1. Predict your team's record
10-6 I restructured the Team and Hope to make the playoffs.
2. Predict the winner of your division
I'm going Durham
3. Predict the CFL bowl winner
Going with Durham, no stopping Taco.
- Lyle will make 1000 yard receiver for the last time.
- Bunker will break the 10 sack total.
- Rudoff will get 1500+ total yards for us
- Vito will get his rookie qb killed playing the spread power O.
HC Jared York is officially on the hot seat after the regime retained him citing organizational continuity. The team has been efficient on offense despite going with the rookie Blanchard. York has stated that he's not going to coach to save his job and challenges that the young Outlaws are still 'learning how to win as a unit'. York thinks this 1-3 start has really been a matter of figuring out what the team does best and identifying it's play-makers.
The money spent in free agency hasn't shown up either as WR Mark Clemons and RB Burt Schoen have largely been non-factors on Sundays. Clemons supporters think the Outlaws run too much power but let Schoen tell it, they don't run the football enough. Erza Harmon (RB2) has managed to perform however...
TE Horace Hayes and RB Harmon likely will be the starters come wk 5 just in time to get pummeled by a hot Las Vegas team.
We start our preview with the first paragraph from last year's preview: "Atlantic City is coming off their worst season since 2029 with a 2-14 record and changes were needed. Heading into training camp, the Phantoms had 8-9 new players who should be starters so that process has begun."
So, how did that workout? Not too well, as ACI finished at 4-12 and not even close to being a playoff contender.
For 2043, the changes continue although not so much at the starting spots but in depth. The focus this year was in bringing in some good mid-level talent and not just high priced stars. Stars are great but when you replace a 60+ player with a 30+ player for even a few plays, the drop-off is huge. If we can change that 30+ player to a 40+ guy, hopefully the team will be able to compete. The talent acquisition portion of this plan has had mixed results so far as a few 40+ additions have fallen to 30+ ratings after training camp.
Note: with all the new players added in 2042, I have listed their stats to the preview below under the 2042 roster info. It is interesting to see how they performed (or in some cases did not perform).
Offense: The Phantoms two-te offense has been in place for a few years now and has had mixed results. With the talent at tight end not as high as past years, there may be more of a focus on the running game. In the big picture, however, the offense was not the problem in 2042.
- Tyrus Wheeler - 9th year -53/53
- Brant Flannery - 3rd year - 21/38
- Mel Martin - Rookie - 17/31 - NEW (no stats)
- Tyrus Wheeler - 10th year
- Lorenzo Gustafson - 10th year - 33/33 - NEW
- Amir Upshaw - Rookie - 14/47 - NEW
Wheeler had a career year in 2042, throwing for 3,887 yards and an impressive 28/14 touchdown to interception ratio. If he can continue to play at that level then the offense should continue to improve. ACI tried to sign Gustafson before the 2042 season as the backup quarterback but his salary demands and available cap space didn't match up. This year, both sides were able to work it out and Gustafson returns for his second stint with the Phantoms, having started four games for ACI in 2039. Although his ratings have dropped over the past two years, he has performed well when given the chance. In 2041 he started 16 games for Baltimore and threw for over 3,600 yards, a 95.9 rating and an almost twice as many touchdowns as interceptions. 2042 saw him start only 5 games but he still had an 88.1 rating. This makes Gustafson valuable insurance in case Wheeler gets dinged up. Martin, a 4th round pick in 2042, was supposed to be a long term project at QB but he never improved as a passer in his short time at ACI. When Upshaw was drafted in the 3rd round this year, you knew that Martin was not long for the roster. While Martin was a runner first, Upshaw is a pocket passer who has a shot to stick around for a few years.
- Jeffrey Emack - 3rd year - 59/59
- D.J. Logan - 5th year - 40/40
- Jeffrey Emack - 4th year - 57/57
- D.J. Logan - 6th year - 42/42
At running back, it will be the Emack and Logan show for at least one more year. Emack ran for 1,185 yards, his third straight 1,000+ yard season but also the lowest of his career. He enters his contract year so he should be motivated to have a huge season. Logan ran for 544 yards as the backup running back while averaging an impressive 4.7 yards per carry. Also entering his contract year, it will interesting to see how the two work together. Normally, ACI drafts at least one running back every year but that was not the case in 2043. If a young talent becomes available on cut down day, it would not be surprising to see an addition here.
- Daryl McClinton - 7th year - 43/43
- Zion Price - 2nd year - 49/49
- Hunter Dail - 13th year - 33/33
- Zion Price - 3rd year - 47/47
- Daryl McClinton - 8th year - 32/32
- Cesar Covington - Rookie - 25/46 - NEW
As the two-te offense has progressed, the role of the fullback has been reduced. It is too early to tell if changes to the offense will increase or decrease the role of the fullback. Price started 14 games for ACI in 2042 and returns as the clear #1 and also one of the better special team's players on the roster. McCinton has taking some big hits in ratings and with 3 more years on his contract, he looks like a candidate for early release and a cap hit. That release won't likely be this year so expect to see him playing a key role on special teams. Covington is a rookie free agent who looks like he may turn into a fine run blocker. The future of McClinton will likely be linked to the progress of Covington.
