Hounds Sterling - The UK's First Franchise (M21)

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Old 09-22-2020, 12:51 AM   #1
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Hounds Sterling - The UK's First Franchise (M21)

Hounds Sterling

Washington Relocation Franchise

Hello all! Madden 21 is here, football is back, and the fever bites. Last year, I did a few years of a relocation franchise moving the Tampa Bay Bucs down to Mexico to become the Mexico City Golden Eagles, which was a blast until starting a new job dragged me away long enough that the itch wore off.

Now, for 2021, I want to take another crack at a relocation franchise. This time, I'll be taking the Washington "Football Team" and using their rebranding crisis as the opportunity for the team to be scooped up by new British ownership and reborn as the London Bulldogs.

I'll be simming through the first season, just worrying about getting the team moved and doing draft prep. Posts will begin in the aftermath of the Cleveland Browns' 42-3 blowout Super Bowl victory over Arizona, with the newly-minted Bulldogs preparing the roster for their first season through free agency and the 2021 draft.

Game Details
I'll be playing on All-Madden. I fall in between AP and AM skill-wise, and I prefer a stiff challenge. I'm using Matt10's AM sliders with slightly longer quarters in hopes of getting slightly more realistic stats. Other than that, no major house rules other than to just try and avoid any overly cheesy behavior.

Hopefully some of you will come along for the ride, and it should be a good run!
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Old 09-25-2020, 08:22 PM   #2
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Re: Hounds Sterling - The UK's First Franchise (M21)

The Big Move
The London Bulldogs' First Offseason

Rumors regarding a potential sale of the Washington Football Team began circulating early in the 2020 regular season, but they had heated up significantly by the time the season reached its midpoint. As Washington sat at 2-6 at the bottom of the NFC East, the announcement finally came: the franchise had been purchased by a group of British investors headed by Dr. Arthur Clarke, and would be relocated overseas to the United Kingdom.

The 2020 season ended with the Cleveland Browns advancing from the wildcard to a convincing 42-3 Super Bowl blowout over the Arizona Cardinals, and the start of the offseason marked the start of the former Redskins' transition to London, England.

Ron Rivera will be retained as the London Bulldog's coach for the 2021 season.

While the team finished with a disappointing final record of 4-11, Dr. Clarke was adamant in insisting that no major staffing changes would be made during the team's transition overseas. Ron Rivera would be retained as Head Coach along with all of his assistant coaching staff, and he would work closely with the team's management to build the team in the offseason. That building process, however, would be a challenging one thanks to the Bulldogs' roster being very light on standout talent.

Both Rivera and Clarke were upfront about their modest expectations for the coming season. Rivera in particular admitted that, in order to fully realize his vision for the team, several years of careful rebuilding would be necessary. Dwayne Haskins had struggled to prove that he was worth the first-round selection that had brought him two the team two years prior, and both the backfield and receiving corps lacked big playmakers. The team did secure a significant offseason win by re-signing standout RG Brandon Scherff to a new three-year deal, but LE Ryan Kerrigan, CB Ronald Darby, and WR Cody Latimer all opted to enter free agency after declining offers from the team to sign new contracts.

Entering into the free agency period, the Bulldogs made two large offers in hopes of substantially upgrading the offense: a two-year, $33.9M offer to LT Trent Williams, and a 5-year, $49.8M deal to HB Aaron Jones. Williams, who had played for Washington prior to the 2020 season, rejected the deal in favor of an offer from the Cardinals; Jones, however, opted to sign with the Bulldogs to become their new primary running back. Signing Jones represented a major upgrade to the Bulldogs' offense, but as he was the only player signed by the team during the free agency, they would need to address many of their remaining shortcomings in the 2021 draft. In an effort to strengthen their draft position, the Bulldogs traded DT Jonathan Allen to the Super Bowl champion Browns, receiving a 6th round pick in the upcoming draft, as well as a 2nd and 7th round selection in 2022.

Leading into the draft, the Bulldogs' front office were heavily divided on how to best make use of the team's first round draft pick, which was the second overall behind the Miami Dolphins. Kansas State's Heisman-winning QB Kelvin Sanders was widely considered among the top players in the draft, and a sizable portion of the team management were eager to see the Bulldogs draft him as a replacement for Haskins, whose two-year performance had seen him struggle to find his rhythm.

