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Old 08-14-2020, 11:42 AM   #351
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2092, a new beginning?
Continuation is the goal.

Yes, 2091 was a fine season. "Good" would also qualify. It wasn't great, for that more would have had to happen. But overall, I think we played 12-4 kind of football. The results in the playoffs were a reason to think the regular season wasn't a complete fluke.

But, as usual with good seasons, the follow up season will start with a for us usual cap hell situation. Of the 32 teams in the league, 28 are neatly $22M or more under the cap. Houston is $16M over, North Plainfield $33M, Fort Wayne $40M over and we are once again the masterpiece at $110M over the cap. That figure includes draft picks, technically we're $84M over the cap, but with 43 players signed, our draft situation with an additional 1st and 2nd round pick make our incoming picks count up to $26M.

A result of trade, we're holding both the 1.29 and 1.30 picks. We 'earned' that #29 overall by making it to the AOC Championship game, the #30 overall obviously comes from the NAC runners up, the Oakland Black Panthers, who came of a league best 14-2 regular season, tied with the eventual IHOF Bowl winning Tucker Tigers. We're drafting at the #29 spot in every round because of that, but result of another trade, we're also holding the Moontown Darksiders 1.27 pick.

But back to the cap situation, how dire is it? We'll find out after having spoken with all the key players. It's reasonable to think we won't get by without making a tough decision or two, but for now I'm still optimistic we'll be able to salvage this group of players.

One player that won't be returning is defensive end Andy Russell. After 10 seasons of service he decided to step away from football. Quite a bummer, he's been healthy throughout his career, never missed a game since we picked him in the 2082 draft in the fifth round. Yeah, he's one of our many fifth round projects that worked out. In those 160 regular season and 11 playoffs games, we've mostly made him part of the rotation. With 53.5 sacks, 127 hurries, 31 blocked passes, he ranks 11th, 14th and 14th all-time for our franchise.

Other former Merchantmen retiring are kicker Chance Arnold (3rd round pick in 2080, we let him walk as a free agent after 4 seasons), tight end Miles Barker (undrafted rookie in 2084, 4 years of service with us, being a starter in 2085, a season where we lost in the conference final) and wide receiver Tracy Arntt (7th round pick in 2088, with 3 seasons on roster as a special teamer and backup kickoff returner).

On the opposite of things, sort of, by virtue of not participating in the IHOF Bowl, we were allowed to sign a bunch of free agents, making them technically part of our end of season roster. Six of seven were rookies that we released in pre-season, the seventh a quarterback named Nate Marek, that went undrafted in 2091 and didn't make his way to a pre-season roster. He had a decent Solecismic Score (35), very high scramble frequency, excellent timing and apparently is an elite kick holder (Brandon Bell, watch out!). Which six players returned to the Merchantmen roster? Seventh round quarterback Bert Martin, sixth round running back Patrick Joseph, fullback Tracy Rhodes, center Brady Burke, defensive end Trent Donovan and linebacker Van Bertolone.

With those 7 guys added, that means we go into the off-season with no less than 10 restricted free agents. That means 3 guys were on roster, being now second year pro special teamer/linebacker Trenton Prescott, special teamer/safety Jon Brotzman and guard Marvin Silvan, who became a starter for us last season due to injuries. If their demands are right, we'll certainly want to bring them back. Brotzman is a starting caliber free safety, if we can limit his action to formations with 3 or more receivers. Silvan had impressive numbers for a replacement guy with 15 key run blocks and 3 sacks allowed in 12 starts. Prescott might be expendable, he was active in just 1 game.

Six players are true free agents this off-season. Tight end Sherman Bridges is unlikely to return, we signed him primarily to mentor Clay Gaynor and hung around for a second season to also mentor Clarence Gore: a job well done! Running back Asher Ford s worth re-signing for that special teams role, as is linebacker Alec Palmer. Backup left tackle Myron Hamilton fell flat when he got a chance to fill in, we can say he's not the kind of left tackle we're used to have. Center Jared Labbe wants to leave the team badly, demanding a trade after not getting a chance to fill injured Butch Pearson's spot on the line; his stint in Maassluis wil end after 6 seasons of exceeding expectations of an undrafted rookie. Last, but not least, defensive tackle A.J. Ritt has 8 seasons of service and last season I decided it was a good idea to increase the roles of our backup defensive tackles to keep the two starters from getting exhausted.

But for now it's waiting to see what we can do with our cap situation. After having explored that, we'll take a look at the for now unknown draft class. And after that, well, the circle of life in football continues with a look at players that might hold out (I'm afraid quarterback Moe Sheldon wants a raise), etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

2091 was good, let's make 2092 even better.
__________________
* 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 08-15-2020, 06:30 PM   #352
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Quarterback money...
You guessed it: Moe Sheldon wants to get paid.

Okay, we have early free agency to make him an offer and lock him up, or hope for the best to not see him go into holdout mode in late free agency. Regardless, Moe Sheldon is on the last year of contract, is probably seen as useless by about 31 of the other 31 franchises, but Sheldon has decided that now he's worth $35M. That would be fine, had we had cap room. But we don't. We're projected at $108M over the cap.

We've talked with all the players and the early estimation is that we'll be $15M short after renegotiations with everybody on roster. That would leave no cap space for the restricted free agents and too little to afford the 8 of 9 draft picks that will count towards the cap for roughly $25M. So yes, we can get under, but will still be projected to be over after filling the roster.

Thing is, we've been here before, over and over and over and over again. Russell Harrison, Jay McGee, Alfred Hickman and Ellis McAlister all were fine quarterbacks, 'franchise quarterbacks' in the eyes of most. But we cut or traded all these names at some point during their careers because I chose to go with the other positions and not that particular QB. I think it backfired in most of those situations, except maybe Harrison's, as we traded for McGee that time.

Thankfully we renegotiated with Sheldon before he had his career year, meaning we have him under contract, but a hold out is too likely to happen, that we have to realize we'll have to find an additional $25M if we want to keep our quarterback. And that will most likely mean sacrificing the surplus of draft picks (our first and second round duos are already on the block), but we'll have to make some tough decisions with veteran backups that are much more expensive than second year minimum salary.

So... Another interesting off-season. Stay tuned...
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Old 08-17-2020, 03:02 PM   #353
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The Bell experiment is over
He was released today.

We're working our way to getting under the salary cap. 15 players signed a new contract, at the end of the day, we improved our cap situation by about $66M. About $7.5M of that was opened up after we released our backup quarterback Brandon Bell. Yup, he's out of here with a 9-9 record, 3,632 yards, 21 touchdowns, 15 interceptions.

Was Bell's release result of our craptastic play in his seasons as our starter? Not really, things went downhill in his second season, in which he was the premier backup. But, my faith in him becoming a starting caliber quarterback ran out. Well, not for the full 100%, but time was running out. We do need to find a way to get Moe Sheldon happy and to sign a new deal, or we'll be all the way back to Francisco Farley...

On a long term scale, we're talking about a quarterback that came out of his rookie training camp scouted as a 50 out of 100, which in the IHOF is a starting caliber quarterback. But rather quickly, the staff felt that he was more of a "37" and that quite simply didn't change, at all. But Ellis McAlister? No comparison. McAlister came out of rookie camp as a "35" and improved season after season, peaking at "60" in his 11th(!) season. It didn't mean McAlister sucked all that time, we just hadn't figured out that he was starting caliber.

Which given Bell's statistics should make you think we could have given him the benefit of doubt after what has been an acceptable sample size. Bell also showed he can run, when needed. And fumble after getting sacked, which accumulated to the number of turnovers. Yes, it's safe to say I was done with his fumbling, pretending to be (or more correctly, to me looking like he was any good), but I was looking though the rosy glasses, a tainted look. And now, there's no return, he's out.

It also means we'll soon be offering a contract to our two restricted free agent quarterbacks. One of them should be a decent kick holder to replace Bell, no?

Elsewhere, we're trying to trade away our first and second round draft picks. Is the draft class void of talent? Not quite, I think I've seen about 10 or so really good players that would be in our team's top 3 in raw talent, but maintaining the guys we have is the way to go. I have one particular player that we interviewed and is a guy that should last way beyond the first round, providing no other GM is seeing what I'm seeing. Or better yet, my coordinator is seeing, he's convinced the kid is very underrated.

So much for that now. Tomorrow we hope to be under the cap and get stuff going.
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 08-18-2020, 04:12 PM   #354
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Merchantmen pick CB Matthews, TE Velazquez in first round
The Maassluis Merchantmen have selected cornerback Aidan Matthews and tight end Derrick Velazquez with their pair of first round picks in the 2092 IHOF draft. The Merchantmen had tried to move these picks, but eventually decided to hold on to them and pick what they felt were the two best players left from the player pool. Immediately after, they traded their pair of second round picks, as well as their third, fourth and fifth round picks for a second and fifth round pick next draft from Moontown and that team's sixth and seventh rounders this draft.

Aidan Matthews ranked third in this class amongst cornerbacks, with a stellar 6.5 grade and had respectable combine scores. The West Virginia graduate wasn't interviewed by the Merchantmen, but their staff report that Matthews was considered the best man to man and bump and run defender of this class, with decent zone defense, interceptions skills and endurance. It comes as a surprise as the Merchantmen are trying hard to extend the contracts of their outstanding cornerback duo of Kirk Hitchcock and Jackie Richardson. Combined with last season's first round rookie Devon Farrell, this should be a superb secondary.

Tight end Derrick Velazquez was an even bigger surprise as the 5.9 graded Oklahoma State alumni joins a crowded tight end group in Maassluis. Possibly undersized with his 6'1" height, the Merchantmen staff found him an underrated player and are confident he'll be a very good blocker with decent receiving skills. It remains to be seen how he can be used with the likes of Clay Gaynor and Clarence Gore already on roster, while run blockers Jeffery Blake and Renaldo Crawford are highly respected by the staff.

Merchantmen management has openly advertised the two players' availability for trade, as the Merchantmen are in their usual cap troubles and have been open about trying to maintain their roster as closely to last season's as possible. Neither of these rookies would fit into a starting role right away, unless the team plans on trading players at their position, or just picking these rookies as placeholding merchandise.
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Old 08-20-2020, 11:47 AM   #355
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Cap space!
We did it!

Okay, we're not quite there yet, there's still a mountain to climb, I suspect, but getting under the cap is a key step to make. The cap calculation Solecismic software doesn't really help us, it miscalculates the effect that incoming draft picks have on the actual situation, but I think I'm in control. As of today, we've got 47 players under contract and 6 incoming draft picks, which means we'd be at the 53 players signed and with cap actually calculated at the top 51 salaries. It also means we have a bit of leeway to throw some minimum contract offers to free agents in the last free agency stage.

And then there's the Moe Sheldon situation. After years of backup role and money, he's expecting us to give him starter money. Frankly, he's a starting quarterback in talent (roughly 25th best or so in the league), but last season he played at pro bowl level, had there actually been such a thing. The situation is simply: he's signed for a $9.02M salary with a $4.04M prorated signing bonus. His demands are a new deal with a $19.54M salary this season, and a $20.4M signing bonus for a 2-year deal, which adds up to a cap figure of $33.78M this season. Our cap situation? Technically $11.35M under the cap, but after draft picks have been added we'll be $3.84M over the cap, so that's something we still need to find. And there's only 6 players left where we can find cap space with a restructured deal or downright release, one of those six being Sheldon. Two more if you include the possibility of trading either of our first round picks.

A hold out from Sheldon would be a worst case situation.

Other than that, it's been somewhat of a dull off-season. A lot of players signed new contracts. We had one release (Brandon Bell) and today signed 5 restricted free agents, safety Jon Bozeman the most important one, but we also signed linebacker/special teamer Trenton Prescott and three of the late season signings in quarterbacks Bert Martin and Nate Marek, and defensive end Trent Donovan.

Conclusion of the day remains: we're coming close, but are not quite there yet.
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Old 08-21-2020, 08:38 AM   #356
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Merchantmen trade rights to TE Velazquez
Rookie tight end Derrick Velazquez won't be joining the Maassluis Merchantmen, the 1.30 pick in the 2092 has been traded to the Bordeaux Vineyards. Moving the other way is left tackle Chase Springer, a fifth year veteran, a backup for four seasons in Bordeaux. The Merchantmen claim that the cap situation are part of the decision, Velazquez' contract was due to count $5.79M against the cap. Springer is on a one-year contract with a $3.05M salary. The Merchantmen also receive Bordeaux' second round pick in the 2093 draft, while a fifth round pick from Moontown goes the other way.

The Merchantmen are still open about their intentions to trade the rights to the 1.29 pick (cornerback Aidan Matthews) as well. Reports are that several teams showed interest, but none are willing to pay the increased demands of the Merchantmen management to receive a first round pick in return.
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Old 08-21-2020, 07:38 PM   #357
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: What a draft!
Two sixth round picks, yay.

Wait, what happened to the two first and two second round picks? There were nine picks in total. Didn't you pick a cornerback and a tight end late in the first round. Yes, we did. And both got traded, the #29 overall pick (CB Aidan Matthews) at about the last second before the draft finished and the signing bonus would have been on us, making a trade no longer worth the troubles. And yes, I gave away the pair of seventh round picks that we still had as well.

A bizar change of events took place, as far as I'm concerned. Three teams showed interest in Aidan Matthews. The first was Bordeaux, we traded tight end Derrick Velazquez to them and received their backup left tackle in return. The second was the team we ended up exchanging the seventh round picks to (North Plainfield). The third team I'll leave anonymus, but that's the team where we actually had back and forth offers that by (bad) luck of timing eventually didn't go through. I lined up the addition of a backup center and guard, already having the deal for the seventh round picks in place, but as I missed the message from the other team about trading Matthews and the clock ran out on us for the sixth round picks, by the time I saw the counter offer, we had two rookie offensive linemen eager to join us. End of the day, Matthews went to Bordeaux rather than to the other conference for a pair of quality backup veteran linemen.

So it goes.

The best news of the day? Moe Sheldon is loyal, he won't hold out. Good for you! it means we'll get around the table after the first pre-season series to see if we can find a new contract for him to assure his services for the 2093 season as well as the upcoming 2092 season.

Our cap situation is still very tight. We're $2.08M under the cap, with 53 players signed. It means we have some room to make bids to free agents, especially some undrafted rookies, but it's likely that the other vulturing teams out there will scoop our targets up.

Moe Sheldon isn't the only player in his contract year. We'll have a bunch of important guys due to become a free agent in the 2093 off-season: backup quarterback Francisco Farley, running back tandem Francisco Patter and Reggie Thongchanh, tight end Jeffery Blake, wide receiver Harris Wilkerson, center Butch Pearson, recently acquired tackle Chase Springer, punter Doug Guynes, defensive tackler Darien Fletcher and cornerback Jessie McNeil. Less of an issue are the potential restricted free agents.

Oh, rookies? We picked guard Hayden Gaylor and center Lewis Azzolini in the sixth round. Gaylor is the type of linemen that in the late 40s, and the 50s and 60s would be considered a 'creeper': strong with stamina, but seemingly with little upside in blocking technique. Azzolini is primarily a run blocker, in potential and as the staff assesses now, no upgrade over trade demanding Jared Labbe. Bringing back Brady Burke might have been a good decision here.

Speaking of bringing back, aside from Burke, we also re-signed special teams running back Asher Ford and special teams linebacker Alec Palmer.

So, what's next? The same old:
* sign undrafted rookies
* training camp
* trim down to 60-men pre-season roster
* await the flabbergasting reassessments of players between our pre-season games
* make contract extensions to potential free agents, unless I feel we can run the risk of letting become that and feel good about winning a bidding war
* trim down to 53-men
* have a great regular season
* surprise the league in the playoffs
* be amazed about how quickly we've arrived at the new off-season

But once more and quickly back to the two main events, how do I feel about those? I feel okay about trading the first round picks for a triplet of future second round picks. Was I convinced these two rookies would be any good or would suck? You can never know. Our staff was positive about the tight end, we didn't interview the cornerback, but he looked like a real shut-down corner to be. Sending them to a division rival is very tricky. But the best news is Sheldon not holding out, which means we've got his services for the 2092 season, bar injury. The cap situation means we probably can't afford a contract extension for him, but you never know what creative offers and unexpected cap space moves will be made.

