30/30 -8/-8 RB/ST Jack Crane
25/25 -5/-5 ST Harris Gerhardt
20/20 -3/-3 FB/ST Owen Johnston
Ouch. Seriously. This is the end for Jack Crane, mister sure hands, former Giants legend. Beyer isn't likely to make the team either, we could keep him for cohesion, but with Ta'Amu, he won't get any carries anyway. And next season will be a no go either, I suspect. Wanamaker will be our fullback. If he makes a bit more progress, because Johnston is the better run blocker for now and a special teamer too.

Tight Ends and Wide Receivers
55/55 nc/nc TE/ST Clay Gaynor
55/55 nc/nc WR Ed Schulz
50/50 +6/+6 TE Clarence Gore
50/50 nc/nc WR George Stuckey
40/40 -3/-3 WR/KR Malachi Pierson
30/45 nc/-2 TE Myron Lofton
30/30 nc/-3 TE/ST Ike Nixon
25/25 -9/-9 WR Branden Sandlin
20/20 nc/nc PR Mark Perkins
15/15 nc/nc KR Darien Thompson
The bad news? Sandlin's decline. The so-so news? Schulz' lack of progress since pre-season of his second season has our fear become reality: he's a phenomenal player, but not in every aspect. He's basically a WR2. And so is Stuckey. And so is Gaynor. Which means we're not in a bad shape, just not as great as I hoped we could be. None of these guys will be cut. Or maybe Thompson as he's about 50-50 being our second or third best kick off returner.

Offensive Linemen
80/80 +2/+2 C Robbie Zinn
70/70 +1/+1 LT Isaac Delgado
65/70 -1/nc G Nickolas Toler
60/60 +1/+1 LT Johnnie Houston
35/60 nc/-4 G Ronald Staigvil
40/40 nc/nc G Caleb Turnbull
20/55 nc/-1 C Rickey Mason
30/35 -3/-5 G Vince Henselman
25/35 -4/-6 T Dusty Webster
Who said Zinn isn't top-notch? Yeah, our previous offensive coordinator. Shame on you! I like this group. Cohesion will be lower due to the departure of Howard Humphrey, but I think we'll okay. Staigvil is green, but with Turnbull to mentor, or even to jump in if he doesn't develop, we have a little bit of depth here. Henselman or Webster won't make the final 53-men list. If we have cap space after renegotiations, don't be shocked if both are out of here.

Defensive Linemen
70/70 nc/nc DE Richie Piotte
55/55 +1/+1 DT Darien Fletcher
55/55 nc/nc DT/ST Jerome Shumate
50/50 -3/-3 DE Caiden Croyle
45/45 +1/+1 DT Harold Gough
40/40 -1/-1 DT/ST Caleb Domis
35/35 -7/-7 DE/ST Archie Exner
25/25 -6/-6 DE/ST Gene Kondovski
15/35 nc/-4 DE Bruce Nekolny
Nekolny won't make the team, the rest will. Eight pass rushers, with Piotte, Fletcher, Shumate and Croyle also capable of supporting the run defense. It means this is a great unit.

Linebackers
50/50 -12/-12 LB/ST Brandon Brady
50/50 -4/-4 LB Hayden McNeil
40/40 -1/-1 LB/ST Andrew Cochrane
40/40 -9/-9 LB Daquan Espino
35/35 -6/-6 LB Clayton Jackson
25/25 -2/-2 ST Jose Meadows
_5/_5 -3/-3 ST Brant Rayburn
The decline is here, big time. Both Brady and Jackson are no longer the elite players that they used to be. Brady is now a serviceable starter, Jackson by no means a guarantee to be the second passing down linebacker, he's got to fear for Cochrane. The only player that might fail to make the final 53-men list is Espino. He's been unhappy for a very long time and also on the decline. We might want to check our cap situation before the season starts and think about acquiring a viable starter here...

Secondary
75/75 -1/-1 CB Ernie Grant
65/65 +1/+1 S Devon Farrell
50/50 nc/nc CB/ST Bryson Swafford
45/45 nc/nc CB/ST Zachery Weisz
45/45 nc/nc S Chuck Murray
25/50 nc/nc CB Omar Leszynski
35/35 -3/-3 CB/KR Adam Harmon
25/25 -6/-6 S/ST Jon Brotzman
15/25 -3/-5 S? Artie Hall
Yeah, that wasn't going to happen for Hall. The returning group will stick. Brotzman regressed just a little bit, but was on a time-share with Murray already, which will hardly change. The tricky part is to phase in Leszynski, as he's potentially a running downs cornerback, but is stuck behind Grant and Swafford.

Kicker, Punter and Long Snapper
70/70 -1/-1 K Dylan McMullen
60/60 +2/+2 P Shaun Barlow
20/20 nc/nc LS Travis Hamilton
Yeah, sure, why not. Hamilton is the best in the business and we're paying him for it. McMullen still has to prove he's worth it being a top3 paid kicker. Barlow is barely top10 in the game.

Tomorrow, 5 of the 58 players above will have been told they are no longer part of the Maassluis Merchantmen team. A bunch that are to make the team will be offered a restructured and in some cases an extended contract. All with the intent to later on lock up the two offensive tackles Delgado and Houston so they won't walk away after their rookie contract runs out. And then we'll see about further cap outs or other cuts to potentially look at one or two holes on the team. Finding a team to part ways with a suitable WR1 is too much to ask for, but I think we might have a shot at finding a linebacker that could improve our already very fine defense. So, yes, the 53-men on team tomorrow are not set in stone to be the opening day 53-men...
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 03-27-2021, 01:30 PM   #477
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Time to make a plan
And to hand out a bunch of signing boni.

Pre-season action finished. We have to admit that the bad news was our overall inability to score points. In 4 games we scored 42 points en route to 1 victory, ouch. To be fair, we explicitly didn't make a true effort to set a game plan, but bad news it was regardless. One thing was clear though: quarterback Kelvin Everett isn't IHOF material. As proved our kick holder Jon Giles, he will never be more than just that: a kick holder. But more shocking was Bert Ta'Amu's inability to gain ground, a very worrying trend.

The defense held a third opponent below 300 yards, but in Colorado the defense wasn't really there. We got run all over (193 rushing yards) and let their starting quarterback complete 8 of 10 passes for 128 yards. Ouch.

We went into the last two pre-season games with 53 men on roster. These will also be the guys that go into opening weekend as our guys, but I'm not at all convinced all these guys will make it throughout the regular season, the bye week might see us make some moves. The five players that failed to make the cut?

Running back Trey Beyer had been on the team for 6 seasons since being a 5th round selection in the 2091 draft. After 3 season in a backup role, we made him our top ball carrier in 2094, by far his best season with 5.47 yards per carry and 8 touchdowns. But the decline set in and was very noticeable by our staff.

Running back Jack Crane leaves Maassluis after 2 seasons. Signed as a sure hands ball carrier from Gothenburg, where he was a 6-time 1,000-yard rusher, for us his production was just 661 yards and 3 touchdowns in 27 regular season games.

Guard Vince Henselman leaves us after 2 seasons of inactivity after being a 2095 undrafted rookie free agent signing. A couple of undrafted rookies from this season's class, safety Artie Hall and defensive end Bruce Nekolny, failed to take the job of any of the returning defenders, nor convinced enough to stick around as a project.

So, quarterback kelvin Everett did make the 53-men list, but I'm definitely keeping my eyes open for an upgrade at other positions. Last season's third round pick is already on my not-gonna-happen list. I made a serious effort to acquire a player at a position of need, but both trade attempts failed, both teams decided to give the player I inquired for a bigger role on their team in the upcoming regular season. Too bad, but it won't stop me from trying...
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Old 03-29-2021, 04:53 PM   #478
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: ... when a plan comes together?
Or how two big plays made a difference?

New season, new opportunities. In the last three season our season started with a loss, forcing us to try and play catchup. Time to end the trend, but the challenge was hard, hosting the defending European champion Paris Musketeers and their brand new quarterback Marty Forland.

Our off-season was busy, yet little really changed. The worst thing that happened was not re-signing offensive tackle Isaac Delgado, because I miscalculated our cap situation by about $300K. End result? Delgado is a free agent next off-season, while we created about $17M of cap space that now remains unused this season and will aggravate our cap situation next season by that figure. Face, palm: d'oh!

But today, was about the game against Paris with a brand new game plan on offense and not so much on defense. And here or there things seemed to work out yet others, well, not so much, I guess?

Paris got the ball first, but after a smooth 8-yard run the first pass thrown by Marty Forland was picked off by veteran Hayden McNeil near midfield. After a couple of incomplete passes, Earnest Ashley decide to change the plan as the designated target missed his route and the kid went on a scramble, proving why he became the player in the IHOF with the second highest base salary, with a magnificent 46-yard run for a touchdown. A sold out revamped Oranje Haven exploded. Less than a minute off the clock and the Merchantmen were already leading: 7-0.
Paris gained enough ground on their second drive to pin us inside our own 1-yard line, but with a tricky run from Ashley for 15 yards, the chains were moved and turned out to be the start of an 8-minute dominant drive for the full 99 yards. Ashley to Gaynor for 15 yards on third and long, an Ashley scramble for a first down, a 14-yard toss to Ed Schulz, a bunch of strong runs from Bert Ta'Amu and eventually a 24-yard touchdown pass on third and long to a wide open Malachi Pierson. A three-and-out later, we were back in Paris territory before the first quarter was over.

The Merchantmen offense then finally ran into the Paris defense for a bit, but Dylan McMullen didn't make a mistake on his 30-yard attempt to put us 17-0 up. Paris finally woke up and Marty Forland lead the offense of his new team with a lot of tricky plays (wide receiver run, fullback catch, and so on) and eventually scrambled from 2 yards out for making it a 17-7 score. A holding penalty haunted our next drive, but our defense stepped it up again and stopped Paris near midfield after 4 plays.
Earnest Ashley was sacked just before the two-minute warning, giving Paris a short field to attempt to do something about the 10-point deficit before the break. Forland continued to complete passes to his alternate targets, but as the time ran out, Paris was forced to settle for a 35-yard field goal, giving us a 17-10 lead at half time.

The second half began with a similar bang as the first half did. On the second play of our first drive of the half, Earnest Ashley found a wide open Clarence Gore at our 44-yard line, only to see Gore turn it into more than just a 12-yard gain, eventually outrunning all the remaining defenders and notching a 68-yard touchdown! Yowza! How about that for taking a 24-10 lead? The star players of the Merchantmen defense stepped it up on the next drive, with a beautiful team sack from Darien Fletcher and last season's sack machine Richie Piotte. Ashley quickly turned to spotlights back to his offense with an 18-yarder to Gore and and a 20-yarder to Clay Gaynor, but after running the same play twice, both times resulting an an incomplete pass to Malachi Pierson, we settled for a 21-yard field goal for a 27-10 lead.
Paris replied with a shift from throwing the rock to running with it. Chandler Ferguson's 34-yard run was the highlight of the drive that eventually was stopped in our red zone to force a 36-yard field goal for keeping us 27-13 up. A quick three-and-out was on our offense and two plays later Paris saw Ferguson have his big play of the day, bursting through our defense for a 58-yard touchdown run and becoming the league leading rusher after week 1. After the missed extra point, it was a one score game nevertheless: 27-19, Maassluis.

