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Old 04-03-2019, 12:09 PM   #101
MIJB#19
Grizzled Veteran
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: How about that, Three and Oh Yeah!
After an off-season that fed the pessimism, the first games of the regular season have turned the tide into cautious optimism. For the first time since the 2071 season, we've managed a 3-0 start to the season. The road victory at Bordeaux was somewhat lucky, the home victory over the Red Menace should have been a blowout and week 3 was an old fashioned near-choke against the Atlanta Vipers.

So, three and oh, what's that worth?
We've been here 12 times before, so it's far from unique.
First time around, we finished the 2007 season with an 13-3 record, our first division title, first playoff victory and first trip to the AOC Championship game. In 2011 and 2012 we reached the playoffs. In 2023 we had that outstanding offense, yet were only fourth seeds with a 12-4 record and lost a nailbiter to the Tucker Tigers. In 2035, we won the division. In 2040 we wasted a bye in the playoffs with a humiliating 24-0 loss at home, In 2041 we were the top wild card and lost by a missed field goal. In 2049 we actually failed to make the playoffs, finishing 8-8 far behind the three division rivals that all did make the playoffs with 11-5 and better records. In 2058 we choked in the playoffs, in 2059 we had the super choke, despite being 15-1 juggernauts. In 2062 we missed the playoffs at 10-6 and in 2071 we choked once again in the playoffs. That's a lot of choking.

So, where to go from here, with that 3-0 start? Well, for at least another week we'll be the division leaders, because our way too early bye week is here once again and the Paris Musketeers today lost 33-30 at the Tucker Tigers.

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

The Giants defense with Antonio Battle and Amari Lavelli as regular starters is struggling, heavily. The Vineyards and Musketeers are playing well, very well even. We should not get carried away here, we might still be the worst team in the division. Well, "still", we were in my opinion one of the best last season, we were supposed to bounce back, no?

Anyway, 3-0, apparently we can win close games again, but all in all, we're probably worse than we were last season. We'll continue to play ball, take effort, do our best. C'mon Merchantmen!
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Old 04-07-2019, 12:50 PM   #102
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Back with the living
The unbeaten streak ended after 4 victories. After an undeserved 24-23 win at the North Plainfield Plague in week 5, we wasted our chances to do well this season with a 34-30 home loss to the Rochester Razorbacks with an immensely underwhelming pass defense. In seasons like these, you simply can't afford to lose home game against teams that are close in record.

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

Ellis McAlister is struggling heavier than before. He's completing only 53.5 percent of his passes for 241 yards per game, with 8 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in these first 5 games.

Walt Blair is traditionally in the mix at the top of the rushing yards leaderboard. With 109 yards per game, 4.51 per carry and 5 touchdowns in as many games, he's doing quite well.

Artie Blazewicz and Dennis Nadell are amongst the league's top 10 in yards per catch, but their gross numbers are far from impressive. Blazewicz is a bit of a surprise team leader with 25 catches for 404 yards, Monty Elliot is close behind with 24 catches for 343 yards, Nadell is just third with 22 catches for 343 yards.

The rest of the team, well, "meh". We're 4-1 inspite of our inability to play well, especially on defense. Veterans Alonzo Hitchcock (3 picks), Maurice Harkleroad (3 picks) and Arnie May (4.0 sacks) are crucial, despite that they are arguably amongst the least talented starters. Craig McCorkle is on pace to top 150 tackles, but quite honestly, I still think having the tackles leader in the league means our defense is terrible.

It is what it is. We've played 5 games and won 4 of them. We've got a tough schedule remaining, but really, are there any pushovers in a league like the IHOF? I really don't think so. We'll have to do what we've being doing well lately: get lucky.
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Old 04-18-2019, 04:57 PM   #103
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager notes: Not this again...
Sigh.

After week 14 we were 9-4, with all those losses closes games, on an impressive 3-game streak of blowout victories and wildly in the mix for a bye week. Two big losses later, we're completely out of the playoffs picture. Done, locked into the 7th "seed".

1. Bordeaux 11-4
2. Paris 11-4
3. Maassluis 9-6
4. Gothenburg 7-8

We'll finish the season in Gothenburg. I wouldn't even mind if McAlister and Blair blow out their knees. Wait, did I write that out loud? I mean, they'll be off the team after this game, I had hoped they'd be guiding and carrying us deep into the playoffs, one more time. But so be it.

Our rookie cornerback duo has had its ups and downs, both are currently playing hurt. Kirk Hitchcock is going through his second knee injury, missed a game early on. Tre Poloski has missed 3 games with a broken clavicle.

Third year linebacker Craig McCorkle is having a DPOY kind of season, leading the league in tackles, supporting the pass rush and leading the team with 5 interceptions. Merchantmen worthy material.

All that said, it's been yet another weird, most mostly disappointing season. It's weird that we were 9-4, with all losses close games. Two blowout losses later, we're heavily outgained in yardage numbers. We're gaining a mediocre 358 yards per game and give up a horrible 386 yards. Our red zone defense is depressingly bad. And somehow the Solecismic power ratings puts us in 6th place. Say what?

Is there any good news? Maybe our cap situation next season? 45 players signed, $32.5M under the cap. That will be without a quarterback and running back, but it is what it is. Our draft situation will be par. We'll be picking 20th in all rounds, except for the pickless 7th round and knowing we lost a mid-round 3rd round pick for cap violation.

Or maybe it's our 6th round pick from last season, Artie Blazewicz. 72 catches for 1,035 yards makes him our WR2, but he's also grown into a top5 kickoff returner.

Oh well, there's always next season, right? Right!?
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Old 04-21-2019, 03:32 PM   #104
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2081, it's a wrap (sort of)
The playoffs are about to begin, but 2081 is over for us.

We finished the season with a 9-7 record, playing above average football for 13 games, only to turn into complete incompetence for the last 3 games. I know, I should be more supportive about my team, but reality is that we lost the last three by a 29, 13 and 19 points. Our first for losses combined for 20 points. The molded, dry cherry on the fallen apart pie was the 97 yards passing in week 17 at the Gothenburg Giants. I think that's unprecedented for us to be held under 100. Mind you, this is in the era of the passing game. The Paris Musketeers quarterback Neil Poling smashed the records with 574 completions on 919 pass attempts for 7,004 yards.

Our quarterback Ellis McAlister finished the season with career lows (as a starter) of 3,620 yards, 287 completed passes, 6.9 yards per attempt and 19 interceptions (technically a career high, but we'll throw that on the pile of worst ever numbers.

Walt Blair finished the season with 1,779 yards (third in the league), leading the league by a landslide with 17 rushing touchdowns, gaining a pedestrian 4.38 yards per carry.

McAlister and Blair. Free agents next off-season. I'm expecting both of them to get big contracts, hopefully far way in the North American Conference. McAlister is by my staff rated as the 21st best quarterback. 25th when you take into account the progress of four promising rookie or second-year quarterbacks. Blair is the 7th best running back according to our staff. He's irreplaceable, basically. *sigh*

We're still weak at wide receiver as well, despite having a 1,000-yard duo on what apparently has been the third most run-oriented offenses. Dennis Nadell is over his peak, we'll have to look at all three of the key skill positions next off-season.

The defense finished the season with a disappointing pass rush. We're still far above average, but no longer part of the elite. The pass defense has been pretty poor, despite all the talent. 385 yards per game allowed, slightly better than the league worst that we were in 2077, but still Merchantmen unworthy. Yes, unworthy, we'll have to improve on that in the next off-season.

And we will. LB Craig McCorkle, LB Glenn Brewer, DT Glen Stiegler and CB Kirk Hitchcock have the skills to carry this defense. Tre Poloski looks promising, ready to step in for CB Alonzo Hitchcock. S Maurice Harkleroad is still decent, but we'll be looking for a new guy to play side by side with him. The sidekicks on the defensive line are all talented enough to run havoc on any offensive line. Cohesion is still one of our strengths, let's build on that with a young core.

2082, can't wait for the chance to rebuild. Actually, we don't really rebuild, we fix what's been broken. We'll never play bad to improve our draft situation. The last time we won less than 7 games was in 2033, 48 seasons ago, and only once did we win less than 5 games. You know it, that was 2004, the inaugural season. We'll find a suitor to McAlister, we'll find a way to use our young gazelles at wide receiver, make tight end Monty Elliott the centerpiece of the passing game and improve that defense.

Keep faith, Merchantmen!
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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 05-03-2019, 11:47 AM   #105
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2082, a new beginning?
Let's take a deep breath because it's time to regroup.

We're down two men already, safety Jonah Harden and defensive end Arnie May retired from the game. For the last eight seasons, May was a very reliable pass rusher, a force to reckon with. 82.0 sacks in 132 games is very good, he ranks 4th all time for the Merchantmen in sacks and 7th in hurries. Harden was around in relief duty, despite 11 seasons on roster, he was basically extensively involved in only 3 seasons.

As a result of our best of the rest performance, we're picking 20th in every round, except the 7th. Well, and the third, where we also held the 19th overall pick, but which we've lost due to cap violations.

Cap violations aren't an issue going into the off-season. We've got 43 players signed with about $45M of cap space, of which about $16M is reserved for the six draft picks. With an additional first round pick in the 2083 draft, we've got a bit of ammunition to wheel and deal.

43 signed and 2 retired means we've got 8 players out of contract. A handful were undrafted rookies, the core of the situation is with quarterback Ellis McAlister, running back Walt Blair and defensive tackle Chandler Posante. All should be in the top 50 free agents list. Blair could be the hottest commodity for other teams, McAlister is best suited in Maassluis due to his familiarity with our system, but I'm sensing he's determined to try to sign elsewhere, risking to end up riding the bench or even missing out entirely due to his salary demands. Posante will find a new home, no doubt.

The league office is still tabulating which players have declared themselves eligible for the amateur draft. No doubt that quarterback, running back and perhaps wide receiver are our top needs. Although crazy enough, league scouting says we're in dire need of a safety and a defensive end. Who knows?

The market at quarterback isn't all that bad, McAlister could be just the fourth of fifth best option. Kansas' Eric Keith might get a league mandated franchise tag. Paris' Neil Poling and his 7,004 yards passing is on the market as well, as the 35-year old might be asking for the moon and the stars. Williamsburg's Rickey Nelson was a pre-season target for us, attempting to trade hold out quarterbacks up straight, but the Chicago Norsemen decided to move him to Williamsburg. Nelson is only 30 years old. Former Bordeaux #1 overall pick Ike Woodhouse is coming off a season on the bench in Orlando, but this 34-year old might not fit our offensive game plan.

Quite honestly, we have no alternatives: Karsten Muchnick is a kick holder, nothing else, while restricted free agent Frank Graul is highly touted by the league scouts, but he's so green... We'll certainly bring Graul to camp, if he's willing to sign with us. We'll have to go out there and find a true quarterback. A Bennett Morris scenario would be ideal, but it'll require some cap magic to find the required cap space...

Cap magic, that's right up our alley. We can do that.
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 05-07-2019, 06:08 PM   #106
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes, 2082 off-season: Receiver in, running back out
The rollercoaster has started and so far we got through a looping and a free fall. First, we moved up in the draft from 20th overall to 8th overall. We swapped our 2083 first rounder for Chesapeake's 2083 second rounder for the compensation. We used it on the only player that really impressed our staff members: wide receiver Theodore Bondy. Yeah, it's been a while, but it was about time to grab a receiver.

Then we lost the bidding war for Walt Blair. In retrospect, my stupidity to not make a better offer than the one Brooklyn already had thrown out there, cost us his service. Slap to face. It was so obvious, but I totally missed it.

We've put an offer out there for Ellis McAlister to stay around as our quarterback. I'm working on a plan B, just in case, McAlister moves on elsewhere.

Chandler Posante is also on our list of players with an offer on the table. Again, we're looking at a plan B, but keeping Posante would be nice.

Safety and linebacker are still positions of concern, on top of the very obvious: running back. Unlike the other positions, I have no clearcut plan B yet, other than going with the tandem of Raul Curie and Ronald Graham.
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 05-09-2019, 04:03 PM   #107
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
McAlister Saga continues in Maassluis
The unthinkable has happened. Nearly a year after quarterback Ellis McAlister told the Merchantmen he'd play out the 2081 season to be able to become a free agent, he has signed a three-year $100M contract to stay in Maassluis.

Following an up and down 9-7 season, missing the playoffs after being in a bye week spot going into the last quarter of the season, McAlister received a lot of the blame for the lack of success. With no other suitors, sticking in Maassluis was by far the better option for him, especially now that the team that picked him in the sixth round of the 2074 draft is finally willing to pay him starter money.

Along with McAlister, defensive tackle Chandler Posante signed a new contract in Maassluis, despite taking the same hold out in pre-season route. Of the three 2081 pre-season hold outs, only running back Walt Blair has packed up, taking a richer contract with the Brooklyn Fightin' Bums.
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Old 05-09-2019, 04:21 PM   #108
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager notes: Who the fuck is Ellis? He's our quarterback!
Yes, he's back. Quite honestly, we had a plan B, offering Neil Poling (the 7,000-yard passer) a contract, but maintaining Ellis McAlister was plan A after all.

The draft didn't deliver any quarterbacks that wowed me and my staff. in the first three rounds we've now picked wide receiver Theodore Bondy (as I mentioned earlier), safety Emmitt Miller and defensive tackle Wally Loop.

Miller is a smart, fast safety, did very well in the position specific score. He may be considered undersized at 5'9", but we think his play diagnosis, endurance, intercepting skills and experience in a zone defense make him a starting quality defensive back.

Loop will bring another tower to our defensive line, as the 6'6" rookie joins backups Cameron Erlitz (6'7") and Erik Shrader (6'6"). We have good faith Loop will bring along the speed that for years, decades perhaps, made us one of, if not the best pass rushing defense in the league.