Although he had many recommendations to trade down or invest in a high-draft lineman, Ron Rivera eventually opted to use his #2 pick to secure Kelvin Sanders for the Bulldogs, bringing the Heisman winner in to contest Haskins' starting job. The remainder of the draft was extremely one-sided -- all of the Bulldogs' eight draft selections were offensive players.

After choosing Sanders in the first round, Rivera picked up talented Georgia Center Jake Mills, who he believed could be an immediate starter on the offensive line. He drafted a pair of Wide Receivers in the third round, followed by a string of four big men: LG Rhett DaConti, FBs Junior boley and Marco Mayes, and TE Jared Stewart.

In post-draft interviews, Rivera stated that his goal was to thoroughly strengthen the offense with big, powerful players that could help drive an aggressive, physically resilient offense that could march steadily downfield and manage games. The defense could be worked on in upcoming drafts; 2021 was the year of building the Bulldogs' identity as a grinding powerhouse on offense, with Aaron Jones running behind a group of strong blockers.

From that point on, the race to prepare for 2021 had begun. Rivera and his staff would only have one chance to execute the Bulldogs' first year in London, and if they wanted that trademark physical offense to be ready in time, training would have to start right away. In just a few months time, the Bulldogs would need to be prepared for their first game under their new identity against the Steelers in the 2021 preseason.
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Old 09-25-2020, 11:57 PM   #3
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Re: Hounds Sterling - The UK's First Franchise (M21)

Should be a fun follow! I like the overseas narrative, plus looks like a cool logo. Should be a fun rebuild with the storyline of going from one capital to another haha.
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Old 09-26-2020, 08:13 AM   #4
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Re: Hounds Sterling - The UK's First Franchise (M21)

I'm following too, looking forward to this!
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Old 09-26-2020, 12:07 PM   #5
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Re: Hounds Sterling - The UK's First Franchise (M21)

Originally Posted by moose141
Should be a fun follow! I like the overseas narrative, plus looks like a cool logo. Should be a fun rebuild with the storyline of going from one capital to another haha.
Agreed on the logo! I thought about using the Monarchs at first, but the sweet logo and the cool red/white/blue jersey look really won me over. I think their uniform design is one of the best among the relocation franchises.
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Old 09-26-2020, 02:31 PM   #6
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Re: Hounds Sterling - The UK's First Franchise (M21)

The London Bulldogs - The First Look
The Bulldogs split their first two games of the year to start the preseason at 1-1

After an eventful offseason that saw the team move to a new country and acquire a brand new franchise Quarterback and stud Running Back, the London Bulldogs have finally gotten the chance to show the world what the NFL's first British-owned franchise is capable of.

Trey Quinn pulls down a catch in traffic for a first-quarter touchdown against the Steelers.

The Bulldogs' preseason opened with a trip to Pittsburgh, where they started off with an impressive display on both sides of the ball. Free Safety Kendall Fuller stopped the Steelers' second drive abruptly when he picked off Big Ben for a 58-yard touchdown return, and the offense pushed the team ahead 14-0 by the end of the first quarter after Alex Smith connected on a high touchdown pass to WR Trey Quinn.

After Smith helped the Bulldogs get ahead in the first quarter, the Bulldogs sent in their first-round draft pick Kelvin Sanders to finish the game at Quarterback for the remaining three quarters. The rookie out of Kansas State looked shaky in his first outing on an NFL field, throwing for an unimpressive 7-19 and just 58 yards. The Steelers dominated the offensive game easily, with Mason Rudolph accumulating over 300 yards passing in three quarters of play. But while the Steelers were able to gain yardage with ease, they repeatedly failed to turn those yards into points. The Bulldogs showed tenacity along the defensive line, and several drives that could have turned into points for Pittsburgh were stopped by sacks.