A quarterback sneak on third and short failed at the start of the fourth quarter, but our punter Shaun Barlow managed to pin Paris at their own 6-yard line. Marty Forland tried to get his offense forward, but on their sixth play, who else than Richie Piotte penetrated the Paris defense and sacked the quarterback. Earnest Ashley followed it up with a magnificent 29-yard throw to Clay Gaynor on third and long, an 11-yarder to George Stuckey, but as we were closing in on field goal range, the whole offense collapsed on third down, Ashley was strip-sacked and Paris' Bert Wescott recovered the loose ball. The Merchantmen defense immediately stepped up and after two short runs and a hurried pass, the ball was back in Ashley's hands at our own 19-yard line with 6 minutes to go and still leading by 8 points.
After Bert Ta'Amu ran for 8 yards, Earnest Ashley found Clay Gaynor for a 30-yard gain on third and one, then Ed Schulz for a 32-yard gain on the ensuing play to burst into the red zone. We tried to have Ta'Amu pound it in, but we had to settle for eating Paris' time outs and a 19-yard field goal for a 30-19 lead. Paris had no choice but to go into throw deep mode and our defense was well prepared. Adam Harmon deflected a pass, Jon Brotzman and Zachery Weisz tackled a wide receiver for a short gain, Harold Gough hurried Marty Forland into a bad throw and on fourth down Archie Exner did the same thing. We could have gone into victory formation right there, but we decided to let our rookie guard Roger Staigvil make a false start penalty and give Ta'Amu one more carry before Ashley made the game ending knee drop. Maassluis 30, Paris 19. Yay!

A round of applaus from the loaded Oranje Haven fell over the Merchantmen players, our fans were visibly enlightened with such a strong start to the season. Sure, Chandler Ferguson's couple of big runs in the third quarter made it a close game again, but overall we outgained Paris 468 yards to 324 yards, a tremendous performance.

Earnest Ashley took the most of the accolades, completing 19 of 35 passes for 304 yards, 2 touchdowns and also running for 78 yards and a score. Is the beast unleashed, or will sample size turn out to not be in his favor? Fair to say, his two big plays, one in part result of Clarence Gore's big-play ability, made a difference, but that sometimes that's what's needed to make a difference.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Gothenburg Giants beat the Bordeaux Vineyards 34-27 after almost, but not quite, choking a 21-point lead. Surprisingly lead by Mercury Pierce, as the Giants' seem to not yet be sold on first round pick Deon Sheldon nor the experienced veteran Cary Bradford they signed from the Musketeers after he quarterbacked them to the AOC Championship game.

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

Our journey continues with one of many trips to the USA, facing the Frederick Red Menace after tying the Brooklyn Fightin' Bums 20-20, dodging a loss by seeing them miss two field goals in overtime. A new encounter with the highest paid player in the league, who signed a new 5-year deal giving him a cap figure of nearly $106M this season and earning him another $100M signing bonus on top of previous off-season's $198M bonus. In comparison, Earnest Ashley's cap figure of $57M is modest, isn't it?
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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 03-30-2021, 05:34 PM   #479
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Let's not get too excited
Earnest Ashley's back to earth

Rendez-vous with Angel Henson, quite possibly the most talented quarterback in the league right now. We had the pleasure to face him in his own Frederick as our Merchantmen clashed with the Red Menace.

A couple of defended passes and an ineffective short pass on third and twenty gave us the ball quickly, although deep inside our own red zone after a holding penalty. The first attempt of the Earnest Ashley to find Ed Schulz deep down field, but after finding George Stuckey for 17 yards, the next toss was a 53-yarder to Schulz. A 16-yarder to Stuckey set us up for a goal line offense and on the third try, Ashley himself tricked the defense and ran it in for the 7-0 lead. After another three and out by our defense, we got the ball back near midfield, but solid pass defense from the home team forced us to punt it back. A tackle for a loss, a sack shared with Darien Fletcher and a blocked pass on consecutive plays by Richie Piotte gave us the ball back after the punt. We converted on third and 7, but were pushed back by a chop block penalty and eventually were to punt as well. The defenses had taken firm control of the game, making it more of a field position battle than an offensive fire power game that was perhaps to be expected.

The second quarter saw the Red Menace revert to a lot of runs to the left side of their line, but an illegal substitution penalty did them in and as Devon Farrell defended a pass on third and long, we quickly got possession. Earnest Ashley found Ed Schulz for 18 yards on the first play to break into Frederick territory and a neat third down toss to Clay Gaynor for 12 yards moved us into field goal range. A 14-yarder and a 10-yarder to George Stuckey then got us inside their 5-yard line. Bert Ta'Amu was held short on first down, but on second down we surprised their defense with a quick toss from Ashley to Schulz for the 14-0 lead.
All of a sudden, Angel Henson's arm looked all warmed up and he started finding his receivers for 11 yards here, 12 yards there, until the pass rush took over, with Richie Piotte making his first solo sack of the game, while Caiden Croyle repeated Henson's to the ground tossing on third down. Earnest Ashley then saw a 28-yard run called back due to a holding penalty and after the punt found ourselves setting up defense near midfield. Angel Henson found Luther Ruhl for 15 and 12 yards to get his team in field goal range just before the two-minute warning. The Merchantmen defense eventually stepped it up as Ernie Grant deflected a pass and the running attempt on third and long was quickly halted. After a 26-yard field goal, Frederick was still trailing 14-3. Bert Ta'Amu had the longest run so far with a 15-yarder, but we decided not to use any time outs to try to extend the lead before half time.

The second half basically started with Earnest Ashley finding Ed Schulz for a 25-yard gain, but from midfield Ashley failed to find Schulz on three straight plays and we ended up punting the ball. Frederick's Angel Henson looked ready to get his team back in into the game, finding a receiver for 21 yards, whilst his running back gained 12 yards to burst into our half of the field. Our defensive linemen crushed Henson's line when he tried to run on second down and a dropped pass on third down forced them to punt from our 36-yard line after all. But a quick three and out forced by the Frederick's stellar run defense, resulted in our defense being back on the field with the ball at midfield after their 20-yard punt return. Richie Piotte rushed Henson into a throwing the ball away on third and short, bringing the ball back to us. Earnest Ashley found Clay Gaynor on third and one as we tricked them to think we'd run the ball, but even the 14-yarder and 10-yarder to George Stuckey, followed by a 13-yarder to Clay Gaynor still kept us out of field goal range and after a touchback and a tremendous three and out, the third quarter was almost over, with no scores added, maintaining our 14-3 lead.

Fourth quarter then started with one of the biggest plays of the day as our punt returned Mark Perkins found plenty of room and gained 63 yards, getting tackled at the opposing 10-yard line. The opportunity to extend the lead was vanished when Earnest Ashley's third and goal toss into the end zone to Ed Schulz was picked off. The momentum shift was there as Angel Henson found his running back for a 30-yard gain to reach midfield. A 16-yard run in the next play then proved to be insufficient to get points on the scoreboard as we managed to force them to punt once again from our 36-yard line. Amidst Bert Ta'Amu's unsuccessful runs, Earnest Ashley showed the way with a 13-yard run. A 15-yard toss to Clay Gaynor on third and long, soon after followed by a 15-yarder to Ed Schulz were enough to set up a 44-yard field goal for a 17-3 lead. And things got even better for us on the kickoff return as Adam Harmon tackled forced the returner to fumble and his fellow cornerback Bryson Swafford recovered the ball. Four plays later, Dylan McMullen converted a 32-yarder to extend the lead to 20-3.
Frederick's other kickoff returner then got his team back into thinking the game wasn't over, bringing the ball the full 93 yards back for a touchdown and trimming their deficit to 20-10. After a quick three and out, Frederick got the ball back near midfield with just under 5 minutes to play. Angel Henson found a couple of his receivers for decent gains and after settling for a nice 51-yard field goal, we knew that a 20-13 lead wasn't easy to bring to the finish line. Earnest Ashley found Ed Schulz for 16 yards on third and long, helping the clock tick down to the last two minutes. But as we thought we were about to secure the victory, Ashley's throw to Schulz was picked off and returned to midfield. Angel Henson found a receiver for 22 yards, scrambled for 3 yards and at our 25-yard line, they looked ready to tie it up. Our pass rushers looked still fresh and Archie Exner broke up their second down play. On third down, our shutdown corner Ernie Grant got the better of their tight end, batting the ball away. On fourth down Jerome Shumway got through the line and as Henson tossed the ball away, we had it back with 48 seconds remaining. The Red Menace had to spend their time outs to stop our unsuccessful running plays, but a solid punt pinned them just outside their own red zone with 12 seconds remaining. A short toss to the tight end sealed the deal, he got tackled quickly and the game was over: Merchantmen win, 20-13!

Earnest Ashley crashed back to earth, completing just 22 of 49 passes for 284 yards (still a great figure, obviously), with 2 interceptions. He did throw and run for a score, which turned out to be the only two offensive touchdowns of the game. Ed Schulz had 8 receptions for 142 yards, while George Stuckey had 7 catches for 88 yards. Bert Ta'Amu was held to just 58 yards on 28 carries, oof.

Elsewhere across the league, the Gothenburg Giants beat the Chesapeake Chitterlings 27-14 and will play their third straight home game next. The Paris Musketeers were crushed 30-7 at the reigning NAC champions Williamsburg Colonials, while the Bordeaux Vineyards lost 20-16 at home against the Brooklyn Fightin' Bums.

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

Our next stop will be at the Rochester Razorbacks, who started the season with two closes losses.

Joining us there will be linebacker Preston Bradford, whom we acquired for a fourth round pick next draft from the Outer Banks Ospreys. The second year defender didn't seem to get a lot of playing time there and I see him as a suitable addition to our pass defense and good enough to play on running downs as well. With the decline and age of our linebackers group, some fresh blood is very welcome. I don't expect to see him play much in this game, but after our bye week we'll see how to get him involved.

To make a roster spot available, second-year quarterback Kelvin Everett will be released. Our third round project from last season will leave us barely into his second season with us. Our previous offensive coordinator wasn't to be taken serious on his assessment of Everett, but our current coordinator has no praise about him. He can sense the rush and scramble, he's smart, but he doesn't have the arm to succeed at this level of football. We never worried about his size, although he might have been better suited as a running back?

And that's it for today.
Two wins in a row to start the season. Last time we did that, we were 4-0 after week 5 of the 2093 season and still 5-1 after week 7. We won only 2 more games down the stretch and finished the season with a 7-8-1 record. And eventually it marked the end of Moe Sheldon's period as our starting quarterback. Sheldon hung around for two more seasons, but only in a backup role, mentoring our current quarterback Earnest Ashley. A player that so far this season gives us hope that we're finally back in to the race for the division title, but today his old turnover habits and struggles with completing passes returned. New game plan, old habits, or was today just an anomality? We're about to find out in the next game, or the 13 to 17 remaining this season...
__________________
* 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 03-31-2021, 02:36 PM   #480
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: three down, sixteen to go?
No, no, no, don't get over excited now...

The Merchantmen were back in business. Third game in as many game day weeks and this time facing the winless Rochester Razorbacks, in their place.

