So with the season only three short weeks away, I wonder how the teams are working on their weaknesses from last year, so they can meet their goals this year. We’ll have a look at each team and see just what they’ll want to do better than last year, because let’s face it, no team in the FFL could be happy with how their season ended.
How their season ended : Losing the Belgian Bowl to the Brussels Tigers
How they did what they did : They just won football games, constantly defying my predictions that they’d lose!
Weaknesses : In the Belgian Bowl, nothing that they tried on offense worked. This was not largely different from the regular season (where they averaged just 13 points per game), however their defense got shredded for 46 against the Tigers (they had given up just 47 in the entire regular season).
The solution : I think it would be a little unfair to ask the Diamonds D to play as well as they did last year, (Antwerp also led the league in the little known but rather interesting category of Bendability), which means that their offense is going to have to step up . A deep threat on the outside would be a tremendous help.
Brussels Black Angels
How their season ended : While sitting at home when the Diamonds beat the Bulls in the final game of the season.
How they did what they did : With defense. They were the top defensive team in points against, yards against, pass defense, rush defense, third down conversions against and fourth down conversions against. Watching other teams play offense against them was like watching planes fly into the Bermuda Triangle – most of what went in didn’t come out the other side.
Weaknesses : It would be fair to suggest that the offense didn’t score the points. Their offense was third in total yards and second in rush yards but their Scoreability (yards gained divided by points scored) was very poor. You might read into this that their redzone offense was not up to scratch.
The solution : I think I’ve already given it. They get the ball into dangerous places, and they just have to finish off.
How their season ended : By being stunned by the Diamonds in the Semi Final
How they did what they did : Controlling possession and the clock. They were the only team to rush for more than 1000 yards last season, with teams unable to stop league MVP Ben Acheson running behind their outstanding hogs. They also tied for the league lead with just 8 turnovers.
Weaknesses : Hard to say, their stats were very good across the board. The one thing that stands out though was their pass defense, which was only good for sixth in the league. Having being close to reaching a Belgian Bowl for the last two years, they’ll need to put those past disappointments aside in order to take the last step.
The solution : A good deal of experience tends to fix that sort of thing. Having been so close should provide them the extra motivation to get over the hump.
How their season ended : The Gators weren’t in the playoff hunt in the end, but in reality their season ended on Antwerp’s 1 yard line when QB Bart Killens was tackled after scrambling. The ball was turned over on downs and Gent lost a squeaker 10-7 at home.
How they did what they did : The Gators were second in the league in passing yards and had 4 of the top 13 receivers in the league as far as catches went. They were far and away the least penalised team in the league, with just 3.5 per game.
Weaknesses : They get pushed around by the more physical teams. But like I always say, if you aren’t bigger and stronger than your opponents, you have to…
The solution : Be faster and smarter.
How their season ended : By being wiped out by the Tigers in the Semi Final.
How they did what they did : Like usual, with explosions. Big plays have been a part of the Tribes for as long as I have known them, whether it’s on offense or on defense (the Tribes led the league in passing yards, interceptions made and fumbles recovered)
Weaknesses : As we all know by now, we’re talking the Izegem Tribes, not the West Flanders Tribes. Players from Ostend will be missed all over the field (9 different players from Ostend have made the All-FFL team at least one of the last two years), but nowhere more so than in the leadership category, as QB Benedict Vermaut is a Pirate now.
The solution : We can expect some growing pains, but as long as they stick together and win a few games along the way, they should come together at the right time of year.
How their season ended : It’s hard to say when the Lions season ended, seeing as they didn’t win a game. Let’s just say that they had four games that were decided by 6 points or less, and they had a 0-3-1 record in those games.
How they did what they did : Despite not winning a game last year, they were much improved over years past. They’ve got some real playmakers that other teams had better account for.
Weaknesses : They were last in the league in yards against per play, so an improvement in their front seven would be welcome.
The solution : Leuven’s leading tackler last year was their free safety, and this is never a good thing. The big guys just have to make a bigger impact, but on the offensive side of the ball too, as the Lions were last in the league in average yards per rush. Perhaps a few of the players that they picked up from Limburg can help out in these areas.
How their season ended : If I was being harsh I’d say it was in their first game when they got smoked by the Gators 41-0, although it might have even been before that, with crippling injuries at the key offensive positions never allowed them to get settled at all.
How they did what they did : The Titans were last in the league in yards, points, yards against and points against. They also had a rotten run with injuries to make things worse. Things can only get better.
Weaknesses : The Titans turned the ball over a staggering 27 times in their six games last year. Despite having the Defensive MVP in their ranks, their linebacking core is not what it once was.
The solution : Having players miss games happens to every team, and it comes down to depth. Running the ball more would cut down on their 21 picks and hopefully allow them to sustain drives.
Meanwhile, in Wallonia
The LFFAB actually gets started on Sunday. There are three games, Andenne Bears v Luxembourg Steelers (at Andenne), Wapi Phoenix v Waterloo Warriors and LLN Fighting Turtles v Charleroi Coal Miners (both at LLN). Reigning BFL Champions, the Brussels Tigers, don’t play until next weekend.
A Super opportunity
I’ve already posted this on the facebook page, but I’ll put it in here as well. This comes from Tribesman Willem Demuynck.
“I’m going to the Superbowl next week (lucky me 🙂 ). I will be joining the press conference and player interviews on Thursday. I have no inspiration on what to ask them but I want to use the moment to meet up and interview some players. Of course the lesser gods will be easier to hook up to (I think Ray Lewis will be difficult to get to) So my idea was that maybe you can ask your trusty blog followers to give me ideas for what and who to ask, and I’ll give you the response back to post again on your blog. Greetings Willem”
Some of us have already made suggestions on the facebook page, and I encourage you all to do the same. It’s not every day you get the chance to ask a pro football player something. Thanks to Willem for giving us the chance!
I’m looking for a new photo to replace that old Tribes v Angels warm-up that sits at the top of the blog. If you have a great photo of the FFL that will fit in that small space, let me know!
I’ll see if I can’t make a prediction or two as to who might make the playoffs, but I’ll give myself another week to get that organised – in the mean time I’ve made a poll on the facebook page where you can vote for who you think will play in the post-season as well. Thursday will be the mailbag, so send in your comments and questions! Until then