A Passing Fantasy Issue 106
NFLBP Player Newsletter 2002 Preseason
ed Robert Crowther
Well, you'll all excuse me while I feel a bit chuffed with myself ... right then, on with the next season. Just kidding, plenty more of me feeling chuffed with myself below. The address for contributions is:
25 Colman Court
Or email at '[email protected]'.
NFLBP 2001 Superbowl Review
The Raiders started brightly, a 28 yard kick return was followed by a 63 yard drive ending in a 12 yard touchdown run. The Rams looked all set for an immediate reply, a 32 yard return giving them good field position. However, on their third play from scrimmage the Raiders forced a fumble in the backfield and ran it back 48 yards for a touchdown. This set the tone for the rest of the half as St Louis repeatedly drove into field goal range before they were turned back by a big play from the Oakland defense. Great punting from rookie Lechler made up for a rather poor offensive showing from the Raiders until an interception for the Rams meant they could finally start a drive in good scoring position. The Oakland defense came up with another stop, however, and St Louis had to settle for a field goal.
The Rams made some good adjustments at halftime and started the third quarter with a 75 yard drive, finishing up with a six yard touchdown pass. The two point conversion was good to bring the Rams within three. Oakland needed to respond and managed one first down before the drive petered out, a 59 yard punt left St Louis with a lot fo work to do, however, and they were turned back at midfield. The Raiders managed two first downs on the next drive before a sack left the too far to go, but they ended the third quarter still leading by three.
With the tension mounting at the start of the fourth quarter the Raiders choose to ignore their so far excellent punter and go for it on 4th and 3 at the St Louis 49. The Rams forced a quick throw which fell incomplete and took over with their second short field of the day. A pass interference penalty got them a little closer but the Oakland defense held firm in the following series of downs. Faced with a 4th and 2 and the Raiders' 35 the Rams chose to go for field position instead of risking the long field goal to tie the game and punted to the Oakland 5. The Raiders came out passing and it paid immediate dividends as a pass interference call moved them out from under the shadow of their own posts. Two more completions had the Raiders back at midfield and thinking of going for the clinching score. A sack soon put an end to all that, then Lechler got off his worst punt of the day 33 yards to the St Louis 21. The Rams moved to midfield and had 3rd and 1 at the halfway line when the Oakland defense came up with another huge play a sack for a five yard loss forced St Louis to punt once more. Again starting from their own 5 the Oakland offense was again able to move the ball to midfield where they were stopped on 3rd and 2 a forced to punt with 2 minutes to go. Lechler again got off a beauty, 50 yards out of bounds at the St Louis 6. With 94 yards to go in two minutes the Rams were up against it. they again moved the ball to midfield fairly comfortably but with 29 seconds to go they were still 39 yards away. Warner went for the long bomb and the Oakland defense came up with yet another huge play, intercepting the ball at their own 20. The offense came back out to down the ball and, at their third attempt, the Oakland Raiders were finally NFLBP champions.
Championship Bowl Review
The Eagles were thought by many to have benefited from a weak division this season, certainly no-one rated them in the same class as their rivals in the NFC West. However, after beating one hot favourite twice, and nearly making it all the way to the superbowl it is maybe time to re-evaluate. They gave the Bengals all they could handle in this game, sticking with their overpowering running attack all the way. Cincinnati are very potent offensively, however, and had no difficulty moving the ball themselves. Two third quarter touchdowns gave the Bengals enough of an advantage to weather a late comeback from Philadelphia.
Divisional Bowl Review
San Francisco's disappointing end to the season continued as they were unable to score a touchdown on the Denver defense. The Broncos' offense was also fairly anaemic after a first quarter rushing touchdown the closest they got to the 49ers endzone was on defense. Denver replied to San Francisco's two fourth quarter field goals with a field goal of their own and a safety. Denver finally got their offense back on track in overtime, running in the winning score.
Silver Bowl Review
Carolina were dominant through the air, four hundred yards passing and three touchdowns making up for the complete lack of a rushing attack. Detroit suddenly perked up in the fourth quarter but their three touchdowns were far too late to change the outcome.
Bronze Bowl Review
The Arizona defense was once again on top form, New Orleans could find no way past on the ground or through the air. With the Cards defense chipping in a fumble return for a touchdown their offense was steady enough to have the game won before the Saints' late consolation score.