First quarter, first possession. Malachi Pierson finally showed why we signed him, bringing the opening kickoff to our 48-yard line. Earnest Ashley's first deep throw to Ed Schulz got defended, but after finding Clay Gaynor for 13 yards, it was Schulz on the 35-yard reception. And then Schulz again from 4 yards out to take a 7-0 lead after just 2 minutes. We stuffed their running backs on their first two plays, but after Clayton Jackson allowed an 18-yard catch, we needed two more runs for no gain to make their next pass completion come short for the first down. Mark Perkins returned the punt 16 yards and after Ashley found Schulz on third and four, the big one became Ashley's 40-yard throw to Pierson to reach their red zone. George Stuckey came 2 yards short on second down, but on third down Clay Gaynor made the scoring catch. 14-0 Merchantmen, yay. Our defense continued to dominate, but the Razorbacks took the gutsy move on fourth and second near midfield and kept the drive alive on a run up the middle. Eventually quarterback Kai Silvanic found Gus Perez for a 7-yard touchdown, making it 14-7.

The second quarter saw us start with getting stopped after three plays, but not for the first time this season the defensive line dominated and forced three and out in return. Only to see our offense get stopped short for the second time. But just as the fans though their home team was about to drive downfield, Jerome Shumate was on duty to strip sack Kai Silvanic and also recovered the losse ball. Defensive domination continued, until we surprised them on third and short with letting Earnest Ashley run, seeing him gain 17 yards. It was short lived, three plays later he was rushed into throwing the ball away and all we could do is pin them at their 6-yard line. More domination from our defensive line and for a second we thought Richie Piotte sacked their quarterback in the end zone, but it was eventually called a sack at the 1-yard line. The punt return was moved up field 16 yards by Mark Perkins and on third and long, Ashley connected to Malachi Pierson for 17 yards to move the chains again. Their pass defense showed up on the next three plays and we settled for a 38-yard field goal to increase the lead to 17-7, the half time score.

The second half began with our defense forcing another quick stop and although we were pinned deep inside our own territory, we managed to gain enough ground to push them back to within their own half. This time the pulled the throw on a likely running down trick on us, their wide receiver turn a screen pass on fourth and one into a 27-yard reception. Four plays later, they did run it on another fourth and one. But that's where it ended, the next fourth down turned into a 34-yard field goal to make it 17-10, still in our favor. Our our next possession it was Earnest Ashley to Ed Schulz again for the chains moving plays, leading up to our own fourth down moment, where Ashley failed to connected with any of his receivers, where a 51-yard field goal could have made it a two-score lead again. The defense stood strong on the next drive and Mark Perkins returned the punt 18 yards, while George Stuckey made a 13-yard catch to have the third quarter end with that 17-10 lead for us.

Sitting at midfield, you'd think this was a spot to work on our lead, but as we tried to make a bit of a hail mary pass on the first play in the fourth quarter, it ended up getting intercepted in the end zone. Three plays by Richie Piotte halted the Razorbacks quickly and after another neat punt return from Mark Perkins, we were inside their half to start our drive. Earnest Ashley found Clay Gaynor on third and short and then on the next play saved the drive with a fumble recovery after his running back had dropped it. Bert Ta'Amu is still struggling on our offense, got stopped short on third and short, making us settle for a 38-yard field goal for a 20-10 lead.
Our defense was once again dominant on their possession, but after a 24-yard punt return, Mark Perkins lost the ball and the Razorbacks got it back at their own 34-yard line. This time around they didn't go for it on fourth and one, punting the ball back to us. We failed to gain any ground or waste much time on our possession, seemingly giving them the opportunity to get their drive going for what could be their next to last chance to save the game. Quarterback Kai Silvanic kept the drive going and the chains moving several times, but just past midfield our fast defensive tackles infiltraded their backfield and after Harold Gough sacked the quarterback, Caleb Domis picked up the fumbled ball. Bert Ta'Amu finally woke up with a nice 8 yard run on third and 6, soon after followed by a 13-yard run. Dylan McMullen was given the opportunity to extend the lead to two touchdowns, but his 44-yarder went wide left. Rochester needed Silvanic to run for it on fourth and one to save their drive, but with time running out, he ended up finding our linebacker Brandon Brady to seal the deal. With 1 second remaining, victory formation was called. Maassluis 20, Rochester 10. Another win!

The rest of the division got swept by their Northeast division foes, helping us into the division lead:
1. Maassluis 3-0
2. Gothenburg 2-1
3. Paris 0-3
4. Bordeaux 0-3

For week 4 we'll return home to face the San Antonio Tidal Force, a rematch of the two 2094 drafted quarterbacks Jonathan Freeman, taken #1 overall, and Earnest Ashley, by now the highest paid player of their class.

Earnest Ashley comes off another typical game as he completed only 18 of 38 passes, but still threw for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns. 10 more incomplete passes went to Ed Schulz, which is quickly turning into a trend. It's time to make some adjustment to the game plan to help them both into not getting overused. Bert Ta'Amu continues to struggle and not help Ashley out here, despite that Ta'Amu gained 92 yards today. The defense was tremendous once again.

And now, we're getting to the spot where we're going to expect too much from this team. I can vaguely remember the last time we started the season 3-0, I may have mentioned it the other day already - yes, I did. With this team, you can never know what happens next. Three good showings from a team that I know that can play this well, but we're not sky high talented all around enough to proclaim we're 12-4 bye week material. I mean, some of our players are, but we can't expect Richie Piotte to also play on our offensive line. He'd probably be considered too short and underweight to succeed at it. So, let's keep him on the defensive line, which is actually just barely above average in the pass rush categories, go figure if they'd start playing up to their potential even more... But combined with the secondary and linebackers, they're currently making the case of being a top-notch pass defense.

Reason for optimism is there, now let's not spoil it and continue playing well. Some tweaks to the offensive game plan will be made, as will we make some defensive personnel changes after the arrival of Preston Bradford as our new elite zone defending linebacker. Keep this going, Merchantmen.
__________________
* 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 04-01-2021, 02:43 PM   #481
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Been here, done that...
But can we keep it going this time around?

Location: Oranje Haven. Opponent: the San Antonio Tidal Force. Week four of the 2097 season, our Merchantmen are playing above expectations, being on a 3-game winning streak to start the season. The visitors are coming off their first victory of the season, wanting more of that.

The Merchantmen defense was on the job on the first San Antonio possession, forcing three and out, after standing firm on a third and two run. After Mark Perkins' 25-yard punt return, Earnest Ashley found George Stuckey for 25 yards, then brushed away a sack and a third and very long situation with a 21-yard toss to Clay Gaynor. After a 15-yarder to Clarence Gore, the touchdown pass from Ashley went to Malachi Pierson for the 7-0 lead. The San Antonio offense responded well, anchored by a 29-yard pass by Johnathan Freeman, they needed less than 3 minutes to level the score 7-7. Bert Ta'Amu apparently liked the new game plan for this game, starting the second Merchantmen drive with 8-yard and 10-yard runs. Ashley found Ed Schulz for a 23-yard gain and with slow but steady play, the 13-yard touchdown pass to Stuckey was set up for the 14-7 Merchantmen lead. The Tidal Force looked unimpressed and quickly brought the ball to into our territory before the end of the quarter.

And then the show really started. Archie Exner ran around the left tackle and floored quarterback Freeman. It didn't keep them from kicking a 31-yard field goal, but the tone of the game was set. Although, other kinds of drama came first as we got stopped quickly on our third possession, followed by back-to-back interceptions by the two quarterbacks. The Tidal Force marched downfield on their next drive, but their kicker missed a 42-ard field goal to maitina our 14-10 lead. Three and out was our offense's faith again, giving San Antonio rookie running back Junior Gregson (boy, did I want that kid, I tried to trade for him) another chance to run through our defense. Not big gains, but short ones that were good enough to move the chains. Caleb Donis made sack number two, but the bigger one was the team effort with Archie Exner on third down to push them out of field goal range. Not much happened in the remainder of the second quarter, ended it with us still leading 14-10.

Bert Ta'Amu got things moving in the third quarter, not a big gain, but short ones to keep possession, until Earnest Ashley got sacked on third and very long. San Antonio got the ball back, but the pass rush from our defensive line had only gotten warmed up and Darien Fletcher and Archie Exner (again) brought quarterback Freeman down to force a punt. The Ashley to Ed Schulz magic quickly returned and a 20-yarder and a 38-yarder were all we needed to jump to a 21-10 lead. San Antonio's next drive was disrupted by Richie Piotte's sack, giving us the opportunity to take full advantage of Mark Perkins' 23-yard punt return. Ashley connected with Schulz for 9 yards and George Stuckey for 11 yards to set up Dylan McMullen's 45-yard field goal. Three and out on both ends followed, seeing a third one by our defense's hands with two stuffed runs and another sack by Archie Exner. The special teams unit, improved with Brandon Brady, then blocked the punt and Brady himself recovered it in the end zone to extend our lead to 31-10.

The fourth quarter started with some hope restoration for San Antonio with a 20-yard run from Junior Gregson followed by bad boy Ernie Grant's unnecessary roughness penalty. The Tidal Force came close, but not quite enough to settle for a 40-yard field goal. Our next drive was extended by Earnest Ashley's 11-yard toss to Clay Gaynor and a couple of completions to Bert Ta'Amu, showing his added value to our passing game. Settling for a field goal wasn't bad, the 36-yarder increased our lead to 34-13 with just over 6 minutes to go.
Down so big, San Antonio had no choice but to go into pass heavy mode and after a pass interference call and 27-yard and 11-yard gains, they thought they would make it work. But no, our defensive ends Richie Piotte and Archie Exner each added another sack to their tallies, the second one making it turn into a turnover by recovering the fumble. Our offense took some time off the clock and then from the side lines saw Darien Fletcher and Gene Kondovski join the sack party with a solo sack each. On fourth and 24 at their own 6-yard line, their offense still tried and failed. Two plays later Bert Ta'Amu ran it in for a 41-13 lead. San Antonio's final drive didn't saw an addition to the 11 sacks, but after their punt, backup quarterback Efrain Batcheck took the honors of the victory knee. 41-13, Merchantmen. Sweet.

A quarterback slaughtering performance, one rarely seen. The closest memory I have is the one we put on Gene Ballard of the Miami Sharks in our 33-3 IHOF Bowl victory. Sure, this wasn't the biggest stage in the league, but a daunting performance still. A showing like this seriously boosts the confidence in our defense.

The struggles elsewhere in the division somewhat continued and now we're even stronger in the lead:
1. Maassluis 4-0
2. Gothenburg 2-2
3. Paris 1-3
4. Bordeaux 0-3

It's way too early to think much of it. We could still end up dead last with a 4-12 record far behind a triplet of 11-5 teams. The four teams we beat have combined for 2 wins in 16 games played. That said, as of now, we're the division leaders and will continue to be so when we face the Atlanta Viper after our bye week. That should be a tremendous clash of defenses, theirs is on paper even more daunting that ours has been so far. It may come as no surprise that for that game, more tweaks to the offensive game plan will be made, we need to focus on not getting too predictable for the opponents...
__________________
* 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 : 04-01-2021 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 04-02-2021, 07:57 PM   #482
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The bye week blues
We're orange-white and blue

Yo, listen up: here's a story
About the little guys that live in an orange-white-and-blue world.
And all day and all night,
And everything they see is just orange-white-and-blue like them, inside and outside.
Orange-white-and-blue: their house, with an orange-white-and-blue little window,
Their own Oranje Haven.
And everything is orange-white-and-blue for them,
And themselves, and everybody around,
'cause they ain't got nobody to play ball, to play ball.