We've also signed veteran safety Peyton Hines, outbidding our division rivals from Paris. Hines is a ballhawker and will be asked to mentor Miller, while bringing depth to the unit.

Last and probably least importantly, we've signed our restricted free agent quarterback Frank Graul, defensive end Ezekiel Wylie, punt returner Gabe Broady, cornerback Frankie Youngblood. Negotiations with tight end Gavin Stern are ongoing. He had an active role on our offense last season, has the potential to play a lot in our 2 and 3 tight end formations. It's likely we'll bring him back on a three-year deal close to what he's seeking.

More worrisome are the contract negotiations with Craig McCorkle. Playing on his final rookie contract deal, he's got every right to demand a real contract following an All IHOF first team season. But we're apparently wide apart in what he wants and we want him to get. As per usual in this situation, the moronic player agent tells him to go for a hilariously low bonus and take much less guaranteed money than we've offering him.

Will these player agents ever get their fix?
* sigh *
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 05-10-2019, 04:40 PM   #109
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Sigh of relief
Craig McCorkle decided to not hold out. How about that!? That's great news, because it means we can postpone contract talks with the best MLB in the league to the late pre-season stages.

In the draft, we've spent our fourth through sixth round picks on a couple of projects. Quarterback Kelly Blalock comes in as a guy who can avoid the sack and has a decent Solecismic score, despite his mediocre intelligence (I think we have our new backup project). Linebacker Andy Russell will be moved to defensive end, the kid is potentially the best pass rusher on our team, which is something given how deep we are already. Running back Leonard Belin brings the fine combination of hole recognition and breakaway speed, although likely comes short to Ronald Graham.

In the meantime, we've signed pass rushing and special teams linebacker Skip Keith. We had to outbid the Paris Musketeers, which is good news of course, to claim his services.

Thus, we've had our first peak at what our rookies look like. The word on Theodore Bondy is very promising, our staff thinks he's a top five wide receiver. "Yay"?

I'm getting a little bit more optimistic about our chances, that's for sure, but I need to be cautious. I may be wearing my rose-colored glasses...
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Old 05-11-2019, 12:33 PM   #110
QuikSand
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
FWIW, my pretty good scouting staff sees WR Bondy as a pretty god but not great WR1/2 type. I have him at 98 BPR which is good, and just over 50 in GD and Courage, so he's not a near-useless one-trick-pony type. On a loaded roster, he'd probably be a WR2 to use downfield and here-and-there, but he's got the endurance to be a go-to guy on a more ordinary roster. For pick 1.8, I'd say that's about what you'd be hoping for, typically.
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Old 05-11-2019, 04:41 PM   #111
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: We got a running back!
The loss of Walt Blair has been solved, of sort. Today we've agreed terms with the Chesapeake Chitterlings to acquire Jimmie Feffer. We actually had a deal worked out for another top5 talent running back (by my staff that is), but it was pending the cap situation of the seller. In the end, Feffer cost us less in terms of draft picks. He spent last season on injured reserve, recovering from a nasty keen injury picked up in the 2080 season with the Williamsburg Colonials. The Colonials cut Feffer in the 2081 off-season, then got picked up by on a three-year deal with the Chitterlings. As a result, he never played a down for them.

Anyway, we got a replacement for Blair, this should be good news for our running game.
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Old 05-11-2019, 08:17 PM   #112
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Quote:
Originally Posted by QuikSand View Post
FWIW, my pretty good scouting staff sees WR Bondy as a pretty god but not great WR1/2 type. I have him at 98 BPR which is good, and just over 50 in GD and Courage, so he's not a near-useless one-trick-pony type. On a loaded roster, he'd probably be a WR2 to use downfield and here-and-there, but he's got the endurance to be a go-to guy on a more ordinary roster. For pick 1.8, I'd say that's about what you'd be hoping for, typically.
My staff sees Bondy as (impression after interviewing was very underrated):
14/44 avoid drops
53/62 getting downfield
26/82 route running
64/80 third down catching
98 big-play receiving
63/77 courage
24/82 adjust to ball
0/0 punt returns
0/0 kick returns
74/86 endurance
72/90 special teams
47/72 overall

If it holds up, that's a WR1 type for the Merchantmen. In comparison, previous (HOF) legends in Maassluis and their peak overall numbers:
68/68 Terry Haskell
74/74 Gabe Springer
68/68 Riddick Stanley
61/61 J.R. Mills
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Old 05-12-2019, 11:49 AM   #113
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Sherman is back!
Nicky Sherman is back in Maassluis. One of the most talented centers, still at the top of the game at the age of 35, with two seasons in Maassluis on his resume, rejoins us after a season away at the Houston Mustangs. It'll be an interesting battle in pre-season for the starting five on the offensive line. Especially given that we also signed free agent guard Leon Wooden, a 34-year old pass protection expert.

The arrival of Jimmie Feffer for training camp was also cheered by the fans. He's already more popular than the guy that left us this off-season.

Far behind those key moves, we've also signed a threesome of rookie skill position players. Nicholas Douglas and Chad Togiai will battle for a depth spot in our backfield. Douglas has the better hole recognition, Togiai could hang on as a special teamer. The third signing is kickoff returning wide receiver Ross Willbrandt, also bringing the big-play ability to be a WR4 or WR5. He's no guarantee to make the team though, he became our seventh wide receiver.

We're going into training camp with 64 players on roster, which means we'll have to cut 4 guys after camp and before pre-season action, then 7 more before the regular season:
* we've got 4 quarterbacks, it's likely we'll trim it down to 3
* we've got 6 running backs and 2 fullbacks, that's 1 or 2 too many
* we've got 4 tight ends and 7 wide receivers, that's also 1 or 2 too many
* we've got 3 centers, 4 guard and 3 offensive tackles, that's 2 too many
* we've got 1 punter and kicker
* we've got 10 defensive linemen, that's 1, likely 2 over what I prefer
* we've got 6 linebackers, we may drop to 5 for the regular season
* we've got 7 cornerbacks and 5 safeties, we might cut 2 guys before pre-season
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:12 PM   #114
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Training Camp
A lot of young players, so there was quite some news surrounding training camp results. Below the progress according to my staff on the 1 to 100 scales:
+4/-3 QB Kelly Blalock (rookie)
+4/0 QB Frank Graul
+3/0 QB/KH Karsten Muchnick
+2/0 RB Leonard Belin (rookie)
+2/0 RB Nicholas Douglas (rookie)
+1/+1 RB Chad Togiai (rookie)
+4/0 FB Tristan Cochrane
+2/+2 TE Gavin Stern
+1/+1 TE Kody Gowan
+5/0 WR Theodore Bondy (rookie)
+4/0 WR Riddick Bunting
+1/0 WR Dwight Clements
+1/0 WR/KR Ross Willbrandt (rookie)
+8/0 C Butch Pearson
+5/0 C Riddick Kasowski
+2/0 G Raul Hughett
+2/+1 RT Abel Bauer
+5/0 DE Andy Russell (rookie)
+4/0 DE Gino Kemp
+4/-1 DE Ezekiel Wylie
+4/-3 DT Wally Loup (rookie)
+3/+1 DT Erik Shrader
+2/+1 DT Cameron Erlitz
+3/+1 LB Darien Stokes
+7/0 CB Kirk Hitchcock
+5/-1 CB Tre Poloski
+3/0 CB Frank Youngblood
+1/+2 CB/PR Gabe Broady
+3/-3 S Emmitt Miller (rookie)
+1/0 S Louie Ferguson

So, good news on Bondy, the staff still likes him. Keep it up, Theodore!
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:00 AM   #115
QuikSand
lolzcat
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
I hope you take no offense in my week-by-week full-throated rooting for your opposition. #SellingShort
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:02 AM   #116
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Quote:
Originally Posted by QuikSand View Post
I hope you take no offense in my week-by-week full-throated rooting for your opposition. #SellingShort
I certainly won't. It's all part of the game when another team has your first round pick. In turn, I'll be rooting against the Outer Banks Ospreys.
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:06 AM   #117
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Quote:
Originally Posted by MIJB#19 View Post
My staff sees Bondy as (impression after interviewing was very underrated):
14/44 avoid drops
53/62 getting downfield
26/82 route running
64/80 third down catching
98 big-play receiving
63/77 courage
24/82 adjust to ball
0/0 punt returns
0/0 kick returns
74/86 endurance
72/90 special teams
47/72 overall

If it holds up, that's a WR1 type for the Merchantmen. In comparison, previous (HOF) legends in Maassluis and their peak overall numbers:
68/68 Terry Haskell
74/74 Gabe Springer
68/68 Riddick Stanley
61/61 J.R. Mills
Pre-season 2 (and 3) sim has been ran, Bondy has improved to this:
25/63 avoid drops
61/78 getting downfield
42/96 route running
71/87 third down catching
100 big-play receiving
76/94 courage
38/94 adjust to ball
0/0 punt returns
0/0 kick returns
80/100 endurance
80/96 special teams
56/82 overall

It's all an uncertainty for now, given it's his rookie season, but right now he's rated (56/82 by my staff) as the best rookie (second best a x/78) and best WR (second best a 76/76).

At the very least, that's promising.
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Old 05-16-2019, 01:52 PM   #118
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: "Don't let the door?" Nah, we liked some of them...
Tough decision time was here again.
Slightly earlier than most teams, we've trimmed our roster to 53 players, using our game day roster and depth chart for the last two pre-season games. It meant the departure of 7 players.

DE Herb Crane was the guy with 8 seasons of service, having played in all our games in the 2075-2081 time span, participating in our rotation on the defensive line. 112 games, 32.0 sacks, not bad for an undrafted rookie acquisition.

DT Wally Loup was our third round pick in the most recent draft. Yeah, he's not even all that horrible, but his training camp was unimpressive and his pre-season form was even worse. We're deep at the defensive line with guys like Loup. The staff had him as "hard to read", I think we know now...

G Raul Hughett was our 7th round pick two drafts ago. His training camps were underwhelming, his promising strength hasn't resulted in becoming a better football player though. Maybe some team will pick him up for their chemistry class...

C Riddick Kasowski was our 7th round pick last draft. Brining back Nicky Sherman sealed Kasowski's faith, despite a couple of promising training camps. By the time he's ready to play, he'll still be backing up Butch Pearson. We might as well spend the roster spot on a veteran backup.

RB Nicholas Douglas joined us as a rookie free agent this off-season. His hole recognition is very promising, but we've got a threesome of similar to better running backs, we're really not going to carry five tail backs into the season.

QB Frank Graul didn't do all that bad, but we've got that Blalock kid we drafted as our backup plan. Despite knowing our head coach will ignore the kid and throw our kick holder out there if Ellis McAlsiter needs to be replaced. Yeah, our head coach is a nutcase, just like the coaches all across the league.

WR Dwight Clements spent three seasons on our roster, but the former 6th round pick has no special teams skills to compensate for the lack of anything else than his speed. Speed a plenty on our wide receivers group. We go into the new season with 6 wideouts, Clements won't be one of them.


With the pre-season action in the books, we can safely say that we have no idea whether Theodore Bondy can be a world beater. For two games he was invisible, in the last two games, he caught a grand total of 3 passes from Ellis McAlister, gaining 26, 31 yards and finishing it with a 9-yard touchdown catch. Okay, he might be a bit better than good. Let's hope so!

Our cohesion will be quite high in all aspects of the game. We've got talented skill position players, a good offensive line, a pass rushing defensive line, two of the best linebackers, perhaps the best cornerback in the league and a bunch of question marks on the secondary. That's basically our roster.

The regular season kicks off with a road game in Paris and continues with 4 home games, then a series of road then home, a quartet of road games and eventually two more at home and a road game in Bordeaux. The goal? 19-0. But a bowl victory after a 10-6 regular season will do as well.

Go Merchantmen!
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Old 05-21-2019, 06:04 PM   #119
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2082, Great start, except for all the interceptions...
Two games in and we've already piled up with 9 turnovers. The enigmatic share has been Ellis McAlister's 6 interceptions. He never throw more than 4 in back-to-back games, but he started the 2082 season with a couple of threesomes...

We lost 28-6 in Paris in week 1. Despite outgaining them in yardage, we never had a chance, losing the turnover battle 5-1. Jimmie Feffer ran for 106 yards, Ellis Who the Fuck Is McAlister threw for 225 yards with the 3 picks, rookie Theodore Bondy caught 8 passes for 98 yards.

Week 2 we came back from 31-14 behind to win 35-31. We lost the turnover battle 4-1 this time, but our single one saved the day as Giovanni Morton turned it into a pick six. Monty Elliot caught 8 passes for 97 yards, Ellis McAlister threw for 269 yards and a score with 3 picks and a rushing touchdown, Jimmie Feffer ran for 124 yards and a score, Dennis Nadell caught a touchdown pass.

So far we've kept center Nicky Sherman on the bench, we're banking on the 5 starters from last season, but keep Sherman waiting in the wings to step in if we need an injury replacement. I'm tempted to put him out there though, for one of the guys.

Despite the sextet of picks thrown, McAlister still keeps two quarterbacks behind him in the passer rating rankings. Newly hired Feffer leads the league with 230 rushing yards, probably a result of the league wide trend throw a lot. Theodore Bondy hasn't scored a touchdown yet, even lost a fumble in week 1, but I'm sure he'll pick it up and contend for offensive rookie of the year, albeit having to battle with the starting rookie quarterback from the Frederick Red Menace, who gets to throw the ball like 50 times per game. Tough luck, Theo.

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

Next up:
Paris hosts the league champion Rochester Razorbacks, whom have a disappointing 0-2 start, while Gothenburg will visit the 1-1 Snapfinger Jazz, Bordeaux will visit the 1-1 Orlando Talons and we will host the 0-2 North Plainfield Plague.