For now, I'm cautiously optimistic about bringing back an overwhelmingly high majority of the players that made it to the AOC Championship game last season. Best case scenario, Andy Russell and Brandon Bell will turn out to be the only departing players, but realistically we'll be down about 5 players.

And one potentially departure could be last season's high second round pick wide receiver Rickey Lyle, as trade talks for him have been on hiatus, but very serious. It might be a good idea to put him on the block and see what the best offer is we can get. Or determine whether the best deal is "no deal" and we should keep him to become our new WR2 or WR3, ahead of the likes of Sandlin, Wilkerson and Stuckey.

So, plenty of decisions to make in the next couple of days, that's for sure!
__________________
* 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 08-22-2020, 06:41 AM   #358
MIJB#19
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Not much of a draft, 'ey?
That's what you get for dealing picks.

Okay, that's easy to say and all, but what value did I get out of this 2092 draft by pretty much trading out?
pickreceivednotes
1.29
2094 2nd BOR
trade up from 2093 4th to 2nd TUC

1.302093 2nd BORbonus pick from 2091 trade
2.27LT Chase Springerpart of trade 2.29 for 2093 2nd MOO, turned into 5th MOO, which was traded for Springer
2.292093 2nd MOObonus pick from 2091 trade
3.29G Hayden Gaylorpart of trade 2.29 for 2093 2nd MOO, turned into 6.27 that was used on Gaylor
4.292093 6th NPLpart of trade 2.29 for 2093 2nd MOO, turned into 7.28, then traded 2093 6th NPL
5.29nothingpart of trade 2.29 for 2093 2nd MOO
6.29C Lewis Azzolini
7.29nothingpart of trade 7.28 for 2093 6th NPL

So, at the end of the draft week, we:
* turned the bonus 1st into a 2nd next draft
* turned the bonus 2nd into a 2nd next draft
* turned our 1st into Bordeaux' 2nd two drafts away, traded up from 4th to (late) 2nd in the next draft
* turned our 2nd into a 2nd next draft
* turned our 3rd-7th into a veteran backup LT, rookie G, rookie C and 6th next draft

And if you still lost track on that second attempt, here's attempt #3: our 2092 draft resulted in three backup linemen and four extra 2nd round picks in the next drafts (3x 2093, 1x 2094).


It may sound like we lost here or there, but this off-season getting under the cap was more vital than replacing the less than a dozen players that we'll be losing.

* So far we lost our QB2 Brandon Bell, but I feel safe to replace him with Francisco Farley and give kick holding duties to one of the 2nd year guys Bert Martin or Nate Marek.

* We lost rotation DE Andy Russell (we can either yank up playing time for the other 3 guys, or squeeze in the new guy Trent Donovan. DT A.J. Ritt is out of contract, I'd like to bring him back, but cap space is a real issue here, we'll try to bring in a young free agent or two as an insurance. All in all, last season we rotated 8 guys on the OL, maintaining enough depth to keep them fresh is a goal for late free agency and pre-season.

* Our backups on the O-line are all likely to depart. C Jared Labbe won't come back, hence we drafted Azzolini, but may go with 2nd year Brady Burke. LT Myron Hamilton will be replaced with LT Chase Springer. And G Marvin Silvan will be attempted to bring back, but probably will be replaced by drafted Haden Gaylor. In case of injuries, keeping Silvan would be crucial, if we go free of that, it'll be a non-issue.

* TE5/mentor Sherman Bridges won't re-sign with us, which opens up the 53rd roster spot. For now have no idea how to use it. I was ready to give it to CB Matthews (pick 1.29) or TE Velazquez (pick 1.30), but since we traded both to Bordeaux, I hope to be able to be flexible with our last roster spot. Most likely it'll be a project player, yet to be discovered in the undrafted rookies player pool with as much upside as the 16 guys on roster that we picked up as undrafted rookies after the previous 6 drafts. Maybe one of the guys that I was eyeing with the late 7th round picks...


So, all in all, that sounds like we'll be replacing 7 players this off-season. That's almost like what a true Merchantmen off-season would look like: keep all the guys on roster and replace the retired and guys with the least upside with 7 rookies. Cohesion should be moving up again, close to, if not back to being top of the league in that area. In that regard, it's going to be crucial to see what happens with Moe Sheldon, 5th year on team now. I'd like to squeeze in more playing time for 2nd year WR Rickey Lyle, but between 3rd year George Stuckey, 2nd year TE Clarence Gore and 3rd year Clay Gaynor, the true cohesion relies on 11th year WR Theodore Bondy, our 5th year backup tight ends Jeffery Blake and Renaldo Crawford, and 6th year WR Branden Sandlin.

Speaking Sandlin, he signed a pretty expensive new 5-year contract in Maassluis, which in the short terms (say, next 3 seasons), means we can't cut him without a dead cap hit that will nullify of the base salary. We'll have to consider whether 2 catches per game really is worth a $10M cap hit, the option of releasing him, that ship has sailed already. He'll be a prime cap out candidate for the next 3 off-seasons.

It's maybe a case of thinking past the retirement of Theo Bondy. I hope he sticks around as long as the guys ahead of him on the all-time league receiving tables, most of them played for 13 or 14 seasons. Bondy is 8th all-time in receptions, 374 behind the #1 spot. That's probably out of reach, but moving into the top5 all-time this season isn't unreasonable as he's 68 catches away from it. The yardage numbers are much heftier, but he's basically a 1,000-yard season away from breaking into the top10. Although, with Frederick's Christian James also lurking at jumping in, top 10 status means he'll have to gain 1,400 yards. With the emergence of Clarence Gore, it will be really interesting to see where the catches will go, and where the double coverage will go. The staff expects Gore to exceed Bondy's reputation of drawing the double coverage, as is the case for the underdeveloped Rickey Lyle, who, as Theo Bondy has discovered that he can be a mentor now, should start to benefit from playing on the same team...

Oh yeah, all that on a run first offense, but I think we're in good shape to build on last season's success and not drop back to how horrible we've been. If we can survive pre-season without having guys running into brick walls...
__________________
* 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 : 08-22-2020 at 06:43 AM.
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Old 08-22-2020, 09:00 PM   #359
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Merchantmen expand training camp roster to 64
The Maassluis Merchantmen signed 11 players to a one-year contract, increasing their roster for training camp to 64 players. Most prominent was the re-signing of defensive tackle A.J. Ritt, bringing him back for a 9th season in Maassluis. Fullback Tracy Rhodes and running back Patrick Joseph also return, having been part of the 2091 training camp and pre-season roster, signing a late season contract and now at least getting a spot for camp. Seven undrafted rookies were signed: quarterback Donald Bauer, quarterback Nathaniel Ellison, running back Seth Moore, wide receiver/punt returner Mark Perkins, defensive end Lewis Shanks, defensive tackle Cole Gunn and long snapper Johnny Terrell. Odds are most of these undrafted rookies won't make the final 53-men roster and some will be released before pre-season action ensues.

The 11th signing was veteran tight end Jessie Taylor, who previously wore the orange-white-and-blue between 2085 and 2087, playing his second through fourth seasons in his career in Maassluis, the last two as a full time starter, playing in 7 playoffs games in that tenure. Taylor has been a career backup ever since, playing in the IHOF Bowl with the Gothenburg Giants in the 2088 season, then spending two seasons on the bench of the Colorado Cutthroats and spending the entire 2091 season on his own couch, but apparently expecting a return to the IHOF somewhere in the 2092 off-season.

The Merchantmen didn't re-sign guard Marvin Silvan, which seems to be the biggest surprise this off-season as he stepped in last season and played admirably well amidst the talented offensive line. Silvan remains to be a free agent. The same applies to tight end Sherman Bridges and center Jared Labbe (both unwilling to re-sign in Maassluis), left tackle Myron Hamilton and linebacker Van Bertolone. Silvan appears to be the most likely candidate to end up on a training camp roster somewhere in the league.
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 08-23-2020, 07:09 AM   #360
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Merchantmen retirement tribute: Craig McCorkle
The Maassluis Merchantmen today learned that former linebacker Craig McCorkle retired from football after 13 seasons in the IHOF. A first round pick for the Merchantmen in the 2079 draft, McCorkle jumped in with the third linebacker role as a rookie and became the full time starting middle linebacker from his second season and onwards, teaming up with 2077 first round pick Glenn Brewer and for his first three season also with 2073 first round pick Antonio Battle. After the departure of Battle in the 2081 off-season, McCorkle grew into being the top linebacker on the team, in 2081 and 2085 resulting in All-IHOF First Team honors from Solecismic. After an All-IHOF Second team season in 2087, the 2088 saw McCorkle's (and Brewer's) departure from Maassluis as the Merchantmen were stuck in salary cap troubles. McCorkle was traded to the Arizona Miners for a future fourth round draft pick after 143 regular season and 9 playoffs games of service. McCorkle spent 3 seasons in Arizona, having a leading role on their defense in 2089 when a 12-season drought ended as they went into the playoffs as a 9-7 wild card team. In 2091 he signed with the Fairbanks Northstars for one final season, where he made exactly 100 tackles in the regular season, marking his 8th season accomplishing that. For the orange-white-and-blue he made 940 tackles (10th all-time), 25.0 sacks, 16 interceptions, 99 passes defended (9th all-time) and forced 21 fumbles (tied 9th all-time).
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Old 08-24-2020, 03:50 PM   #361
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Tension is rising...
Pre-season is here!

It's been a weird week, with a busy draft, trading our first round picks at the last possible moment for future picks. We signed a bunch of guys to join us for training camp, which means we'll have some decision to make even before the pre-season action starts. I made it even harder on me by signing three more undrafted rookies for the pre-season roster: defensive end Wally Carter, kicker Zachery Gardner and fullback Kelly Sinclair. Carter has special teams skills, Gardner could be an elite kickoff guy and Sinclair, well, he's an uncharacteristic fullback, with hole recognition, route running, special teams skills and a far too low run blocking ability to my liking.

So, they joined the training camp roster, which means we had 67 guys walking around: 6 quarterbacks, 6 running backs, 3 fullbacks, 5 tight ends, 7 wide receivers, 3 centers, 3 guards, 3 offensive tackles, 2 kickers, 1 punter, 5 defensive ends, 5 defensive tackles, 6 linebackers, 9 defensive backs and 2 long snappers. And next would traditionally be my breakdown of the roster and how all these kids did in camp. Why yes, I would and shall.

Quarterbacks first, as always. A big bunch and boy, the young kids are probably all mostly worthless. We're going to wish we didn't release Brandon Bell at some point this season. Moe Sheldon (45/45) went through camp without progress, backup Francisco Farley (+1/+1 to 35/35) did make some progress. Nate Marek (+1/0 to 15/25) will be our new kick holder. The other three kids won't even make the pre-season roster. Bert Martin (+2/0 to 15/30), Donald Bauer (+2/-1 to 10/25) and Nathaniel Ellison (+1/0 to 5/25) are just not worth hoping they'll make an unexpected splash in pre-season. Or maybe they are, but I've decided to not wait for it to see them become legendary. They won't.

Running backs then. Francisco Patter (55/55) continues to be the main guy, Reggie Thongchanh (35/35) our change of pace guy. For now, as there's some reason to think about their roles. Trey Beyer (+2/0 to 40/45) was good in limited action last season. Seth Moore (+1/0 to 35/35) had an underwhelming camp, I was hoping for him to be a realistic RB2, which based on his breakaway speed he sure is. A season to learn the system and jump into action next season? Asher Ford (20/20) might make the roster again as a special teamer. Patrick Joseph (+2/0 to 35/35) still looks similar to Beyer, but it's unlikely we will bring more than four of them into the regular season.

Fullback Clay Brosseau (40/40) will continue to be the man. Tracy Rhodes (+3/0 to 20/40) had a fine camp, but I don't see us keeping more than one guy at this position. Kelly Sinclair (unknown progress to 15/35) will get a look in pre-season, but I doubt we'll give this guy a roster spot for the regular season.

Tight end Clarence Gore (+3/-1 to 50/50) quickly became one of my favorite tight ends last season and I suspect he's got more upside that what the scouts tell us now. Clay Gaynor (55/55) will continue to be the second receiving option and a blocking alternate. Jeffery Blake (40/40) should continue to be our run blocker, with Renaldo Crawford (30/30) the second option. Jessie Taylor (30/30) had his chance, but I've already made up my mind: he won't be on our pre-season roster.

Wide receivers Theodore Bondy (70/70) became a mentor and the kids took some advantage of it. Rickey Lyle (+3/0 to 30/50) and George Stuckey (+4/0 to 40/45) continue to be promising. Branden Sandlin (40/40) should be on thin ice, but given his cap hit for 2093, he's virtually immune to release and given his cohesion value a fair option for our WR2 role. Harris Wilkerson (40/40) is the special teamer, Santiago Messenger (30/30) our kickoff returner and rookie Mark Perkins (+2/+1 to 20/25) will likely become our punt returner. Which doesn't mean this is a done deal, 7 receivers is a little bit much for a 53-men roster...

Center Butch Pearson (65/65) is welcome back after an injury plagued season, Brady Burke (+4/0 to 25/35) and Lewis Azzolini (+4/+1 to 25/30) will get pre-season to fight for the backup role. Michael Szott (70/70) and Andre Watson (45/45) are our guards, Hayden Gaylor (+2/-1 to 35/45) will be their backup, it'll be interesting to see where his ceiling will be. Nathan Hadinger (60/60) and Howard Humphrey (70/70) will continue to be quite possibly the best tackle duo we ever saw, Chase Springer (40/40) will have to settle for a backup role with us as well.

The defensive line saw Gene Kondovski (55/55), Archie Exner (45/45) and Tony Whiting (30/30) look over their shoulders to see youngsters Lewis Shanks (+4/0 to 25/35) and Trent Donovan (+3/0 to 25/30) make good progress. One of those two will make the team, that's for sure, and I'll have to consider about giving him playing time, or flipping around the rotation to make this a seven-men rotation. Defensive tackles Darien Fletcher (65/65) and Jumbo Mojica (55/55) are the primary duo, but A.J. Ritt (35/35) and Kurt Ackerman (30/30) have the pass rush technique to toss them in there on passing downs. Rookie Cole Gunn (+5/0 to 30/40) made exception progress, which could actually threat the young ends Shanks and Donovan for the eight spot on the line, or even one of the veterans...

The linebackers sextet is still Brandon Brady (75/75), Clayton Jackson (50/50) and Daquan Espino (55/55) on the defense, Brant Rayburn (40/40), Alec Palmer (25/25) and Trenton Prescott (+3/0 to 20/30) the special teams guys.

The secondary is unchanged and I hope it will remain that way, hoping pre-season won't be unkind. Kirk Hitchcock (65/65) and Jackie Richardson (70/70) are our elite cornerback duo, Ted Frias (45/45) our main backup, Jessie McNeil (35/35) might lose the nickelback role to Adam Harmon (+3/0 to 35/40) this season. Devon Farrell (+6/0 to 55/65) should continue to grow into an elite safety, with Chuck Murray (40/40) as his running downs side kick and either Riddick Newsome (25/25) or Jon Brotzman (+3/0 to 30/30) the passing downs free safety and the other possibly the dimeback.

Doug Guynes (55/55) will continue to be our punter, Mark Giles (75/75) our kicker, Zachery Gardner (unknown progress to 25/30) was neat to look at, but won't make the team. I suspect Bryce Kerney (20/20) will continue to be our long snapper, Johnny Terrell (20/20) will get pre-season to show he's better than the veteran.

Two days of waiting to see what these guys will really look like for the 2092 season, two more days...
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Old 08-27-2020, 12:32 PM   #362
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The cruelness of pre-season
Or: When all-time greats return to human life forms.