Ultimately, a strip-sack by Da'Ron Payne -- who tallied 3.5 sacks on the day -- led to a touchdown return, the Bulldogs' second defensive score of the game and the touchdown that definitively secured the win. Rudolph did his best to bring the Steelers back, but a late-game touchdown pass was not enough to overcome a two-score deficit so late in the game, and the Steelers conceded a win to the Bulldogs in their first appearance.

The Bulldogs defense recorded three sacks against the Lions in their home opener.
The Bulldogs then took their game back across the pond, where they hosted the Detroit Lions for their first game at home in the UK. In true London fashion, the game was played through constant rainfall, and the wet conditions made their presence felt early on. On just the second play of the game, Alex Smith threw an interception after his receiver slipped and fell on the wet turf, allowing the Lions a quick 7-0 lead to start. Smith played only a few drives, however, before Kelvin Sanders was given a second shot at running the offense.

The Bulldogs kept to a simple, hard-nosed style of offense throughout the game. The Power I formation factored heavily into a slow and methodical rushing attack, and for most of the game the Bulldogs lined up in some variation of the I Formation or Single Back, rarely having more than two Wide Receivers on the field at once. It was slow and physical, but it worked. Aaron Jones showed off his own power by pushing in a three-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter, and the game was tied 10-10 at the halftime break.

The Bulldogs were able to take their first lead of the day late in the third quarter, when Younghoe Koo drove a 29-yard kick through the wind and rain for a narrow lead. By the fourth quarter, though, that lead had evaporated, and the Bulldogs were left with just over four minutes to lead a comeback drive to push the game into overtime.

Kelvin Sanders tightened up his game for the final drive, and was able to get his team inside the ten yardline to threaten the game winning score. It looked as if all had been lost when his pass sailed high over his receiver on 4th and goal, but a defensive pass interference call gave them a fresh chance at the 1 yardline. Bryce Love smashed his way across the line of scrimmage for a touchdown, and the game seemed to be headed for overtime -- until Younghoe Koo's extra point struck the left upright and bounced into the endzone, leaving the Bulldogs behind 20-19.

The missed extra point decided the game, and the Bulldogs had to accept a frustrating loss in their first home outing of the year.

QB Kelvin Sanders takes snaps during a practice session ahead of their week three matchup with the Titans.

With the opening two weeks of the preseason under their belt, the Bulldogs have some good reasons to feel positive about the back half. After a dismal performance in week one, Kelvin Sanders showed some better decision-making in week two. Though he threw for three interceptions, rainy conditions and dropped passes helped to inflate this total; his 21-30 completion rate against Detroit shows the young signal caller is moving in the right direction. The Bulldogs were back out working hard on the practice field following Saturday night's loss, and there is no reason to expect that Sanders won't turn in an even better performance in week three.

The Bulldogs have also shown surprising tenacity on defense, with the defensive line relentlessly pressuring opposing quarterbacks and racking up sacks at an impressive rate. RE Chase Young, who missed much of his rookie season last year due to an injury, has looked strong, and DTs Matt Ioannidis and Da'Ron Payne have emerged as a deadly duo in the trenches, with Payne in particular recording a staggering 6.5 sacks in the first two games of the preseason.

Wide Receiver play has been lacking for London, however, and both Kelvin Sanders and Alex Smith saw their completion percentages dampened by costly drops. The offensive line has also struggled, allowing consistent pressure to leak into the backfield to rush Sanders' passing game and stifle the rushing attack the Bulldogs are so keen to build.

The Bulldogs will remain at home next week to host the Tennessee Titans, and will then round out the preseason with a trip to Los Angeles to face the Rams.
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Old 09-28-2020, 12:12 AM   #7
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Re: Hounds Sterling - The UK's First Franchise (M21)

An Even Split and Modest Expectations
A look ahead at the London Bulldogs at the end of the preseason

The London Bulldogs opened the preseason at an even 1-1, besting the Steelers on the road before stumbling against the Lions at home. The world's first look at the London Bulldogs showed a team with the potential to see a few stars break out, but the results were mixed at best. Now, with the preseason concluded and the final 53-man roster announced, the Bulldogs have kept their .500 record by finishing the preseason at 2-2.