So in short, we won't go 19-0 this season, but we have the worst behind us already, so if that holds up, we might still be in the mix for the postseason and who knows what not afterwards.

Keep faith, Merchantmen.
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Old 05-24-2019, 06:00 PM   #120
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: More picks, more scoring, more winning
Our annual bye week came early as per usual. We didn't really need it yet, we're on a three game winning streak. Mind you, we've got a hilariously imbalanced schedule, we're playing 4 straight at home, continuing this in week 6.

So yeah, we won three straight, thus two more since my previous writing. We beat the teams from North Plainfield and San Antonio. Ellis McAlister has gotten his picks throwing trend a bit under control, Jimmie Feffer continues to run for 100 yards (or come one short) and Theodore Bondy has established himself as our top receiver with 7 catches in each of the last two games. We've averaged 402 yards per game, not something to feel bad about. But then, playing at home three times, the numbers are inflated.

The defense, well... Meh? Okay, that's a bit too harsh. We dismantled the Plague's running game and kept the Tidal Force's passing game in check. It's only 4 games, but apparently we're a top5 run defense. In contrast, we're allowing the fourth best passer rating, a very disappointing figure, given how much we invested in our pass rush, linebackers and secondary in recent drafts. More importantly, we're really struggling to force turnovers, we rank last in that statistic.

The special teams unit is not to be proud about either. Rookie Ross Willbrandt has been underwhelming and makes me consider to give the kick return duties back to Artie Blazewicz. Chance Arnold has missed just 1 kick so far, that's not too bad, while Tito Hornsby is having a slightly below average standard. We've given up the most kick return yardage, per return that is, but with only 7 returns allowed, it doesn't amount for too much. The field position battle has been up and down: -6 yards, +8 yards, -9 yards and +6 yards. Obviously way below Merchantmen standards, especially with home field advantage, but at least it's just about par.

By the way, Ellis McAlister is playing through a sprained lateral knee ligament. A risky injury, but quite simply, we have no alternatives. We've already given our kick holder (he's really nothing more than a kick holder, coach!) 12 pass attempts, how stupid is that? We're going to activate our project Kelly Blalock for week 6, but I highly doubt my staff will even remotely pick up on the idea of putting Blalock out there if - football gods forbid - McAlister gets hurt. We'll likely be stuck with the kick holder getting undesired snaps on the offense... Ugh.

All the grumping aside, we're 3-1, sitting in a wild card spot and theoretically can still tie Paris at 15-1 each if we win the last 12 games. We could still fall behind a 15-0-1 Tucker Tigers team for the #1 seed, or even lose the tie-breakers to Paris, but that's a luxury issue. We haven't made the playoffs in the last two seasons, remember? A 4-0 start and 9-4 going into the last three games was insufficient, copying our trend to lose the last 3 games of the regular season from the season before. Are most recent 'normal' season was 2078. Oh, Bennett Morris, where have you gone...

Ellis, who the fuck is Ellis? Well, Ellis McAlister, our current quarterback. The guy that threatened to hold out, then threatened to leave us in free agency and then came back after all, when he finally getting starter money in his 9th season in the league, playing once again for the only team that ever believed in him: the Maassluis Merchantmen.

Bondy is making good progress, at this pace he'll get close to his potential and be a scouted as a top 5 receiver by the end of the season, perhaps even becoming the best receiver before the playoffs start. Wouldn't that be something?
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Old 05-26-2019, 04:13 PM   #121
JustinSmith94
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Posting because I want to subscribe to this thread, great stuff, keep it up!
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:09 PM   #122
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Up, Down, Left, Right, But we're still in the race
We've reached week 12 and the European Division has already been decided: the Paris Musketeers will win it with 5 rounds of games remaining. So... How the [bleep] did we get there from our encouraging 3-1 start?

We've bounced around. We ran into a silly loss 38-24 at home to the Atlanta Vipers, responded with a smooth 31-16 win at the Fort Wayne Fury and then got into a three-game losing streak. We lost 38-35 at home against Paris, already basically ending the division title pursuit for us. We then lost 24-19 at the Houston Stallions and followed up with yet another annoyingly underperforming game: a 27-10 loss to the Bordeaux Vineyards. Since then we've regrouped a bit, working ourselves up from last place in the division to sitting in the #7 seed by a weaker common games record than the Orlando Talons. We snuck into beating the Gothenburg Giants 15-12 and Oakland Black Panthers 27-21, both on the road.

European Division:
1. Paris 11-0
2. Maassluis 6-5
3. Bordeaux 5-5-1
4. Gothenburg 4-5-2
Yes, the Gothenburg Giants already tied 2 games. And no, there's nothing European about ties.

We have 5 games remaining on our schedule and frankly, if we're really a playoffs caliber team, we should stand a chance against all five opponents, all have a worse record than ours is, although some just by half a game.

Our quarterback Ellis McAlister has sort of resparkled his magic. He's thrown interceptions in each of the last 5 games, but still went from 7 in 4 games to 12 in 11 games. With 239 yards per game and 17 touchdowns thrown. Progress, huzzah!

Running back Jimmie Feffer has launched himself to the top of the rushing leader board with 107 yards per game and 9 touchdowns in 11 games. At 4.83 yards per carry, he's more than just useful.

Our rookie of the year candidate Theodore Bondy is losing terrain on the Frederick Red Menace lucky charm quarterback Orlando George. With 61 catches for 923 yards and 4 touchdowns, he's having a WR2 worthy season, except that we're already expecting WR1 play from him. Tight end Monty Elliott (647 yards, 5 touchdowns), Dennis Nadell (459 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Artie Blazewicz (418 yards, 2 touchdowns) are clearly not able to carry the offense. But then, Bondy is the real thing, so says my solid staff, we have a player to build our offense around. Or better yet, let him play the kind of role we had J.R. Mills play, but with even more talent than that future hall of famer had. Imagine that.

Elsewhere, I can't by any means be even remotely proud of our defense. 386 yards per game allowed, 3rd worst in the league, with the least takeaways... Our so-called best cornerback in the league has allowed a league 'leading' 58 catches in the first 11 games. Good heavens. Imagine how incredibly bad we would be if we didn't have a very talented bunch of players.

Nevertheless, we're still hanging on, tie-breakers away from the #6 seed. The Solecismic Software playoffs probabilities machine actually ranks us slightly ahead of the Orlando Talons as the 6th likeliest AOC team to make the post-season.

And as an added bonus, if we have no draft pick to improve, we traded our first rounder to the Chesapeake Chitterlings and instead have routing interests against the Outer Banks Ospreys. So far so good, they're sitting at 3-8 in the cellars of the Atlantic Coast division.

Today I opened my Fortune Cookie, it read: "All's going well. The phase of success is here!" So either we're on the brink of another improbable IHOF Bowl run, or it's something else entirely... I think I can live with either, both would be really swell, though.
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Old 06-04-2019, 05:54 PM   #123
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: When it rains, it pours, but what if the sun starts shining?
Let's not get overexcited, let's not get overexcited.
We've won back-to-back road games, yet again. We're on a shocking four game winning streak, all on the road.

In week 13 we came home after a superior performance, failing to put it all on the scoreboard. We beat the Augusta Greenjackets 27-13, but with 470 yards total offense and winning the turnover battle 3-1, we should have scored at least another touchdown. But a win is a win, and it was a much deserved one.

Week 14 was a barnburner, played far away at the Fairbanks Northstars, where we needed every last bit of luck to come back from behind with Ellis McAlister connecting with Monty Elliott for a 17-yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds to go. Despite trailing 28-14 at half time, we pulled off a 38-35 victory in regulation. 531 total yards of offense, but also giving up 492 total yards. Yeah, our defense apparently missed the flight to Alaska.

European division
1. Paris 12-1
2. Maassluis 8-5
3. Bordeaux 6-6-1
4. Gothenburg 5-6-2

You guessed it: once again, we're playing in the league's strongest division. The Musketeers secured the division title as I wrote my previous report, I just failed to mention it. We're virtually in the #6 seed, but it's by no means a done deal. The Orlando Talons are a game behind, with 3 winnable opponents and with a chance to surpass us on tie-breakers. We'll have to beat Gothenburg (week 15) and Bordeaux (week 17) to guarantee a trip to the post-season. Losing either game, especially the one against Bordeaux gives Orlando a chance to get level in conference record and beat us on strength of victory tie-breaker, or by beating Augusta (in week 15) also have a shot at getting the common games tie-breaker (if we don't beat Bordeaux).

Do we stand a chance though, if we make the post-season? The defense continues to be depressingly bad and has tumbled even deeper, now being the worst in giving up yardage. We've allowed 311 yards passing, while being on a Merchantmen unworthy pass rush figure of 26 sacks in 13 games. Just... Unheard of.

But we got to keep faith, stay strong. Hold the heads up high, shoulders back, chest forward.

Feelin' young, feelin' strong
at the height of the fight,
so nothing can go wrong
we know we always wanna be
fighting the sea.

Full speed ahead, Merchantmen!
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Old 06-04-2019, 06:01 PM   #124
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Quote:
Originally Posted by MIJB#19 View Post
My staff sees Bondy as (impression after interviewing was very underrated):
14/44 avoid drops
53/62 getting downfield
26/82 route running
64/80 third down catching
98 big-play receiving
63/77 courage
24/82 adjust to ball
0/0 punt returns
0/0 kick returns
74/86 endurance
72/90 special teams
47/72 overall
Quote:
Originally Posted by MIJB#19 View Post
Pre-season 2 (and 3) sim has been ran, Bondy has improved to this:
25/63 avoid drops
61/78 getting downfield
42/96 route running
71/87 third down catching
100 big-play receiving
76/94 courage
38/94 adjust to ball
0/0 punt returns
0/0 kick returns
80/100 endurance
80/96 special teams
56/82 overall
Post week 14 my staff has upgraded Bondy to second best WR in the league, just one or two improvement spurts away from reaching the top, still only 80% developed:
48/63 avoid drops
71/78 getting downfield
80/96 route running
82/87 third down catching
100 big-play receiving
89/94 courage
74/94 adjust to ball
0/0 punt returns
0/0 kick returns
94/100 endurance
94/96 special teams
74/82 overall

Could this be for real?

In week 11 the Gothenburg Giants kind of dismantled Bondy, keeping him to 2 catches for 20 yards on 11 targets. Bondy still scored a touchdown and we won that game 15-12. But yeah, Julio Riddols and his Giants might not be our best matchup, understatement much? And we're facing them next, oh goody...
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Old 06-08-2019, 03:57 PM   #125
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: Playoffs? Are you kidding me?
No, I'm not kidding you, we're into the playoffs!

It didn't come easy, as the last three games were a complete rollercoaster. In week 15 we did ourselves a disservice big time, getting humiliated by the Gothenburg Giants. 41-17 in our own Oranje Haven, completing the division sweep of us in our own home. Disgusting. Turnovers paved the way for the Giants to run away in the second half after things being level at half time.

We bounced back with a smooth 27-13 victory in our last home game, against the Colorado Cutthroats. We allowed only 2 red zone visits, posting one of very few non-horrible showings by the defense. Granted, that unit is talented, with the best cornerback and an all-world defensive tackle and middle linebacker combo. But somehow, we're still struggling.

Week 17 it was all or nothing, we had to visit the Bordeaux Vineyards in what due to the various tie-breaker situations was a winner take all game. A victory of tie would put us in the playoffs, a loss would bring Bordeaux to the post-season. Despite losing the turnover battle (what's new this season?), we bounced back in the second half. Ellis McAlister was phenomenal, throwing for 306 yards and touchdown passes to all four of our top four receivers (Bondy, Elliott, Nadell and Blazewicz). A late field goal made it 31-24 for us, enough to put us into the playoffs and bringing us back into a positive points margin (415 to 414).

European Division:
1. Paris 13-3
2. Maassluis 10-6
3. Bordeaux 8-7-1
4. Gothenburg 7-7-2

Paris goes into the playoffs seeded #2, Maassluis #5. We're once again the best division in the league, making that four seasons in a row now.

Elsewhere in the league, the Midwest division had a 7-9 champion, marking the best record of any team in that division in the 2080s. Imagine that.

So, where do we go from here?

We're going to Atlanta, visiting the only non-division rival that beat us in Oranje Have this season. An absurd night of football. People that watched the game still claim to have seen guys in orange-white-and-blue that weren't any of the defensive players we have under contract. Additionally, we won only 2 playoffs games in the last 14 seasons, despite getting there 8 times.

But all we can do is score more than the opponent. We're 3-3 in games where we allowed 30 or more points, but also 7-1 in games where we scored 30 or more points. It can be done by this offense, so it's my job to have faith in them. Heck, at some point, our defense will actually play up to its potential, right? Right!? Now would be a good time to start showing up. You can do it, Merchantmen!
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Old 06-10-2019, 07:25 AM   #126
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2082, also not our season
One and done. For the 21st time, putting us back on top of that hill once again.

No words can describe how disappointed I am in our defense this season. We've got the talent to be a top12 defense, yet, this sorry ass bunch could do no better than 30th best in the regular season in total yards allowed. It's not just our inability to keep offenses from gaining yardage (32nd with 300 passing yards per game), but the completion percentage (25th with 60.8%), yards per attempt (27th with 7.23 ypa) and sack percentage (23rd with 4.9%) have been downright unacceptable.

Back to the drawing board? No such thing either. We've actually reverted to an old game plan in recent games, to save face, but it was to no avail. We still gave up 38 points against the Atlanta Vipers, against a quarterback that we should have put under pressure all night long (he was pressured once and sacked twice in 36 pass plays. unbelievable).

It didn't help that our turnover antics have carried over into the playoffs. With 3 lost fumbles, it was near impossible to fight back from behind. Ellis McAlister completed 21 of 28 passes for 321 yards and 2 touchdowns, being a mistake free solid team leader. He's getting the hang of finding Theodore Bondy, although he was kept to 6 catches for 124 yards and 1 touchdown.