As I'm writing this, I'm struggling with how the immersify what the randomness of the day between the second and third pre-season games does to the players in the IHOF. It's quite simply impossible. It's just a known fact: random things happen, players will be redefined, change night and deal. Deal with it.

Well, pre-season wasn't kind to our star players, that's a fact. Kirk Hitchcock and Butch Pearson got it really bad, but Theodore Bondy, Jackie Richardson, Michael Szott, Gene Kondovski and A.J. Ritt all had their worst day of their careers. It hasn't resulted in a departure from Oranje Haven for them, they're still better than the guys behind them on the depth chart, although Hitchcock's position as the CB2 is very iffy.

Six players have been shown the door after the first couple of pre-season games: long snapper Johnny Terrell, center Brady Burke, running back Patrick Joseph, defensive end Lewis Shanks, defensive tackle Cole Gunn and fullback Kelly Sinclair. We'll have to make one more cut to get to the 53-men opening day roster, it will most likely be a running back (we're still carrying 5 on roster).

Our roster situation now:
QB: Sheldon (40/40), Farley (35/35), kick holder Marek (15/25)
RB: Patter (55/55), Thongchanh (35/35), Beyer (40/45), Moore (30/35), special teamer Ford (15/15)
FB: Brosseau (40/40)
TE: Gore (50/50), Gaynor (55/55), Blake (35/35), Crawford (30/30)
WR: Bondy (60/60), Lyle (30/50), Stuckey (40/45), Sandlin (40/40), Wilkerson (40/40), kick off returner Messenger (30/30), punt returner Mark Perkins (20/25)
C: Pearson (50/50), Azzolini (25/40)
G: Szott (65/65), Watson (45/45), Gaylor (35/45)
OT: RT Humphrey (70/70), LT Hadinger (60/60), LT Springer (40/40)
P: Guynes (50/50)
K: Giles (75/75)
DE: Kondovski (50/50), Exner (45/45), Whiting (30/30), Donovan (25/35)
DT: Fletcher (60/60), Mojica (55/55), Ackermann (30/30), Ritt (25/25)
LB: Brady (75/75), Espino (55/55), Jackson (50/50), special teamer Rayborn (40/40), special teamer Prescott (20/30), special teamer Palmer (20/20)
CB: Richardson (65/65), Hitchcock (50/50), Frias (45/45), Harmon (35/40), McNeil (35/35)
S: Farrell (55/65), Murray (40/40), Brotzman (30/30), Newsome (25/25)
LS: Karney (20/20)

Yeah, not sure what to make of this situation.

What we have done is signing Butch Pearson to a new two-year contract, despite his drop in skills, giving us the little bit of cap space required to lock up Darien Fletcher. And what's left after that could be used to try to extend other contracts, if I feel the need to. It won't be sufficient to extend Moe Sheldon's contract. Our quarterback is going to be exposed to free agency next off-season, it looks inevitable.

But that's 2093, let's feel ready for the 2092 season. Two more pre-season games and then it'll be the real action. My expectations have been tempered, but maybe, just maybe, these guys are still very much worth their hefty paychecks.
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Old 08-29-2020, 10:11 AM   #363
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Patter and Thong' extend with Merchantmen
Running back duo Francisco Patter and Reggie Thongchanh both signed a new 3-year contract with the Maassluis Merchantmen. Both were in the last year of contract, but with these new deals the Merchantmen made clear that Patter and Thongchanh would be their duo for the 2092 season. Undrafted rookie Seth Moore underwhelmed in pre-season action and was the last release to trim down from 54 to 53 men. Trey Beyer is expected to be the inactive fourth running back, Asher Ford the special teamer out of the backfield.

With these renewed contracts, the Merchantmen go into opening week with a 0 on their cap space figure. Which means quarterback Moe Sheldon will become a free agent in the 2093 off-season. Backup Francisco Farley is still in negotiations for a new deal, as he's also scheduled to become a free agent. Farley is expected to be promoted to the QB2 role, with Brandon Bell released in the off-season and Nate Marek looking far from ready to be more than a kick holder, as shown in limited pre-season action.

These moves also have implications on the wide receiver situation as it means the Merchantmen will take 7 wide receivers into the 2092 season. Rookie Mark Perkins is expected to take over the punt return duties from Thong', while Santiago Messenger remains to be the primary kickoff returner. Theodore Bondy is the undisputed WR1, while George Stuckey looks to have locked up the WR2 role. Harris Wilkerson will be the WR4 with special teams duties, which leaves the team in a decision to make about the WR3 role between second year second round pick Rickey Lyle and veteran Branden Sandlin.

The release of Seth Moore means the Merchantmen go into the 2092 season with only four players that are officially new: rookies wide receiver Mark Perkins, center Lewis Azzolini, guard Hayden Gaylor and trade acquisition veteran left tackle Chase Springer. Kick holder Nate Marek and defensive end Trent Donovan are practically new as well, as they were signed after the lost 2091 AOC Championship game.
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Old 08-31-2020, 03:49 PM   #364
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Another season, another solid start
So, yay?

Apparently we've won four straight season openers, including today's beating of the Gothenburg Giants. But unlike the smoort sailing in the previous two seasons against the French teams, the Giants came to our place with more ammo. The final score of 34-13 sounds much more like a trashing than it actually was, aside from their time running out final drive that boosted their overall numbers.

The first quarter was clearly the Giants'. they scored first with a 45-yard field goal and their next drive ended wit a 47-yard touchdown run. Yeah, defense, not so impressive on that play. But before the first quarter was over, our shiny pieces f our offense had woken up: Clarence Gore with a 19-yard reception, Theo with a 12-yard catch and Thong' with a 12-yard run.

We started the second quarter with a 28-yard field goal to make it 10-3 Giants, then needed unsportsmanlike conduct to have a goal line stand to force a 21-yard field goal. Down 13-3, and after back and forth three and outs, Branden Sandlin paid back the confidence I have in him with a 61-yard catch for a touchdown. The Giants missed a 50-yard field goal, which Moe Sheldon rubbed them in with a 34-yard pass to Thong', followed by a 22-yard touchdown to George Stuckey, another kid that got my blessing. Just like that, we were leading 17-13 just at half time.

Third quarter, they quickly got into out half, but the run defense and a Tony Whiting hurry force them to punt from our 36-yard line. Sheldon to Gore for 22 yards, Francisco Patter for 15 yards, Sheldon to Branden Sandlin for 11 yards, that was our way to set up a 33-yard field goal for a 20-13 lead. The run defense continued to stuff Jason Crane and just as we thought we were driving to make it a two score game, Sheldon got picked off. The run defense was huge again and a defended pass is sufficient to make them punt and the turnover just keep us from scoring, not set them up to do so.

Fourth quarter and Moe Sheldon actually connected with Theo for a third down conversion! An offside penalty then made it easier on the next third down play, which Sheldon followed up with short passes to Theo to march into field goal range. Until Francisco Patter got tackled for an unprecedented 7-yard loss on a run that forced us to punt. The defense continued to be a force and only a penalty could give the Giants a first down. Pinned at our own 5-yard line, Moe Sheldon and the crew were unmoved. Sheldon found Theo for another third down conversion, saw Patter run for a 15-yard gain to make our punt count. A sack from Darien Fletcher in their own red zone then helped force them to punt and help get us the ball back inside their turf. Our offense was ruthless: 15-yard pass from Sheldon to Sandlin, handoff to Thong' for 16 yards and another for 15 yards and a touchdown. The Giants then turned into all or nothing, driving downfield, but Jessie McNeil (once again pleased I didn't cut him seasons ago) makes the tremendous game winning 70-yard pick six. Maassluis 34, Gothenburg 13. Welcome to '92.

Sheldon completed 20 of 31 for 276 yards, 2 scores, 1 interception. Theo had 7 catches for 53 yards, Gore 5 catches for 61 yards. Sandlin and Stuckey had the crucial touchdown catches. Thong' ran for 84 yards on 10 carries, Patter for just 54 yards.

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

That's one game in the books, but there's 18 or 19 more to go. Second one will be a game of the week at the Outer Banks Ospreys. They saw quarterback Will Philips return home after 10 seasons in the Deep South with Houston and Fort Wayne. He's got a 7-2 record against us, but his main job will be handing off to Aston Moore, the best running back in the league right now. Their defense looks good, but with our cohesive bunches on all ends, we stand a chance in against any team. Confidence is something we need to keep showing. '91 was a good to great season, let's make '92 the best!
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:40 AM   #365
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2 out of 3, sort of
Still undefeated, but not 100%.

We're two games further into the season than the previous time I wrote. Expect me to be irregular with writing for the next 20 or so days. Despite that I have some extra time on my hands, it doesn't mean it'll be in my system. I've got some time off from work, hope to recharge the battery. At the same time, my inspiration to write has somewhat taken a hit. Not because I don't care for this team, but I've more than before realized having a muse (or opposite of, I suppose) can do wonders for having a desire to escape the every day stuff to change gears.

That said, two games in the books, both on the road, both statistically even games, neither turned into a loss. A 13-13 tie at Outer Banks and a 30-13 victory at North Plainfield bring us to a 2-0-1 record, sitting second in the conference, behind the 3-0 Tucker Tigers, how familiar. To make things more interesting, we're on our usual way too early bye week and will play our next game, at home, against the Tigers. An early chance to claim head-to-head tie-breakers for both teams.

The tie didn't come easy as we needed a field goal in the dying second of the second quarter and a late fourth quarter field goal to tie the score. In overtime, Moe Sheldon threw his second pick of the season, then got bailed out by a missed field goal, but then we came time and progress short of doing anything about the 13-13 tied score.

The win at the Plague was established early on, as we scored on our first four drives, without giving any up. With a 23-0 lead, it was smooth sailing. Sheldon's third pick of the season and a missed field goal were way too little to hurt us. Linebacker Brandon Brady sealed the deal with a late pick six.

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

Yeah, the division is looking traditionally strong, 0.5 and 1.5 wins behind the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic divisions.

There's this saying about things coming in three, no? We've given up 13 points in back-to-back-to-back games now, very unusual. The team ranks second in the league in least points allowed, despite that we outgain our opponents by just 10 yards per game. But, we all know football can't be measured that way, we took a big lead twice and saw the majority of yardage allowed in failed catch up attempts.

Moreover, I think our run defense has been pretty stellar, but one 47-yard touchdown run against Gothenburg completely wiped away the yards per carry figure that game. We're 6th in yards per pass attempt, 7th in pass rush percentage, I think those figures are much more accurate representation of what's going on.

Moe Sheldon's 3 interceptions in as many games has him on pace to do worse than last season's spectacular 4 picks over the entire season, including playoffs. Theo Bondy continues to be his main target, especially on third downs. Clarence Gore is struggling a bit, perhaps because of how he's now regarded as our top receiver by most opponents. George Stuckey has turned into a bit of a scoring machine with 4 touchdowns in 3 games and Branden Sandlin has become our yards per catch guy. Nothing really shocking, but sometimes don't play out as you'd expect them to, this season somehow they do?

Reggie Thongchanh is running wild, a bit more than before, with 5.6 yards per carry on a tiny sample size of 34 carries. Francisco Patter was underwhelming in the first two games and I replaced him with second year pro Trey Beyer. We'll think about this for the next game, but this may be more permanent and completely baffling after we re-signed Patter to an expensive three-year deal on opening day.

Another decision has been to deactivate Asher Ford, one of our elite special teamers, as my staff decided in the first two games he's no longer useful on special teams (what gives, staff!?). Probably a result of making our fullback Clay Brosseau active for special teams duties... (Hint: of you want your second best RB in special teams to play there, discourage your fullbacks). Side effect is having an active roster spot available for Rickey Lyle, so he can be mentored by Theodore Bondy.

Yeah, that too is football in the International House Of Football.

Not much to add to all of this for now. Week 5 the big test, at Tucker. But their journey continues at Augusta first. With some luck, we'll be the only undefeated team in the conference by then. Probably not in the league though as all four NAC divisions are lead by a 3-0 team. But should we really care about those before the IHOF Bowl, unless we actually play one of them in the interconference games? Exactly, not worth getting bothered by that. Believe in ourselves and take it a game at a time. 19-0 is no longer possible, but 18-0-1 wouldn't look bad either.
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Old 09-04-2020, 02:16 PM   #366
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Back to the drawing board
We played, we lost.

Okay, the core number suggest we actually played along with the Tucker Tigers. But in reality, we gave up touchdowns way too early in the game and our answers were two field goals and a blocked one. I sat it out, almost, as I stopped watching te game when the coaching staff decided to pull Moe Sheldon in the middle of our now or never drive. Inexcusable decision, regardless of Francisco Farley guiding the team into the end zone for a touchdown. End result a 28-13 deficit in our own place.

I'm not really sure what to make from this game. Our defense was depressingly bad, we allowed 255 yards passing before the third quarter was over and had no answer to the Tigers' running game either. Pass defense: terrible. Run defense, horrible. Passing game: underwhelming. Running game: Thong' did well, but we didn't convert the crucial downs when we needed to. Special teams: "meh".

Standings within the division:
1. Gothenburg 4-1
2. Paris 3-1
3. Maassluis 2-1-1
4. Bordeaux 1-4

Yeah, just like that, we dropped from undefeated division leaders to virtually outside the playoffs, providing we'll finish this season with 12 teams in the playoffs.

In an attempt to fix our game plan, several attempts even, I hope to see some result of those tweaks in our next game on the road at the 2-3 Augusta Greenjackets. Mind you, their record isn't representative of how good they are. Neither does the fact that they've allowed the most points per game so far, we're perfectly capable of making a joke of ourselves and return home with only 10 points scored. I mean, I don't hope we do, shouldn't expect us to do even, but optimism has dropped hard after today's loss.

But it was only just one game, we actually didn't completely suck. And we've got some reasons to think twice about some of our play calling decisions. I still feel like a dimwit, almost as terrible as an AI that randomly draws up a game plan, but I think I'm going to want to spend some time on taking a deep look at our offensive game plan in the upcoming days. We should be able to get more out of this team, which last season was our most talented roster ever assembled and despite the decline of Bondy and Hitchcock, I still feel confident we can beat everybody. Yes, on a luckier day (or a day where the dice roll slightly less lucky for the opponent), we can even avenge the Tigers come playoffs time. If we get there...
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Old 09-05-2020, 09:44 AM   #367
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We won. Yay?
But it wasn't easy nor pretty.

Up by 10, third and five. The opponent comes out in a formation with 3 tight ends, which clearly calls for bringing our linebackers. The staff looks at the game plan: yes, we want to call a cover-1 here. But for whatever reason, the people on the sideline call Daquan Espino back and send in 5 defensive backs, then tell our shutdown corner Jackie Robinson to move into playing Espino's role. Wait, what?

17 seconds later, we have given up a 72 yard touchdown pass. After two-point conversion, it's only 24-21 now.

Thankfully we hold on to the win, but these are the moments in a football game where a general manager can feel like thing are completely out of your control. You've been over this with your staff again and again, but sometimes they will just revert from the plan and come up with something creative. With things blowing up in our face as a result.

Luck was on our side elsewhere in the league as Gothenburg and Paris both were a bit of a mismatch to the Southeast's elite teams from Orlando and Tucker, bringing us back into the division lead. We're going to need all the breaks we can for now, as we'll be playing four games on the road in the next five, starting with a game in Paris, then after home game against the Snapfinger Jazz, we'll be visiting Bordeaux, Orlando and Gothenburg. Going 3-2 in this stretch would suggest we're bowl game material.

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

The offensive game plan was enriched with a revival of the Blazewicz special, although George Stuckey appeared to struggle with it. I hope to make more drastic changes, but apparently we'll need the league commissioner to verify our changes by giving us a copy of our own playbook. Welcome to football?

So be it. I'm going to spend time on making playbook and corresponding game plan tweaks in an attempt to work with the strength or against the weaknesses of our talented receivers. Of course, it won't help us from not giving up 400 yards on defense, but one can only hope that one day, maybe, the staff and players will actually comply and play by the game plan.