Kelvin Sanders completes a touchdown pass to Logan Thomas to send the game into overtime.
After suffering a demoralizing loss against the Lions in their first home game in London, the Bulldogs stayed on their side of the pond to host the Tennesee Titans, who had also begun their preseason with a modest 1-1 record. Ryan Tannehill played most of the game for the Titans and looked sharp -- he connected to Adam Humphries in the second quarter for a 51-yard score, and then notched a second touchdown on a 34-yard pass to Jonnu Smith. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, struggled for the entire first half. Continuing to struggle with adjusting to the speed of NFL defenses, Kelvin Sanders threw two interceptions in the first half on plays that could have been touchdowns; had those passes connected, the Bulldogs would have led the game 20-14 heading into the fourth quarter, rather than trailing by 14-6.

But in the fourth quarter, Kelvin Sanders finally showed some flashes of the talent he demonstrated during his Heisman-winning final college season. After Titans' backup Cole McDonald threw his team's third touchdown pass to put the Titans up by a wide 21-6 margin at the start of the fourth quarter, Sanders kicked his game into gear. With 2:46 left in the game, he connected with TE Logan Thomas from 13 yards out, narrowing the lead to an 8-point gap at 21-13. And when the Titans failed to convert at the two minute warning, Sanders had one opportunity to get his team into overtime.

In the final two minutes of regulation, Sanders looked like a brand new player. He completed 5 of his 7 passes, working a no-huddle two-minute drill that brought the Bulldogs down to the Tenessee 5 yardline with less than 15 seconds to play. On 1st and Goal, Sanders rifled a ball into traffic over the middle to Logan Thomas, planting the ball into his chest and scoring a potentially game-tying touchdown. Rookie FB Marco Mayes punched in the two-yard run for the conversion, and the Bulldogs pushed the game into overtime.

In overtime, after the Bulldogs went three-and-out and the Titans gave up a fumble recovery, it was Younghoe Koo who, after missing an extra point to lose the team's last game against the Lions, nailed a perfect field goal from 38 yards to give London its first home win. In the end, Kelvin Sanders threw for a total of 296 yards, going 27-53 for 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Younghoe Koo secures a London victory with a 38-yard field goal in overtime.

The victory was a high point for the Bulldogs. Not only did they give their home crowd their first win, but Kelvin Sanders -- whose performance has been defined by typical rookie inconsistency -- commanded an impressive fourth-quarter comeback that showed glimpses of how he can play when he's at his best, placing quick and strategic passes while using his legs when things break down. The defensive line also continued to look strong, and Younghoe Koo was able to redeem himself for the previous week's loss.

Sacks continued to roll in for London in their week 4 loss.
However, the preseason finale saw the Bulldogs travel to the west coast of the United States to face the Los Angeles rams, and the game ended in a brutal 31-13 thrashing. Kelvin Sanders scored early on a high pass that dropped perfectly into the waiting arms of rookie WR Sherard McKenzie, but the second-quarter score would be among the only bright spots in an otherwise poor game.

The Bulldogs' defensive line, who made themselves one of the team's top preseason stories, continued to impress. Matt Ioannidis and Da'Ron Payne have emerged as a devastating double threat on the inside of the line, and they combined for 4.5 sacks over the course of the day. There were reasons to be optimistic for the Bulldogs' future, but their final preseason game ended on the most grim of notes.

With the 2021 preseason now behind them, the Bulldogs will prepare to enter the regular season and Ron Rivera will try to assemble his newly collected pieces into a football team that can contest for the NFC East. That process began with determining the team's final roster and starters, which included some surprising moves like carrying a staggering 10 Wide Receivers on the active roster while leaving several defensive positions lacking in depth.

Offensively, the Bulldogs will be led by Kelvin Sanders as the starting Quarterback in Week 1, but Ron Rivera is likely to work the ground as his first priority. Rivera drafted two Fullbacks to add some size to his backfield, and showed off a number of heavy formations with multiple Tight Ends, Fullbacks, and linemen throughout the preseason. Their offensive line will feature two rookie starters -- RG Rhett DaConti and C Jake Mills -- who will work under the tutelage of the O-Line's veteran leader, RG Brandon Scherff.

