Written by Matthew Slinn
Images by J.R Lawless

The Simulation Football League rarely fails to serve up an enticing array of games and Week 4 was no exception. Whilst some contests weren’t as close as neutral fans would have liked, a couple of games went down to the final few plays, including the game between Vancouver and Charleston where the Legion’s undefeated record was blemished. Congratulations must go to the Predators. Of the eight match-ups played last weekend, we’re going to deep dive into three of them, discovering something hidden or the plain obvious in ‘What We Learned from Week 4’.  

What We Learned from Week 4

Fort Worth Toros 22-26 Queen City Corsairs

Field Goals are rarely enough in this league…

For three and a half quarters against the Queen City Corsairs, Fort Worth were dominant. They controlled the clock, they racked up the first downs whilst stuffing QCC’s attempts to move the chains and the entered the red zone at will. What did they have to show for that dominance? A 19-3 lead heading into the 4th quarter, 1 TD and a bunch of field goals. I will give the Toros the benefit of the doubt and say that nobody should expect to lose from that position, but, one TD from the opposition followed by a quick 2-point conversion and they start to believe there is a chance. The Toros just didn’t do enough when they entered the red zone. Had those field goals been touchdowns, Fort Worth would be out of sight and looking at a blowout victory, on the road, to get them off the mark this season. As it happens, they have an 0-4 start and sit at the bottom of the division, which is luckily full of teams still trying to find their feet. At some point, a team is going to get hot, no matter how badly they’ve been battered and bruised during the game so far – unluckily for Fort Worth, QCC burned so hot, they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

That won’t work against the best teams…

Incomprehensible comebacks and insane endings to a game legitimately leave winning fans feeling more jubilant than if their team had cream-crackered the opposition from minute 1 – but does the euphoria of a last second victory mask the problems that led to needing to pull of a miracle? Let’s face it – Queen City were awful for the majority of this game. They 0-3 Fort Worth Toros were playing them off the field, in their home stadium no less. This comeback should, in reality, have never happened – but it did, thanks to a lockdown effort by the QCC defense in the red zone. The Corsairs pulled off a perfect ‘back against the wall’ job for three quarters, keeping the Toros out of the end zone on all but one occasion, giving their offense a chance to eventually catch fire – which they did. Twenty-three points were scored in the 4th quarter…23! As most of you probably know, the last play of the game came with Fort Worth up, 22-19, but AJ Caswell and Deezer Powell had other ideas. Caswell launched the ball up to Powell who snagged it in a jump ball. Toros safety, Delaney Nash, then over pursued the ball carrier and Powell gleefully scampered into the end zone to the eruptions of a raucous local crowd. A word of warning to the Corsairs – this will not work against the most ‘in form’ teams. Regularly coming behind like that in a game is extremely rare. If QCC want to seriously challenge for the division title, they need to put in a full 60 minutes.

Florida Storm 24-10 Los Angeles Lycans

Florida’s defence continues to be one of the best…

We all know that L.A. Lycans QB, Sully Richardson, is prone to throwing interceptions, but the way the Storm put him to the sword last weekend proved that they are an elite unit once again in the SFL. Florida’s defence has long been a great strength (limiting opposition scoring is part of their identity) and this season is no exception. The Storm are sitting pretty at 3-1, largely thanks to a D that is in the Top 10 for every category apart from Rushing Yds/Ag – this is counteracted by the fact that they have only given up a couple of TDs on the ground. The secondary had a good day against Richardson, picking him off four times whilst holding the passing offence to under 200 yards. L.A’s entire offensive output was limited to 265 yards. It has been a long time since I have seen a defence shut down the opposition like Florida did in Los Angeles, especially when you consider that Ron Cockren threw four picks of his own, most of them once the game looked dead and buried. During the pre-season, many an analyst was plotting the demise of Florida and a changing of the guard in the Atlantic division. It appears that the coaches and players took this to heart.

Keeping hold of the ball remains as L.A’s biggest problem…

Another game, another four turnovers for this Lycans offense. The quadruple turnovers against the Storm puts L.A at the top of the giveaways list with 15 – not a list that you want to be at the summit of. After a forgettable first half where no momentum was coming the home team’s way, the defense played their part by shutting Florida out and picking Ron Cockren off four times. Unfortunately, only one of those interceptions turned into a score and by that point, it was far too late. Granted, it was a wonderful pass into tight coverage, the ball thrown with a feather touch to Elzie Pryor. The touch of class shows the Sully Richardson that got the Lycans into the playoffs and the player that can get them there again if the mistakes dry up. Robert Johnson was stymied pretty effectively on the ground, although I would like to see him used even more frequently than we have seen so far – the running back is a true workhorse, a power back that can smash through multiple would be tacklers. If Johnson can start battering his way through defenses, openings may become wider for Richardson to find some consistent form and success. The season is nowhere near finished for Los Angeles, but with San Diego’s improvement and Vancouver still looking strong, they need to work out the chinks in their armour quickly if they are to keep pace.

Mexico City Aztecs 23-45 D.C. Dragons

Offensive quality can’t make up for defensive lapses…

The Mexico City Aztecs are currently 2-2, which in my eyes is underperforming for this squad – the potential of this offense is off the charts. Although Matt Willson threw 3 interceptions against the Dragons, when the dots did join, the Aztecs looked so explosive it’s had to imagine any defense stopping them consistently. The issue? Currently, Mexico City have the worst scoring defense in the SFL – they are 24th, even behind winless teams. The Dragons fully exposed Mexico City’s weaknesses, hitting them with big play after big play until the lead was unassailable and the offensive yardage toppled the 500-yard mark. It says a lot that Aztecs strong safety, Ben Charbs, has had to make the most tackles in the SFL so far this season. The experienced players like Dan Tritz (1 sack, 2 TFLs), Ronnie Watson (1 TFL, 1 PD), Dexter Jackson (3 TFLs, 3 PDs) and Jeffery Daggs (6 PDs, 2 INTs) have to continue to step up and play above themselves as the younger players blood into the system. The Aztecs are still in prime position to make a run at the playoffs for the umpteenth time in that wild South Division and by the time they come around, you would assume most defensive frailties would be covered. One thing is for sure – they won’t come up against an offense like D.C’s many times. Oh, wait, next week they travel to Baltimore…

D.C showing strength in depth at cornerback…

I know that most of the SFL community will be expecting a paragraph detailing Kevin Seay’s dominant rushing performance, and rightly so, the 3rd year running back broke out big run after big run, totalling 236 yards with a long of 71. And yes, he also added a trio of touchdowns to add to his season total which now sits at a healthy 8 TDs. However, the opposite side of the ball stood out to me even more than Seay’s achievements – despite a couple of key injuries in the secondary, the Dragons’ corners stepped up and stuffed the Aztecs’ formidable offense on more than one occasion. They were able to pick off Matt Willson multiple times and held the Aztecs to field goal attempts at key points within the game, allowing their offense to reap the rewards with TDs. The Dragons have four stars at the cornerback position and that strength in depth showed after #1 Jon DeSantis went down early in the contest. Interceptions from Kanye Rockafella and young CB Peanut Seay stunted the Aztecs at important moments and allowed the Dragons to build a strong lead. D.C. have taken a huge step forwards this season and look like a true challenger to Baltimore for dominion in the North division. Week 5 brings a bye and a chance to reload before an enticing game against the division rival, London Knights.  

And that does it for our ‘Week 4’ edition! Please, keep giving me feedback, good or bad. It really helps to surmise how many people of the community are enjoying the content. Thank you.