We've got to stay positive.
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Old 09-07-2020, 02:58 PM   #368
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We lost...
Again allowing an ill timed big passing play.

I'm so disappointed in how this team played, so unMerchantmen worthy, I'm going to stick with that. I can only hope we don't fuck up in our next game, but I see ourselves perfectly capable of making more obnoxious decisions like blitzing our shutdown corner to gift the Musketeers a 80-yard pass play, or see our quarterback throw 1 pick less than he did in all of last season, because he decided to throw 25 times to our over the hill future HOF WR and throw it to our new rising star TE just 1 time all game. Good riddance, we know the football gods will punish us for that, but I wasn't pessimistic enough, thinking my staff would deserve one last chance to fabricate a game plan. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever again. My staff will stay the hell away from the game plan.

End rant? We'll see about that after the next game.
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Old 09-08-2020, 07:08 AM   #369
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The flipflopping continues
We haven't won or lost back-to-back, yet.

At home against the Snapfinger Jazz, we recovered (not referring to Daquan Espino's fumble recovery for a touchdown) with a 36-17 victory. We made some minor tweaks to our game plan, but I can't really tell whether it made a differnece. At least we didn't do the stupid stuff from the game at Paris of throwing 25 times to Theodore Bondy (despite being a living legend, it's never a good idea to have 2/3 of the passes go to the same player). We brought back Francisco Patter in the running back tandem, benching Trey Beyer after 42 carries for a 3.14 average, despite still leading the team with 2 running touchdowns. Moe Sheldon threw 3 interceptions, but his position will remain undisputed, for this season...

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

Bordeaux will be our next stop, then followed by visits to 5-2 Orlando and 5-2 Gothenburg.

Frustration about the team's inability to obey orders remains extremely high. It will likely fade away once I stop paying attention to the details and stick with the grand scheme of things, but lack of control over the stupidity that sometimes takes place is, well, leading to that frustration. But, y'know, in the end, it's just a game of football.
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Old 09-09-2020, 08:13 AM   #370
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: back to back!
Wins that is.

The Bordeaux Vineyards have struggled for years now, coping with three franchises that are quite regularly playing winning football and as a result struggle to get ahead of their rivals. Today we were visiting them and posted in what turned out to be a mood swing of games, the kind you shouldn't watch with a weak heart.

Our first drive was inspired with a 25-yard run from Francisco Patter (welcome back?), but on 4th and 7 we went for it on their 33-yard line and there called a play that 9 out of 10 times won't move the chains in that situation (did we really leave that in our game plan?). Bordeaux punished us with a drive for a 52-yard field goal. Our next drive ended up in Moe Sheldon running for 14 yards and a touchdown, again being anchored by a long run from Patter. Bordeaux responded with a solid drive, but had to settle for a 24-yard field goal and trailing 7-6 to us by the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter started with us getting into Bordeaux turf and pinning them at their own 1-yard line after the punt. Initially our defensive domination was brushed away by a roughing the kicker penalty on the punt attempt, but in their second attempt a sack and a pick six by Kirk Hitchcock gave us the 14-6 lead. We gave up two long third down conversions on the Vineyards' next drive, but eventually they missed a 54-yard field goal attempt. Bordeaux' passing game (or our lack of pass defense?) gave them one more chance before half time, but they missed a 53-yard field goal in the final seconds, giving us the 14-6 lead at half time.

They started the second half with a strong drive, seeing promising Walt Czech complete passes for 38 and 31 yards to Russell Mitchell and on the next play a short throw into the end zone for a 14-13 score. Momentum had clearly shifted as they picked off Moe Sheldon two plays later for a 27-yard touchdown and a 20-14 lead. Santiago Messenger replied with a neat kickoff return for 32 yards, Reggie Thongchanh added a 17-yard run and Moe Sheldon connected with Theo Bondy for 15 yards, noticing defense are these days double covering George Stuckey. Sheldon himself ran the ball in from 12 yards out on a third down, making it 21-20 Maassluis. We followed up by stopping them at our 38-yard line, bun on the ensuing possession we saw Reggie Thongchanh (why was Patter not on the field, coach?) not convert on third and 1 and fourth and 1. It didn't backfire though, Clayton Jackson picked off Walt Czech's long pass two plays later and brought the ball back to where our drive had ended.

With a short field, Moe Sheldon got a chance to make tosses to his tight ends Clarence Gore and Clay Gaynor, then handing off to Reggie Thongchanh on third and 1 (again no Patter!?) who somehow got all the room to not just get the chains moved but actually going the full 10 yards for a 28-20 lead. It was trimmed down to 28-26 on the kickoff as Bordeaux scored a 9-3yard touchdown, but their two-point attempt failed. The next drive took out Theodore Bondy with a calf injury after he converted on third and long with a 18-yard catch. We failed to take more time off the clock and 10 minutes remained, which can feel like hours in a closely contested game of football. Our run defense stuffed them and as field position tilted heavily into our favor, Clarence Gore proved his value with two useful third down catches to set up a 35-yard field goal for the 31-26 lead. We then stopped Bordeaux with about 3 minutes to go, but in return we took just 1 minute off the clock and 1 of their time outs. On third and second Walt Czech connected with his fullback on a 29-yard pass. Then, with about a minute to go, an illegal block penalty pushed them back to midfield into second and 25. After a Jumbo Mojica sack it became third and 28, but on third and so much to gain, they went for a short pass that was dropped and on fourth down Devon Farrell knocked the ball away from Derrick Velazquez to keep him from making the deep catch. Two knee drops later, the 31-26 score was final.

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

Yeah, that tied game is turning into a true tie-breaker, or tie-avoider if you will. I'm still far from convinced we're still playing to the levers we reached last season. Losing Theodore Bondy for 3 games (presumably) will be a big deal, as we had just reached the point where George Stuckey was becoming our WR1 (by the measures of most scouts), making Bondy a more dangerous threat as a WR2. But it is what it is, injuries are part of football.

Next up are the tough challenges in Orlando (5-3) and then the even more crucial one in Gothenburg (6-2). Both will have implications on our playoffs chances and more so on the seeding order if we manage to stay in the mix with these two teams and Paris (5-3). Houston (5-4) or their division leading San Antonio (6-2) are also in the mix for the wild cards and the second and third seeds. Tucker (8-0) is quickly building an unsurmountable lead, while Toronto (5-4) looks destined to win the Northeast division and the #4 seed.

But enough about the playoffs, as I said there, we'll have to win in Orlando if we're really serious about being the second best team in the AOC. We beat them 27-20 in our house last season in the playoffs, they'll be very motivated to avenge that, as far as that's possible in a following season with a lot, but no season end on the line.
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Old 09-13-2020, 03:37 PM   #371
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The rollercoaster continues
We're still in the mix, with 5 games to go.

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

How did we get here from my previous update? We played atrocious football in Orlando (28-6 loss) with our worst running performance since the Patter-Thong' tandem was installed, saw our defense pretend like they missed the plane to Gothenburg (35-28 loss), but Rickey Lyle played his best Theo Bondy impersonation to save our face, followed up with a 30-3 victory at home against the Capital City Blues.

Bondy has been upgraded to 'probable', but the injury is severe enough to not going to risk playing him, it screams for tearing his calf muscle and being out for the rest of the season and then some. We'll wait until he's back to 100%, as great and important as he is. Our passing game is falling apart when Bondy is on the field equally well. Moe Sheldon has gone from one end to the other on his performance scale, with 2091 apparently being the best he can do and 2092 turning into the worst he can do. Well, there's no Brandon Bell anymore to threaten him with, maybe that's what's been motivating him? Francisco Farley won't get the keys, that's for sure.

More worrisome is the defense not living up to their form of last season. It could be the same thing as with Sheldon, but I'm unwilling to believe that. This group of players is highly skilled, they are quite simply not living up to their ability. I'm seriously considering to break up the offense and go even heavier on brining an elite defense together in the next off-season or two. But cap management, you know? Even a half-decent wide receiver or running back will demand a lot of money after one season of system based good fortune.

Still, we're 5 games away from the end of the regular season, with 4 of them to be played at home and two of them against rivals for the playoffs (7-4 Houston in week 13 and 7-4 Paris in week 17), with week 16 also a big test against the Atlantic Coast division leading 7-4 Moontown. In between we'll visit 3-8 Texas and host 2-9 Bordeaux. I'm not counting on it, but a 10-5-1 record like last season should be the goal, nothing less, anything below that would be a disgrace to what we've accomplished last season with this same bunch of players.

So, show it to me, team. Play like you did last season, prove y'all are worth that crazy truckload of money the fans are coughing up for y'all. Not next season, this season.
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Old 09-14-2020, 07:37 AM   #372
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: How to dominate and still win by 3
It's tough, but it's possible.

Imagine playing against a strong 7-4 division leading Houston Mustangs. Imagine them visiting Oranje Haven to face our Merchantmen. Imagine them scoring a field goal on the first possession of the game. Then imagine them getting past midfield only twice in the remainder of that game: once after an interception that gets brushed away with a fumble, and then once more in the final minute as they turn the ball over on downs being too far away from field goal range to tie the score.

So yes, we actually won, but the score (6-3) says quite a bit already. The defense was impressive: 4 turnovers, 109 yards passing allowed (including the 11 yards lost on a sack), 108 yards rushing. The offense? We actually gained 330 total yards, but we failed to do anything good inside the red zone. Four visits, four field goal attempts, twice blocked. Our fifth goal attempt was a 46-yarder, which is slightly more forgivable as a miss. Hideous play isn't completely vanished yet, it just happens to come with a bit of positivity today as well.

But, despite that all, the key number is the +1 in the W-column. The Paris Musketeers had a late game pick six that turned their seemingly secured win at the Toronto Lake Monsters into a 24-23 loss, helping us into second place in the division and virtual wild card team. Gothenburg crushed the Deep South leading San Antonio Tidal Force 30-12 to jump into the division lead. Bordeaux won 24-0 at Rochester, but it's too little too late, they are now locked in fourth place in the division.

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

Our season continues with a visits to the Texas Sharks, 4-8, recently playing spoiler in and for Paris with a 27-12 win in week 12, but shortly before that having a 4-game stretch in which they were outscored 160-22, all losing by at least 31 points. But, they are never to be underestimated, no team in the IHOF is. If there's one team the Sharks' fanbase truly dislike in the league, it must be us, as we viciously crushed their hopes of winning the IHOF Bowl in their only visit, marking our sole bowl victory with an overwhelming 30-3 victory. Shaun Hartman and the class of 64 (Edward Ross, Peter Tucker, Daquan 'Da Machine' Strugielski, Gabe Hamilton) certainly knew their way with that offense. Now that was a defense. It might be a good idea to bring game film to the training facilities in preparation and show the current team how football was played back in '66. Good times...

And good times will be here again, if we build on this victory and actually play better football next game. We'll have to work on our third down offense and do better than 7 conversions on 21 attempts, with 12 pass attempts including 6 catches that didn't move the chains. Maybe it's a quick fix, that would be swell if we can do that and not need the defense to keep the opponent to a single field goal to be able to win a game.
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Old 09-17-2020, 11:06 AM   #373
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Playoffs?
Indeed, we're in, with week 17 still to go.

Five straight wins and we've secured our spot, in part result of other teams dropping a game here or there, but we can't take away from our own performance here. We won 33-21 at Texas (where the score should have been much higher), then 31-17 at home against Bordeaux and today 30-3 at home against Moontown. The latter a team I feared the most, but they've fallen apart after their 37-10 crushing of Gothenburg. All of this means we've got a 1.5 win lead over Paris both in the division and the wild card race.

Division:
1. Gothenburg 11-4
2. Maassluis 10-4-1
3. Paris 9-6
4. Bordeaux 4-11

Wild card race:
5. Maassluis 10-4-1
6. Orlando 10-5
7. Paris 9-6
8. San Antonio 8-5-2

Week 17: Paris at Maassluis, Bordeaux at Gothenburg.

It'll be too much wishful thinking to hope for seeing Bordeaux at Gothenburg, I think the odds of us losing at home against Paris are even higher. If that miracle happens, we'll leapfrog not just to the division title, but also to the second sees far behind the 14-1 Tucker Tigers. But never say never.


Moe Sheldon threw for 377 yards today, which was the third highest in his career and most in the orange-white-and-blue jersey and earned him offensive player of the week honors. Is the slightly reconstructed game plan starting to help his case? Although, having a defense that allows 185 total yards, 8 yards rushing on 8 attempts, that also helps. Theodore Bondy was old school with an 80-yard touchdown, but he still needs 72 yards to have a 1,000-yard season. His luck in that regard is that the #2 seed is on the line, otherwise he'd be sitting out week 17. In return, maybe this motivates him to play one more good game to close out the regular season?

Anyway, one more game before the playoffs. Let's get through that one first.
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Old 09-18-2020, 08:44 AM   #374
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: fifth best means a wild card
Yup, we won, but so did Gothenburg.

Division:
1. Gothenburg 12-4
2. Maassluis 11-4-1
3. Paris 9-7
4. Bordeaux 4-12

Playoffs order/wild card race:
1. Tucker 14-2
2. Gothenburg 12-4
3. Houston 10-6
4. Toronto 9-7
5. Maassluis 11-4-1
6. Orlando 11-5
7. Paris 9-7
8. Ft Wayne 9-7
9. San Antonio 8-6-2

So yes, we did beat Paris and it wasn't a close one either. We had a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter (twice Moe Sheldon to Theodore Bondy for a touchdown), and by the end of that, our lead was 20-0, with Paris missing a field goal after Moe Sheldon's only interception of the game. In fact, they needed a fumble from our side to set up for their second field goal attempt of the game, which resulted in their only 3 points for the day. Sheldon to Clarence Gore and a Reggie Thongchanh run yanked it up to 34-3.

I'm flabbergasted, we've held 4 of our last 6 opponents to a single field goal. Sure, playing those all at home helps, but the opposition wasn't cupcakes. All 4 teams went into week 17 fighting for a ticket to the playoffs (Houston got theirs, Paris wouldn't have made it with a win either, Moontown and Capital City both fell to Outer Banks' last second 55-yard field goal against Capital City).

Okay, let's do that small bit of individual glamour, I suspect some of the readers like it and many think it's part of football (news flash: this is a team sport, any yard gained or touchdown scored is the result of what the 11 players on the field did and what those 11 on the previous pay on the field did, and the 11 on the play before that, etc).

Moe Sheldon finished the season completing 58% of his passes for 3,839 yards (6.93 per attempt), 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. It was the first time he played (and started) in all 16 games for us. Francisco Farley completed 5 of 6 passes for 48 yards and a touchdown in garbage time (okay, Sheldon was actually driving for a one score behind touchdown, but he got pulled mid-drive) and finished the season with the highest passer rating in the league. Sample size, you know.

Reggie Thongchanh ran for 1,068 yards with a 4.6 average and 6 touchdowns, while Francisco Patter ran for 795 yards with a 4.91 average and 5 touchdowns. Patter recovered well after I benched him for a couple of games, but Trey Beyer showed he wasn't quite ready yet. So it goes. Patter exceeded his previous best yards per carry figure (it was 4.04), while Thong' was slightly below his best (4.67).

The receivers saw Theodore Bondy miss 4 games, but he still had 90 catches for 1,070 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tight end Clarence Gore had a slow start but finished the season with 70 catches for 857 yards and 6 touchdowns, which is basically on par with his rookie campaign. George Stuckey had just 45 catches for 590 yards and 6 touchdowns in his first season as the true WR2, which in fact is no longer true as from about midway through other teams were starting to consider him as our WR1 [FOF technically, you got to love a WR2 with higher route running than the WR1]. Branden Sandlin had 42 catches for 510 yards and 2 touchdowns, Rickey Lyle had 28 catches for 283 yards and 3 touchdowns (this kid did better than expected when he filled in for Bondy) and TE2 Clay Gaynor had 24 catches for 255 yards and 1 touchdown.