Well, on to 2083 then? The staff is convinced Bondy is now the best wide receiver in the league and they claim he's the best wide receiver to put on the orange-white-and-blue jersey ever. Better than Alfredo Bass, Gabe Springer, Terry Thomason, J.T. Pritt, Terry Haskell, Riddick Stanley, R.J. Mills and Brody Stevens. Ok, then.

But that defense... Kirk Hitchcock, best cornerback in the league, second best in franchise history to Randall Allen and already scouted ahead of Peter Tucker. Craig McCorkle is mentioned amongst the likes of Cody Cluff, Oliver Drake, R.J. Knight, Fred McCorkle, Wesley Devine, Daniel "Double D" Duncan, Edward Ross and Antonio Battle.

Or maybe it's time to admit that we still have some work to do. Maurice Harkleroad and Rex McIndoe have been fine safeties, Emmitt Miller is likely a bust, maybe, just maybe, we have to get over that hump at safety and get somebody really good at that position.

Glen Stiegler and Chandler Posante have been good to very good, but are no Charles Gomez or Shaun Hartman. It's no secret that we tried to sign the amazing Morris Holliday last off-season.

Defensive tackle and safety. Those are the points of attention in the off-season.

One way to improve our roster is through the draft. Acquiring the Outer Banks Osprey's first round pick has resulted in us having the #9 overall pick in the 2083 draft. Additionally, we swapped our own first round pick (#23 overall) to the Chesapeake Chitterlings for their second round pick, which will be the #44 overall, while we still hold our own second round pick (#55 overall). Our third and fourth round picks are also in Pretty Yellow hands, but we have their fifth rounder to compensate.

There's always next season? No, it will be next season. We can do this, Merchantmen!
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:00 PM   #127
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: 2083 is here!
Not much to report at the moment. It's the day after the IHOF Bowl and you know what that means: various players will fill their retirement papers and a bunch of others will get their names called for induction into the hall of fame.

Tom Anaya, our center from the 2065 through the 2078 seasons has been elected into that Hall Of Fame. We retired the #77 jersey at the beginning of the 2079 season and now Anaya gets the complete picture. He missed 11 games in those 14 seasons, playing a grand total of 213 regular season and 18 playoffs games. The IHOF Bowl LXIV victory being his most important game. He racked up 40+ key run blocks in 5 different seasons. His 1433 key run block opportunities ranks third all-time. No, not just for us, for the entire league history.

Two other former Merchantmen players got their enshrinement today. Defensive end Zachary Tompkins spent the 2076 season with us. A far from spectacular season for him, but it kept him in the league and set him up for a move to the Toronto Lake Monsters the season after where he won his only championship ring in the 2077 season. Quarterback Bennett Morris inspired our offense in the 2078 season into new highs, but sadly he decided to retire after we lost the AOC championship game and just a single season in Maassluis.

Four of our players from last season retired. Long snapper Chris Bertolone was the most surprising one, quitting at the age of 33 after just 5 seasons with us. Guard Leon Wooden quit the game after a single season on our bench. Tight end Randal Curtis spent 11 season on our roster, being active in the first 160 games of that timespan, but sitting out the entire 2082 season. He scored 22 touchdowns, which is pretty good for a goal line formation tight end.

Cornerback Alonzo Hitchcock was the most established Merchantmen player to leave the game. 11 seasons on roster, the second through tenth as a starter. 34 interceptions and 96 defended passes put him in the top ten in both figures for our franchise.

The draft order was also published. As announced earlier, we're holding the #9 overall pick, as well as the 12th and 23rd picks in the second round. Then a couple of fifth rounder picks and our own sixth and seventh round picks to complete the septet.

Season number 80. Let's see what it has in store for us.
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Old 06-17-2019, 04:43 PM   #128
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The draft of the wide receiver?
The draft has started and it's been a crazy one so far. The top five picks have all been spent on wide receivers. Although I considered picking one, but with those guys gone, we looked elsewhere.

The hope was to grab a safety, perhaps by a little trade down, but the class at that position is very disappointing. We interviewed a bunch of talented prospects, none looked worthy of a top ten pick.

And thus, we did the Merchantmen thing: we grabbed the best defensive tackle we could get our hands on: Heath Oliver. With the size of Shaun Hartman, we got something to look forward too. He's coming from the small college of Shippenburg, but really, that just adds to it. "Shippenburg", that just rings Merchantmen all over.

We've interviewed a couple of quarterbacks as well, but neither wowed us. We may consider one of them in the fifth round, but let's wait and see.

For now, we got the best player in the draft, as far as we know. That's quite the achievement, if it holds up, given that we got cornerback Kirk Hitchcock in 2081 and Theodore Bondy in 2082, both are (by our staff) listed as the best player of their class, at key positions.

But it ain't worth a thing, if they don't get a ring...
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Old 06-18-2019, 02:51 PM   #129
MIJB#19
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: The inevitable happened, yes, we traded
Would any IHOF draft be complete without a Merchantmen trade? Well, I don't think so either.

So, we decided to wait no longer at the #45 overall spot and instead move up from the #55 to the #22 spot (swapping our 2084 first round pick for the Bordeaux Vineyards 2084 second round pick as compensation), to grab the best safety of this class: Bart Guthrie.

Of the seven safeties interviewed by our defensive coordinator J.J. Wolfe, Gutrie was the only one that left good impression. A triplet of mid-high graded guys were underwhelming and a couple of late round prospects got tagged "as scouted". Guthrie though, was considered to be underrated and thus a worthy pick. Perhaps more of a high second round pick, but I think we had to make a move at this position at some point. I'm still considering to look for a veteran to play on his side...

Besides that, we're in our usual waiting game stage of free agency. Not seeing any particular players that are a major upgrade, especially at any need positions. We're renegotiating with a bunch of players, already having moved from projected $40M over the cap after draft picks to being $40M under the cap, not accounting for draft picks. Our linebackers Craig McCorkle and Glenn Brewer signed the richest deals, but we've also talked Ellis McAlister into signing a contract that keeps him happy and still far from paying him top5 quarterback money. Because, face it, he's good, playoffs caliber, but not a game changer.

Anyway, "success phase", remember?
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Old 06-18-2019, 05:39 PM   #130
MIJB#19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIJB#19 View Post
For now, we got the best player in the draft, as far as we know. That's quite the achievement, if it holds up, given that we got cornerback Kirk Hitchcock in 2081 and Theodore Bondy in 2082, both are (by our staff) listed as the best player of their class, at key positions.
We all know the game (FOF8) does some absurd stuff with the front 7 positions in ordering players on overall rating, but here's what the top 5 (according to my staff) looks like. Because of that front7 weirdness, my staff (wrongfully) claims we've got the best player of the last three draft classes, not including yesterday's draft pick of Heath Oliver. How silly is that?

2082 draft
top5 current
78/82 WR Theodore Bondy (Maassluis) 1.8
77/77 P J.J. Sklenicka (North Plainfield) 5.17
75/75 RB Perry Blake (Augusta) 1.9
75/75 RB R.J. Wiggins (Frederick) 1.7
74/74 LT Walt King (Moontown) 1.30
top5 potential, not in current top5
59/78 LT Ian Brandon (Arizona) 1.3
60/78 CB Theodore Barker (Iowa) 1.4
38/76 LT Joe Herr (Oakland) 1.15
front7, should be top5
68/77 SLB Jonathan Arnold (North Plainfield) 1.16

2081 draft
top5 current
80/80 CB Kirk Hitchcock (Maassluis) 1.11
76/76 RB Korey Rose (Outer Banks) 1.3
72/72 RB Moe Shannon (Oakland) 1.4
71/71 WR Rod Zink (Snapfinger) 1.6
70/70 FB Nicolas Manning (Outer Banks) 2.14
70/70 LT Riley Jenkins (Colorado) 1.15
top5 potential, not in current top5
63/82 G Jon Benson (San Antonio) 1.16
60/79 QB Jerald Harrison (Orlando) 1.1
59/73 G Todd Hobson (Fairbanks) 3.9
front7, should be top5
82/82 WLB Joshua Lynn (Oakland) 1.13
75/75 DE Tristan Bernstein (Houston) 2.23
74/74 DE Alfred Wright (Rochester) 1.17

2080 draft
top5 current
72/72 C Butch Pearson (Maassluis) 1.28
70/70 C Amos Ethridge (Orlando) 1.29
69/73 QB Blaine Hawkins (Arizona) 1.1
69/69 P Cameron Layne (Arizona) 5.3
69/69 CB Nicky Collins (Outer Banks) 1.4
top5 potential, not in current top5
none
front7, should be top5
79/79 DT Derek Wallace (Brooklyn) 2.5
73/73 DT Percy Pomato (Iowa) 1.11
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Old 06-20-2019, 06:13 PM   #131
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General Manager Notes: more new players for our 2083 roster!
Tight end, guard, offensive tackle and long snapper. Those are the positions where we added bodies to our training camp roster.

Tight end Nicholas Grundy signed a two-year deal with us, making this 30-year old a candidate to be our TE2 or TE3. Despite his resume as a backup, our staff is convinced he's amongst the 10 best run blocking tight ends. That's obviously great to have around, given that we play several 2TE and 3TE formations. He can play special teams too, that's our kind of backup tight end.

Guard Trevor Godfrey probably doesn't realize it yet, but we signed him to a two-year deal, expecting him to be a backup to our long standing starters Harvey Hank and Carlos Webb. Godfrey has been a starter with the Harlem Apollos for 10 years, never missing a game. He's primarily a run blocker.

Long snapper Santiago Sepanski signed a two-year deal with us. He's entering his tenth season, previously being the long snapper for the Moontown Darksiders (with whom he won 2 IHOF Bowls) and the last four seasons with their division rivals Texas Sharks. At the age of 31, we except him to be a solid guy for a handful of seasons.

With our early second round pick, we selected left tackle Nathan Hadinger. Green and volatily, but we're impressed by his agility and expect him to be the pass protection guy that we like to have at that position. We'll have to think about how to develop him, since we have Louie Murray still very capable for that left side and the awesome Oscar Meadows has returned for his 13th season with us. We expect Meadows to mentor Hadinger. It does make the future of 2081 sixth round pick Abel Bauer one that might be outside of Maassluis.

Contract negotiations with our running back Jimmie Feffer have been a bit of a struggle. We're not quite sure a 6th year back deserves a four-year $100M contract. We can afford his current cap figure of $22.74M, which is the fifth highest on roster, but it's a position where it's always an uncertainty what you'll get. Plus, we still have Ronald Graham and Leonard Belin waiting in the wings to step in if Feffer does something silly (like hold out or get hurt).

We've decided to offer Ross Willbrandt a one-year contract. Despite his severe injury, we hope to see (no pun intended) him back in action at some point in his career. We might place him on injured reserve if his condition doesn't improve during the pre-season, but for now, we think his talent as a kick returner and as a hail mary receiver warrants an effort to keep him.

Nicky Sherman has decided to continue his distinguished IHOF career with the reigning league champions, the Tucker Tigers. He'll likely be their starting center for the upcoming 2083 season. He was on a one-year deal with us last season and had already declared his desire to move on and play elsewhere, rightfully feeling unjust about being a backup, despite it being behind the equally talented and 10 years younger Butch Pearson.

But nothing else to report for now, really. We're floating on, waiting for the draft to finish, training camp to be held and then pre-season to figure out which 53 players will become our 2083 collective to take on our 80th effort to win the IHOF Bowl.
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Old 06-22-2019, 04:44 AM   #132
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General Manager Notes: 2083 draft class joins the club house
The rookies are here! We've welcomed the seven rookies that we selected in the 2083 draft to Maassluis, signing them all to their league mandated four-year contracts. We also welcomed a new backup center in Angel Carter.

Angel Carter has been a starter in the league for 13 seasons, missing significant time in 2074 and 2080 due to injuries. He's a strong lineman, being better in making gaps for the running game than a role on the pass protection. It'll be a challenge to keep him happy behind Butch Pearson, because he's still a starting caliber center. We signed him to a one-year deal.

Okay, now our draft class:
1.9 DT Heath Oliver (graded 63/84)
1.22 S Bart Guthrie (37/65)
2.12 LT Nathan Hadinger (19/64)
5.14 QB Weston Witkop (7/26)
5.23 S Alexander Marty (22/44)
6.23 WR Corbin Tharp (28/37)
7.23 LB Billy Springer (23/39)

Oliver is obviously the cream of the crop. My staff already sees him as a top20 defensive tackle as he is right now, expecting him to into becoming a top5 defensive tackle. The assessment of his pass rushing skills and play diagnosis are on the low end to my liking. But the kid is still a short but not to be underestimated play maker, in potential.

Bart Guthrie is considered to potentially be amongst the top15 safeties. He'll need to develop for a bit, but I suspect we'll throw him out there into the starting lineup from the get go. We'll move him to strong safety, which seems to fit better with his run defending skills.

Nathan Hadinger by my staff is ranked in the top10 pass protecting tackles. In potential that is, right now they see him as being as green as grass. That's very disappointing, we had hoped to find a player that can grow into a starting role early on, but this basically means he'll likely have to wait in the wings for a season or two behind Louie Murray and Oscar Meadows.

Weston Witkop is currently looking like he won't even be good enough to make the team. But he's got good sense rush ability and scored very highly on the Solecismic Test. It might turn out to be a coin flip between him and previous draft's fourth round pick Kelly Blalock. Unless I see room for two projects.

Alexander Marty gives us another safety with the ability to pick off the quarterback. The staff sees him as a bit of a similar player as Maurice Harkleroad, which means he could turn out to be a potential starter by his third season. For now, it's likely he'll make the team as one of the seven inactive players on that 53 men roster at best.

