Hello and welcome to my Monday thoughts. Despite not being able to write a proper preview last week, I will be making some predictions about the fortunes of all 8 FFL teams for the upcoming season. Also my ‘ten things’ are back alongside a bit of coaching news (at least it was news to me), so let’s get started.
Predictions for the 2011 FFL season
OK, predictions are extremely dangerous (and mostly not very accurate) things. Some people will agree, most won’t – but don’t worry, I’m happy to be proven wrong! Let’s look at the teams in reverse order of where they finished last year.
Limburg Shotguns (8th, 1-7-0, off : 7th, def : 8th)
Team they play twice : Brussels Bulls
Strengths/weaknesses : Don’t be offended here but I can’t really say – I only saw the Shotguns play a couple of snaps last year. They do have cheerleaders though, and this can only be a good thing!
The question : Will they be able to use their experience from last year to improve?
Leuven Lions (7th, 1-6-1, off : 8th, def : 5th)
Team they play twice : Gent Gators
Strengths/weaknesses : Solid middle defense (defensive line and linebackers). Didn’t score a single point against the 3 playoff teams last year in 3 games.
The question : Will this team find an identity on offense?
Brussels Bulls (6th, 2-6-0, off : 5th, def : 7th)
Team they play twice : Limburg Shotguns
Strengths/weaknesses : Very strong hogs (offensive and defensive lines, I mean), but inconsistent – team averaged 16 points against the Tribes in two tough losses but just 10 points against the rest of the league.
The question : When is their youth policy finally going to pay off?
Antwerp Diamonds (5th, 3-5-0, off : 6th, def : 6th)
Team they play twice : Brussels Black Angels
Strengths/weaknesses : Very experienced and tough team, especially defensive line. They don’t have a lot of big play capability on either side of the ball.
The question : Can they incorporate their young players into their system?
Gent Gators (4th, 4-3-1, off : 4th, def : 4th)
Team they play twice : Leuven Lions
Strengths/weaknesses : The pass game, both the skill players on offense and their defensive backs/linebackers are dangerous. Run defense needs improvement.
The question : Can they protect their quarterback and give him time to throw the Gators into the playoffs?
Bornem Titans (3rd, 5-3-0, off : 2nd, def : 3rd)
Team they play twice : West Flanders Tribes
Strengths/weaknesses : Any time your running back is called ‘the Beast’ you know what your strength is. Good group of defensive backs too. No glaring weaknesses.
The question : Can they find a weapon on the outside to take the pressure off their tight end and running game?
Brussels Black Angels (2nd, 7-1-0, off : 3rd, def : 1st)
Team they play twice : Antwerp Diamonds
Strengths/weaknesses : Big strong offensive line and punishing runners. They have a lack of depth at several positions, for example wide receiver and defensive line.
The question : Can they overcome their rash of injuries?
West Flanders Tribes (1st, 8-0-0, off : 1st, def : 2nd)
Team they play twice : Bornem Titans
Strengths/weaknesses : Power running game, dangerous deep threats – but the true strength of the Tribes are their linebackers. However they also have a lack of depth at certain key positions.
The question : Can they make up for the loss of their left tackle and tight end and still run the football effectively?
I think the reason sports journalists make predictions is so they can look back on them in a few months and say “Oh boy, I really got those wrong”. Having said that, I predict to see the Tribes, Titans and Black Angels in the playoffs, which will all lead to the Tribes winning the Belgian Bowl yet again, this time 26-13 over the Bornem Titans in Ostend.
In other news…
The Limburg Shotguns have a new coach, who, according to the Shotguns website, would be Curren Chase, an American. I hope things work out for the Shotguns and their new coach but I haven’t really been convinced with American coaches. They don’t seem to be able to bring their message across as clearly as they’d like for whatever reason. We will all find out just what sort of an influence he’ll have on March 6 when the Shotguns face the Antwerp Diamonds in their season opener.
Limburg aren’t the only team with a new head coach as both the Gent Gators and West Flanders Tribes start the season with a new chief. Coach Roald takes over the reins in Gent, meanwhile in West Flanders it’s coach Andy (the tight end formerly known as Pizza). Both coaches take over teams with winning records last year and will be trying to push their teams to new heights. Good luck to them all.
Ten things I think I think
1 – I think that The Belgian Bowl website goes online tomorrow (February 8). Interested to see what will be on there.
2 – I think that so far my column has been really popular with the Bornem Titans! Not sure if I’ll be more or less popular now they’ll see my predictions.
3 – I think I wonder what the results were from the ‘brainstorming sessions’ that happened about 6 months ago. Maybe I’m just out of the loop but a lot of noise was made about how useful the sessions had been, and that was the end of that. Am I missing something?
4 – I think Superbowl XLV was a good one, but not a great one. I’m pleased that the Packers won, as they were my prediction all the way from the pre-season. Anyway, they looked after the football and deserved it.
5 – I think it would be most worthwhile for teams with a running quarterback to incorporate the zone read because I don’t really think any team are currently equipped to defend it.
6 – I think this is how the All-FFL team is going to work. The usual 22 starters plus kicker and punter. Back-ups will be : 1 offensive tackle, 1 centre/guard, 1 quarterback, 1 fullback, 1 running back, 2 receivers, 1 tight end, 1 defensive lineman, 2 linebackers, 1 cornerback, 1 safety – giving a total of 37 (plus a coach). By the way, this team will ‘play’ a 3-4.
7 – I think it’s only 13 days until opening day! Hope to see a whole heap of people in Gent.
8 – I think, if I look at the schedule on the FFL website, I see a new home field for the Leuven Lions. Am I right? That’s not neccessarily a bad thing, the field itself was ok but those little bugs that lived there were nasty!
9 – I think the Tribes won’t mind being cast as favourite. But let’s face it, if they aren’t used to it by now, nobody would be.
10 – I think these are my non-football thoughts this week
– Glad to hear from a fellow Discworld fan, Xavier van Cauter. You’re much further along than I am! Death is a brilliant character.
– Looking forward to the new Tiger Woods game. It features Augusta National (legendary course) and one from my home town, Royal Melbourne. Seeing as I can’t play golf here, this is the next best thing.
– I have taken up basketball again, playing with the “recreativen” of Izegem. It lasts 90 minutes of a Thursday evening and by the end I’m sweating like a pig. Where has my condition gone?
– I’m just back from taking my theoretical driving exam. I got 45/50. Now tomorrow my final practical lesson and I’m good to go!
– So nobody knows the #1 reason I became Belgian? Simple. It was to avoid queues at airports within Europe. Waiting in the “non-EU” line can be hell.
So that’s it for the Monday episode. Thursday is mailbag time and we’ll see what else there is to talk about. Thanks for reading, liking and sharing, don’t forget to comment too – either here or on facebook. Feel free to add me on facebook as well. Until next time.