We're orange-white-and-blue
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di

We're orange-white-and-blue
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di

We have Oranje Haven with an orange-white-and-blue window.
Orange-white-and-blue is the colour of all that we wear.
Orange-white-and-blue are the streets and all the trees are too.
We have a girlfriend and she is so orange-white-and-blue.
Orange-white-and-blue are the people here that walk around,
Orange-white-and-blue like Oranje Haven's in and outside.
Orange-white-and-blue are the words we say and what we think.
Orange-white-and-blue are the feelings that live inside us.

We're orange-white-and-blue
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di

We're orange-white-and-blue
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di

We have Oranje Haven with an orange-white-and-blue window.
Orange-white-and-blue is the colour of all that we wear.
Orange-white-and-blue are the streets and all the trees are too.
We have a girlfriend and she is so orange-white-and-blue.
Orange-white-and-blue are the people here that walk around,
Orange-white-and-blue like Oranje Haven's in and outside.
Orange-white-and-blue are the words we say and what we think.
Orange-white-and-blue are the feelings that live inside us.

We're orange-white-and-blue
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di

We're orange-white-and-blue
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di
Da ba dee da ba di, da ba dee da ba di
__________________
* 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 04-03-2021, 04:58 PM   #483
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: For the 6th time in team history?
Who cares about sample size and the perceived easy schedule?

Five times in Merchantmen history did we start the regular season with 5 victories. Today was our chance to achieve it for the 6th time. Let's dig into the history books first and then find out whether we lived up to the hype and did it again.

2012
It was in the middle of the Louie Flannery era, a Merchantmen offense with nearly two 1,000-yard rushers (Courtney Osgood 1,037 yards, Quentin Hatchette 960 yards), the first season of wide receiver Alfredo Bass on our offense. The defense had the same backbone as it had been since the inaugural 2004 season with defensive tackle Charles Gomez, middle linebacker Cody Cluff and strong safety Lincoln Gilmore. It was a weird season as we started the season with 5 wins, then dropped to 5-5, improved to 10-5 and then chocked the division title in week 17 at home against the fourth place Gothenburg Giants. We avenged it with a win at the Bordeaux Vineyards in the wild card round, then got crushed by R.J. Ellard's 214 yards rushing for the Tucker Tigers en route to their 37-12 victory.

2040
The season after our first IHOF Bowl participation, where we lost and eventually released quarterback Jay McGee in the off-season. As a result it became the infamous quarterback controversy season: Harry Osborne versus Harvey Corbett. I've written a chapter about Osborne before, do look it up. The crux of things, we started the season 8-0, dropped a game, continued winning, then had the chance in week 13 to grab the virtual #1 seed at the Tucker Tigers, but lost there and eventually settled for #2 with a 13-3 record, only to get crushed 24-0 after the bye by the hands of the Atlanta Vipers.

2058
The season after our second IHOF Bowl loss in our second bowl game. 2057 was the season after Lester Lowe had taken over for Bryson Chow, still sitting around as the backup quarterback, this was Lowe's first season starting from opening weekend. We were hard to stop, starting the season 8-0, albeit helped by a lot of home games early on. We then lost big at home against Paris and then close ones at Tucker and Fairbanks to eventually finish 13-3 and #2 in the conference. This time no humiliation, but we did go one-and-done losing 17-14 in a snow game at home against the San Antonio Tidal Force.

2059
Yes, the season after, we outdid ourselves, winning the first 10 regular season games, including a 38-14 pounding of the Tucker Tigers. We then lost at the Chicago Norsemen 29-24, but finished the season with five more wins, highlighted with a 63-3 demolition of the Bordeaux Vineyards. 15-1, #1 seeds, #1 offense with 562 points scored (second best was 468), #1 defense with 254 points allowed (second best was 268). And then the Atlanta Vipers came and popped our bubble. 31-17, it wasn't even really close. Most unsatisfying season in team history.

2071
The comeback season of Alfred Hickman, our IHOF Bowl winning quarterback (or as some fans keep claiming: in spite of Hickman's interceptions; hold that thought) returned after spending a season with the North Plainfield Plague. We won the first 6 regular season games, then barely won one in five and finished the regular season with 5 more wins to close it out at 12-4 and losing the #2 seed on conference record tie-breakers. Hosting the #6 seeded Houston Mustangs, we felt we should win here. But then Alfred Hickman three 6 interceptions, paving the way for Houston's 23-7 victory. Our last four drives of the game all ended in a pick. We were trailing 13-7, so basically still in the race, before that stretch.

In Summary
All that said, it must come as no surprise that starting the season 5-0 sounds awesome, the Merchantmen have a distinct way of disappointing their fans (and in particular their owner) by hinting that good things are to come, only to see it all fall apart come playoffs time.


2097, week 6
So back to today's game, a much anticipated defensive clash with the Atlanta Vipers. They had a strong 2096 campaign, falling apart late in the season, falling from 11-2 to 11-5 and one-and-done as #2 seeds, losing all of the last four games by huge margins. Their 2097 campaign has started tough with a 38-17 trouncing of Houston, followed by close losses at Oakland (currently 6-0) and Tucker (currently 5-1) and after their bye a 30-3 loss at home against the Bordeaux Vineyards, a complete deception.

Well, the first quarter was a confidence booster for Atlanta, coming out of it leading 14-7 and in possession. Their first touchdown drive was a screen pas turning into a 26-yard gain and on their second possession short tosses turned into 32-yard and 24-yard gains, the later for the touchdown and a 14-7 lead. In between, we had scored after Earnest Ashley had found Ed Schulz for 48 yards on our first play from scrimmage to set up the eventual dump pass to Clay Gaynor for a touchdown.

The second quarter was highlighted by Earnest Ashley finding Ed Schulz wide open for an 80-yard touchdown pass, soon after replied by Atlanta's 45-yard field goal, which we eventually responded to with Adam Harmon's interception near their red zone that set up a the first half ending 30-yard field goal for a 17-17 tied score.

The third quarter the balance tilted into Merchantmen favor, as Jon Brotzman accounted for pick number two, which ended up in Earnest Ashley running for a short gain to take a 24-17 lead. On the very next play, ignoring the kicking stuff, Adam Harmon made his second pick of the day to set up a 33-yard field goal for the 27-17 lead. Defenses dominated for the remainder of that quarter.

Then in the fourth quarter things went from bad to worse for Atlanta. On their drive that looked to at least give them 3 points, Caleb Domis pulled off a rare strip sack followed by returning the fumble the full 71 yards for a touchdown and the 34-17 lead. On Atlanta's next drive we stripped their running back from the ball and recovered the fumble near midfield. After converting on fourth and one, Earnest Ashley used his legs to get into the red zone and his arm to find Ed Schulz in the end zone for the 41-17 lead. The drama continued for Atlanta, as penalties pushed them into a 4th and 27 situation and as their decided to go for it with, Richie Piotte floored their quarterback at their own 4-yard line. Ashley's attempt to run for the touchdown failed, but the 21-yard field goal increased the lead to 44-17. A missed 49-yard field goal attempt from the Vipers added even more to the drama, finishing the game as we ran out the clock.

Gothenburg beat Paris 23-19, while Bordeaux fell 31-26 to Fort Wayne, our next opponent.

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

So, there, we're still in the lead, having faced the easiest schedule (our opponents combine for 6-21-2). And now have a monkey on our back the size of a silverback gorilla, because if history repeats itself, we're in for a heartbreaking end of this season after the team has teased us all to think we're actually good. Well, let's keep that hope and fantasy alive for now! We'll be visiting the Fort Wayne Fury next and although I'm fully expecting it to be a trap game, we do have to believe that we can pull of a victory at this 2-4 team in their third home game of the season. But it really depends on whether the team shows up that crushed Toronto 52-20, or the one that was clobbered 44-9 by Gothenburg and Mercury Pierce's third 6-touchdown game. I hope the latter, but fear the former. We'll have to wait and see what happens...
__________________
* 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 04-04-2021, 04:46 PM   #484
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: When you stand corrected
Or how you sometimes find a horrible typo.

Let's refresh our memory on an article about the fifth round pick tradition in Maassluis.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MIJB#19 View Post
General Manager Notes: Fifth round magic!
Myth or reality?
Okay, let's skip past the introduction and the list of cool names.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MIJB#19 View Post
But back to today, we had two 5th round picks in this ongoing 2091 draft and we made our selections. RB Trey Beyer was our pick at 5.9, TE Clarence Gore our 5.23 pick. Beyer has the hole recognition and breakaway speed combination that we like for our running backs. Gore has route running, endurance and some blocking skills. I mean, if they live up to potential, obviously.

We'll see what happens this time around. In all those years, 23 of 354 fifth round picks didn't make the regular season roster. There's no guarantee for these picks to make the team. Just ask our 5th round pick from last season DT Tyrone Hanson, who is smart enough to not have retired just yet, that kid does have the potential to be a solid pass rusher somewhere, someday...
First of all, as likely as 354 fifth round picks sound, that would assume we went through the first 88 drafts using 4 picks per draft. That's obviously not true. The actual figure through the 2091 draft was 89.

And now that we're on that topic, after Beyer and Gore in that 2091 draft, we used only 3 more fifth round picks. 2096 pick Ronnie Vanden Bosch is currently our backup running back to Bert Ta'Amu, waiting on the sidelines in case Ta'Amu gets hurt. Last season Vanden Bosch 'started' all 16 regular season games, but was actually our RB2 behind Trey Beyer, a fellow fifth round pick.

Trey Beyer is currently unemployed, hoping to get a call from any IHOF team to step in for an injured starter of backup. Beyer was our main ball carrier last season and the two seasons before that. I wrote a snippet about him after we released, but I didn't mention that he eventually ran for 2,621 yards and 21 touchdowns for us, with an additional receiving touchdown and a very respectable 3 fumbles in 617 ball touches. I don't expect him to return to us, unless an injury does roll around, as Beyer is the most suitable candidate on the open market. Maybe we should have kept him over the headcase linebacker Daquan Espino that's getting $7.5M for watching every game from the stands.

Clarence Gore was our other 2091 pick and he's still standing strong, recently joining the Club of 100 and despite being #5 in line in targets, he made a big 68-yarder in week 1 to prove his worthiness. He's already 7th in Merchantmen history amongst receiving tight ends in yardage, 6th in receptions and tied 8th in touchdowns. Not bad when you're stuck behind Clay Gaynor, who might catch him in all three categories by the end of the season, if he steps it up a bit after a relative slow start to this season; Gaynor had 80+ catches the last two seasons for 900ish yards.

We kept one fifth round pick each in the drafts of 2093 and 2095. The latter was spent on smart, fast receiver from Virginia Tech names Nicolas Coady, but his combine scores didn't translate into football skills and he didn't even survive the pre-season cuts that off-season and gave up on his professional football dream in the ensuing off-season. The 2093 pick we spent on left tackle Byron Irvin. We actually let him play on special teams in 9 games and he saw the field in two blowout losses in his rookie season. We gave up on him after his second training camp, not making our 60-men pre-season roster in 2094, he retired from football in the following off-season. So it goes...

2088 pick defensive tackle Kurt Ackerman retired this off-season. He deserves being mentioned on the list of successful fifth rounders as he played 88 games for us in a support pass rush role.