Corbin Tharp skipped the combine, but we were willing to gamble on this kid. His route running and big-play ability skills are acceptable for a pro football player. But unless he makes good progress, he won't unseat one of the 2082 guys. Except that we're still talking with Ross Willbrandt for a return to us, knowing he might be forced to miss the entire season and we'll have to deal with Artie Blazewicz, currently holding out for the kind of contract we usually don't give to a WR3.

Billy Springer has good odds to make the team. Good special teamer with hard hitting skills, that's the kind of guy you want to play on your unit to stop the opposing kick or punt returner. Overall, his potential is similar to the kind of player Darien Stokes is right now, which bodes well for Springer, as Stokes is our third linebacker in formations with 7 or 8 front seven players.

On to late free agency to add a couple of undrafted rookies to increase our training camp roster to at least 60 players.
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Old 06-23-2019, 05:33 PM   #133
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General Manager Notes: On to training camp 2083
And then there were 60. We signed a couple of undrafted rookies in safety Darnell Brim and wide receiver Travis Gellings. Brim is by my staff already in the top16 of safeties capable of picking off the quarterback. Gellings is a kickoff returner, potentially better than what we have now. Well, not exactly. Artie Blazewicz is a better returnman, but he's holding out and it's questionable he'll make it to training camp and the pre-season roster. We're offering him a contract close to his demands and we'll see where it goes from there. Ross Willbrandt is the other kickoff returner and he's still struggling with impaired vision, it's unlikely it will be over by pre-season, but we'll hold on to him until the regular season list of 53 names have to be finalized, deciding then whether to keep him active or put him on injured reserve. By these last statements, you've correctly concluded Willbrandt has signed a new contract with us for two seasons.

In other news, we're going to completely revamp our play book. Surely, it isn't the offense that needs to be fixed, because our defense has played unforgivably terrible in the 2082 season. But we think we can do better than what we've done with our play book.

That's all for now, more later on our preparation for the 2083 regular season...
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Old 06-24-2019, 05:21 PM   #134
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General Manager Notes: training camp was good, but...
But pre-season can be a mood killer...

Improving players by our staff on 1 to 100 scale:
+8 S Guthrie (rookie, R1)
+7 DT Oliver (rookie, R1)
+6 LT Hadinger (rookie, R2)
+6 DE Russell (2nd year, R5)
+5 WR Bondy (2nd year, R1)
+4 FB Cochrane (3rd year, R5)
+4 LB Springer (rookie, R7)
+4 S Marty (rookie, R5)
+4 S Miller (2nd year, R2)
+3 QB Blalock (2nd year, R4)
+3 QB Muchnick (5th year, undrafted)
+3 T Bauer (3rd year, R6)
+2 QB Witkop (rookie, R5)
+2 RB Belin (2nd year, R6)
+2 WR Bunting (3rd year, R7)
+2 WR Tharp (rookie, R6)
+2 CB Broady (3rd year, undrafted)
+2 S Brim (rookie, undrafted)
+1 WR Willbrandt (2nd year, undrafted)
+1 WR Gellings (rookie, undrafted)

Bondy is considered to be fully developed now.

So yeah, our three investments in the first and second round of this draft all made very good progress. One by one, Guthrie the biggest surprise, maybe. Oliver looks great, but still looks like we might have to think twice about putting him on pass defense formations, with all those pass rushers on the bench, especially in his rookie season. Hadinger is so green, no way he's going to start this season, unless disaster strikes and either Louie Murray or Oscar Meadows has fallen apart during the off-season.

Bondy is now considered to be the best wide receiver in the league. Our defensive end project Andy Russell is coming along well as well. Safety Emmitt Miller might be recovering, but we'll have to see how he looks at mid-pre-season.

Overall, we'll have some sort of position battles at safety (7 players on roster, none return specialists), linebacker (7 players on roster) and wide receiver (8 players on roster). In this last group, we've decided to end it here for Ross Willbrandt. He might recover at some point, but with 61 men on roster, he's our odd man out, in a sense that he's not leaving us, but will go to injured reserve.

But for now, a bit of a waiting game. In a day or two, we'll know a bit more about where all the guys stand...
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Old 06-27-2019, 02:13 PM   #135
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Merchantmen lose 2083 pre-season opener to Walt Blair in overtime
Walt Blair's return to Maassluis was emotional. With mixed feelings, but mostly in a positive atmosphere, the Merchantmen fans recognized their star running back from two years ago that carried the offense for four seasons. The Brooklyn Fightin' Bums were visiting Oranje Haven in both teams' 2083 pre-season opener.

The Merchantmen scored first, stalling the Fightin' Bums' first drive and replying with a field goal. Chance Arnold took advantage of Kelly Blalock's passes to Riddick Bunting and Monty Elliott to move up field. Brooklyn went up 7-3 on a typical 80-yard drive and got the ball on the next drive after a fourth and short run by Leonard Belin fell short.

Brooklyn quarterback Ross Grinell ran for 4 yards early in the second quarter, Maassluis was kept to a field goal again, despite Kelly Blalock's effective passing. Oranje Haven erupted when Walt Blair was stuffed by first round rookie Heath Oliver on a third and one to force three and out. Chance Arnold scored on the responding drive and after a defensive stand then kicked the deficit to 14-12 on the final drive of the first half.

In the second half, both teams at first continued with the same players that were active in the first half. A couple of sacks pushed the Merchantmen back from the red zone and settled for their fifth field goal of the day, at last reclaiming the lead: 15-14. Defenses stood strong, including another failed fourth and two for the Merchantmen, this time when third down back Raul Curie was tackled for no gain. Merchantmen kick holder Karsten Muchnick then took over for backup quarterback Kelly Blalock and obviously failed to get his team to score.

Both teams stumbled on, until the Fightin' Bums backups finally broke out, scoring a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. After a successful two-point conversion, Brooklyn was up 22-15. Muchnick continued to be nothing but a kick holder and the Merchantmen fans rightfully started to wonder how this offense would even get any more first downs. Gabe Broady saved the day, returning a punt for 58 yards and a touchdown, tying the score just before the two-minute warning. The Merchantmen defense stood tall, the Merchantmen kick holder continued to collect boos. Overtime was the result.

Muchnick surprised the world by completing a 9-yard pass to Dennis Nadell, but a sack and bad throw later, Brooklyn had the ball back. On their second play of the drive, Walt Blair broke out for a fabulous 65-yard run and scored his first touchdown in Oranje Haven not wearing orange-white-and-blue. Brooklyn 28, Maassluis 22.

Kelly Blalock completed 17 of 24 passes for 167 yards and probably solidified his job as the backup quarterback. Karsten Muchnick completed 5 of 10 passes for 41 yards to secure his role as nothing but a kick holder, providing the Merchantmen staff won't be a bunch of blokes by putting him over Blalock in competitive games when Ellis McAlister (inactive today) for whatever reasons isn't on the field. (Which is very likely given the moronity staff members usually display in this game, sigh.)

Leonard Belin impressed, getting just 5 carries for -2 yards, making it one of the most underwhelming running performances by a starting running back, even for a pre-season game. Raul Curie lead the Merchantmen with 50 yards rushing on 14 carries. Jimmie Feffer was inactive.

Riddick Bunting caught 5 passes for 67 yards. Theodore Bondy was inactive.

Rookie left tackle Nathan Hadinger was benched midway through the game, much to the chagrin of the Merchantmen general manager, as the Merchantmen spent a second round pick on him and ordered the staff to give him as much action as possible.

First round picks Heath Oliver and Bart Guthrie were also disappointingly left off the field way too much. Oliver made 2 tackles and 1 assist, with no pass rush stats in as little as 25 plays. Bart Guthrie played on 2 more plays, making even a tackle less than Oliver. Yes, stupidity rules during pre-season games.

The Merchantmen defense allowed 362 total yards, including that 65-yarder in overtime. The Merchantmen offense gained 255 total yards. A tie-game would have done more justice here. If it wasn't for that former Merchantmen star running back. Walt Blair, this is why the Merchantmen fans loved you for four years. you're always welcome back in Oranje Haven, as long as you're not wearing the opponents' uniform.
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Old 06-27-2019, 02:23 PM   #136
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Merchantmen bounce back, win second pre-season game
In a defensive struggle, the Merchantmen captured the Capital City's stadium by winning 16-10 in regulation. Neither offense made a strong impression, likewise the defenses received kudos for holding the opponent under 300 total yards.

Kelly Blalock completed 13 of 20 passes for a whopping 81 yards. The Maassluis kickholder completed 3 of 5 passes for 24 yards.

Raul Curie ran 17 times for 105 yards, outperforming Leonard Belin's 40 yards on 7 carries.

Rico Techen caught 5 balls for 33 yards, making him the shockingly unproductive leading receiver for the Merchantmen.

Key rookie investments Heath Oliver, Bart Guthrie and Nathan Hadinger were much less active than ordered by team management.

The Merchantmen defense disrupted 15 of 44 passing plays, a Merchantmen worthy figure.

The Merchantmen continue their pre-season activity at the Chesapeake Chitterlings and finish in Oranje Haven against the Outer Banks Ospreys. Key offensive starters Ellis McAlister, Jimmie Feffer, Theodore Bondy and Louie Murray will finally be in action in those two games.
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Old 06-29-2019, 05:12 AM   #137
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General Manager Notes: the pressure is on us... huh?
League pundits have sky rockets the Merchantmen fans' expectations, some consider the Maassluis Merchantmen to be the #1 team in the league. Say what now?

Our pre-season results don't make me particularly optimistic. We lost at the Chesapeake Chitterlings after allowing their first two drives to go for touchdowns, which doesn't bode well for our starters on defense. McAlister struggled with his interception proneness, Bondy failed to top 100 yards, despite making 8 catches. We followed up by losing in a field goal fest against the Outer Banks Ospreys. It shows that our game plan on offense isn't good enough to move the chains in the opponents' territory. Feffer was underwhelming in both games.

At the same time, there's no denying that we've established what seems to be a very talented collective of players. McAlister, Bondy, Elliott, the OL, Hitchcock and Poloski, McCorkle and Brewer, the rookies Oliver and Guthrie, the depth on the DL, this team ought to do well!

Let me breakdown what our roster currently looks like, right before the final 4 cuts down to 53 men:

Quarterbacks
scoutnamenotes
60/60QB McAlisterkeeps getting beter and better, on paper
20/30QB Blalockall around passable
30/30QB Muchnickkick holder (staff, please take remember that!)
5/20QB Witkop (R)that combine was so promising
Sad to say, but Witkop is out. Too little progress in training camp. I wish Blalock was actually seen as our QB2 by our staff, he's the second best we have. McAlister is in the pack of 15th to 20th best quarterbacks.


Backfield
scoutnamenotes
50/50RB Fefferdeclining, not per se our RB1
50/50FB Cochranerun blocker, blitz protector
45/50RB Belinsniffing at RB1, but lacks stamina
30/30RB Curieshort yardage back
25/25RB Grahamsniffing at RB2 if we cut Feffer
20/20FB Latschawrun blocker
I still have to decide on what to do here. Feffer was the undisputed RB1, but his pre-season form was disappointing. Belin and Graham can't carry the team, lack of endurance, but could be solid in a committee. Curie is the short yardage guy. It basically forces us to stick with Feffer for this season and move on in 2084, depending on whether he's willing to take our last shot at a contract extension. Cochrane and Latschaw are additional run blockers in two-back formations.

Tight Ends
scoutnamenotes
60/60TE Elliottexcellent blocker, can get 1,000 yards receiving
40/40TE Sterngood run blocker, ok receiver
35/35TE Grundy (nw)ok run blocker
25/25TE Gowandeclining, ok receiver
Elliott is amongst a large group of guys that are sniffing at second best in the league in overall talent. All-IHOF first teamer last season, rightfully so. Stern and Grundy solidify our running game.

Wide Receivers
scoutnamenotes
80/80WR Bondythe real deal, best in the league
45/45WR Nadelldeclining, route runner
45/45WR Blazewiczdeclining, big-play guy
40/40WR Techenbig-play receiver
30/40WR Tharp (R)promising, but likely to get cut
30/30WR Buntingroute runner, special teamer
30/30WR Willbrandtkick returner, out for season
15/20WR Gellings (R)kick returner
No turning back, time to build around Bondy. I hope we can find the right mix of giving him a lot of looks and not overdoing it. Nadell and Blazewicz have proven to be 1,000-yard receivers, which means opponents can't focus on just Bondy. It'll be impossible to keep all these guys, we'll likely cut two of the other guys. Gellings will stay as our kickoff returner. Bunting might be safe as a gunner.

Offensive Line
scoutnamenotes
70/70C Pearsonrunning game anchor
60/60G Hankcomplete, low on stamina
60/60G Webbour top run blocking, low on stamina
50/50T Meadowsstill going strong
50/50T Murraypass protecting LT
55/55C Carter (nw)solid backup center
30/60T Hadinger (R)promising pass protecting LT
50/50G Godfrey (nw)added for depth
Pearson got snubbed for All-IHOF honors last season. Last year of contract, but we'll do what it takes to extend his deal. Hank and Webb are his sidekicks. Murray is our left tackle, noticing Hadinger in his rearview mirror. Meadows held up well enough to remain a starter for just another season. Carter and Godfrey give us depth in case of injuries.

Special Teamers
scoutnamenotes
70/70P Hornsbyquality punter, despite the age
60/60K Arnoldreliable kicker, also on long kicks
20/20LS Sepanski (nw)he's a long snapper, shocker!
Can't go without them, all our amongst the top10 at their position. Still puzzling whether we can afford Hornsby and Arnold to extend their contract now, or risk losing them in free agency next off-season. In Hornsby's case, if he doesn't retire...