NFLBP 2001 Season St Louis Rams Season Review
Well that was some year for my Rams! Going into the season I expected at best a 14-2 season, and wouldve been unhappy with less than 12-4 so I was very happy with finishing 13-3, and even more happy to pip the 49ers for the division title on the last day of the season. Being a devout Rams fan in real life, there is nothing like getting one over on the 49ers (sorry Martin) to put a smile on my face! This season saw my team start to play the way I want them to, as both my coaching experience increased and the squad started to come together. Again, in real life I love nothing more than passing the ball but I appreciate in Gameplan that a running game and a defence also need to be in the mix somewhere, so it was especially gratifying to see the Rams have the leagues number one rushing attack and the best all round defence in the NFC.
The season started well at 6-1 and I was determined that I wouldnt fall away from the Championship race as I had the previous season, when I faltered to a 10-6 finish and another wildcard defeat. Despite this though two straight defeats put me at 6-3, and I decided a few risks were required if I was to beat the unbeaten 49ers week 10. Luckily I won the game 27-23 and from then on I was unbeaten all the way to 13-3, but I could never have foreseen the 49ers losing their last two games to hand me the title. No disrespect to the other NFC playoff coaches but once I had won homefield advantage anything less than a Super Bowl appearance was going to be a disappointment, but I was very confident of getting there as long as I could avoid the 49ers. This is certainly not meant to lessen Coach Gaines achievements with Philadelphia this season, I was just confident I had worked out a gameplan to run against his very aggressive defence (and thankfully I had)! And so seemingly out of nowhere I found myself facing Roberts surprising Raiders in the Super Bowl. I knew it would be close, and so it was, and hats off to Robert for winning what is a long outstanding BP Superbowl for the Raiders, and being the only Coach to hold my offence to one TD. I am more than happy though with this season, it was only great Raiders punting that cost me the Super Bowl at the end of the day, and perhaps a small coaching over sight on my part in not increasing my field goal range. Oh yes, and of course luck
Looking to next season my squad is, in my eyes, a little weaker than last season, but this is mainly due to a draft aimed at being in a good position for the 2003 season. However I do still expect to challenge for honours in the NFC, obviously it looks like being another down to the wire finish with the 49ers in the West. I fully expect the Eagles to improve further and I look forward to the new coaches in Washington and Chicago improving the inter-divisional competition.
St Louis Rams Draft and Mini-Camp Review
Round 1 OFG*2 Kicker, Round 2 3 OPS QB, Round 3 2 DBZ DL
On paper this could look quite a strange draft for the NFC Champions whose roster would seem to be missing an LB, DB and OL, but there is logic behind the picks, believe me! The drafting of a kicker in the first round, coupled with the waiving of the present incumbent at that position provided enough LPs to fix all the step losses I was concerned about. The initial reason for drafting the QB round two was to provide further LPs for fixing some reductions, however he is actually a far more talented player than I expected, therefore he stays on the roster and could become the starter next season. And again in round three I drafted the DL with a view to waiving another for LPs, however the QB situation now means I am undecided as to which reduced players to fix and which to risk retirement with, or whether to risk the lot of them and invest heavily in my BQs future. It would appear that I will have some tough decisions to make concerning LPs come week 11, and so to make my life easier I would say to all you other coaches, if you are going to beat me, please do so during weeks 1 to 10! Whatever decisions I make later in the 2002 season, I am confident of having an extremely strong squad available for 2003
Oakland Raiders Draft and Minicamp Review
Round 1 1 OFG*2 KK, Round 2 1 OPL*1 WR, Round 3 2 DBZ DL, FA 8 1 DRO LB
With a fairly young squad the Raiders were not hurt too badly by retirements, and this draft was all about keeping what we've got rather than radically improving the team. Trading down in the first two rounds enabled all the damage on offense to be repaired and the release of a young DL took care of the rest.
The one big retirement was twelve year veteran Chester McGlockton the heart and soul of the Raider's defense for these past 6 years. Replacing him will be a tough job, and we're not expecting draftee Grady Jackson to do it by himself. Rather we will be looking for the rest of the guys on defense to step it up, particularly the now maturing secondary. With Lechler looking even stronger this year after his excellent debut season the defense should have plenty of field to work with.
The offense showed some diversity in last season's run to the championship, finally breaking out in the passing game. The addition of draftee Porter will only improve that area of our game. Meanwhile look for Oakland to pick up a quality halfback around midseason to help them take better advantage of their huge offensive line.
Overall I'm very happy with the moves made in the offseason. We've ended up with one of the smaller squads, but hopefully special teams play and more experience at key positions should counter that.
NFLBP Player Newsletter
ed Robert Crowther