Elsewhere in the league, a couple of our fifth round picks are actually still standing strong. 2090 pick Trey Samuels is still playing for the Paris Musketeers, after we moved him from running back to wide receiver in his rookie training camp, released him after his second training camp with us and then Paris picked him up. He's currently on their roster for a $14.5M cap figure and listed as a starter, despite not getting a lot of targets.

Tight end Randy Holliday was one of our 2087 picks, in 2088 he was actually listed as our starter, then in 2089 moved to our special teams unit and in the 2090 pre-season was cut right after training camp. He didn't give up and in the 2091 off-season was hired by the Tucker Tigers with the intention to move him to center and become their offensive line leader. He was twice released before the season start, but both times re-hired on the day of the bowl game. And today, that's what he is: the unit leader of the offensive line.

Our 2085 pick Tucker Gaylor was a promising wide receiver, broke out in his third season in Maassluis with 51 catches for 720 yards, playing in 7 playoffs games during his tenure. Then we traded him in the 2088 off-season to Paris, which is where he played throughout the 2094 season, with 2092 being his only season in a major role with 49 catches for 568 yards and 6 touchdowns. He signed with the Atlanta Vipers in the 2095 off-season, spending all season inactive there. After sitting out 2096 without a contract, he retired the past off-season. In retrospect, a missed opportunity, I think he was 1,000-yard material.

So, Gore and Vanden Bosch are keeping up appearances in Maassluis this season. And to be fair, they are a fair representation of our tradition. 68 of 92 fifth round picks made the regular season roster as a rookie. Including this season, they tally up to 377 seasons on roster (maybe that's what the aforementioned 354 had to be linked with?), roughly 4 seasons on team per pick. 25 of them are members of the Club of 100. I'm going to pad my own shoulder here, we're having good results with these kind of picks.
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Old 04-06-2021, 02:15 PM   #485
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Win some, lose some
Or the other way around?

We played two more games since my last report and the results were almost night and day different. Our road game at the Fort Wayne Fury was one to forget quickly, which will be very hard actually. And the road game at the Paris Musketeers one to cherish, but we'll know to not take things for granted and understand that we need to keep this level of play up to withstand the Gothenburg Giants that are on our tail.

So, Fort Wayne on the road. We allowed only one touchdown on the Fury's opening drive, which started after Earnest Ashley was picked off on a long bomb at their 1-yard line on our first play from scrimmage. But where the Fury slow but steadily kept turning screen passes into 25-yard gains, we struggled to get even 10 yards out of 3 plays. The end result was that they scored 6 field goals en route to a 25-13 victory. Our first touchdown was Richie Piotte's 44-yard strip sack recovery for 44 yards, while Ashley ran for the second one with 4 minutes to go, when the game was pretty much over. Actually, a blocked punt with 2 minutes to go gave us one more chance, but we ran out of downs before we ran out of time outs. Ashley threw for 86 yards, Ed Schulz had 0 catches on 8 targets. Yes, you read that right: 0 catches on 8 targets. Bert Ta'Amu ran for 38 yards against his old time on just 11 carries. We had possession of the ball less than 17 minutes. We gave up 480 total yards, we gained 115 total yards.

So, how do you respond to that? Earnest Ashley responded with 466 yards and 3 touchdowns, completing 11 passes to George Stuckey for 205 yards and 5 passes to Ed Schulz for 134 yards, both scoring one touchdown. The defense still got run all over just like in week 1 against Paris, but our pass defense kept them in check enough to make our 526 total yards really count.

Gothenburg keeps on winning, beating the San Antonio Tidal Force 38-24, while Bordeaux lost at them and followed by by losing 28-3 at home against the Houston Mustangs.

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

I mentioned the Houston Mustangs, they will be our next opponents. They're sitting a top their division as well, with a 5-2 record. This could be a pass heavy game, in a sense that Houston and Maassluis rank as the top two in the league in yards per completion. Our pass defense is slightly more scarier, while the running games (offense and defense) are somewhat on par. Even their special teams play isn't far off from ours. So yeah, this could be a close one, it shall be no surprise that the home playing Mustangs are slightly favored.


So, back to today's game, we'll have to understand that George Stuckey's performance was far from unique, yet it was the 30th time a Merchantmen player gained 200+ yards receiving. (Sadly the Solecismic record books are broken for the time period 2079 through 2085, which meant I had to track some of the numbers by hand). Stuckey is the 12th player to achieve this, the full list (with season achieved for the first time and total 200+ games):
2012 Alfredo Bass
2016 Gabe Springer (4x)
2017 Vince McAlister
2030 Terry Thomason
2044 Terry Haskell (2x)
2055 Kai Oburn (2x)
2057 Riddick Stanley
2066 Gerald Cook
2077 J.R. Mills (4x)
2085 Theodore Bondy (11x, including 2x playoffs)
2096 Ed Schulz
2097 George Stuckey

It may come as no surprise that Theo has the single-game franchise record with 285 yards in week 17 of the 2086 season, that season where he had 167 catches for 2,449 yards and 19 touchdowns.

On this list, the one player that really feels like an oddity is Gerald Cook, despite that he had excellent route running ability, we tried to use him as a double coverage magnet and get Bubba Ellard, Riddick Stanley, J.T Rivera or tight end Michael Tenbroeke open. Given that it was the 2066 season, it was easy to forget any offensive accolades though, our defense carried us through the season and specifically in the playoffs. Go ask the Texas Sharks quarterback...

Still, it's kind of surprising that Stuckey broke out today, he jumped up from 22 to 33 receptions and 246 yards to 451 yards. He's always had to fight for his roster spot, was actually traded during one pre-season, until the acquiring team backed out of the deal. He had two 100-yard games until today, both 117-yard showings, but in divisional demolitions. Well, today sticking with Stuckey paid off.

Anyway, we're firmly back on earth with at least one foot. Should have been two feet, but the win today makes the offday in Fort Wayne feel like that: an offday. But there's really no reason to think we can't run in a similar stinker in the remaining 13 weeks of the season. Yes, I'm going to remain optimistic, we're still in the race, firmly, and should strive for getting to week 21. But to get there, we'll have to play well in week 9 first.
__________________
* 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 04-07-2021, 01:22 PM   #486
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Big test passed?
We won on the road, again, that's big.

over the years, I mean decades, we've come to dislike playing at the Mustangs. We won there in 2091, but back then we snapped a 7-game losing streak in Houston. And with them leading their division with a 5-2 record, there was every reason to believe Vegas about us being 4-point underdogs.

Malachi Pierson made our first drive count, returning the kickoff 31 yards and four plays later turning third and ten into a 50-yard receiving touchdown, of course coming from the hand of Earnest Ashley. Houston replied with a 45-yard field goal, which we replied with a 36-yarder to make it 10-3 after two possessions. On our third drive Ashley found George Stuckey for 56 yards and a touchdown and before the first quarter was over, we forced a fumble to retain possession, marching into Houston territory before the change of ends.

Earnest Ashley completed a 26-yarder to Ed Schulz to get into the red zone and eventually connected on an 8-yarder to Clay Gaynor for a 23-3 lead. We managed a decent bend but don't break defensive drive, while the offense responded with another solid drive, leaning heavily on Bert Ta'Amu's legs and in the last two plays on Ashley's ability to find George Stuckey in traffic. It wasn't over yet for the Mustangs fans, Bryson Swafford intercepted Eddie Wright's pass in Houston territory. Ed Schulz caught the touchdown pass, making it 38-3 shortly after the two-minute warning. Houston pulled their quarterback before half time and saw Bradley Hansen drive his team downfield for a 36-yard field goal.

Leading 38-6 going into the second half, there wasn't much more to ask than brining him the victory. A Bert Ta'Amu fumble helped Houston into field goal range and they got the full 8 a couple of plays later. Slowly, but steadily, Houston drove downfield on their next drive, eventually seeing them throw it into the end zone twice to make it 38-22. A woken up Merchantmen offense then saw Earnest Ashley find Ed Schulz for 23 yards to push Houston back to their own 1-yard line to start the fourth quarter.

After two runs for no gain, Devon Farrell made his biggest play of the season so far, picking off a potential deep pass and returning it for a touchdown. Houston regrouped quickly, scoring another touchdown soon after, making it 45-28, and brining more life back into their crowd after our backup kickoff returner Adam Harmon fumbled the ball. Hayden McNeil picked off a screen pass two plays later. After quick three and out, Houston had the ball soon again, in our half, but this time Hayden McNeil made an interception in the end zone. It wasn't quite over yet, Earnest Ashley got picked off, but the resulting Houston possession ended on fourth and long as their quarterback scrambled for just a yard too few. A recovered fumbled on our end from their punt returner set up our 32-yard field goal, while another fourth down failure ended the game in our favor: 48-28.

Gothenburg win 21-3 at Bordeaux, while Paris won 31-23 at the falling apart Atlanta Vipers. At the mid-season point for the entire division, we're the somewhat unexpected, yet deserved division leaders.

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

Earnest Ashley received more praise, throwing for 296 yards and 5 touchdowns, finding Ed Schulz and George Stuckey for 101 yards each. Bert Ta'Amu had his most productive game for us so far, running for 144 yards and receiving for 22 more. At the same time, with 3 turnovers, we gave Houston a shot, which they really blew with their 6 giveaways. Or shall we be proud about our defense forcing all those turnovers?

Our season continues with a home game against the Bordeaux Vineyards. Despite their record, an opponent not to underestimate. Stay focused and we'll get a big opportunity to improve to 8-1.
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 04-08-2021, 04:28 PM   #487
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Big test upcoming
Unless you think today was a test?

The Bordeaux Vineyards came to town and lucky for us, quarterback Walt Czech was inactivated for this game. That should pave the way for defensive dominance and getting the job done quickly, if the effective offense shows up.

First drive first, Bordeaux had the ball and quickly drove downfield, only to see Derrick Velazquez (who else?) fumble a 24-yard reception, seeing Devon Farrell recover the losse ball. Three and out was our offense's faith and immediately after, Velazquez made up for the booboo, making a 29-yard catch to setup the 24-yard touchdown pass to Bordeaux' fullback for a 7-0 visitors lead. Following another three and out, our special teamer Ike Nixon forced and recovered a fumble on the punt return. After a couple of strong runs from Bert Ta'Amu, Earnest Ashley found Ed Schulz for a dump pass in the end zone to tie it up 7-7. Bordeaux went run heavy and pinned us at our own 6-yard line after a punt, but Ashley quickly responded with a 22-yard toss to Schulz, while Ta'Amu used his legs to move the chains a couple of times to reach Bordeaux territory.

A couple of plays into the second quarter, Earnest Ashley found George Stuckey for 29 yards then two plays later Clay Gaynor for 10 yards and a touchdown to turn the score into a 14-7 lead. On Bordeaux' next drive, another tight end fumbled the ball as Hayden McNeil pried the ball loose and Andrew Cochrane recovered it in field goal range. Ashley found Ed Schulz on third and longish, twice, and Clay Gaynor on third and goal to make it 21-7. A 30-yard pass and a 26-yard run brought Bordeaux into our red zone, but after Caiden Croyle made a 16-yard sack, Bordeaux was pushed back and saw their kicker miss the 42-yard field goal attempt. Our next drive didn't see much special, but neither did Bordeaux', making Mark Perkins punt return for 23 yards a bit of a highlight. Right after the two-minute warning, Ashley found Clay Gaynor on third and long for 16 yards. A face mask penalty moved us into the red zone and Ashley then found George Stuckey for the 28-7 lead. We actually tried to get the ball back for the break, but had just enough time left to run one more play.