Defensive Line
scoutnamenotes
70/80DT Oliver (R)our best run defender already
55/55DT Stieglerdeclining, still pretty good
50/50DT Posantelacks stamina, complete player
45/45DE Kempour best pass rusher
45/45DE Lyonspass rusher, ok run stopper
40/40DT Shraderimproving, mostly pass rusher
35/45DE Russellpromising complete guy, lacks stamina
30/30DE Wyliespecial teamer
A weird group of players. Most of them are very good pass rushers, most have play diagnosis, some can tackle. All but two lack the endurance to play all downs. We'll likely use 7 of these guys on our rotation, with Wylie the obvious the guy only used on special teams. Weird as it may sound, I'm still not sold on Oliver, we'll likely keep him out of the nickel and dime formations.

Linebackers
scoutnamenotes
75/75MLB McCorkleshould need no introduction
65/65OLB Brewerstill going strong
45/45OLB Stokesthird linebacker
30/40OLB Springer (R)ok potential, special teamer
30/30OLB Keithspecial teamer, can play if needed
25/25MLB Pagespecial teamer, can zone defend
Two starters and four special teamers.

Secondary
scoutnamenotes
80/80CB Hitchcockbest corner in the league
50/50CB Poloskilacks endurance, decent CB2
50/70S Guthrie (R)promising, the SS that we lacked so long?
40/40S Harkleroadstill going strong
35/35CB Mortonunderrated nickelback
35/35S McIndoesolid dimeback
30/40S Millerstill not convinced he's a future starter
25/50S Marty (R)green, but resembles Harkleroad
25/25S Hinesok alternative
15/20CB Broadyour punt returner
This unit has been our worst in performance last season. By a wide margin even. Despite having that Hitchcock guy, supposedly best cornerback in the league. Hopefully the addition of Guthrie fixes things, he's obviously still green, but I'm optimistic about him turning into a top5 player at his position. Poloski continues to underwhelm, but we'll have to stick with him by lack of better options. The depth at safety is based on their ability to play a nickel or dime role. Harkleroad is still good enough to be our second all-around safety.
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Last edited by MIJB#19 : 06-29-2019 at 05:16 AM.
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Old 06-30-2019, 05:06 PM   #138
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General Manager Notes: Feffer stays, Graham out. Right?
I had such good hopes about Ronald Graham. Undrafted pickup from the 2078 draft class. Very good hole recognition, good break away speed. We gave him 14 games to fill in for an injured Walt Blair. 3.6 yards per carry, just one 100-yard performance. The latter came in the playoffs though, we had a nice run with Graham filling in for Blair. But the wait is just about over, we've selected Leonard Belin in the sixth round of last season's draft and also acquired the veteran Jimmie Feffer, like Blair and Graham from the class of 2078. It's Feffer at RB1 for another season, for now. Or..?

Contract renegotiations with Jimmie Feffer have been difficult. He's scheduled to make $22.7M this season, of which $15.99M is the base salary. If we cut or trade him, that money becomes available to extend contracts of players like Butch Pearson (the center of our offensive line), Chance Arnold (our kicker, a third round pick in 2079), aforementioned Graham himself, backup safety Peyton Hines and a trio of defensive linemen that are seeing a lot of time in our rotation: Gino Kemp, Max Lyons and Erik Shrader.

We've improved our cap situation a little bit by renegotiating ten veterans, while also locking them up for the 2084 season. Most notable were Oscar Meadows (our all-time best right tackle), safety Maurice Harkleroad (back for yet another season as a starter) and our punter Tito Hornsby.

Locking up Butch Pearson is the most crucial part and can be done without Feffer's help. Getting Feffer to take a cut of like $5M this season would help to at least extend contracts of Lyons and Shrader. Kemp and Arnold appear to be lost cases, their demands are too rich for our current cap situation. Unless we cut Feffer and open up another $15M, which would free up the required cap space to extend them all...

As I mentioned in earlier notes, Leonard Belin might be the smarter play than Feffer. Belin's hole recognition is superior, while Belin's (lack of) elusiveness makes him less erratic. We'll have to face that Feffer no longer is the top5 running back that we thought we had acquired. The only person on the planet that still thinks he is, well, that's his agent. And to be fair, he was top5 in gross yardage and touchdowns in the ground game. It's pointless to feature him on passing plays, he's a modest receiver and a horrible pass blocker.

As you can see, it's quite the pickle we're in. With opening day still a week away, that's plenty of time to second and triple guess what to do here.

Decisions, decisions...
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Old 07-10-2019, 04:54 PM   #139
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Merchantmen cut Jimmie Feffer opening day 2083
Jimmie Feffer's stint with the Maassluis Merchantmen lasted just one season. Despite coming off his most productive season to date with 1,549 yards rushing, the Merchantmen decided to part ways with Feffer when contract negotiations failed to lead to an extension the Merchantmen management could agree upon. The move helped second-year pro Leonard Belin into the leading role, with Ronald Graham and Raul Curie also in the mix due to Belin's suspect endurance. Feffer, no doubt, will find a new home soon.

Due to the release, the Merchantmen opened up enough cap space to extend contracts of five potential free agents: center Butch Pearson and defensive linemen Gino Kemp, Max Lyons, Erik Shrader and Ezekiel Wylie.
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Old 07-16-2019, 12:10 PM   #140
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General Manager Notes: 2083 and the staff that can't game plan
Game planning in football isn't cut and dry, it appears to be quite the art to create a plan that works.

For this season, we've thrown overboard the plan that we had used for roughly 2 decades. The new plan was supposed to be an improvement. The staff has been given the go ahead in all 7 games this regular season. The end result is downright unbelievably pathetic. Our team ranks 30th in scoring, having scored 23, 20, 17, 16, 10, 16 and 7 points. That includes 4 home games. Uncharacteristically we've beaten the current division leader (Gothenburg) and the defending league champions (Tucker), the third victory came again Kansas. All three times, the defense had to carry the team by allowing 13 or less points.

Being completely lost about where to begin to fix things, I've decided to give the staff an ultimatum: go back to what worked before this season and if we fail again, it's going to be a complete overhaul, because at 3-5, the season is pretty much wasted already. Mind you, we were one of the favorites for the league title this season, our roster isn't just a good one, it's up there with the very best. We have something to prove here.

Has the defense really carried us though? Not quite either. We've shockingly allowed the 3rd worst yards rushing per game and yards per carry. Unacceptable on a team with all what we have invested in our defense. Our pass defense is quite the disaster as well, allowing the 6th most yards per attempt, having the 5th worst pass defense rating and being light years away from what should be an elite pass rush.

The offense apparently is the better part of these two. Our running game is mediocre, the passing game in the bottom third of the league. We used to be good in yards per catch and per attempt, those days are over if I leave it all up to our staff. At least our special teams unit is saving the day again and again. Which is old school, but not quite enough to make us jump into the 13-3 juggernaut that we were expecting to see this season. So far, we're as bad as the new advertising heavy Operation Sports forums: annoyingly slow in processing what used to be a reliable thing.

The good news?

Well, let's not go there for now. It's up to the team to regroup, fast, and start playing like the most talented Merchantmen roster ever, which they are scouted to be. Bondy, McAlister and that whole defensive unit, get your acts together, play some football and make us proud!
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Old 07-17-2019, 07:38 PM   #141
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His name is Ellis, Ellis McAlister

For a quarterback there are some mountains to climb to make a name in the International House Of Football. Helped by what some claim to be one of the best wide receivers to play the game, today it was Ellis McAlister's turn to join the ranks of Hall of Famers Jared Brimberry, Shaun Duncan, Ted Wolf, Bob Jourden, Jackie Collier and Ryan Norris, as well as the active legend Clayton Andrews (perhaps the best quarterback since Collier).

A humble sixth round pick from the 2074 draft, the Merchantmen saw something in the Oklahoma quarterback, born and raised in Mount Vernon, Washington. Five long years, McAlister was forced to ride the bench. He saw little action, handing off three times to Lance Blackwell in a 40-14 blowout of the Bordeaux Vineyards as a rookie. Back then it was Robbie Howe, the next two Erick Loera, followed by Sammy Erickson and Bennett Morris, all for a single season. By then, people still saw an emergency quarterback at best that had grown into a replacement level ball thrower.

But after the unexpected retirement of Bennett Morris, combined with the sudden decline of Sammy Erickson, McAlister all of a sudden went from fourth quarterback on roster to opening day starter in the 2079 season. Supported by the charming Walt Blair at running back and future Hall of Famer wide receiver J.R. Mills, McAlister guided the Merchantmen past the Paris Musketeers in his first real action. The 12-4 bye week campaign came to a crushing halt in the divisional round against the Clayton Andrews lead Toronto Lake Monsters, with 5 interceptions on McAlister's stat line. But a star was born, Maassluis had finally found their new franchise quarterback, the gut wrenching blow was forgiven after the unlikely breakout season.

Even at the age of 28, there was still room to improve for McAlister. Albeit a triplet of up and down seasons, league scouts kept reporting about McAlister getting better and better. Going into the 2083 season, the Merchantmen staff claims he's amongst the better half of starting quarterbacks, which was by no means written in the stars back when he was taken in that sixth round.

The 2083 campaign hasn't been all that particularly impressive either. The first four games saw the Merchantmen beat the Gothenburg Giants, Kansas Creationists and Tucker Tigers, sitting at 3-1. McAlister's play was far from stellar. No better than 227 yards passing, just 3 touchdowns versus 2 interceptions. The next three games, things went downhill at lightning speed. The fans were screaming for the head of Ellis after a couple of horrendous defeats at home. The 4 interceptions against the Snapfinger Jazz became the center of critism, McAlister's worst showing in a regular season game ever, second worst only to that day he got picked off 5 times after a cinderella story season.

Then came today's road game at the Bordeaux Vineyards. Merchantmen ownership basically called ultimatum on the staff: get this team's act together, or things will go another way.

First drive, first play: a dropped pass by Theodore Bondy. Second play, McAlister gets drilled by a Bordeaux defensive end. Third play, McAlister goes with the safest option, dumping to his running back to come short of a first down.

Down 7-0, things didn't get any better on the second drive. A hand off to Leonard Belin for 13 yards got followed up with a run for a loss from Belin. Third play of the drive, McAlister misjudges, misses his targeted fullback and a Bordeaux cornerback picks it off to move into Merchantmen territory.

Down 10-0, things continued to be downright disappointing. McAlister goes for a scramble on the first play, then sees Belin get the first down on the next play. Third play, McAlister gets sacked again. Fourth play, a screen pass to Theodore Bondy, obviously resulting in not much of a gain. Third and twelve, McAlister goes for the safe option of Artie Blazewicz for barely a gain.

The Merchantmen special teams unit then interferes as Craig McCorkle forces a fumble on the punt return and after left tackle Louie Murray miraculously comes away with it, Maassluis is in the red zone for the first time. McAlister throws another screen pass on second down, but on third and six, finally some success. McAlister finds Theodore Bondy open for a walk in touchdown.

The second quarter, things get a little bit better, but only just barely. McAlister finds All-IHOF tight end Monty Elliott for the first time today, sees Theodore Bondy drop another pass and gets sacked on the second drive of the quarter. A 28-yard catch and run from Bondy gets the engines running and the second touchdown pass (to fullback Tristan Cochrane) follows immediately after. The remainder of the second quarter is far from impressive, Maassluis plays a ball control game, which they fail in and they're trailing 20-12 at half time.

First drive of the second half, the Merchantmen defense forces three and out, putting all eyes on McAlister and his crew. An unlikely third and pretty long conversation to third stringer Rico Techen gets the chains moving. McAlister finally starts connecting with Bondy, ending the drive in a 15-yard catch and run from inside the red zone for the touchdown, leaving Maassluis trailing by just 1 point now.

The Merchantmen defense forces another three and out, now the offense gets finally in a swing. Another catch and run by Theodore Bondy puts the Merchantmen 26-20 up. Rookie Heath Oliver co-sacks Brad Nestor for the third time, the other first round rookie Bart Guthrie makes the tackle to force Bordeaux to punt. Third down: McAlister to Bondy, first down. Third down: McAlister to Bondy, first down. Third down: McAlister to Gavin Stern, first down.

Raul Curie makes the big run to start the fourth quarter and McAlister then finds Artie Blazewicz in the end zone for the 33-20 lead. By then, already the fifth touchdown pass from McAlister, with almost a full quarter of football still to go.

By then, the Bordeaux offense appeared to be broken, with the Merchantmen defense forcing another three and out. McAlister's sixth touchdown pass was a tremendous run after a short pass to Monty Elliott, hauling it in from 45 yards out. At that point, he ties a franchise record, in forgone times set by the pick machine Louie Flannery in the 2009 season. Harry Osborne joined the club of six in 2040 and as a backup saw Perry Coleman join in 2043. In 2078, McAlister was a witness when Bennett Morris became the fourth member in a tremendous showing against the Paris Musketeers. Today, McAlister had joined the last guy he had to backup.

But it wasn't all over just yet. After yet another three and out, McAlister connected with Artie Blazewicz on another short pass turned into a long touchdown. 47-20 up, but for McAlister, a record-breaking and -tying moment. The remaining 8 minutes of the game turned into garbage time, but forever, the Bordeaux Vineyards fans will have to remember they saw an opposing former sixth round quarterback throw 7 touchdown passes in a single game, something no European IHOF fanbase had seen before, neither on the supporting or opposing side.

After the game, the player of the game, Ellis McAlister smiled, but at the same time understood very well how this game goes. It was just another game, the Merchantmen had been less than underwhelming in the last three games, it was just a way to get back to .500. Next up, a road game at the Orlando Talons, a 6-2 team with the top scoring offense so far this season. But if the Merchantmen can bring this kind of A-game with them to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, anything can happen...