The offensive line struggled a bit with Moe Sheldon's troubles under pressure. RT Howard Humphrey got 'credit' for 11 sacks, but in return he excelled as our main run blocker with 53 key run blocks (second best in the league). An extraordinary figure for a tackle as (50+ is rare, since '71 he was the only OT to achieve it. This season he was bested by Douglas Grosz. Yes, that Douglas Grosz, that kid that we accidentally drafted instead of wide receiver Tristan Powell, traded to Oakland, where he had a sensational season with 54 key run blocks and just 2 sacks allowed. The rest of the line was above average in their stats. Clay Brosseau was obviously far and beyond the most prominent run blocking fullback.

Kicker Mark Giles missed a lot of kicks. I'm afraid switching to a new kick holder has had a negative impact, but we really couldn't afford Brandon Bell at his salary demands for just that role (despite that he can claim he was a serviceable QB2). Punter Doug Guynes might be on the decline, but we'll worry about that in the off-season. Our return specialists score no touchdowns. Rookie Mark Perkins' 15.4 yards per punt return were pretty good, with 3 fumbles, which is scary, but we know by now that fumbles on punt returns aren't rare. Santiago Messenger continues to be a decent kickoff returner (26.3 yards per return), but it was a bit of a down year for him.

The defense? What about the defense? I really struggle to see individual stats as a result of individual excellence, a lot of it is a result of playing a good system, manouvering players into a role that suits their skills. Our number of sacks was unacceptably low for the kind of talent that we have on the D-Line, we finished 26th in the league in sack percentage and 14th in overall pass rush pressure. DT Darien Fletcher lead the bunch with 5.0 sacks, good old A.J. Ritt lead the team in most total pass rush credits, tied with Fletcher for 22 sacks, blocks and hurries combined. Was Andy Russell that crucial to this unit? No player had more than 2 interceptions, we had 6 guys make that many. Four players had 10 or more passes defended, but our shutdown corner Jackie Richardson wasn't one of them, neither was elite zone defender Adam Harmon or our free safety Jon Brotzman. Linebacker Clayton Jackson was arguably the best asset in our pass defense, but as I mentioned before, defense is much more of a team effort than the stats on the offense for the skill players, who can still be a product of the system.

Enough glorification. The real season starts now. We'll be visiting the Toronto Lake Monsters. Their offense is lead by 7th season former #1 overall pick Shane Shelton, a kid that has struggled to live up to his potential, perhaps by a lack of sidekicks (the Lake Monsters traded away their one chance to make it happen in Bryson Zimmerman, a player that we missed out on a good trade offer back in his draft). Shelton does have a 2-1 record against us, let's not underestimate him. Their running game is above average, their run defense rock solid, their pass defense decent. We'll be down one player: TE2 Clay Gaynor, he's out for the duration of the playoffs with a concussion.

Not to be underestimated, but going one and done here would be a downright disappointment and in no way fit with the kind of season we've had, at least not the recent stretch of 6 games. Last season, Moe Sheldon and his gang showed they can up their game come playoffs time. Well, here's your chance to prove it wasn't a fluke, guys!
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Old 09-21-2020, 05:34 PM   #375
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The twist of turns
When things seem they can't get worse.

It wasn't even halfway through the second quarter and the game looked over. The hosting Toronto Monsters had just taken a 24-7 lead over us on a short dump pass for a touchdown. Much deserved as one of their safeties had just returned a picked off pass for 30 yards deep into the Merchantmen red zone. Moe Sheldon looked disoriented. On the previous drive he was sacked for the fifth time already, the drive prior to that one being the worst with back to back to back sacks. It was basically a miracle he was still able to stand.

A 20-yard pass to Branden Sandlin somewhat restored confidence in the passing game, while Francisco Patter and Reggie Thongchanh contributed with their typical useful runs. A 42-yard field goal wasn't all that great, but at least the deficit was back to within two touchdowns and a fine addition to the 53-yard pass from Sheldon to Theodore Bondy in the first quarter.

Then, after the defense made a good stand on the first drive of the second half, Moe Sheldon doubled his turnover figure with another interception. Toronto got the ball back at midfield, but couldn't turn it into points. Fair or not, the Merchantmen got break after break as penalties moved the ball upfield 28 yards after pass interference for 16 more yards, Sheldon had to throw for just 13 yards into the endzone to make it 24-17, and he did it into the hands of George Stuckey.

After another defensive stand, rookie Mark Perkins returned a punt for 19 yards and belief in a comeback was completely back. Sheldon found Theo for 20 yards on third and long and the football fans had to realize something unlikely was unfolding. Another third down conversion to the fourth string tight end Renaldo Crawford, a solid third down run by Francisco Patter and then a 6-yarder around the line to make it 24-24. And all that before the fourth quarter had begun.

Sheldon to Sandlin for 23 yards, Sheldon to Stuckey for 13 yards, Sheldon to Bondy for 7 yards on third and three, Sheldon to Bondy for 15 yards. Quarterback on a mission? Two plays later: blocking tight end Jeffery Blake was open in the end zone, Sheldon found him and after the extra point, the 31-24 lead was Maassluis'.

The Lake Monsters regrouped and drove down field, but having reached the red zone, the pressure was finally on, while running back Jon Bates dropped passes on third and fourth down. The Merchantmen scraped a bare minute off the clock, Toronto was pinned back at their own 17-yard line. A 36-yard pass sparkled hope for the fans, but more pass rush pressure from the Merchantmen defensive line disrupted the Lake Monsters' efforts. Time outs ran out, as did downs. Victory formation for the Merchantmen. The comeback was complete: from 24-7 down to a 31-24 victory!

What a jackle and hyde game. Sheldon was pressured in the first half, the defense had no answer. One drive (perhaps rightfully) was boosted by pass interference calls, Sheldon got hot, the pass rush pressure was up to our standards. And voila, we're winners?!

Sheldon completed 18 of 35 passes for 230 yards for 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He was sacked 5 times, all leading up to that 24-7 deficit. Theo was the leading receiver with just 5 catches for 113 yards, most prominently the 53-yard touchdown early in the game. Thong' ran wild again with 73 yards on 15 carries.


So, the season continues and it's brining us back to Gothenburg, home of the European division champions. Wait, we're not going to Tucker, the top seeds? Nope, the Orlando Talons, not so shockingly, won at the Houston Mustangs. Hence, the Southeast teams play head to head and the European teams play head to head. Unlike last season, when Orlando came to our house and Paris went to Tucker.

I want us to get back to where we were last season: in the conference final, but losing to any of the other teams remaining in the conference wouldn't be face losing, these are the four best teams in the AOC, I think it's fair to say the seven best teams all made it to the conference semi finals. Houston was probably eighth best and stuck in the strong conference, it happens.

Again, Gothenburg, on the road. We lost there 35-28 earlier this season, a weird game, without Theodore Bondy and with the replacement Rickey Lyle by far the most productive receiver of the day with 147 yards, still mind blowing stuff. Lyle will be active and with the kind of game the other receivers had today, well, it might be worthwhile to think again what the right group of the day should be. The Giants always have some trick, something up their sleeve to disrupt our offense. We have to do something to fend it off.

We're riding a hot hand though, we've won 7 straight. Second hottest team in the conference? Gothenburg with 5 straight wins. Their only loss at home this season, just like how it has been for us, was against the Tucker Tigers. Confidence should be sky high on both ends, perhaps recipe for another shootout? No idea, we'll find out tomorrow...
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Old 09-23-2020, 12:05 PM   #376
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Editor's note: it's an unusually busy week. I'll post an update, but probably no earlier than Friday. Those just interested in the scores will probably visit the IHOF site anyway, but I fully understand people come here specifically for the articles, not for the scoreboard journalism.
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Old 09-24-2020, 05:42 PM   #377
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: It wasn't meant to be
And that's okay...

It doesn't mean I'm not disappointed. Things didn't quite fall our way in Gothenburg. Some did, the defense picked off their quarterback Mercury Pierce's passes 3 times. Moe Sheldon didn't share in that kind of misery, but still completed only 12 of 35 passes for 141 yards. Our main receivers all shared in the misery: Bondy 5 catches on 13 targets, Gore 3 catches on 7 targets, Stuckey 1 catch on 5 targets. Giving up a 91-yard punt return surely didn't help either, because without a play like that, we might have played them closer than the 27-17 loss that we encountered.

But would have, could have and should have are only useful if you take the time to analyze what could be done to do better if you're in the same situation in the future. So, on to 2093. With one big hole on the roster: Moe Sheldon is out of contract. It's unlikely another team will want him, but Sheldon is going to demand starter money (rightfully so) and it's spotty if we can find that early enough in the off-season to make him an offer he can't refuse. Retirements might have a crucial part in this. We'll see what happens.
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Old 09-24-2020, 06:19 PM   #378
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Tomorrow? Tomorrow begins now.
With a familiar sight: a big over the cap figure.

2093, the off-season has begun and we're $56.45M over the cap. Projected we'll be $84.33M over the cap, but that's only logical. We're holding a quadruple of second round picks, which is a big factor in our $27.88M draft cost projection. It's actually not absurd, it's just barely over the league median of $21.62M. Where were the times a rookie wasn't getting a million on his first contract?

We're down one player: center Butch Pearson.
After 13 seasons of service, our 2080 first round pick has said goodbye to the IHOF. A backup as a rookie, then the starter for 10 seasons, then an injury plagued '91 season and finally last season fully back in action, after 177 regular season games and 13 playoffs games, most notably the 2085 and '91 AOC Championship games. As of today, he ranks 4th all-time amongst Merchantmen players in key run blocks. One active player (Howard Humphrey) is realistically on his tail, but it's safe to assume that a decade from now, he'll still be in the top6.

Not retired: Theodore Bondy and Kirk Hitchcock!
Bondy would have been a big hit to our offense, we're not quite ready for his replacement yet, as close as Rickey Lyle may try to think he is. We've got plenty of WR2 options, but nobody on our roster can replace Bondy, our all-time receiver by 2,998 yards now (although, I'm not sure I can rank him as our best receiver ever: J.R. Mills' 17.8 yards per catch are still third best all-time in 89 seasons of IHOF football, while Terry Haskell still has 4 touchdowns more than Theo). Still, he needs 304 receiving yards to jump into the all-time top10, while having improved to sixth in most receptions. Of course, we've thrown at him an absurd 44.1% of the time. Second highest for a player with, say, 50 or more games is 37.9% and that's for a couple of guys that are known for being thrown the ball all day long.

Hitchcock tied Peter Tucker in most interceptions for a Merchantmen player and was already far and beyond leading in passes defended (46 ahead of Tai Wayne, his 181 figure has brought him into the league's all-time top 10). But... We know Hitchcock's declining, even faster than Bondy is. He was still starting last season, but more decline would make it seriously a bad business decision to have him around at a $39.72M cap hit. Even $10M would be kind of insane, given what we're paying other players, but with a signing bonus hit of $18.63M, that's not quite possible). Bondy's cap figure is $79.68M, as special as he is, we really need to trim that by at least $30M to make it more up to his currently level (he's already accounting for $41.43M in signing bonus). Both are in the final year of contract, there's no room for creative contracts. They will each demand an unaffordable signing bonus. But these guys are legends, clear cut hall of famers. Do we have the guts to release them if we need to?


Cornerback Jackie Richardson will have to be willing to trim down on his cap figure as well. On the decline and now our second highest paid player. Can we still call this guy our shutdown corner, or has he turned into a CB2? And then there's our left tackle Nathan Hadinger, like Bondy and Hitchcock in the final year of contract, with a big cap hit in signing boni. Cap hell might be bigger than anticipated, but compared to the 2092 off-season mark being near $110M, this should be easy, right?
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Old 10-01-2020, 06:10 PM   #379
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: It's quiet in Maassluis
Calm before the storm?

Doubtful. Cap space is lacking, free agency is limited to a couple of restricted free agent signings. Cornerback Ted Frias found a new home. We made a triplet of trades with draft picks. Tomorrow we'll see which ten players will be our class of 2093.

And then the tough moment comes: how will we find the cap room to hire a quarterback? Moe Sheldon isn't getting any offers elsewhere, heck, it's unlikely any other team in the league will even come close to feeling like the man is worth the $111M over 3 years with a $34M bonus that he's demanding. Player agents simply have no frickin' clue what players actually are worth. Do we want him back? Sure. Do we have the cap space? Nothing remotely close to what his agent is demanding. Do we have a plan B? We have plan F: Francisco Farley.

The roster situation is 41 players signed, with 1 quarterback. But with 10 draft picks incoming, quarterback is quite simply the only position where we have a hole to fill.

It's not all there is to do, we've got a linebacker to re-sign as he's in his fourth year of the rookie contract. Brandon Brady, elite linebacker, asking for $63M/year over 5 years. Yes, I kid you not, this man wants about twice what our quarterback is demanding. You'd almost think he has the same insane player agent. The answer: he actually does.

Is there any cap room remaining? Well, theoretically there is. Our running backs and our fossil cornerback Kirk Hitchcock are still giving us some room to work with. Releasing Hitchcock would free up about $19M, which might be the money we'll need to bring back Sheldon or sign Brady longterm. But by the time we know Hitchcock is worth keeping, we'll be way past training camp and Sheldon will have forgotten all he ever learned in Maassluis, because that's what we do in the IHOF: a player that doesn't go to camp, is obliged to visit the league mandated brainwash studio and is forced to forgot he ever set foot in the training facilities of his latest team. I still remember the day our IHOF Bowl winning quarterback Alfred Hickman returned after just a year of absence and started reintroducing himself to all the defensive star players that made him an IHOF Bowl winner and spent 5 full seasons in the locker room with. The look on Shaun Hartman's face was telling: how can this guy have forgotten who we are?

Back to today. Is my spirit broken? Not quite, but the fire to go all out, it had to witstand an unexpected wave of emotions. Sometimes things that happen away from the turf make you pause and wonder: "how did that go so horribly bad, so completely opposite from what the intentions were?". As a result, I'm kind of going through the motions of the off-season, doing the same old: scraping for cap space and hoping to have a quarterback before training camp begins.

Or Plan F.
Brandon Bell retired at the start of this off-season, but Francisco Farley is a lock to make the team for the seventh straight season. Sometimes undrafted rookies last longer than first round picks that get the keys handed to them as a rookie. Farley's too young to know the song, but it makes you wonder, does he barely know the song and just have the chorus stuck in his head? "I gotta have faith, faith, faith..."
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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 10-02-2020, 11:28 AM   #380
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Class of '93, first look
WR, check! QB, check?

Going into the draft, we had a truckload of draft picks, with 4 picks in the second round. After some wheeling and dealing, we moved up in the first round, turned two second round picks into next season's draft second rounders and tripled up on sixth and seventh round picks. It's simply: it's the top three and then the other 7 guys. The score:
1.16 WR Ed Schulz
2.02 C Robbie Zinn
2.27 P Doug James
5.27 LT Byron Irvin
6.07 CB Bob Reese
6.22 TE Pat Kipps
6.27 DT Caleb Domis
7.16 QB Lorenzo Emerson
7.23 RB Benjamin Kapp
7.27 S Gabriel Cromer

Did we really need a new wide receiver? What about Rickey Lyle, George Stuckey, Branden Sandlin? Well, I think we do. Schulz looks like he could be the WR1 successor to Theodore Bondy. The staff was ecstatic, claiming Schulz to be very underrated. It was pointless to wait at the #27 overall and expect a kid like this to drop much further, once we got offered the #16, it was a trade I had to take. Harris Wilkerson has left the team as a free agent. He was a crucial member to our special teams unit, but it is what it is.

Robbie Zinn will step into the big hole on our offensive line, left behind by the retired Butch Pearson. Doug James will take over from Doug Guynes.

The other seven kids? It's up to them to prove they deserve a roster spot. With 51 players signed, they all have a shot at making the 53-roster, but it's not unusual for us to bring in a bunch of undrafted rookies that end up making that final list. There are some free agents that are still technically on roster until training camp begins, some are worth considering to re-sign. But, cap space is an issue, we're $5.9M over the cap right now, we need to clear that up before the camp, that's mandatory.

