Written By Jeremy Vega
Top 5 Takeaways from the First Half of Season 15
Season 15 thus far can be described in many different ways for each team, the whole community, or just the league as a whole. There have been highs and lows, close games and blowouts, bone headed plays and game winning plays. Surprises and no brainers. But overall it’s just been a good, fun, & very competitive season for everyone! But this is an article about the 5 things that have stood out to me personally through the first 6 weeks of the regular season.
1) Expansion Teams
Expansion teams in a sim league look just like expansion teams in a real world sports league. Whenever a new franchise is born in any sport at any level they face the same uphill climb. Assembling a competitive roster and coaching staff year/season one. The SFL saw the birth of the Fort Worth Toros & the Portland Fleet. Both teams started from scratch. To make their uphill climb even more daunting, the league’s roster size increased to 20 players, making the job of filling their roster that much harder. Both teams managed to sign some big name free-agents but ultimately had to heavily rely on the Rookie Draft to acquire the bulk of their roster. Both expansion teams drafted over 10 players each, which means half their respective rosters were some of the youngest and under developed in the league. Portland also has one of the youngest owners in terms of time in the league as well as a young staff and it has reflected this season. Portland has a 1-5 record along with the 22nd Offense and the 18th Defense in terms of points for and points against. The Fort Worth ownership group and coaching staff have more experience but are still young in their own ways. The Toros have a 2-4 record with the 12th ranked Offense and the 9th ranked Defence in terms of points for and against. Only time will tell where these franchises ultimately end up but it’s my prediction that this season will end with both teams looking forward to their sophomore seasons.
2) Cheating in Sports Will Never End Well
I am going to keep #4 pretty short because in my opinion it is pretty obvious. Season fifteen’s biggest disappointment is the league’s announcement of two owners from different teams breaking league rules. There is no room for cheating in any sport, ever. As disappointing as this event is, we push forward and I’m sure everyone in the league hopes to not see an issue like this again in the future.
3) The Denver Nightwings are Back at the Top with a Young Roster
Yes, yes, I know…Here comes a paragraph of Jeremy tooting his own horn about his franchise and how good they are playing. But this is less about my coaching, the crazy numbers we are putting up as a team, and our overall play in Season 15. It’s actually more about the new era the SFL is in where not every team is maxed out with gold players. Where teams have to actually build through the rookie draft and accept that not every single position on their team will be an all gold player like in seasons past. Now more than ever, teams will have to figure out how to coach differently. Figuring out how to maximize their game plan around their best (gold)players while their younger players contribute in smaller ways while they progress and get better over multiple seasons. Here are just some examples on my team that have me thinking, “wow! this system is actually pretty cool. Very rewarding to see younger players making a bigger impact in their 2nd and 3rd seasons then their rookie season because they progressed into better players.” Wide Receiver Bryce battle started out in the mid level copper area his rookie season. He definitely made his fair share of plays season one but nothing that would have people rooting for him to make a probowl. Now in his second season, he is well on his way to passing all of his rookie numbers.. All because he progressed and got better. Another example is our 1st round pick in the Season 14 rookie draft, Cornerback Nick Kindler. Started in the nickel spot and progressed his player through his rookie season to the point where he was
strong enough to be our starter. A final example is Outside Linebacker Adam Wiseman who despite being a copper his whole rookie season, racked up 100+ tackles. Adam like Nick and Bryce, have started out like traditional rookies and progressed into better players and will continue to do so. The overall point to all of this is that Denver is a very young team. Our veterans are gold (5 players) . We started the season with 6 copper players, 6 bronze players, 1
silver player, and 6 gold players. We were a young team last season, and are still a young team this season that is growing and getting better. We are 5-1 this season and playing really good football despite not having a ton of gold players. So this new era of the SFL I spoke about is actually something to be excited about as it has really brought a new level or realism and strategy to our league. An even deeper and more rewarding system to the players in the league. Overall I love it and I love my team of players. I will gladly find new ways of coaching and gameplanning so I can keep them around and watch them grow into Golds!
4) Are teams true colors bleeding through their harder schedules?
At number 4 we will talk specifically about 4 SFL teams. Atlanta Swarm, Vancouver Legion, Queen City Corsairs, & Charleston Predators. Last season these 4 teams made the playoffs with QCC, VAN, CHS going 8-4 and ATL going 10-2 and ultimately winning the Season 14 championship. Coming into this season, their schedules were harder based on their opponents record from Season 14. CHS-2nd hardest. QCC-5th hardest. ATL-7th hardest. VAN-13th hardest. The Swarm sit at 3-3 but have the least to worry about this season when it comes to making another postseason run to defend their title. They are 3-0 in the Hive and 0-3 on the road. While the road record may seem a bit worrisome, two of their losses were by a single score which tells you they are still very competitive. In my opinion, while the Swarms schedule is a little tougher than last seasons, they are still going to navigate the regular season giving opponents a headache to game plan for and will find themselves in the playoffs. Next are the Queen City Corsairs. The Corsairs have been a very up and down team this season as they are navigating a tougher schedule. They are 1-2 on the road and 2-1 at home. They lost by one possession twice this season which like ATL shows they are still a strong team. QCC is the hardest team of the four, to guess if they will make the playoffs this season. Regardless, QCC and ATL are still tough and competitive teams regardless of their schedule. Moving on to Vancouver now. The Legion made the Season 14 Semi-finals on the back of one of the easier schedules but failed to take advantage of that and lock up home field advantage which led to them losing to the Swarm. This season they have a harder schedule and while they started out 2-1, they have hit a rough patch losing their last two games including one at home. Vancouver’s schedule lightens up on the back half and this gives them a good chance at making the playoffs for back-to-back seasons for the first time ever. But they, like the next team coming up, may just
be a product of a lighter schedule. Only time will tell if the Legion can break the mold of missing the playoffs with a tough schedule and making the playoffs with a lighter schedule. Finally, the Charleston predators. They are very similar to the Legion in terms of scheduling. Coming off their best season as a franchise in season 14, some will say it was because of a lighter schedule. With a much harder schedule this season, and their 2-4 record, it’s hard to think last season was anything other than them having a light schedule and capitalizing. Among this group of four teams, I think they will definitely miss the playoffs unless they can turn things around quickly and go 4-2 down the stretch.
5) The group of upper echelon teams in the SFL mostly remains the same
The typical group of SFL teams that sit atop the league each season and give everyone else the most fits, has largely gone unchanged through the first half of the Season. The Nightwings find themselves back atop the league where Jeremy left them and has kept them now that he is coaching again. Followed by the typical teams like Baltimore, Jacksonville, Sioux Falls, Mexico City, and Chicago. The other teams that are normally among these top teams find themselves in a massive tie at 3-3. The teams like Florida, Queen City, & Atlanta. All of which have a good chance at getting back into the top 10 or playoffs as this season goes along. There are however a few surprise teams who have made some waves in the 1st half of Season 15. Teams like Louisiana who are tied for 1st with a 5-1 record. Arizona and Houston are among the tied teams at 3-3 but have slightly played better than the rest of the 3-3 teams. To really see who breaks away from the big pack in the middle, it will take the remaining 6 weeks of the regular season to see who finishes where and who can say they belong with the upper echelon of the Simulation Football League.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this quick article at the half way point of the season. I like most, need to get back to work and get ready for the back half of this great Season 15 we are in! Good luck to everyone!