Tonight, the former sixth round pick, former fourth stringer, can go to sleep, knowing he joined the ranks of seven Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Also knowing back home, the Kansas Creationists saw their quarterback Hugh Gaines miss the opportunity to do the same thing on the exact same day, throwing for 504 yards and 6 touchdowns. Time was a plenty, but the Moontown Darksiders defense decided enough was enough down 45-17. Hugh Gaines got the Player of the Week honors.

But Ellis McAlister knows those come by 17 times per season, Gaines won the 1352nd iteration of it, excluding 316 rounds of playoffs games. Gaines had a 6 in his stat line, McAlister a 7. Something only 7 other quarterbacks had done before, combining for now 10 occurances. If he doesn't make it into the Hall Of Fame, which after sitting out the first five seasons of his career will be a longshot, he'll always have today.

Ellis? Who the fuck is Ellis? He's Ellis McAlister, a record-tying quarterback from Mount Vernon, Washington.
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Old 07-19-2019, 06:57 AM   #142
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The rising star Theodore Bondy

In and around Maassluis, football fans are unanimous: Theodore Bondy might be the best offensive player to put on the orange-white-and-blue. Merchantmen management and staff are outspoken about Bondy being the best skill position player in the IHOF, but it's easier said than done. For a while, they just thought the potential was there, but in recent weeks, Bondy has started to deliver. With five consecutive games at 100+ yards receiving, Bondy has become that productive leader of the offense.

"It's been a struggle," says offensive coordinator Neal Murack, "last season Theodore [Bondy] was still learning the game." In game situation practice sessions, Bondy was often paired up with Kirk Hitchcock, the best cornerback in football. Reports out of Merchantmen training facilities are they've been a competitive duo, they make each other better players. With 1,469 yards in his rookie season, Bondy did well, ranked tenth in the league. But this season, the greenness is wearing off. Additionally, the team is adjusting the game plan every week, even went as far as completely redoing their playbook in the last off-season after nearly 2 decades of 'good is good enough'. All in an attempt to make the best use of this generational top talent.

In recent games, Bondy has started to excel. Quarterback Ellis McAlister's strong arm is suddenly getting the job done, but mostly, he's just making sure the ball goes into the right hands, Bondy's. 10 games in, Bondy is leading the IHOF with 1,308 yards receiving, with his 102 catches being only second to Hanalei's Taylor Clayton. The road game at the Orlando Talons in particular was an eye opener to the neutral football fans. Bondy caught 8 passes for 249 yards and 2 scores. He was no longer a potential superstar, he arrived in his 26th game in the IHOF.

Glimpses of his ability were noticed time and time again before, but now that the Merchantmen are starting to find the right balance between being unpredictable, throwing short and throwing deep, Bondy is becoming the player everybody hoped and thought he could be. It's too early to throw him out there with the all-time greats, but with 6 games to go, in good health, it's not unheard of to project Bondy to become the second Merchantmen receiver to reach 2,000 yards in a season. In fact, he needs 76 yards per game to place himself in the second best Merchantmen season in between J.R. Mills' great 2078 and spectacular 2077 campaigns.

Be not mistaken about the Merchantmen being just about Bondy. Their receivers unit includes three proven 1,000-yard receivers, with All-IHOF first team tight end Monty Elliott currently being the second most frequent target. Speedster Artie Blazewicz and Dennis Nadell, the guy that always gets open, give the opponents plenty of reason to think twice about double or triple teaming Bondy. Meanwhilst, second year sixth round running back Leonard Belin is giving opposing defenses another reason to not overdo on covering Bondy. Belin has ran for 85 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry, despite getting about 70 percent of backfield carries.

Team effort and all, it's undeniable that Theodore Bondy's star is rising. In Ellis McAlister's seven-touchdown game, Bondy was on the receiving end 3 times. The quarterback had his day in the spotlights (only to miss out on offensive player of the week honors to Kansas' Hugh Gaines' 504 yards and 6 touchdowns passing), but Bondy was there to make it happen.

Today, Bondy (11 catches for 144 yards and a score) had a leading role in the crucial 27-14 victory over the Gothenburg Giants, completing the head-to-head sweep and trimming the gap to 1 game behind the 6-4 division leaders. The Paris Musketeers are also still in the mix, whom the Merchantmen will face in week 17 in what could be an all or nothing game.
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Old 07-19-2019, 10:58 AM   #143
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General Manager Notes: Camping in .500 land
A crucial victory over the Gothenburg Giants brought us back to .500 land. With 5 victories in 10 games, we're still one of the disappointments of the season. I hope it's a short stay here, seeing us go North from here on and hopefully make the playoffs with double digits wins after all.

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

It's been a disappointing season for the most part. The start was nice (beating Gothenburg and Kansas), followed by a mixed bag (bad showing in Houston, then us shocking Tucker), then followed by a threesome of games that are up there in being one of our worst sets ever. Although, the last time we lost three straight by 11 or more points was only 2 seasons ago, when we pulled one of the biggest choke jobs in league history by going from division leaders with no losses by less than a score to losing the last three by 13 or more each and completely missing the playoffs.

The latest three games saw us trounce the Bordeaux Vineyards, blundering to not kick a game tying field goal in Orlando and today beating Gothenburg fair and square.

Our running game is doing pretty well, Leonard Belin is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. We need it to play our balanced game plan. Our receivers are, well, Theodore Bondy and a bunch of guys that barely get any looks. Bondy is elite and delivers. Ellis McAlister is going with the flow of our games, either because we used horrible game plans, or because McAlister himself is so erratic. I hope it's all on the game planning inability from my staff and not on our ball thrower.

The defense was doing well in recent games, but over the course of the season (10 games so far), it's still the unit that's failing us. 5th most rushing yards allowed, 3rd worst yards per carry figure, 8th worst yards per pass attempt, 9th worst pass defense rating... Only the pass rush percentage is slowly recovering and ranking 5th best at the moment.

Heath Oliver and Bart Guthrie are making good progress though. Let's hope their progress will go hand in hand with the entire defense's improvement...
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Old 07-22-2019, 05:16 AM   #144
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General Manager Notes: Another opportune season down the drain?
The pre-season favorites to win it all are once again south of .500 land. For the fourth time this season, we lost by 11 or more points. That's already on par with last season (then we still snuck into the playoffs at 10-6, only to get crushed in the wild card round). One more and we'll have our worst season since 2022.

Let that work into you: worst season since 2022. It was a horrific 5-11 campaign, despite having Rusty Harrison throwing long bombs to Gabe Springer. Sounds familiar? That season we had losses of 29-45, 14-31, 21-34, 26-37, 7-24, 24-38 and 14-35. (2061 would be next closest, as our fifth worst loss was by 10 points). What does it tell us? Quite simply that it's been one of the most disappointing seasons in quite some time.

The bright side of things? Back then, we bounced back big time in 2023, which was one of my personal favorite teams. We scored 507 points in the regular season, had an amazing offense and a shaky defense, an almost un-Merchantmen like team.

Today, we have the best wide receiver, a capable quarterback, a better than average running game and purely based on talent an awesome defense. In potential only, it seems. But maybe, just like that 2022 team, we're very close to breaking the trend and about to move forward into better times. Heck, why not this season? Shockingly enough, at 5-6 and a -17 points differential, we're still mathematically alive for the playoffs, knowing that the division title is closer than a wild card.

We're recovering from a less than stellar defeat by the hands of the Chicaco Norsemen. The defense achieved the unthinkable, allowing two running backs to run for 100 yards in the same game. Even though this was a team known for being run heavy, a team with Heath Oliver, Craig McCorkle and Bart Guthrie should never allow that to happen. Ever. Period.

Yet we did. And in the same game, we overdid the 'throw it to Bondy' thing big time. 20 target, 7 catches, 58 yards, 7 yards after catch. Bravo, Chicago defense. Monty Elliott and Artie Blazewicz sucked as well, so it wasn't as simple as covering Bondy, the support team was dreadful as well. That's how you stop our offense.

Five more games, the season isn't completely lost yet. We have no first round pick to suck for. Seriously, we've never sucked for luck and we'll never will, we'll always keep on playing to try to end the season on a positive note, even when we're out of contention. Our thing is choking it when we're doing well, and suddenly winning late in the season after we've sucked for the first 11 or so games. Well, how about that? Maybe we can righten the ship again, set sail for the promised land, make a short stop at .500 land and go north from there on.

One game at a time, though. One at a time.
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Old 07-22-2019, 06:58 AM   #145
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Merchantmen return to .500 land
For the fourth time this (2083) season, the Maassluis Merchantmen moved to .500. A solid 20-3 victory over the Harlem Apollos in a not quite sold out Oranje Haven improved them to a 6-6 record. Theodore Bondy caught 11 passes for 171 yards and a score, leading the way on offense, while the defense had a good day, allowing only 174 total yards.

A rollercoaster of a season continues for the Merchantmen. Grueling deficits are followed up with upset victories, or at one time failing to kick a field goal to force overtime. For now, 6-6 feels about right given what the Merchantmen have displayed on the field.

Ellis McAlister completed 21 of 36 passes for 251 yards and a couple of scores, seeing him bounce back from the off-day in Chicago last week. He's thrown for multiple scores in 4 of the last 5 games, while being picked off once per game on average. Most importantly, he's been using the top receiver in the league, finding Theodore Bondy on 9 touchdown passes in those 5 games and getting the ball in his hands 48 times for 782 yards.

At 120 catches for 1,537 yards, Bondy himself continues to be on pace for a two-mile season, an achievement reached only 15 times in IHOF history. Toronto Lake Monsters' Jameson Sawyer managed it 4 times in the last 5 seasons. Before that, in 2077 Maassluis' very own J.R. Mills was the eighth player to get in the two-mile club, amassing 2,228 yards receiving. That franchise record might be too steep for Bondy, although his recent form of 156 yards per game would get him close to the required 173 yards per game he'll need. He's already ahead of Riddick Stanley's best season (1,536 yards) and has Terry Haskell (1,575 yards) and Gabe Springer (1,669 yards) within reach. The receptions record looks like up for grabs, bar injuries, Gabe Springer's franchise record of 128 should be doable, perhaps as early as the next game at the Arizona Miners. Bondy's actually on pace to barely miss the league record, set by Jameson Sawyer at 162 receptions in 2078 and repeated in 2081.

But despite Bondy's amazing season, the overall performance of the Merchantmen isn't up to franchise standards. The defense's topnotch showing against the Apollos hasn't kept the team from still sitting within the worst four rushing defenses, while the pass defense has improved to league average, roughly. That 6-6 record is still 2 wins behind the division leading 8-4 Gothenburg Giants and behind the AOC Deep South's three 8-4 teams, where Atlanta will still have to host both Fort Wayne and Houston, meaning third place will be 11-5 at best. Even then, if somehow third place falls to 10-6, the Merchantmen will likely have inferior tie-breakers, not to mention they're also still behind the Augusta Greenjackets on tie-breakers. Only the Tucker Tigers (6-6 as well) are no real treat to the Merchantmen in the tie-breakers race.

But one game at a time. The Merchantmen will be visiting the Arizona Miners, a team that might be even more loaded than Maassluis' roster. The Miners have been underachievers for several seasons and at 6-6 are struggling to get W's as well. The winner will stumble on, the losing owner will probably continue to complain about the bunch of overpaid chokers on the payroll.
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Old 07-23-2019, 11:04 AM   #146
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General Manager Notes: Rant, rant, rant!
The 2083 season is shaping up to be a major disappointment. Not just a season where we're barely missing out, losing in overtime of on a last minute touchdown after being up by 4 points. No, we're getting crushed left and right, all over the old and new continent.

Yes, Ellis McAlister has a problem with throwing interceptions. Yes, we're trying too hard to throw it to Theodore Bondy. But that doesn't explain how discouraging the defense's performances have been. We can't stop the run, we can't stop the pass. Despite the likes of Heath Oliver, Craig McCorkle, Glen Stiegler, Gino Kemp, Andy Russell, Kirk Hitchcock, Bart Guthrie, Tre Poloski and Glenn Bower all on this unit. Indeed, in theory perhaps the best defense in the entire league.

Is there light at the end of this tunnel? Theoretically we're still in the hunt, At 9-7 we could, potentially, possibly, perhaps, maybe, somehow sneak into the playoffs. We'll have to keep winning as well, if only to keep the Bordeaux Vineyards from getting a top10 pick from us. At the same time, they've close to clinched the top pick in the second round for us with their sensationally bad performance.

I'm trying to change the negative flow towards staying positive, but with the current lack of results, it's been quite hard. Heath Oliver has apparently made so much progress, our staff scouts him as fully developed and as such in the realm of guys like Theodore Bondy, Kirk Hitchcock and Craig McCorkle. Bart Guthrie is coming along well too, but his progress is slower, mostly because he had more ground to gain. It'll be tough to keep a deep roster like this together, cap space will be an issue 2 seasons from now. 2084 should be fine, I suppose that will be our season to get things done.

2083 though... I fear it's all over. Despite being mathematically still in the race. Let's work on our game plan and get the results of it next season at the very least.
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Old 07-24-2019, 10:02 AM   #147
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General Manager Notes: Stayin' Alive
Week 15, 7 losses on our track record, a negative points differential, but we're somehow still alive.

We've congratulated the Gothenburg Giants on their division title, that franchise's first since 2076. We beat the IHOF's worst team, by record at least, the Bordeaux Vineyards, 40-24. It didn't come easy, even. A punt return touchdown by Gabe Broady and a pick six from Craig McCorkle were required to separate ourselves from the Vineyards.

Ellis MCAlister completed 28 of 37 passes for 312 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Leonard Belin ran for 66 yards and a score, averaging 4.7 per carry, while Raul Curie scored on a one-yard run. Theodore Bondy was unsurprisingly our leading receiver, with 11 catches for 144 yards and the sole score.