The second half started with an old fashioned smashmouth offense, seeing Bert Ta'Amu run for 14 yards and 8 yards. Helped by penalties and Erneast Ashley once again finding Clay Gaynor on third down, we marched into field goal range. Ashley was sacked on second down, but after Isaac Delgado (boy, will we pay for our miscalculation that makes him a free agent) recovered the fumbled ball, Dylan McMullen nailed a 45-yard field goal for a 31-7 lead. Bordeaux did just enough to pin us at our own 6-yard line and on their punt return gained 21 yards to break into our territory, only to see a bunch of penalties push them back into third and 27. Momentum did appear to flip after their punt, as Ashley's toss to George Stuckey got picked off and returned deep inside our red zone. A 5-yard pass into the end zone trimmed Bordeaux' deficit to 31-13 after a missed two-point attempt. Bordeaux was reborn, forcing three and out and seeing their fill in quarterback find Leonard Gagliardi for 16-yard and 15-yard gains shortly before the end of the third quarter.

Momentum flipped back to Maassluis on the first play of the fourth quarter as Hayden McNeil accounted for his second takeaway of the day by picking off a short pass. A Bordeaux penalty on third down saved our possession, then seeing Earnest Ashley find Bert Ta'Amu for 24 yards to get us into field goal range, only to see Ashley picked off for the second time a couple of plays later. Bordeaux then was stalled by our defense, which then turned into a punt return into Mark Perkins, which he then turned into a 92-yard touchdown. 38-13, Maassluis. Game over? Bordeaux was unwilling to give up just yet, they marched downfield with 22-yard and 24-yard passes, until Devon Farrell picked off a pass and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown. 45-13, with two phenomenal returns, how about that? Bordeaux then turned to their third string quarterback, actually got into the end zone on that drive, but with the scoreboard showing 45-19, neither team felt the need to stop our final drive with a time out, so that was it.

A dominating first half, followed by a second half where Bordeaux tried and got outscored by two 90+ returns. That too is football. Gothenburg crushed Atlanta 49-17, while Paris lost 28-20 at home against Houston.

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

Next up: Gothenburg at Maassluis and Paris at Bordeaux. While the French teams are probably seeing their season as a lost cause by now, 6-2-1 right now isn't sufficient to reach the playoffs, the clash in Oranje Haven will be for the division lead. It's one of those games where we always struggle, somehow we're not so good at seizing the opportunity when we can create a cushion between ourselves and the second placed team.

Let's see if we can pull a trick on the Giants in this game, we know they're going to try something, but we're not shy of trying that as well in this particular matchup. Although given our recent success, it doesn't feel opportune to throw everything around here, so there's that to consider... Big game tomorrow, I hope we'll play well, in which case we have a reasonable chance to win. Prove we can, Merchantmen!
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Old 04-09-2021, 01:39 PM   #488
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: When the big test turns into a bigger challenge
Or: what to expect when a key player goes down with an injury?

Lunch in hand, screen all ready to watch our game of the season, a clash at home against the Gothenburg Giants, one game behind our unexpected strong 8-1 start of the season. The first quarter went from a tremendous 45-yard deep pass from Earnest Ashley to Ed Schulz to a 83-yard pick six to put us 7-0 down, then this happened on the third play of our second possession:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Play-by-play
3-4-MAA31 (1Q: 12:34) Earnest Ashley pass completed to WR Ed Schulz for 32 yards. Tackled by CB Rodolfo Torres. Schulz gained 23 yards after the catch. Maassluis's Earnest Ashley was hurt on the play.
*sigh*

I forgot about the game, our franchise quarterback was injured and ruled out for the rest of the day, I had to know how bad it is first. The verdict a calf injury, expected to miss 4 more games after today. We might as well be 8-6 by then and eliminated from the playoffs. Goodness, what a sad moment for this season.

The game actually continued, obviously, but more turnovers hurt our chances: a rare occurance of a lost fumble from both our kickoff returner and punt returner, followed by a strip sack of QB2 Efrain Batcheck and a silly late game interception in our last huzzah opportunity. We outgained Gothenburg, but losing the turnover battle 5-1 is almost always a one way ticket to the L-column.

European Division:
1. Gothenburg 8-2
2. Maassluis 8-2
3. Bordeaux 2-8
4. Paris 2-8

Tie-breakers already make it that so the two French teams will finish 3rd and 4th, the division title is officially a two-horse race now.

No time to cry over the Ashley injury though, we signed Batcheck last season for the moment this would or could happen. The big test turned into a test of what we'll look like without our franchise quarterback and we know now: we can still gain yardage, Batcheck completed 19 of 34 passes for 290 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. The bad news is that our next two home games will see us host two 7-2-1 teams. Our Asstoria Heroes like cupcake schedule ended with today's game.

Time to take a deep breath, regroup and move on. We're still in a good position to go places. We'll have to find ways to win without Ashley, maybe the solid defense can return to their solid play of the first 5 games, that would help tremendously. So, Merchantmen, go to the film room, what how the 2023 regular season went as Rusty Harrison got hurt and backup Patrick McDonnell played to to par in his place, which to this day is still a disappointment that there are no co-MVP titles as they combined for 4,555 yards, 46 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. We'll have to rely on Batcheck to be the 2097 version of Patrick McDonnell. Back then we also had just traded for the best running back in the league in HOF'er Stanley Givens, who played well, but struggled to get to 4.0 yards per carry. And we all know the Merchantmen were also about defense back in the '20s, although that 2023 team lead the league with 507 points scored. That 500-point barrier is still attainable this season. So, Merchantmen of 2097: repeat history, at least for the regular season. Bar the week 17 choke and similar wild card round loss. That team was #1 seed material and so has this team been. Get it together and make it happen!
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Old 04-10-2021, 05:46 PM   #489
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Don't give up just yet
Two losses in a row, that doesn't mean the season is over!

With Earnest Ashley in the sidelines wearing his casual suit, the keys to the offense were handed to veteran Efrain Batcheck. I remember signing him, in hopes to not really need him, just to be there to step in, in case an injury to Ashley would happen last season. I also considered him as a relatively cheap insurance policy in case we would have to part ways with Ashley. This past off-season we signed Ashley for franchise quarterback money, which sealed the faith for Effin' Efrain: the backup role. Against the Gothenburg Giants he was rushed onto the field, played well, but ill timed turnovers limited the chances to beat them. Today another big test against the division title bound Brooklyn Fightin' Bums.

Those Bums got the ball first and leaning heavily on two big runs from their running back, they took a 7-0 lead. Batcheck looked under pressure, but delivered on a crucial third and long with a 19-yard toss to Clay Gayner to get into field goal range. Smooth tosses to Clarence Gore and Malachi Pierson made it 7-7 as the latter leaped into the end zone. A 45-yard run for a touchdown quickly put Brooklyn back in the lead at 14-7. The pressure was on Batcheck again, this time we had to settle for pinning them deep on the punt. The defense forced three and out and field position seemed to go in our favor.

In the second quarter the Brooklyn quarterback saw his tight end turn a short pass into a 27-yarder and then a screen pass to his fullback became a 37-yarder. They key stop there was insufficient to avoid the 21-7 lead taking touchdown on the next play. We tried to respond on our next possession, Efrain Batcheck found Clarence Gore for 27 yards, but Bert Ta'Amu was struggling and we were forced to punt. The Brooklyn quarterback responded with 21-yard and 16-yard throws, followed by unneccessary roughness called against us and the next play turned into a 24-yard touchdown pass for Brooklyn, seeing them take a 28-7 lead halfway thought the second quarter. Goodness, where has that Merchantmen defense gone from the month and a half of the season? We failed to get deep enough to get into scoring position on our next drive, but pinning them at their own 3-yard line might help, no? The defense stepped it up and after a typical Mark Perkins punt return, we might have something. Batcheck found Clay Gaynor for 12 yards, but his next throw was picked off in their red zone. We needed a penalty and a sack to make their completed pass on third and 19 come short of a first down, but they took enough time off the clock, while our staff completely failed to see that calling a time out or two could have given us a scoring opportunity here. So, we went into the big break trailing 28-7, with the crowd clearly showing their disapproval of our lack of courage.

On the third play from scrimmage of the second half, Efrain Batcheck saw Ed Schulz open deep and the receiver turns it into a 44-yard gain. Bert Ta'Amu and Ed Schulz moved the chains, but deep inside their red zone we got stopped and settled for a 22-yard field goal: 28-10. The next three drives were defense heavy, with Brooklyn pinning us at our own two-yard line. After they stopped us quickly, we finally saw change as Ernie Grant promoted his interception into a 42-yard touchdown. With Bert Ta'Amu running the two-pointer in, it got us back to a more respectable 28-18 deficit. But just as we thought we had them, they complete a deep throw for 33 yards to end the third quarter.

We started the fourth quarter with stout enough defense to force them to punt again, this time getting pinned at our 3-yard line. Efrain Batcheck took the challenge, completing a 15-yarder to George Stuckey, running for 8 yards and a couple of plays finding Ed Schulz for 18 yards on third and long. A sack on third down at midfield then stopped our drive, meaning all the effort just turned into a bit of field position improvement. Our run defense was abysmal on the next drive, giving up 9-yard, 17-yard and 13-yard runs, eventually leading up to a 53-yard field goal that their kicker (lucky for us) missed.

So, with 3 minutes to go, 10 points down, we might still have a chance. But that chance ended pretty quickly. Despite a 13-yard toss to George Stuckey and a 13-yader to Bert Ta'Amu, a sack and false start penalty in between lead up to a fourth and seven situation. Instead of going for a short throw to move the chains (we still have time outs as well), Batcheck is asked to go for it and his deep throw to Malachi Pierson got defended. Brooklyn runs our or time outs and they need just one more 13-yard run to make that worthless. Brooklyn 28, Maassluis 18.

Such a let down. The first half was a disaster, we failed to take some risks when it was warranted and we took a bigger risk than needed when we didn't have to. A bigger let down is seeing us lose two big tests at home, after we went 4-1 on the road to get to that 8-1 record. At 8-3, we're still in a very good spot to go place, but, with 3 of those 5 games on the road, I can't feel confident at all. Our next home game will be against the 8-2-1 Orlando Talons, I feel like we really have to lock somebody in the film room to work out a game plan to stop the #2 offense in the league. They have scored 20+ in every single game so far, no other team has achieved that.

European Divsion
1. Gothenburg 9-2
2. Maassluis 8-3
3. Bordeaux 3-8
4. Paris 3-8

Yeah, the eliminated French teams all of a sudden start winning games, albeit against NAC Mid-Atlantic teams that are 3-win teams as well.

So, Orlando next. Earnest Ashley is still out, and in all honestly, we can't even blame Batcheck as he's been playing up to par with Ashley. It's really all up to the defense to step it up in the big games. Sure, Houston and San Antonio were big tests, which they passed, but we're going to need them to show up every game, not just every other week. I know this team can do it, dropping to 10-6 and first team outside the playoffs would be anticlimactic after such a tremendous start. Game by game, drive by drive, play by play. Reset the focus, we can do this, Merchantmen!
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Old 04-13-2021, 11:29 AM   #490
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 50-50 for the home stretch?
At least for this home game streak.