Moe Sheldon? Let's wait and see. His demands have somewhat gone down, but his agent still has an absurd number in his head. And we still are without any cap room to make him an even remotely fair offer...
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Old 10-02-2020, 02:54 PM   #381
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: How about those rookies?
Yeah, point taken.

My previous writing was kind of short. What makes this draft actually look so good? Well, first of all, it's just the day after the draft, it's obviously way too early to judge the se kids. But, our first and second round picks, I think they really count.

First, a punter, in the second round?
Yes. The 2.27 pick. I was willing to use the 2.2 pick on it. Is Doug James that good? I felt that his scouting report (without further interviewing) and combine numbers were very promising. Upon arrival, my staff is claiming this kid is the real deal, potentially the best punter in the league, already to be considered amongst the top five at his position. There really is only one downer: he's no excellent kick holder, he's only very good, we may need to keep a roster spot for that available.

What about that center?
Again, the staff is optimistic. Robbie Zinn didn't jump out as the next coming of Tom Anaya and Butch Pearson, but overall it was clear that he was the best prospect at his position and after extensive interviewing, the staff told me he's underrated. That sealed the deal, he was going to be our target for the 1.27 pick. Well, we moved up from that spot and had that 2.2 pick as a backup plan and Zinn fell just far enough to land in that spot. Upon arrival, the staff upheld it: Zinn in the bottom half of the top 10 centers. I'm not sure he's going to be the next coming of Anaya, but really, hall of famers don't come around every draft.

Enough about those support cast guys. Schulz, the new WR1?
Let's go back to the revelation of the draft class. After plugging all the assessments of all the rookies into a spreadsheet, a foursome of wide receivers jumped out. With one of them looking like the clear cut #1 overall pick, I sent my staff to interview the next three players. Ed Schulz ranked 133th by the league scout grades, but in our rating system he scored a 69 out of 100, second best behind that kid that indeed went #1 overall. The staff returned with positive news: Schulz is very underrated, reason enough to think this kid was by no means the 11th best wide receiver of this class, but truly top three. Then, as we had reached the middle of the first round, it wasn't me who made an offer to trade up, the Moontown Darksiders rang me, having shown interest in our surplus in second round picks and it was the call we were waiting for. We gave up the 2.15 pick and we'll never know what would have happened between picks #16 and #27 overall, but there's no point in second guessing this: we got him!

Some might say: Schulz, that kid resembles Stuckey. Well, if he does, it won't hurt us at all, would it? Stuckey is worthy being called a WR2. Stuckey has the route running skills to not just make the catch, but also draw the double coverage away from a kid like Schulz. And come to think Theodore Bondy will be on the team for another season to mentor Schulz. If the kid doesn't do anything crazy between the first two pre-season games, this kid could be the successor to the quartet of hall of famers and Theo.

Now, if only Moe Sheldon comes to his senses, realizing that he's been blessed with good receivers and cohesion in the past two seasons, maybe we'll allow him to tote it to Schulz. If not: well, Moe, there's always Plan F.


Wait, wait, what about the other rookies?
* QB Lorenzo Emerson can sense the rush, scored the mystery Solecismic Score of 28 (we now know his intelligence is slightly below average for a quarterback), has a strong arm and a good pair of legs.
* RB Benjamin Kapp has the hole recognition and breakaway speed combo we like and lacks elusiveness (which some claim to be positive), but albeit those being his strong points, it looks unlikely he'll break into the rotation, beating Trey Beyer for the third slot on the team looks unlikely. But maybe he's better than he looks now (he scored a 46% in our spreadsheet).
* TE Pat Kipps was the best at his position left on board based on our spreadsheet, scoring a 56%. Let's hope he's actually even better, because right now he's a kid that can't play special teams (d'oh, this is crucial for a TE3 on our team), but he's okay.
* LT Byron Irvin might be an okay pass blocker, some day. Maybe.
* DT Celeb Domis has a lot of potential (says the staff), but he's extremely green right now (also says the staff). Making the team only makes sense if we also re-sign A.J. Ritt to mentor him and which in effect would mean there's no roster spot available, unless we keep 9 defensive linemen, or have that 53rd roster spot available.
* CB Bob Reese was the best CB left and we'll likely need somebody to fill the vacancy of Ted Frias or Jessie McNeil.
* S Gabriel Cromer was on my radar already in the late second round as the 7th best safety in this class, but somehow he dropped all the way to the late seventh round. Do we need a new safety? Not really, but if this kid can bulk up, he'll have the potential to step in at some point, he's similar to Chuck Murray, with much better endurance. Well worth picking there.
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Old 10-05-2020, 03:36 PM   #382
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Moe Sheldon stays!
Well how about that!

So, playing game of chicken with a quarterback that no other team has any reasonable interest in can work? Maybe, maybe not. What was he asking again, $111M with a $34M bonus? His agent turns out to be not so stubborn at all [game technically, his agent scores 4/100 in stubbornness, are we onto something here?] and right before training camp, we offered him a $38M deal with a $16M bonus.

The signing of Sheldon has come with a price: the departure of two long-time secondary players.

I decided to release safety Riddick Newsome after 8 seasons worth of 100 regular season and 9 games in the playoffs. We signed him during the 2084 post-season and then he grew into his 4th year in IHOF into a starting role with us. Last side he spent entirely on inactive, such can be the life of a veteran long timer. I doubt he'll find a new home elsewhere, his special teams skills are pedestrian and the main reason why he lost the battle with the youngsters on the team.

Cornerback Jessie McNeil turned down serval lowball offers. Our 5th round pick in 2087 played in 92 games for us (5 of those in the playoffs) and with 3 pick sixes actually had quite the contribution last season, in limited action as our dimeback. We gambled on him to sign, but he didn't. He's good enough to play dimeback in this league, but somehow I suspect other teams will ignore him and force him into retirement after just 6 seasons, excluding this 7th season.

We did add up to exactly 60 players for training camp and pre-season. Six undrafted rookies and a veteran special teamer/wide receiver in Lamont Ramirez. The undrafted rookies are kick holder/emergency quarterback Jon Giles, special teamer/running back Darien Bettencourt, tight end/special teamer Ike Nixon and special teamers/linebackers Archie Pizir and Jose Meadows. Yeah, special teamers was the trend here.

Training camp results were a mixed bag, sort of. Rookie C Robbie Zinn stood out the most by making the most progress, shortly behind him rookie DT Caleb Domis. Also making good progress were rookie S Gabriel Cromer, third year LB Trenton Prescott and third year WR Rickey Lyle. Behind them were rookies WR Ed Schulz and DE Donald Wolfe, third year DE Trent Donovan and second year G Heath Gaylor.

Despite Schulz' unimpressive progress, we have every reason to think he's going to be our new star WR. If he survives the curiosity of pre-season partying...
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Old 10-07-2020, 06:32 PM   #383
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: That Anticipated Day You Know Every Pre-Season Comes
And it's usually a mixed bag.

Well, was it a mixed bag? Is Ed Schulz who we hope he is? Is Doug James the best punter in the league? Is Kirk Hitchcock still playable? Theodore Bondy? Moe Sheldon? The running backers Patter and Thong'? Who's the Clarence Gore of '93?

Let's go through this by position groups.

Quarterbacks
35/35 (-6) Moe Sheldon
25/25 (-8) Francisco Farley
10/25 (+3) Lorenzo Emerson (r)
10/30 (-2) Jon Giles (r)
Bad news as Sheldon made a step back. Plan F was looking over his shoulder, but took an even larger step back. Scrambling rookie Emerson was a bright spot, but kick holder Jon Giles is the sure thing to make the team. So, that raises the question: Plan F or the scrambler as our QB2? Emerson will be our second half of pre-season starter, this is his chance to unseat Plan F. (Spoiler: Plan F's cohesion and experience will mist likely beat Emerson for the QB2 role, but maybe, just maybe, we find room for 4 quarterbacks this season?)

Backfield
35/35 (-5) FB Clay Brosseau
45/45 (-10) Francisco Patter
40/40 (+1) Reggie Thongchanh
40/45 (+3) Trey Beyer
30/40 (+1) Benjamin Kapp (r)
20/25 (-2) Darien Bettencourt (r)
Thongchanh returns in shape. Patter looks regressed, but curiously his elusiveness was hit harder than his hole recognition, which hints to him becoming a more effective ball carrier. Beyer will continue to be the alternative for Thong' and Patter. Kapp looks decent, but with less speed and hole recognition, consequently means he won't make the team. Special teamer Bettencourt has a decent chance to make the 53-men list.

Tight ends
50/50 (n.c.) Clarence Gore
55/55 (n.c.) Clay Gaynor
20/20 (-7) Renaldo Crawford
25/35 (-3) Pat Kipps (r)
20/30 (n.c.) Ike Nixon (r)
Gaynor and Gore continue to be the passing downs guys, Gore the main receiver. Crawford regressed, but is still our best run blocker. Although my philosophy is to try to give youngsters 3 seasons to prove their value, Kipps is not going to beat Nixon for the fourth tight end spot, with special teams skills making the difference.

Wide receivers
60/60 (-2) Theodore Bondy
45/70 (+6) Ed Schulz (r)
45/45 (-1) George Stuckey
40/50 (n.c.) Rickey Lyle
40/40 (-1) Branden Sandlin
30/30 (-1) Santiago Messenger
25/25 (n.c.) Mark Perkins
25/25 (-5) Lamont Ramirez
A large group, lead by Bondy, soon to be lead by Schulz and with Stuckey troubled to hold onto that WR2 slot. It's going to be quite the decision here as we're clearly not going to play a lot of 3 WR, let alone 4 WR sets. Lyle and Sandlin continue to be useful players, with Lyle also our alternative to Messenger as the kickoff returner. Perkins is our punt returner. Ramirez was signed to be our new WR5 special teamer. But can we afford to bring 8 wide receivers into the new season?

Offensive line
50/50 (-7) LT Nathan Hadinger
60/60 (-3) LG Michael Scott
45/75 (+1) C Robbie Zinn (r)
40/40 (-4) RG Andre Watson
60/60 (-7) RT Howard Humphrey
40/45 (+1) G Hayden Gaylor
25/35 (-5) C Lewis Azzolini
20/30 (-3) Byron Irvin (r)
The starters are set in stone, no doubt. Zinn continues to look better and better, albeit endurance being a bit of a concern. The guys around him are getting older and older. Gaylor is our OL6, Azzolini and Irvin may seem safe, but I won't guarantee them a 53-men roster spot just yet.

Defensive Line
60/60 (+2) DT Darien Fletcher
55/55 (n.c.) DT Jumbo Mojica
50/50 (n.c.) DE Gen Kondovski
45/45 (+1) DE Archie Exner
30/30 (n.c.) DE Tony Whiting
30/30 (+1) DT A.J. Ritt
30/30 (n.c.) DT Kurt Ackerman
25/40 (n.c.) DT Caleb Domis (r)
35/35 (n.c.) DE Trent Donovan
20/30 (-1) DE Donald Wolfe (r)
Changes will likely be marginal. Fletcher and Mojica will be our inside guys, playing roughly 75% to 80% of the downs. Kondovski, Exner and Whiting will be in the rotation on the outside. Ritt and Ackerman on the rotation as the tackle alternates and possibly as the fourth outside rusher. We will bring at least 8 guys into the regular season, Domis looks like a safe bet, but Donovan has been patient and looks ready to shine. Wolfe is promising, he really is, but the math of roster spots doesn't add up.

Linebackers
70/70 (-1) Brandon Brady
55/55 (n.c.) Daquan Espino
50/50 (n.c.) Clayton Jackson
30/30 (-10) Brant Rayburn
25/30 (+2) Jose Meadows (r)
25/30 (n.c.) Trenton Prescott
20/35 (-3) Archie Pizir (r)
10/10 (-7) Alexc Palmer
Three legitimate linebackers and five special teamers, that's what we have here. Three of those last five will make our roster, but it's almost like flipping a coin or playing bingo. Brady is out of contract after this upcoming season and it starts to look like the cap space to make him a half-decent offer this pre-season to lock him up, it looks impossible. We'll have to get our pocket ready for the next off-season... Jackson is the pass defender, Espino the third linebacker in 7 or 8 up front formations.

Secondary
65/65 (n.c.) S Devon Farrell
55/55 (-10) CB Jackie Richardson
40/40 (-10) CB Kirk Hitchcock
40/40 (+1) CB Adam Harmon
40/40 (n.c.) S Chuck Murray
30/30 (n.c) S Jon Brotzman
20/40 (-1) S Gabriel Cromer (r)
20/25 (-5) CB Bob Reese (r)
This unit is fading away. Clearly no longer the cream of the crop in the league that it was just 2 seasons ago. We lost Frias (traded), McNeil (didn't re-sign) and Newsome (who spent all of '92 on inactive), all three would have upgraded this unit. This group is good, but just that: good. We'll keep our eyes open for new guys, keeping in mind that cap space isn't available to bring in an expensive veteran. Hitchcock can't play man-to-man anymore, it's a pain to the eye to see how only rookie Cromer is worse in that area. He's not useless, but it's surely silly to have this guy signed for $33.8M of cap space. Of course, he's on a minimum salary, which means releasing him won't make the cap hit go away. The players on the open market won't be a better fit on the team than Hitchcock, despite all that we can say about him. Richardson's decline is troublesome as well. Still a starter, no doubts about that, but not an elite shutdown corner anymore. Farrell will have to step it up and carry this team, with Harmon our new CB2, Murray and Brotzman the alternative side kicks to Farrell and Cromer looking promising. Reese is not good enough, regardless of the need to bring 8 guys into the season.

Special Teamers
75/90 (+3) P Doug James (r)
70/70 (-2) K Mark Giles
20/20 (n.c.) LS Bryce Karney
Giles is ok, in the final year of contract and I'm expecting to not offer him a new deal, making him a free agent next off-season. James looks to be the real deal, looking more promising by the day. Karney is getting older, but continues to be a top5 long snapper in the league.

In short:
Offense, mixed bag
defense, not so great
special teams, one of the best out there

That's all there is to say, for now.

Well, almost. We won our first two pre-season games: 22-7 at Hanalei and 23-10 against Arizona in Oranje Haven. In both games we won the turnover battle, dominated field position and had a dreadful passing game with okay running game in support. George Stuckey had 1 catch on 11 targets, while Ed Schulz lead the team with 9 catches (on 14 targets) for 90 yards.

Some bright spots, but such a mixed bag that it could be a long season, but that can be taken both ways: we'll get deep into the playoffs or meaning that we'll be struggling very hard. I can only hope our superior cohesion and special teams unit can make a difference.
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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 10-09-2020, 03:14 PM   #384
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The jinx is on
And the roster is almost set.

An urban myth in IHOF is the idea that winning all four pre-season games is the ultimate jinx to have an unsuccessful regular season. Well, bring it, because we went through the pre-season with the perfect record.

Rookie seventh round pick Lorenzo Emerson guided us to a 41-3 victory over the Colorado Cutthroats and a 30-17 victory at the Iowa Cobbers. The kid completed 29 of 46 passes for 348 yards, 5 touchdowns and went through it without interception. Can we really cut his ass to trim down to the 53-men roster? Plan F completed 7 of 19 for 69 yards and 1 touchdown. Maybe Francisco Farley finally made a strong case for not making the team?

An undrafted rookie cornerback named Britt Hudson has joined our team and got his first action on special teams in the last two pre-season games. He looks more promising than 6th round pick Bob Reese, who left the building before Hudson joined it. With Reese, fellow rookies RB Kapp, TE Kipps, DE Wolfe and LB Pizir didn't make it to the second couple of pre-season games. The same applies to Trenton Prescott, after spending 2 seasons on our roster as an inactive backup (aside from 1 game in 2091 where he was on the field for 1 special teams play).

So, if you did the math right, you've noticed we're two cuts short of announcing our 53-men roster. Position groups with more bodies than needed: we have 4 quarterback, 8 wide receivers and 9 defensive linemen.