At 1,829 yards receiving, Bondy is 59 yards ahead of Hanalei's Taylor Clayton, the number two in the league. At 139 receptions Bondy's actually 5 behind Clayton. But let's not talk about records anymore, it'll require a couple of sensational once in a lifetime kind of games to go there. More importantly, we're somehow still alive in the race for the last wild card.

It won't come easy though, we'll have to beat the AOC Midwest leading Iowa Cobbers and then follow up by avenging the Paris Musketeers on the road. We'll also require some other teams across the league to fall apart. The 8-6 Houston Mustangs beat us in week 3, we'll need them to extend their losing streak by 2, or at least see them fall behind the San Antonio Tidal Force, currently 7-7 and behind Houston. We'll also need the 8-6 Tucker Tigers to stumble on at least one of their last two opponents.

Are my hopes up? Not quite yet. We've been very hot and cold this season. Our running game is average, our passing game is average, our pass defense is average, our run defense is hair pulling bad underachieving. I'm saying this week in week out, but it continues to be true, our run defense is enigmatically bad. I'm given my staff a chance to fix it every week, but they haven't found the solution yet. Except for the home games against the Tucker Tigers, Gothenburg Giants and Harlem Apollos.

For now, it's an old tune getting another turn, we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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Old 07-25-2019, 09:46 AM   #148
MIJB#19
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
General Manager Notes: keep on believing
One round of games to go, we're still in the race, although just barely.

Today, we've managed to roll up the Iowa Cobbers 41-10. Wait, let's rephrase that. We managed to roll a Yathzee! of sort. Today, the big plays came on defense and on special teams. Giovanni Morton had a pair of long interceptions return touchdowns, Travis Gellings had his first career kickoff return touchdown and Gabe Broady achieved back-to-back games with a punt return touchdown.

We lost out punter Tito Hornsby. He had to go to the hospital, turned out he needed an appendectomy, he's ruled out for the last game and whatever number of games we'll get to play in the post-season.

We've also lost our number two tight end Gavin Stern, which means Kody Gowan will return to the active roster for the first time this season. Gowan was active in every game of the last two seasons. Stern had been a prominent, yet unproductive piece in our passing game. Ellis McAlister and our kick holder have already targeted Stern 60 times, resulting in just 36 catches for 344 yards. Our star tight end Monty Elliott hasn't done that much better this season, with just 56 catches for 528 yards and 3 scores in 15 games. Elliott does appear to be the leagues best run blocker from his position this season, for whatever that's worth. His receiving numbers are still a lot more than our proven 1,000-yard wide receivers Artie Blazewicz (24 catches for 203 yards and 2 scores) and Dennis Nadell (5 catches for 128 yards).

But enough about our receivers, we'll need a couple of things to happen to be able to reach the playoffs. We'll have to beat the Paris Musketeers. On the road, that will be challenging enough, because albeit being eliminated after today's results, the Musketeers will never stop trying to beat us. We'll also need the Houston Mustangs to lose at the Atlanta Vipers and the Tucker Tigers to loss at the Orlando Talons. Our conference record will be barely good enough to edge the Tigers and Mustangs. This will all be for the last wild card, because there's no way for us to get ahead of the aforementioned Atlanta Vipers and their division leading Fort Wayne Fury, despite that both are just 1 win ahead of us. The Solecismic playoff probabilities machine gives us roughly a 1 in 6 shot, which is actually slightly better than the 1 in 8 odds if you're counting all three games as 50-50 to win or lose.

1 in 6, those are better odds than rolling a Yahtzee!, but given that we rolled one today, it seems unlikely the dice will favor us again tomorrow. For now, a win is a win. There's still hope. Stay strong, Merchantmen!
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Old 07-26-2019, 08:33 AM   #149
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Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Merchantmen sneak into 2083 playoffs
The season continues, the Maassluis Merchantmen beat the Paris Musketeers 24-20 on the road and saw their two rivals for the last wild card both lose: the also fighting for their chances Atlanta Vipers beat the Houston Mustangs and the Tucker Tigers lost at the top seeded Orlando Talons. It turned out to be a fumble infested day, not just for the Merchantmen, but for four of five teams competing for the playoffs tickets. Only the Fort Wayne Fury kept their nerves under control and posted a smooth victory.

The Merchantmen didn't have their best start to a game. After giving up a solid kick return, the Paris Musketeers started close to midfield and with two strong catch and run plays marched into the red zone. The Merchantmen defense held ground and being 3-0 down was considered an acceptable outcome. A defensive battled followed, with Maassluis getting three-and-out-ed, but getting the ball back quickly after a 4-play drive. The short punt was returned well by the IHOF's best punt returner of this season, Gabe Broady, only to see him fumble, but the recently activated Kody Gowan saved the day. The Merchantmen line struggled to protect their quarterback and after a couple of hurried throws, Paris got the ball back already. A three-and-out by the Merchantmen defense came next, only to see their offensive line struggle again, quarterback Ellis McAlister got strip sacked and Paris found themselves inside field goal range. An unsportsmanlike penalty on quarterback Neil Poling drove the Musketeers back and made them settle for a 37-yard field goal for a 6-0 lead.

Just before the switch of ends, the Merchantmen offense finally got their engines going. Leonard Belin had a couple of 9-yard runs, while Theodore Bondy made the third down catch to start the second quarter on the Paris 27-yard line. Ellis McAlister wasted no time, his first throw of the quarter went into Bondy's hands and the IHOF's leading receiver extended the play from a short gain to a touchdown and a 7-6 lead. The Musketeers' running game got going as well, but the Merchantmen defense once again didn't break and Paris settled for a third field goal and a 9-7 lead. A quartet of strong runs from Raul Curie made the Merchantmen march into Paris' red zone, settling for a field goal and a 10-9 lead. The Musketeers started to struggle with the Merchantmen pass rush and saw their kicker miss a 49-yarder on the next drive. Anchored by a strong catch and run from tight end Monty Elliott, the Merchantmen marched into the red zone and saw Raul Curie bulldoze it into the end zone for a 17-9 lead. Neither team took much risks in their last drive before half time, setting the mid-game score at Maassluis 17, Paris 9.

Both teams offenses looked stronger in their first drives after the big break, but somehow failed to get points on the board, despite being close to field goal range. The clock was ticking away at high speed, with the Merchantmen finally breaking into field position where scoring looked inevitable. Until Ellis McAlister got sacked again, fumbled again, this time with Paris' Brady Heniger running it back for 71 yards and a game tying touchdown. The tied score got there as Neil Poling connected with Darrin Sheldon for the two-pointer: Maassluis 17, Paris 17.

In the fourth quarter, a field position battle ensued. The Merchantmen were slowly losing it, saw Raul Curie stuffed at their own 1-yard line. Newly signed punter Carlos Emmons pinned Paris back to their 36-yard line, but Neil Poling was unimpressed. Poling found Warren Teal for a 17-yard gain and on third and 4 threw it to a wide open Eugene Hamilton for a touchdown. The explosion of joy was cut short, as a holding penalty took the points back off the board. Perhaps distracted from the previous play, the next try for Poling ended up intercepted by rookie safety Bart Guthrie. The Merchantmen had taken momentum, now was the time to get things moving and take the lead. No such luck, the Paris Musketeers forced three-and-out, but so did the Merchantmen defense on the next drive. With just over 3 minutes to go, Ellis McAlister returned the interception throwing favor. Paris' Lee Lane picked off a pass intended for Theodore Bondy. Maassluis' Glen Stiegler sacked Neil Poling on the next play, but Poling replied with a long third down conversion to get into field goal range. Erik Sharder sacked Poling on third down, but with 89 second to go, Paris took a 20-17 lead.

With time running out, the word spread amongst the Merchantmen players of the scores elsewhere in the league, both teams that Maassluis needed to lose (Houston and Tucker) were losing, there was still a chance. Ellis McAlister found Nicholas Gundy for a 7-yard gain, throwing away from the double covered deep going Theodore Bondy. On the next play, the other tight end Monty Elliott turned a 6-yard catch into a 29-yard gain, field goal range was reached. That is to say, if the Merchantmen actually remember there's such a thing as a field goal, they threw away the game at the Orlando Talons by forgetting all about it. The pressure was on, McAlister had to throw the ball away on first down. On second down, rinse and repeat: a defensive end was closing in on McAlister and the quarterback threw the ball away, avoiding another sack. Third and ten, 39 yards from the end zone, two time outs remaining. Maassluis lined up in a running formation, but both wide receivers on each side of the field went off for a deep run. Theodore Bondy got double coverage on the right side, but Artie Blazewicz was out running his cornerback on the left side. The line was holding, McAlister buys some time, launches the ball... Touchdown, Merchantmen! Blazewicz. The kick was good, Maassluis goes up 24-20, with only 10 seconds remaining.

Chance Arnold's kickoff then is deep enough to get the touchback. Paris goes for a hail mary formation, but the Merchantmen defense is unimpressed. Defensive tackle Glen Stiegler finds his way through the offensive line and forces Neil Poling to throw the ball away, not realizing the clock has reached all zeroes. Maaasluis has won, the narrow escape is still possible. Word from Atlanta comes in, the Vipers have beaten the Houston Mustangs 34-26, that's one opponent down. The Tucker Tigers are down 30-10 in Orlando, with 3 minutes left to play. Orlando wastes time and goes for the punt. The Tigers then get aggressive, trying to get back, but with a minute to go, Randy Winters' pass gets picked off and run back for a touchdown. The nail in the coffin. Tucker doesn't even call time out anymore. Games over, the Maassluis Merchantmen sneak into the playoffs!

It means an up-and-down season for the Merchantmen continues past week 17. Next up, a trip to the Fort Wayne Fury, the fourth seeded Deep South winners. A team not to be underestimated, despite their 10-6 record. The Fury's quarterback Josue Olivares has the league's highest passer rating, leaning heavily on his league leading completion percentage and a 31:7 touchdown-vs-interception ratio. With the team they have, reaching the playoffs wasn't the goal for this season at all, but having come from a 6-7 record and 2 wins behind the wild card spots, being amongst the twelve teams left standing is proof this team has found a way to come back from behind and achieve the seemingly impossible. The one game at a time approach might be key, and given this stage of the season, is the only way to approach it.
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Old 07-29-2019, 04:13 PM   #150
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maassluis, Netherlands
Merchantmen back at it, one and done again
New faces, old habits. The Maassluis Merchantmen have crashed out the post-season in their first game. The Fort Wayne Fury came back from two scores down the fourth quarter with a 24-19 victory. It makred the nineth one-and-done for the Merchantmen in the last 10 post-season appearances, meaning the franchise has won only 2 playoffs games in the last 26 seasons.

The first quarter was defense dominated, supported with both punters nailing the opponents deep in their own territories. And just as the Merchantmen seemed to be winning the field position battle, Fury cornerback Eugene Paup intercepted a pass from Ellis McAlister to Theodore Bondy and ran it back for 64 yards and 6 points. It marked a rare highlights worthy play in the first quarter, which the Fury ended 7-0 up.

A defensive stand on the first Fort Wayne drive of the second quarter resulted in a 21-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead for the Fury. THe Merchantmen continued to struggle offensively as McAlister got picked off for the second time, this time not far outside his own red zone. Cornerback Giovanni Morton saved the game for the Merchantmen, returning the favor with a pick in the end zone to maintain the 10-0 deficit. Heavily leaning on Leonard Belin's legs, the Merchantmen marched down field and shortly before the big break, McAlister found Theodore Bondy for a walk-in touchdown. Chance Arnold missed the extra point to make it Fort Wayne 10, Maassluis 6 at half time.

Things shifted in the third quarter. The Merchantmen defense held ground, while their offense marched downfield enough to kick a 23-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 10-9. After stopping the Fury around midfield, the Merchantmen marched downfield again, this time resulting in a 44-yard field goal for a 12-10 lead. A quick three and out ended the quarter.

Second play of the fourth quarter, Ellis McAlister dumps a short pass to Theodore Bondy, who then turns into the magic player the Merchantmen fans all go wild about. 68 yards later, a 75-yard touchdown pass goes into the books and puts Maassluis 19-10 up. The big lead was short lived, the Fury had no trouble marching downfield, leaning heavily on a 49-yard deep throw from Josue Olivares to Shaquille Grimes. Three plays later, the Fury are back in it, trailing only 19-17. Lack of ability to move the chains then haunted the Merchantmen offense, while the Fury responded with another Olivares to Grimes 49-yard pass, this time seeing Grimes run a short pass upfield. On the next play, he hauls it in from 8 yards out to out the Fury up 24-19. The Merchantmen failed on the next drive, but got the ball back with just over 2 minutes to go. The chicken play calling then took over, seeing them punt to pin the Fury back at their 6-yard line. A time outs wasting drive gave Maassluis the ball back at their own 43-yard line. But rather than throwing, McAlister saw no other options than scrambling with the ball, getting tackled for barely a gain and coming time short to spike the ball. Game over, without even trying.

And just like that, it's on to another off-season of moaning and wondering why a talented bunch of players is struggling to get consistent results. A season of silly ups and downs comes to a crashing end, but there's hope. The core of the Merchantmen remains to be young. But history has learned the fans that it rarely lasts, cap problems are unavoidable, resulting in the inevitable departure of players. But management is confident the cap troubles can be mitigated in the next off-season and hopefully the next (2085's), when Theodore Bondy's contract will be up for renewal and all odds are he'll demand to be the highest paid wide receiver in league history.

For now, it's time to dry the teary eyes and learn from all the mistakes made on both ends of the ball. The offense was too predictable, the defense downright underachieving. Time for change, not so much in the 53-men roster, but changes have to come to go from underachievers to living up to the high expectations. This team has the players to make a run for a title. Shoulders back, chest forward, sail on to brighter places. This team has what it takes, make it happen, Merchantmen.
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* Former GM of GEFL's Houston Oilers and WOOF's Curacao Cocktail
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