It was a bit early to give up faith in the team when Earnest Ashley dropped out injured. After all, he was completing only barely over 50% of his passes, surely Efrain Batcheck should be able to copy that, no? But facing the Orlando Talons, half a win ahead of us in the wild card race, this wasn't going to be a game where we'd be the favorites, or were we by a point or so?

It doesn't start well when your kickoff returner muffs the ball and the opponents recover it. All you can hope for then is your defensive stars to step up (and they did) to hold them to a 36-yard field goal. We responded with a decent drive, but closing in on field goal range, we chickened out. Orlando responded, but a couple of sacks eventually stalled their drive just enough to force them to punt to maintain their 3-0 lead. We failed to gain too much ground in return and Orlando woke up on their next drive.

But barely into the second quarter, our defense stepped up again, forcing them to punt. Bert Ta'Amu woke up, big time, with runs for 11, 8, 9 and a catch for 6 yards to move past midfield. We went for it on fourth and one, but our trick play failed. Virtue of our defense, three and out was there to give it back to us. Ta'Amu continued his good day with runs for 6, 7 and 26 yards, but we ended up punting yet again, to pin them deep. Randal Solomon lead an impressive drive from Orlando's 6-yard line and finished it off with a 22-yard touchdown pass to his running back for a 10-0 lead. Our offense was stopped quickly, but just as you'd expected Orlando to run out the clock, they decided to go for it, finding Devon Farrell on their way, picking off Solomon's pass and returning it the full 60 yards for a touchdown! Going into half time trailing 10-7 felt much better.

Orlando had the ball first in the third quarter and moved the ball quickly to end up with a converted 49-yard field goal for their 13-7 lead. Our offense couldn't do much, but neither did they, although they pinned us at our own 1-yard line. Efrain Batcheck finally got his groove going, finding Malachi Pierson for 13 yards and Ed Schulz for 20 yards on the next play. Bert Ta'Amu moved the chains and so did George Stuckey on a 10-yard catch and soon after Ed Schulz on an 18-yard catch converting third and very long. Pierson made another crucial third and long reception to keep the drive going, inside the Orlando red zone.

The drive continued in the fourth quarter as Clay Gaynor made a 22-uard reception on Efrain Batcheck's pass to brush away another third and fifteen play, coming a yard or so short to make the touchdown. It followed two plays later as Bert Ta'Amu bulldozed it in, making the 14-13 lead complete. Orlando fought back, saw Randal Salomon complete a 30-yard pass to one of his receivers and a pair of sacks by the hands of Caiden Croyle and Archie Exner were required to push them out of field goal range. From our 5-yard line, we started another strong drive. A pass interference call on third down moved the chains, but the equally important play became George Stuckey's 44-yard catch. It all stopped there though, as we failed to gain any yards on the next bunch of plays to make a field goal attempt impossible. Our defense forced three and out, which was strengthened by Mark Perkins punt return to midfield. Batcheck found Ta'Amu for 29 yards and another score was inevitible, right? It turned out to be a 33-yard field goal, sufficient to extent our lead to 17-13. Momentum was on us though, Ernie Grant intercepted a screen pass on the first play of the next drive. Slowly, but steadily did we move the ball and take out Orlando's time outs leading up to our 26-yard field goal to jump to a 20-13 lead with under a minute to go. Their kickoff return got the Talons somewhat of a good field position, but their second play turned out to be their last: Preston Bradford intercepted the ball in Orlando territory. Victory formation followed: Merchantmen win 20-13!

Elsewhere, the Gothenburg Giants crushed the Toronto Lake Monsters 37-3, while the Paris Musketeers upset the Tucker Tigers 45-27, meaning the European division leader is now #1 seed bound. Bordeaux extended their winning streak to 3 games.

Division standings
1. Gothenburg 10-2
2. Maassluis 9-3
3. Paris 4-8
4. Bordeaux 4-8

Despite that Orlando played quite solidly in the first half, we somehow took control with that pick six just before half time and turned it all around. We actually outgained them 375 yards to 319 yards, so we can honestly say we were the better team. Turnovers were in our favor, but I think our running game finally made a difference as Bert Ta'Amu had his best game in orange-white-and-blue so far: 137 yards rushing, 35 yards receiving, 1 touchdown, 5.7 yards per carry.

Next up, a road game, at the Chesapeake Chitterlings. Almost any other season a sure loss. This season? They're floating around .250 land, they're on a 6-game losing streak. BUt 5 of those came on the road and today they got unlucky at the 11-1 Oakland Black Panthers, losing 23-20 in overtime after choking a 13-point lead in the last 2 minutes and a half. There are no easy wins in IHOF, especially not against traditionally the league's second best franchise: they're still 126 regular season wins (minus 3 ties) ahead of us. They missed their chances to record win 1000 this season, they'll get their somewhere during next season anyway (only 9 more needed). We're coming off win #903 overall (including playoffs games) and hope to yank it up to 910 this season.

But, one win at a time, drive by drive, play by play. Yet another big test, with Earnest Ashley still out. Keep course, Merchantmen, something like today would be nice.
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Old 04-15-2021, 04:04 PM   #491
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: You win some, you lose some
Does it still apply after back-to-back losses?

Two more games in the bag and to be frank: they were a couple of disappointments. At the Chesapeake Chitterlings we forgot how to play football, in particular on offense. Effin' Batcheck completed 16 of 36 passes for 167 yards and 3 interceptions. Yeah, that's a recipe for disaster. Bert Ta'Amu was held to 59 yards on 20 carries. It shall come as no surprise that we lost. Now, if the defense had played any better, we might have come closer than a 22-10 deficit. But can I really blame the defense here, when they hold the opponents to 301 total yards?

Then week 15 at the Gothenburg Giants. What was supposed to be the game of the regular season, after our sudden downfall, we were just playing for keeping division title hopes alive and more importantly not dropping outside the virtual top6 for the playoffs. The good news was the return of Earnest Ashley, a game earlier than anticipated. The bad news that our running game was silenced, while our defensive performance was laughable, as if we completely forgot how to play on that side of the ball: giving up 208 rushing yards and letting Mercury Pierce complete 16 of 23 passes for 224 yards is unacceptable. I mean, an average defense is allowed to struggle here, but we've got a team with guys that are getting or soon to be demanding quarterback money. Well, kids, play up to it, you've got to earn it. So yes, indeed, while Earnest Ashley was perhaps the best player on the field, actually earning his paycheck, kind of, but it were the Gothenburg Giants that won 36-24. The Giants got the big plays, we didn't.

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

Gothenburg has secured the division title in this game, but a bye week isn't secured yet. Our playoffs hopes rely on the wild cards. The one thing we've got going for us is that we're pretty much secured tie-breakers over all other hopefuls, but with Tucker 2 wins ahead, Augusta 1.5 wins, while San Antonio and Orlando are both 0.5 wins behind, the only team that's likely to be tie-breakable is Houston at 1 win ahead of us.

But to be allowed to talk about playoffs, we'll have to play the way we did in weeks 1 through 10, not like the 1-4 losers from the recent 5 games. Yes, I went there, I upped my standards, especially in a series of home games. Next up are the Williamsburg Colonials, despite their 6-8 record, a team to fear, even in Oranje Haven. It's time to, well, not just regroup, but really, show the league what we're made of.
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Old 04-16-2021, 07:56 AM   #492
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
sorry to hand you that loss... would have been better for both of us had you prevailed

no explanations here... i guess it's just bad QB play at work for us, but wow...
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Old 04-16-2021, 12:42 PM   #493
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The downfall continues...
We're gonna need a lot of help now.

Goodness, we've not hit rock bottom just yet. Today, we had a chance to redeem ourselves, facing the already eliminated Williamsburg Colonials. It really showed on the field, the team with nothing to play for ran havoc on us and travelled back home with a 23-3 victory in their bags. Leaving behind a disillusioned Merchantmen team and ditto fanbase. The virtual #1 seeds after week 10 have dropped 5 of 6 games, 3 of those at home. Today's deficit took the cake of ineptitude, our offense gained a grand total of 173 yards. Earnest Ashley completed 13 of 41 passes for 137 yards and 1 interception, while Bert Ta'Amu was stuffed into 34 yards on just 16 carries. Now where did that balanced game plan go, what happened to what we ordered the team to display? I suppose we were forced to pass a lot. It was a disaster, our star receivers got silenced: Ed Schulz had 2 catches on 13 targets, George Stuckey 3 catches on 10 targets.

European Division
1. Gothenburg 13-2
2. Maassluis 9-6
3. Bordeaux 6-9
4. Paris 5-10

So, 9-6, sounds still good, right? Well, sadly, nope. Even at 10-6, odds are slim that we'll be getting the last wild card into the playoffs. Our competition is composed of the 9-5-1 San Antonio Tidal Force and ditto 9-5-1 Orlando Talons. Indeed, a couple of teams that we actually beat. San Antonio will be visiting the 11-4 Houston Mustangs, locked into the #3 seed. Orlando will be hosting the 6-8-1 Snapfinger Jazz. So yes, I suspect we're in for disappointment, even if we somehow manage to win at the Bordeaux Vineyards.

But we've got to believe in that longshot scenario, because it'll be any given Sunday, or Saturday this time around... Chin up, onto the plane to Bordeaux. Make it happen, Merchantmen.
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Old 04-18-2021, 04:01 PM   #494
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Too little, too late
We won, but it wasn't enough.

Yes, we won our last regular season game, beating the Bordeaux Vineyards 26-6. Earnest Ashley completed 20 of 35 passes for 227 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Ed Schulz was the top receiver with 6 receptions for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns, George Stuckey hauled in the other touchdown. Bert Ta'Amu ran for 131 yards with a 5.7 per carry average. The defense allowed the most talented quarterback in the division Walt Czech to complete 14 of 27 passes for 185 yards with 2 interceptions.

The good news came from Houston, where the home playing Mustangs beat the San Antonio Tidal Force 34-24, but the bad news came from Orlando, where the home playing Talons crushed the Snapfinger Jazz and claimed the last wild card in the Atlantic Ocean Conference. And with that, our season came to an end. For the second time in 94 seasons, a team in the IHOF missed the playoffs after an 801 start.

European Division
1. Gothenburg 14-2
2. Maassluis 10-6
3. Bordeaux 6-10
4. Paris 5-11

We scored 419 points (7th in the league) and allowed 329 points (9th in the league), our points differential of +90 is the 6th best in the league.
but that just wasn't enough this season.

Earnest Ashley completed 515% of his passes for a career low 3,147 yards, result of missing almost 4 full games due to injury. His 29 passing touchdowns was a career high though and his 12 interceptions presumes that maybe he can finish a season with less than an interception per game. He also ran for 4 touchdowns.