One more puzzle: I still want to lock up Brandon Brady, our star linebacker. He wants quarterback money, I think he's worth it, but the puzzle part is finding the right combination of bonus money and salaries that would please him and fit under our current cap situation. The alternative thing to do is hope we can win the bidding war next off-season and instead lock up some other defensive starters (DT Ackerman, S Murray, S Brotzman). I'm going to make up my mind on this and see where it'll bring us. Achieving both looks utopian, locking up Brady looks like that either way though. And after those contract talks, it's on to preparation for week 1 of 2093, which we'll kick off in Bordeaux.

Pre-season means nothing. Usually, most of the time. We outscored our opponents 116-37, scoring at least 22 each game and allowing 17 at most. About that 4-0 jinx, it's on. Well, is it really? Last time we went 4-0 in pre-season was in 2085, eventually we lost in the conference championship game. Before that? Conference championship loss in 2078. Before that? Conference semifinals in 2065. Before that? 15-1 regular season, but followed by the most shocking one-and-done in league history in 2059. But good seasons they all were. Let's build on that.
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 10-10-2020, 08:20 PM   #385
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Plan F, no more..
Two players didn't make the cut: Ramirez and Farley.

Wide receiver Lamont Ramirez' release should have been unsurprising. Despite that he was our second best special teamer in the wide receivers group, even after showing up horribly out of shape after our first pre-season game, it was pointless to hold on to him. It means he leaves us after one training camp and two pre-season games.

Quarterback Francisco Farley's departure is a much bigger story. An undrafted rookie signing in 2087, he rode the bench behind Ellis McAlister. After we separated ways with McAlister, Moe Sheldon was signed in the 2088 off-season and Farley become our opening day starter. It didn't last long, we gave him just 3 starts and then Sheldon took over. In 2089 Brandon Bell was our first round pick and Farley dropped to third in line. In 2091, Farley got to start in week 17 as we had locked up the #2 seed in the playoffs. Last season he returned to second string after the release of Bell, but sitting behind the undisputed Sheldon. This off-season, contract talks with Sheldon went through to the 11th hour, as he was signed just before training camp, with Farley until then penciled in as the 2093 starter. But after the first pre-season game, Farley seemingly turned from questionable QB2 material into a barely useful QB3. With the emergence of rookie seventh round pick Lorenzo Emerson, Farley's horrible pre-season stats were reason enough to release him. It ends Farley's stint with the Merchantmen after 6 seasons, 18 games played, 4 starts, completing 50% of his passes for 594 yards, 4 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, with an 0-4 record as a starter. That's how quickly life can change: from starter just before camp to probably not making an IHOF roster for opening day 2093.

A positive effect of these releases was opening up about $1.6M of cape space, but it proved to be way short of what the crazy player agent of Brandon Brady is demanding. He wants quarterback money, we offered it to him: $210M over 5 years, with a $48M signing bonus. Maybe his agent is still pissed about the offer we gave to his other client Moe Sheldon, but we have a track record of loyalty to star players. Well, at least those that are exceptionally talented (Theodore Bondy, Kirk Hitchcock), we try really hard to keep them.

Although, especially at linebacker, we've sacrificed several all-IHOF caliber stars in the past decade or two (Gabe Hamilton, Antonio Battle, Glenn Brewer, Craig McCorkle). Maybe they do have an argument. But a signing bonus of $48M over 5 years means cutting him next off-season will put us at a dead cap hit of roughly $39M, which would be almost pointless when a cap out offer will be better for the cap situation and will result in another $37M signing bonus for Brady. And that should escalade into another $37M signing bonus in 2095, when another cap out is a likely possibility. It's reasonable to assume that Brady hereby has turned down $130M of guaranteed money.

But it is what it is, Brady's agent wants him to go to the open market. We have about 28 hours to make him one final offer he can't refuse, but it may be wiser to use the $6M unused cap space on three other starters soon to become a free agent. Or maybe that underperforming kicker Mark Giles' agent will get a phone call. For now, I'll sleep on that decision.

Will we make any other changes to the 53-men roster before opening day? There's at least one quarterback out there who should be an upgrade over Sheldon. There's a running back that we cut after camp 2092, was a starter elsewhere in the league and is still a kid we could use in a rotation. And there are some guys out there who would be an upgrade to our special teams unit. So, never say never, despite that it's extremely unlikely...
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Old 10-13-2020, 06:00 PM   #386
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Calm before the storm?
It's oh so quiet, it's oh so still...

Well, is it, really? Away from the football field, it's hectic, but on the field, it's not silent as well. The Maassluis Merchantmen are 2 games into the 2093 season and, lo and behold, we're undefeated untied division leaders. on the other hand, it's just 2 games, what's that really worth?

We kicked off at and kicked a lot against Bordeaux. Mark Giles converted 4 field goals, scoring the lionshare of points in our 19-10 victory at the Vineyards. Moe Sheldon struggled (16/33 for 142 yards, 2 interceptions), but the running tandem Patter (93 yards, 1 td) and Thong' (102 yards) made the offense look much less pale. We lost rookie wideout Ed Schulz to a concussion during the game. But the cream of the team was our pass defense, holding the Vineyards' wonderkid Walt Czech to 95 yards passing on 28 attempts. How about that?

Our home game against the Frederick Red Menace was quite the opposite in production. Previous time we played a then rookie 1.1 pick Angel Henson, our 1.13 rookie Brandon Bell came out of that game victorious. Today, Bell has retired from football, while Henson is still throwing the ball 60 times per game. This time in Oranje Have it was 66 attempts, completing half of them for 422 yards and a score. Our response was to lean heavily on 4 big plays for a touchdown. Moe Sheldon found Theo for 44 yards and Clarence Gore for 46 yards, while Francisco Patter broke out for 64-yard and 52-yard touchdown runs. All that en route to a 31-16 victory.

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

Yeah, all's right with the world when you see the standings like this. Albeit, Bordeaux looks ready to break out sooner or later.

Our star linebacker Brandon Brady is going to be a free agent next off-season. I went against a final bid for him and instead decided to lock up our free safety tandem Jon Brotzman and Chuck Murray, and change of pace defensive tackle Kurt Ackerman. Brady's contract will be of the $250M over 5 years kind, that looks like it's unavoidable. The good news: we might actually have the cap space for him at that point in time.

Otherwise, it's becoming survival of the fittest. These are weird times away from the football field, we'll move on and hope for the best. I'll try to find the energy to share the stories, perhaps can continue to make telling about the Merchantmen a way to forget about it. But when the wrong distractions keep coming back and the good ones are locked out, it won't just be a physical battle, it will also become a mental survival of the fittest. And that's what we're good at here in Oranje Haven. Keep on dreaming and believing that "good things will come" indeed.
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Old 10-15-2020, 05:04 PM   #387
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 3 and O after 4
Yup, early bye week, again.

It's a tradition for us to have our bye week early. Twice per three seasons, we have our bye in week 4, once we have it in week 5. That's the faith of a generic schedule.

Week 3 was a pleasant surprise with a hard fought 20-17 victory over the Fort Wayne Fury. We struggled at times (Moe Sheldon threw for 209 yards, 1 score, 1 pick, 1 lost fumble), broke out sporadically (Francisco Patter ran for 61 yards and a score on just 10 carries) and had one defensive player peak above the rest of his unit (Devon Farrell made a pick, recovered a fumble and defended 3 passes). A quick 17-3 lead eventually was crucial to fend them off, although not giving up a touchdown in the 58th minute of regulation surely also lead to that.

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

We're one of five remaining unbeaten teams, with three of them a game ahead us with a 4-0 record (Chesapeake and Hanalei in the NAC, Tucker in the AOC). That fifth team is the 3-0 North Plainfield Plague, our next opponents at their place. It will feature the #1 running game (ours) against the 27th best run defense (theirs), their 26th ranked running game against our #5 ranked run defense, with mediocre passing games and defenses. An area of improvement for us is our red zone offense, with 12 points out of 5 visits. Reason enough to look a bit at our game plan for this game.

All that aside, 3 games is just such a small sample size. Francisco Patter has an obnoxious yards per carry figure of 8.97, that's just text book example of an outlier. Although we hope he can keep it up, finish top 3 in rushing yards with just 11 carries for 99 yards per game. Combined with Thongchanh getting 18 carries for 74 yards per game. Yeah, that's just silliness.

But beating the Plague wouldn't be silly, we know we can do it. Make it happen, team. Go Merchantmen!
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Old 10-16-2020, 07:46 PM   #388
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Battle of the unbeatens
And we won!

In what turned out to be a turnover fest, gracefully won by our defense, we posted a sound 24-10 victory at the North Plainfield Plague. Moe Sheldon had another so-so game, completing 17 of 36 passes for 246 yards, 2 scores, 1 pick and another fumble (where Howard Humphrey came to the rescue). Theo caught just 4 of 13 targets for 70 yards, while rookie Ed Schulz had 5 catches for 75 yards, his first productive game in his 3-game career so far. Our running backs combined for 106 yards on 26 carries. Francisco Patter saw his ypc drop to 8.02.

But 3 interceptions and 2 recovered fumbles by the defense made quite the difference. Jackie Richardson lead the way with 2 picks. Awkwardly, we've won four and in one of them an offensive player from our team won player of the game. Kicker Mark Giles was first, Frederick's quarterback Angel Henson got it in week 2, despite getting beaten hard, safety Devon Farrell was on the job in week 3 and today defensive end Tony Whiting made 2.0 sacks to earn the honors.

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

Wait, what? Yup, the Giants have dropped to 1-4. Let's be fair, they played 4 games on the road to start the season, won in Paris and then lost at 5-0 Chesapeake, 4-1 Tucker, helped Harlem to their only victory so far and last at home against 4-1 Toronto. Their schedule has been brutal, aside from that trap game in Harlem.

All of the results so far put us at the top of the conference as the only unbeaten team, but we did play one game less than the other division leaders. In the other conference, aforementioned Chitterlings are still without a loss, but a battle of last man standing sounds extremely unlikely as we face them in week 14 in Oranje Haven. We'd have to combine for 15-0 in the next 8 weeks to make it a battle of two 12-0 teams. Let's be realistic, that won't happen, right?

Let's get back to one game at a time. Our next stop will be a home game, hosting the Razorbacks from Rochester. After two close losses, they've won the last three straight, also with one score difference. So far their pass defense has been their asset, as has been a strong point of our team. Their red zone defense has been second best to ours, so brace yourself for another defensive battle. Our superior special teams unit might be key to win the field position battle in what could turn out to be a kicking fest. Mark Giles is in a contract year, free agent next off-season, that should motivate him to wow the league and prove that not locking him up was a mistake. Well, if it comes to it, do it, although I'm obviously hoping we can post a 34-10 or so victory. But in this day and age, with this quarterback, we have to take any win we can get. It might be a good idea to look over our game plan another time or two to tailor it a bit more towards Sheldon's non-weaknesses. Or just run the ball a little bit more even. We are the #1 running team still...
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Old 10-20-2020, 02:13 PM   #389
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: And then the wheels start falling off
One win, two losses.
And a potential career destroying injury.

That's what we had to face in the last three weeks. RT Howard Humphrey will, most likely, be out for the remainder of this season. That's a monumental blow to our running game, and to his knee. Get well soon.

We lost 27-20 at home against Rochester, beat Toronto 20-13 in our place and today had a 31-9 meltdown in Paris. The latter also meant we lost the division lead on head-to-head tie-breakers.

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

I'm puzzled about our sudden meltdown. It wasn't just in Paris today, but our running game was missing in action against Toronto as well. Before these three games, I was hopeful we'd finally put down a longer stretch, but Moe Sheldon throwing 4 picks, it just didn't make sense. It is what it is. Maybe it's better to see him throw them all in one single game? We'll continue our season with a typical trap game at the Harlem Apollos (1-6), hopefully we can regroup, but losing our main run blocker is going to be a huge problem in our smashmouth offense. At the same time, we basically have the personnel to throw it a lot, why not try that approach?

We'll see. One game at a time. Harlem up next. Please team, don't do what we've done before: piss away our season against a team that is struggling.
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Old 10-25-2020, 02:18 PM   #390
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We're falling...
And rising.

2093 is a weid season. At least for the Maassluis Merchantmen. We had a dreadful series of games that saw us trip 14-13 over the Harlem Apollos, fall for the silliness of a 17-17 tie at home against Bordeaux and then a hard fought, yet season determining 26-20 loss at home against Gothenburg. A defense and special teams supported 16-7 win in Brooklyn turned the tide and against all odds, we're back where we belong: at the top of the division.

Europe:
1. Maassluis 6-4-1
2. Gothenburg 6-5
3. Paris 6-5
4. Bordeaux 3-7-1

The division lead is as slim as can be, if not for a tied situation with better tie-breakers, but as Gothenburg has already claimed tie-breakers long before the week 17 clash in their place, we'll have to maintain that 1/2 win lead.

Despite the disappoint results, it wasn't all the struggling Moe Sheldon. He threw for 813 yards, 5 touchdowns and 1 interception in the last 4 games, but also doubled his fumbles from 4 to 8 in that span.

Theodore Bondy had two 100-yard, 2-touchdown games, neither resulting in a win. Rookie Ed Schulz got shut out in Brooklyn with 0 catches on 3 targets, George Stuckey wasn't even targeted in that game. Yeah, I have no idea how and why, Stuckey had 11 targets against Bordeaux in basically the same game plan on offense. Tight end Clarence Gore is struggling a bit, with 27 catches and 332 yards he's by no means in a position to get to 800 yards and 6 touchdowns for the third year in his career.

Our running game has been undefinable. It's either hot or cold, nothing in between. Francisco Patter is still averaging 5.0 per carry, but Reggie Thongchanh's season is turning into a career low with 3.29 yards per carry. Losing Howard Humphrey for the rest of the regular season and most likely the entire playoffs, that's a serious blow to the running game. Guard Andre Watson is a fine run blocker, but he's no Humphrey. And second-year pro Hayden Gaylor is doing the best he can, but he's clearly the weak spot on our line now.

Rookie punter Doug James is ripe for a jinx. The kid is leading the league with most inside 20's, despite that we're in the middle of the pack un number of punts. Mark Giles appears to have a breakout season as our kicker, currently leading with the longest converted kick for 56 yards.

Individual numbers on defense are pretty much silly to point out. We all know that defense is more team effort than anything else. But let's at least mention that Kirk Hitchcock has yet to make that 46th interception to separate himself from Peter Tucker as the all-time franchise leader. He's still 3 defended passes away from tying Ben Greer at 6th place in league history and will need another 4 to catch the fourth and fifth place guys.

All in all, overall we're just playing like one of the hardest to pinpoint teams. We're third in least points allowed, firmly in the top4 in that statistic. Yards per game allowed is always much higher, as our special teams unit is fully capable of making opponents need to gain 5 to 10 yards more per drive, which actually should result in about 40 yards more allowed in even games. We're gaining 323 yards per game versus allowing 344 yards, so despite the -21, it's a good example why we're actually better than the opponents.

For now, as the last 5 regular season games are brutal. We face 8-3 Orlando in their place first, then host 8-3 Chesapeake and 6-5 Paris. The last two games we'll visit 4-7 Williamsburg (they're better than their record!) and finish the regular season at 6-5 Gothenburg.

Well, we're up to the challenge. If we think we're playoffs material, we'll have to come out of that stretch with a 3-2 record. That might not be enough even, unless we sweep Paris and Gothenburg, but that's where we stand. Solecismic's playoffs probabilities even has us at 1 in 500 odds to become the #1 seeds and about 16 in 25 to miss the playoffs. Let's defy the odds, beginning with an upset victory in Orlando. We can do this, team!
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Old 10-31-2020, 01:44 PM   #391
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: How the tides can change
From a 4-0 start to third place with a losing record.