On defense, the Bulldogs' greatest strength will continue to their offensive line. They worked out of a 4-3 base defense for much of the preseason, with Matt Ioannidis and Da'Ron Payne bruising through opposing linemen with ease. Stand out RE Chase Young, who missed half of his rookie season due to injury, will help to anchor the outside and make the Bulldogs' front four a fearsome threat. They will need to work hard to put pressure on opposing Quarterbacks, as the linebacking corps is lacking and the defensive secondary is the oldest in the NFL. While Safeties Landon Collins and Kendall Fuller are playing hard through their 20's, all but one of the Bulldog's starting Cornerbacks are 30 or older.

With this roster in place, the Bulldogs will now prepare to open their regular season on the road, heading into the Texas heat to face the Dallas Cowboys.

London Bulldogs Roster (2021)
12Kelvin Sanders (R)QB216'2''225Kansas State
7Dwayne Haskins JrQB246'3''230Ohio State
11Alex SmithQB376'4''217Utah
21Aaron JonesHB265'9''208UTEP
32J.D. McKissicHB285'10''195Arkansas State
33Peyton BarberHB275'11''225Auburn
49Junior Boley (R)FB226'3''258Southern Miss
45Marco Mayes (R)FB236'1''265Georgia
17Terry McLaurinWR246'0''208Ohio State
15Steven SimsWR245'10''176Kansas
18Trey QuinnWR256'0''203SMU
13Kelvin HarmonWR246'2''215N.C. State
10Antonio Gandy-GoldenWR236'4''223Liberty
84Greg Ward JrWR265'11''190Houston
86Sherard McKenzie (R)WR216'5''220Michigan
88Justin WatsonWR266'3''215Penn
19Equanimeous St. BrownWR246'5''214Notre Dame
80Bryan Calhoun (R)WR236'2''215Mississippi State
82Logan ThomasTE306'6''250Virginia Tech
40Jared Stewart (R)TE236'4''265FAU
74Geron Christian SrLT246'5''315Louisville
88Saahdiq CharlesLT226'4''321LSU
65Rhett DaConti (R)LG226'2''306Alabama
71Wes SchweitzerLG276'4''300San Jose State
52Jake Mills (R)C216'1''310Georgia
60Keith IsmaelC236'3''309San Diego State
75Brandon ScherffRG296'5''315Iowa
67Wes MartinRG256'3''311Indiana
76Morgan MosesRG306'6''330Virginia
93Jabaal SheardLE326'3''265Pittsburgh
95Jordan BailfordLE256'3''250Oklahoma State
99Chase YoungRE226'5''264Ohio State
90Montez SweatRE246'6''260Mississippi State
72James Smith-WilliamsRE246'4''265N.C. State
98Matthew IoannidisDT276'3''310Temple
94Da'Ron PayneDT246'3''319Alabama
51Shaun Dion HamiltonLOLB256'0''232Alabama
55Cole HolcombLOLB256'1''240North Carolina
56Reuben FosterMLB276'1''228Alabama
53Jon BosticMLB306'1''245Florida
42Ben GedeonROLB266'2''244Michigan
59Khaleke HudsonROLB235'11''224Michigan
28Jason McCourtyCB345'11''195Rutgers
25Prince AmukamaraCB326'0''206Nebraska
26Janoris JEnkinsCB325'10''190North Alabama
31Aqib TalibCB356'1''205Kansas
37Greg StromanCB255'11''180Virginia Tech
23Kendall FullerFS265'11''198Virginia Tech
30Troy ApkeFS266'1''205Penn State
20Landon CollinsSS276'0''218Alabama
29Deshazor EverettSS296'0''203Texas A&M
8Younghoe KooK275'9''185Georgia Southern
5Tress WayP316'1''220Oklahoma

Last edited by Tritoch42; 09-28-2020 at 02:05 AM.
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Old 09-28-2020, 12:13 AM   #8
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Re: Hounds Sterling - The UK's First Franchise (M21)

And that's the preseason! From now on, each game will get its own entry.. The difficulty is steep, talent is a bit thin... But I'm hoping I can at least come away with 5-6 wins for the first year.
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