Ed Schulz finished 4th in the league with 1,399 receiving yards and tied 5th with 11 receiving touchdowns, all that on tied 18th most receptions. The latter somewhat misleading as we targeted him a league 6th most 202 times. George Stuckey had 67 catches for 998 yards and 7 touchdowns, Clay Gaynor 48 for 601 yards and 5 touchdowns, Bert Ta'Amu 48 for 420 yards and 3 touchdowns, Clarence Gore 35 for 393 yards and 2 touchdowns, Malachi Pierson 21 for 255 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Elsewhere across the team, center Robbie Zinn, guard Nickolas Toler, defensive end Richie Piotte, defensive tackle Darien Fletcher, cornerback Ernie Grant and safety Devon Farrell all had All-IHOF worthy seasons. We'll see where they rank amongst their peers after the IHOF Bowl. All it says to me is their contract demands will increase, which will be quite the problem given that we signed Earnest Ashley to a true franchise quarterback contract last off-season and that we'll have to fend off opposing teams for the services of offensive tackle Isaac Delgado after my cap management blunder. We'll also have an expensive collective of draft picks, although our couple of first round picks will be pretty low at the #20 and #18 (from Arizona). Our additional second round pick from Fort Wayne will be #46 overall and our own second rounder #52.

It is what it is. Preparation for the off-season starts a little bit earlier than hoped, perhaps even anticipated. The 5-0 and 8-1 starts mislead us to think we were back in business, we're closing in on Gothenburg, but are not quite there yet. New opportunities will come. As early as 2098.
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Old 04-23-2021, 06:12 PM   #495
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2098 begins now...
With a hall of famer announcement, some retirements and 2097 honors announced.

Kirk Hitchcock got elected into the Solecismic Hall of Fame, unanimously. Our 2089 Defensive Player of the Year is the first Merchantmen player to get so much praise. After 13 seasons of service, 204 games in the regular season, 13 in the playoffs, he earned it. Best cornerback in Merchantmen history. So far?

Gene Kondovski retired after 12 seasons as a pass rusher for the Merchantmen. We picked him in the third round of the 2086 draft, moved him from linebacker to defensive end and made him part of our rotation from day one. 188 regular season games, 8 in the playoffs, 52.0 sacks. Those are the core numbers. The last two seasons, he was stuck as our fourth defensive end far behind Richie Piotte.

Malachi Pierson, wide receiver and kickoff returner, leaves us after just one season. Former second round pick for the Outer Banks Ospreys, moved to Colorado later on and spent 2097 in Maassluis. Scored 5 touchdowns last season.

Travis Hampton was our long snapper for just 2 seasons. Just turned 32, so we were pretty surprised he called it a game, but that's up to him. Too bad that he leaves at the top of the game though...

Cornerback Ernie Grant and safety Devon Farrell were both elected All-IHOF first teamers, while defensive end Richie Piotte got second team honors. Grant had 6 interceptions, 16 defended passes, Farrell 4 interceptions (3 touchdowns and 16 defended passes, Piotte had 14.0 sacks.

This means we're going into the 2098 off-season $18M over the cap, projected closer to $49M after draft picks, not keeping in mind that we'll have to count only the top 5 picks towards the cap. We don't have a lot of negotiable room, which we will need to both be able to re-sign three of our four free agents and lock up Ernie Grant and Richie Piotte.

We'll go into the draft with picks #18 and #20, as well as #46, #52, #81 (virtually #79 as two higher picks are stripped for cap violation), and later on a couple of 5th rounders, a 6th and a 7th rounder. Those first rounders account for roughly $7.5M each, the second rounders roughly $3M each and the third rounder just under $2.5M, adding up to about $24M in cap cost. Combined with aforementioned $18M, meaning we're actually going to be at $42M over. Not an easy task, but I think it's manageable, but we'll know a bit more tomorrow when we can truly investigate whether I can make some cap magic.
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Old 04-24-2021, 10:42 AM   #496
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We hired a new defensive coordinator
Yeah, apparently we needed that.

I wasn't expecting a change in our staff, but apparently Ryan Ivans became available after the Oakland Black Panthers decided to not just offer him a new contract, but during the staff draft they replaced him, which gave us the opportunity to grab Ivans from the pool of unemployed staff members. We said goodbye to Doug Serna, who ironically was hired as assistant coach by Oakland. Ivans' strength compared to Serna is his ability to judge player potential better and developing young players. In return, Serna had a better reputation as a play caller.

Early peak at our cap situation? Ernie Grant and Richie Piotte want us to throw about $50M extra to them. Add in that wants roughly $25M for the upcoming season and you'll quickly see that we have to find about $115M in cap space. Not an easy task at all, I'd say. But I think I'm up for the challenge. Let's do this.
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Old 04-27-2021, 10:54 AM   #497
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Delgado stays, Buysse selected
And a whole bunch of renegotiations were accepted.

Let's start with the blockbuster trade, we are the Masters of Trade after all. We sent the 1.18 and 1.20 picks to the Chesapeake Chitterlings in exchange for the 1.7 pick. I actually had the same deal worked out for the 1.4 pick, but just before I gave my final "deal" to it, I checked the cap situation one more time and concluded that pick would be too expensive. The good news: we landed our target player those 3 spots later after all: wide receiver Vinny Buysse.

Earlier that day we were able to renegotiate with just enough players to make the cap space available to sign tackle Isaac Delgado to a 5-year $180M contract. Three players declined our first renewed contract offer, which meant it was pretty close in the end. Odds were that Delgado would otherwise signed a $150M deal with the Gothenburg Giants.

Our talks with players will continue, as it's no secret that we'll need to find cap space to lock up our All Worldly defensive end Richie Piotte and cornerback Ernie Grant. Center Robbie Zinn chipped in today, all that's left is left tackle Johnny Houston and wide receiver Ed Schulz accepting the much bigger signing bonus than they're requesting. It's funny how these player agents' logic keeps these players from getting to sign a better deal than they're requesting...

Giving up two mid-low first round picks for one wide receiver felt like a heavy price to pay, but if Buysse is the complete receiver that we hope him to be, he'll be worth it. My track record is still kind of 50-50 on first round wide receivers, with 4 Hall of Famers to boost my confidence and Theodore Bondy obviously going to join the bunch, quite possibly even with an unanimous vote.

We grabbed Buysse from a group of 5 wide receivers that we looked at. It's true that 3 of them were picked ahead of Buysse, but when we talked with the Frederick Red Menace for the 1.4 pick, that list was still 4 names unspoken for. When I inquired for the 1.7 pick, I already had a close to done deal for pick 1.9 or 1.10, just in case.

I considered trading back up and in for the last wide receiver from our list, but he was promptly taken in the mid first round. In retrospect, moving up was the right decision. All the players that I felt were worthy of a first round pick were taken before the 1.18 pick rolled around, so giving up two first rounders still feels like a better result than trading out for the nth time.

We're still holding the 2.14 and 2.20 picks and I'm convinced I'll be able to plug one hole on our team with it, and am seriously considering to improve one other position with that 2.20 pick, if the opportunity arises. A trade out wouldn't be a loss either, cap space is once again hard to come by.
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Old 04-29-2021, 11:22 AM   #498
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Cap space!
And a couple of new rookies.

And a long snapper. Goodness, we know it's part of the game, but it's always tricky to find a good long snapper. Especially if you're used to great standards and just had the best in business retire. We signed 29-year old Sebastian Garner, he was previously with the Arizona Miners and actually failed to maker their 2097 roster. Does this mean he's our guy for 2098? You'll never know with my standards for special teamers...

Speaking of special teamers, after a two-step trade down from pick 2.20 to 3.9, we ended up selecting top graded kicker Gino Shea. We didn't interview him, not particularly anticipating to go for a replacement of Dylan McMullen here, so there might be a modest chance that we'll go into the 2098 season with 2 kickers on roster. Could we? Really? McMullen could mentor Shea. McMullen wants a big increase on his contract, which isn't something I'm willing offer him.

We did offer new contracts to a bunch of veterans, most importantly our WR1 Ed Schulz and former stud linebacker Brandon Brady. The latter has turned into a pure run stopper, so his complaints about playing time aren't going to chance soon, which means I will keep my eyes open for a new linebacker. Daquan Espino is unwilling to re-sign with us, which is too bad, as we hung on to him and his fat contracts despite having regressed into replacement level player.

We did bolster our defense at the 3.17 slot in the draft by picking defensive end Robbie Dobreski. Going into the draft, this was the guy I wanted to pick. My staff is very optimistic about him being a suitable replacement for recently retired Gene Kondovski. Wait and see, obviously.

After a bunch of renegotiations and draft pick trades, we're now at 48 players signed, the incoming rookies Vinny Buysse and aforementioned Shea and Dobreski with about $23M in cap space. We're going to need it, not just to lock up Ernie Grant and Richie Piotte, but also a bunch of other veterans. Not to mention that I'd still like to bring back Branden Sandlin and Hayden McNeil. Sandlin's salary request is far away what we can afford for a WR4, 5 or 6 though, so it's going to be tricky. McNeil might see us get some competition to re-sign him as the free agents market is drying out, so I will have to consider what to offer him now or risk losing him.

We're also in possession of three seventh round picks, which means we can snag up a bunch of guys before they become undrafted rookies. And there's always a chance that I second guess things and move back into this draft...
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Old 04-30-2021, 05:23 PM   #499
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Three more picks!
The 2098 draft is finished!

With three seventh round picks, we had some chances to grab some players before the post-draft bidding war on undrafted rookies ensues. We picked up safety Blaine Wright, running back/kickoff returner DaShawn McIntyre and quarterback Bill Bensen. We missed out on a linebacker by 2 and 1 picks, but so it goes at times. Will they make the pre-season roster? Likely. Will they make the final 53-men list? Unlikely, but never say never...
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Old 05-01-2021, 04:41 PM   #500
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Rookie first looks!
And a couple of hold outs.

Our six rookies reported at Oranje Haven, and we've got some closer look at them. Yes, it's still early, we know we're going through a couple more re-evaluations of them, but still.

Vinny Buysse
The good news: the kid reminds me of Ed Schulz as a rookie. The bad news? See the good news. The kid is fast, my offensive coordinator thinks he's in the top five big play receivers in the league. But his ability to get open is underdeveloped, albeit I must feel happy about his very good potential. Our OC also thinks he's in the top 15 amongst all receivers in overall talent, the best of this draft class. And he has the endurance to play on all downs.

Gino Shea
Well, he's a kicker, what else to say? My staff thinks he's the second best kicker of this class. To be fair, I was expecting that to happen, but the main difference is that Shea actually can be an elite kickoff guy and looks still top five to ten in point collecting skills.

Robbie Dobreski
Yeah, we're not overwhelmed yet. I hope he lives up to the hype from my defensive coordinator of being very underrated. He's got the potential in pass rush technique and play diagnosis, but that is what we were looking for here.

Blaine Wright
Seventh round safety. Looks potentially good to very good in all the areas you'd want from a strong safety: run defending, zone defense, play diagnosis, interceptions.

Dashawn McIntyre
Kickoff returner of running back? A bit of the first and not much of the second, a bit of both or just a young special teamer? We'll find out in pre-season, or maybe not until he's in his third season.

Bill Bensen
We locked up Earnest Ashley for 5 seasons, did we really need to take a flyer here? But yes, of course! You can always keep your eyes open for a new quarterback.


Besides that, we got the news that two of our best players went into hold ut modus. Darien Fletcher and Richie Piotte are obviously amongst the league's elite pass rushing defensive linemen. Both want a new deal, their contracts are expiring after this season. The good news? That was already in my plans. The bad news? We'll have to offer it them now, before training camp. I hoped to be able to wait for pre-season, but that's no longer an option now. Our first shot at it has been offered, I hope they agree quickly so we can focus on other stuff before pre-season and leave the contract tinkering for mid-re-season.
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