Let's start with the key numbers first:
2093 final division standings:
1. Gothenburg 10-6
2. Paris 8-8
3. Maassluis 7-8-1
4. Bordeaux 4-11-1

Granted, the back end of the season was slightly harder, but I think the loss of our All-IHOF caliber right tackle Howard Humphrey was an underestimated big hit to our offense. It appears to have decimated our running game from being top5 caliber to finishing the season with a middle of the pack 119 yards per game and 4 yards per carry. Given the good start, it means we were below average in that area in the second half of the season. That's bad news for an offense that relies on the running game being solid enough to keep the opponent guessing.

At the same time, it forced the passing game to up their production and it showed in the yards per catch department. It forced the living legend Theodore Bondy into a productive season with 100 catches for 1,474 yards and 10 touchdowns. His yardage figure was better than any of the previous 5 seasons. This man isn't ready for retirement at all, is he? Bondy's presence also meant rookie Ed Schulz didn't have a breakout season like many of his predecessors did, finishing the season with 56 catches for 772 yards and 5 touchdowns. Not bad, but not quite the 1,000-yard season we're used to see from promising rookie wide receivers.

Moe Sheldon finished the season with 16 starts, I saw no reason to demote him, but, frankly, we had no real backup to begin with. I considered the signing of the top free agent, but never made a contract offer. Sheldon finishes the season with a career low 52.8 completion percentage, throwing for 3,601 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His 12 fumbles were a career worst, another reason to seriously look into replacing him next season.

On the other end of the ball, our defense was underwhelming. Expecting this unit to be above average, our performance was below average. We gave up 250 yards passing with a 6.4 yards per attempt, both middle of the pack numbers, 117 yards rushing and 4.4 yards per carry, both slightly worse than average. Our should be very solid pass rush was downright disappointing, finishing at a mediocre 21.8 pass rush percentage with a far below average 4.5 sack percentage. Unacceptable from these players. Unacceptable.

Our elite special teams unit was good, but not outstanding and eventually didn't make enough of a difference to have a winning season. That doesn't apply to rookie punter Doug James, who lead the league with 50 inside 20's. That number should be put into the perspective of other numbers, as it meant 50 of 105 punts landed there, the third highest average in the league. Chances are he'll get the honors for it. But is it really a surprise when the most talented punter in the league plays like the best punter in the league?

We finished the season with a -26 points margin, that makes this rank as our 12th worst season all-time. It makes you wonder why we even thought for a little bit that we were playoffs material. That differential was boosted by 3 big losses: the 31-9 non-sense in Paris, a much deserved 45-14 beatdown in Orlando and a 41-23 loss in Gothenburg, a game that really didn't matter much anymore.

And that loss wrapped up the 2093 season for us, the 90th season in the IHOF. On to the off-season of 2094 and the near future.

I see three areas of attention: the quarterback situation, the aging offensive line and the cornerback situation. Realistically, all those areas can be addressed in one off-season and if successful, we'll be back in action, right? Our cap situation is healthy, our draft picks situation shows two additional second round picks in the top half of that round. But that also implies that we'll find a way to keep Brandon Brady, the star linebacker that will be a free agent in the next off-season. That will be the biggest obstacle to take, because if he leaves us, we'll have another big hole to fill.

And hopefully I'll be able to write a bit more next season as it's been quite quiet.

2094, here we come!
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Old 10-31-2020, 03:25 PM   #392
QuikSand
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
disappointing back half of the season... it happens, for sure

you'll be back in it!
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Old 11-01-2020, 01:46 PM   #393
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The living legends Bondy and Hitchcock
So, hoping these guy will determine that 2093 wasn't a farewell song but a reason to continue playing this game, let's take a look at where the living legends Theodore Bondy and Kirk Hitchcock sit now on the all-time lists.


This season, Theodore Bondy joined the 1,500-catches club (he's up to 1,558 now), becoming the 5th member in IHOF history to get there. He ranks 4th and if he sticks around for one more season, will need 26 catches to tie for 3rd place. The top2 are out of reach, unless Bondy plays for two more 100-catch seasons. Bondy jumped up to 7th in all-time receiving yards, reaching 19,473 yards. Another season for 527 yards would make him the 7th member of the league's 20K club.

Bondy ranks 3rd all-time in most targets (he has 2,758 so far). Playing in the era of several highly targeted players (the top 4 all played the majority of their career in the '80s), it's somewhat remarkable that Bondy has achieved this on an offense that hasn't been all-pass, unlike his competition. The all-time leader is also still active, Frederick Red Menace's Christian James is seasons ahead of second place with 3,169 targets. A big reason for Bondy's figures is that when we're passing, 43.5 percent of the time the ball has been thrown into Bondy's direction. A figure that has been unprecedented, aforementioned James is on pace with the current retired record holder at 37.9.percent.

All in all, Bondy is 34 years old. Of those guys ahead of him, all retired after their 34th birthday, in ancient times Kenny Delgado retired after 17 seasons at the age of 39. With 12 seasons under his belt, Surely he has more gas left in the tank, no?

For the franchise records, it's all Bondy now. His 10 touchdowns this season made him reach 133 (both receiving and total) and jump ahead of Terry Haskell's figures of 127 receiving and 128 total.


Kirk Hitchcock became the all-time Merchantmen leader in interceptions, making his 46th in week 16 at the Williamsburg Colonials, and also returning it for his 9th touchdown, which ties the class of '64 legend Peter Tucker's record. With 4 defended passes this season, he didn't have much to show for his action this season, but it improved his already legendary figures in Maassluis, improving to 50 ahead of the ancient record holder Taj Wayne. His 185 defended passes make him improve from 10th to 7th all-time, still a threesome behind Ben Greer.


The change of guard though, it's coming. Bondy knows Ed Schulz and George Stuckey are ready to be the new WR duo, with tight end Clarence Gore the leader of the gang. Rickey Lyle and tight end Clay Gaynor make this a talented group. Hitchcock's position was already questionable, but Adam Harmon realistically is a nickelback, one of the best in the game maybe, but he's no shutdown corner. And Jackie Richardson no longer is that either. Bondy has a future, Hitchcock though, he might be nothing more than a special teamer next season. If they stick around, because retirement is quite possible for the second and third oldest players.

The oldest guy? Moe Sheldon. Yes. The change of guard isn't far away.
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Old 11-05-2020, 02:50 PM   #394
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Hadinger, Hitchcock and Ritt retire...
But Theo returns. How about that!

Nathan Hadinger, left tackle
back in 2083, Hadinger was our second round pick in the draft. After sitting out the rookie season, the 6'5" 319 pounds pass blocker became our anchorman left tackle in 2084. In 10 seasons as a starter, he played (and started) in 153 regular season games, made 156 key run blocks (three times 20+) and allowed 37 sacks in 5,389 pass plays, a very good number for a left tackle. He played in 8 playoffs games, including the lost 2091 AOC Championship games, but sadly missed the 2085 AOC Championship game with injury. A lingering what if forever remains...

Kirk Hitchcock, cornerback
Our #11 overall pick in the 2081 draft looks like he's a lock to become a Hall of Fame member. As a rookie, we already threw him out there as a starter and he maintained a starting role for his entire 13-season career. In 204 regular season games, he became the all-time Merchantmen leader with 46 interceptions and tied for first in most returned for a touchdown. He played in 13 playoffs games, most notable the 2085 and 2091 AOC Championship games.

A.J. Ritt, defensive tackle
A slow starter, this 6th round pick from the 2084 draft didn't play in the first half of his rookie season and sat out the entire 2085 season. But from 2086 and on wards, the pass rush specialist was thrown into the rotation. His overall activity fluctuated, but he didn't miss a game until his final season. Ritt was mostly a change of pace tackle, jumping in on mostly passing downs. His activity ended after 136 regular season and 8 playoffs games.


The result of these retirements is that we're going into the off-season with 43 players signed and an overwhelming cap space of $51 million.

A grand majority of that will have to be reserved for Brandon Brady, if we play to retain him, because his initial demands are the largest in the league by a wide margin: $204 million over 5 years. Next highest? $146 million over 5 for a left tackle. Highest per season? A quarterback asking for a one-year $44 million contract. Indeed, Brady's lunatic of a player agent wants quarterback money for his client.

The retirement of Hadinger creates a new issue for the off-season, we'll need to find a new left tackle. No easy task, really. Our livid 5th round pick from last season, Byron Irvin probably thinks he's the guy to throw in the starting line up. Yeah, I think not letting you take on Howard Humphrey's role for injury replacement should be a sign we're not so confident. But Irvin could be an okay backup left tackle. Some day. Maybe.

The departure of Hitchcock was expected. The snowballing of signing boni had been a cap problem for us, he wasn't releasable, but at the same time a so-so option in his last two seasons. Don't get me wrong, the only cornerback we ever had that can claim he's on par or better was Peter Tucker, one the class of '64 guys. Good times...

Ritt's departure was no surprise either and we already have his replacement on roster in Caleb Domis. Ritt mentored him last season.

Last, but not least, although I feared for him, Theodore Bondy apparently has no intentions to quit the game just yet. The quest for 20K triggered him? It will become tricky to keep on throwing him the ball all game long though, Ed Schulz is ready to take over. And we still need to find a guy to thrown them the four letter word ball. 537 yards receiving, it's no piece of cake, but this is Theo. He'll manage.

And so will we. We drop hard, then regroup and come back stronger than ever. Merchantmen, let's make this 91st season if the IHOF one of our best!
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Old 11-05-2020, 04:21 PM   #395
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager notes: and also leaving the game...
You know me, sentimental about backups and journeymen like...

Jessie McNeil, cornerback
In the encyclopedia under the term nickelback, there's a picture of a 5'10" cornerback from Collierville, Tennessee. Prior to the 2092 versions that is, the picture was replaced by one of Adam Harmon. McNeil joined in the fine tradition of 5th round picks selected by the Merchantmen in 2087 and immediately burst into the scene as a dime back. In 2088 the promotion to nickel back was made. But then 2092 rolled around and the kid that McNeil had been teaching to play ball, took over his role. Come training camp 2093 wasn't even a roster spot made available after McNeil upped his demands. No other team called, free agency for a full season was his step up to retirement. McNeil did kind of leave on a high note, making a 75-yard pick six in his last game at the Gothenburg Giants in the 2092 playoffs. He had a couple of those in the regular season as well, making it 3 on 73 pass plays in action all season.

Francisco "Plan F" Farley, quarterback
Once there was the 2087 draft and a guy with double F's didn't get selected. Bur shortly after the draft, team with an alliterative name as well decided to give the kid a chance. After season on the bench, the 2088 season came and out of the blue, the undrafted free agent from a season earlier was thrown into the starting lineup. After three lost games, twice held under 100 yards and the third game tossing 4 interceptions, the dream was over. Some garbage time came later on, but the return to action was in 2091. With a bye locked up, Plan F got a game against Bordeaux to prove he can play ball. 151 yards later, nobody was convinced. 2093 came and Plan F was out of shape and no longer part of the plans in Maassluis. After a season of watching the IHOF on tv as a free agent, Farley retired.
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Old 11-09-2020, 05:59 PM   #396
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Brady Returns!
But we didn't win get a new LT yet.

First the bad news. We attempted to win the services of left tackle Alfredo Dwyer, 27-year old and formerly Rochester Razorbacks second round pick, but he took a $165M offer from the Arizona Miners over our $180M offer, both for 5 seasons. A bummer, as it would have filled the gap left open after Nathan Hadinger retired. We'll continue our search for a new left tackle.

The good news. We just announced our selection in the first round at #14 overall: left tackle Isaac Delgado, a 23-year old graduate from Virginia. A top 10 prospect in this class, technically a complete lineman, his weakness his endurance. Our staff was mildly optimistic, expecting him to be a very good run block, pass blocker and very strong.

The greater news has been the continuation of the services of linebacker Brandon Brady. We agreed terms with Brady's agent on a new 5-year deal, worth $230M.

We agreed terms for a new contract with 18 players that were already on roster, all in an attempt to find the cap space to extend Brady's contract and initially in an attempt to sign Dwyer. Our cap situation is currently projected to be at about $39M under the cap after the signing of the 7 most expensive draft picks as our 5th through 7th round picks will be our 52nd through 54th player on team. It gives us some room to work with, specifically to look at our options at quarterback and cornerback, quite clearly our two need positions. Draft or free agency, or... Who knows. Could this be the off-season where we make a blockbuster trade?
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Old 11-11-2020, 01:08 PM   #397
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Beginning of the Ashley era?
Indeed, we've got a quarterback.

The second round of the 2094 draft is ongoing and with the trio of second round picks lumped closely together, we've address three of our needs, at least in quantity. Quarterback Earnest Ashley, cornerback Bryson Swafford and left tackle Johnnie Houston were our selections.

The selection of quarterback Earnest Ashley should make some eyebrows raise. He's graded amongst the 4th through 6th best passers in this class. We didn't interview him, which is the questionable part. The Solecismic Test score was solid (40), his sense rush ability looks good. But this is the second round, the place to make this kind of decisions. Will he be our future starter? Time will tell. We're still looking at other options, Moe Sheldon's best before date is expiring, if not already expired. Don't count out that we'll continue our search.

The selection of cornerback Bryson Swafford brings our group back to four on roster, once he arrives of course. He ranks 10th in this class and with our brand new defensive coordinator, it's quite the risk to trust his scouting ability. In contrast, that DC has an excellent interviewing reputation and that's where Swafford jumped up on our board: very underrated. We'll try to ignore his overall grades and scouting ability and see what he can do. At least, I hope to keep that discipline.

Right tackle Johnnie Houston may look like one tackle too many after our first round pick Isaac Delgado. Well, I beg to differ as Howard Humphrey is the last man standing, we needed a new couple of tackles. Humphrey can mentor them. Delgado might be good enough to play on either end, Houston to me looks like a guy that should play left tackle, not right tackle, so, we'll move him over. Probably. At least my staff told me he's going to be as good as advertised. He'd better!

Not much else to report on for now. No free agent signings. One non-signing player on roster. We failed to lock up our restricted free agents, but we will tomorrow.
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Old 11-12-2020, 02:41 PM   #398
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: the story continues...
With two new rookies.

As the 2094 draft continues, we've arrived in the third round and with a couple of picks to spend, we added a defensive tackle and a cornerback to our collection. Fastest defensive tackle of the class Harold Gough is a bit undersized, but I think he'll be fine. We didn't interview Gough, so he's going to prove us he's good enough to unseat one of the eight returning D-Linemen. Cornerback Zachery Weisz scored a phenomenal 59 on the position score. He should be a serviceable special team, with the zone defense and intercepting skills to be a fine nickel or dime back.

In other news, we re-signed second-year special teamer/running back Darien Bettencourt and special teamer/tight end Ike Nixon.

We tried to sign quarterback Kai Silvanic, former Fairbanks Northstars third round pick and starter for a season in 2090. But he took the slightly better offer from Gothenburg. We lowballed too much. So it goes. We'll continue our search, or it's Ashley vs Sheldon for the starting role.
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Old 11-12-2020, 09:28 PM   #399
QuikSand
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
No insight here on QB Ashley, but I'm in a similar situation in another league - pretty good veteran team flailing around in search of a QB, so why not throw a 2nd round dart at a guy and see what we come up with?
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Old 11-13-2020, 10:25 AM   #400
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuikSand View Post
No insight here on QB Ashley, but I'm in a similar situation in another league - pretty good veteran team flailing around in search of a QB, so why not throw a 2nd round dart at a guy and see what we come up with?
Exactly. I have to conclude I've been spoiled. Although not all of my starting QBs have been good enough to lead us to at least the final four, from the 3rd season and onwards Louie Flannery, mocked for his interception antics, has been the standard for the Merchantmen, that turned out to be what the game actually believes to be HOF material. Over time I've been capable of finding the new starter by drafting him (Flannery, Harrison part 1, Chow, McAlister), trading for him (McGee, Harrison part 2, Lowe, Hickman part 1) or signing a free agent (Coleman, Hickman part 2, Loera). Most of the short-term solutions were good enough to reach the playoffs (Corbett/Osborne, Rhoades, Buckner, Bennett) as well. And even Sheldon, clearly below the Flannery standards, has gotten us to the conference championship game once, before he went over the hill...
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