- Jose Robinson - 6th year - 46/46 - NEW (70 rec., 1,080 yards and 4 TD's)
- Zack Heath - 4th year - 44/44 - NEW (44 catches, 682 yards and 3 TD's)
- Steven Andrews - 8th year - 37/37
- Herb Carruthers - 7th year - 39/39
- Jerald Francis - 7th year - 39/39
- Malik Burnside - 4th year - 37/37
- Ben Sutton - 5th year - 37/37 - NEW (6 catches for 93 yards)
- Jose Robinson - 7th year - 45/45
- Gene Luen - 5th year - 40/40 - NEW
- Jerald Francis - 8th year - 39/39
- Herb Carruthers - 8th year - 38/38
- Lamont Willis - 6th year - 36/36 - NEW
- Ruen Kirz - Rookie - 29/41 - NEW
- Neil Fisk - Rookie - 26/45 - NEW
Wide receiver saw some changes in 2042 and they continue in 2043. The depth at this position is still non-existent but Robinson did FINALLY bring some talent to a long struggling group as he was the first 1,000+ yard receiver since 20**. Heath was also brought into the team for 2042 and while he had a good season, it was not enough to warrant the salary that he wanted to re-sign (3 yrs., $33.88 million). Andrews, Burnside and Sutton were released or not re-signed as well. This allowed for the additions of Willis and Luen while rookies Kirz and Fisk were added via the draft. Luen will take over Heath's role as the #2 flanker will get his first chance at showing what he can do with increased playing time. The player to watch out for is starting split end Francis. He caught 38 passes in 4 starts in 2042 but will see his role increase dramatically this year. Carruthers is the backup split end and brings speed and big play ability behind Francis. Kirz looks like a bust right out of the shoot after being selected with pick 2-7. Salary cap implications mean he will make the team but likely will not see much playing time. Willis was brought in as a mentor more than anything so it will be interesting to see if the team finds that more important than a rookie project in Fisk, who was a 5th round pick.
- Carlos Polhemus - 9th year - 71/71
- Casey Ford - 9th year - 42/42
- Scottie Hopper - 5th year - 40/40 - NEW (3 rec's for 42 yards)
- Carlos Polhemus - 10th year - 59/59
- Dan Shea - 6th year - 46/46 - NEW
- Scottie Hopper - 6th year - 34/34
Polhemus is starting to show his age but is still one of the top tight ends in the CFL, as shown by his 80 rec., 780 yards and 6 TD's performance in 2042. He is signed thru the 2044 season so he is the clear #1 for at least two more seasons. Dan Shea came over from Los Angeles with WR Willis this year and was actually the primary focus of that trade. He adds youth and talent (specifically excellent route running) behind Polhemus. The Shea acquisition was made more important with the decline in ratings of Ford. The drop has been so severe that Ford lost his spot to Hopper.
- John Woodson - 5th year - 40/40 - NEW (27 KRB, 62 KRO and 8 sacks allowed)
- Buddy Segal - 7th year - 29/29
- John Woodson - 6th year - 40/40
- Jeff Loyd - 7th year - 33/33 - NEW
Woodson started all 16 games at center last year and despite efforts to bring in some competition, he will remain the starter in 2043. That competition was supposed to be Loyd, who signed $12.43, 3 year deal while he had 40+ ratings. After training camp, he dropped to a 33 level. Time will tell if he remains the guy who started 6 games for Baltimore in 2042 with 0 sacks allowed or becomes any aging veteran who is ready for the retirement home.
- LG - Sedrick Janjic - 6th year - 69/69
- RG - Shovel Barton - 9th year - 49/49
- LG - K.C. Norton - 11th year - 41/41
- LG - Sedrick Janjic - 7th year - 56/56
- RG - Shovel Barton - 10th year - 55/55
- LG - Bennett Lay - 4th year - 53/53 - NEW
The top two guards return in Janjic and Barton although they are beginning to drop a bit in ratings. As the offense threw the ball more in 2042, the sacks numbers increased. One of the top offenders was Janjic, who allowed 13 sacks. That is more than he allowed in his first four years in the league. Barton allowed 6 sacks in 12 starts which is about par for the course in his career. Both are strong run blockers. Norton whined and complained his way right off the ACI roster which opened the door for Lay, who could push both starting guards. This is the depth the team is looking for.
- RT - Carlos Urbanchek - 8th year - 68/68
- LT - Bart Zepeda - 6th year - 41/41
- RT - Joe Kaplan - 10th year - 36/36
- LT - Dwayne Clements - 4th year - 33/33
- RT - Carlos Urbanchek - 9th year - 75/75
- LT - Jose Finch - 5th year - 40/40 - NEW
- LT - Oscar Mathis - 5th year - 38/38 - NEW
- RT - Corwin Gray - Rookie - 35/45 - NEW
- LT - Otis Wolf - 4th year - 24/38 - NEW
Urbanchek had a second consecutive down year in 2042, allowing 11 sacks. However, part of this may be because he had to play out of position at left tackle. This year he will be staying at right tackle. Does that mean the solution to the left tackle issue was found? No, but a new group was brought in to try and patch that hole. Zepeda and Clements, who was a first round bust, are gone. Also gone is backup right tackle Joe Kaplan. In their place are three veterans and a rookie. Finch will get the first shot as the starting left tackle. He has been horrible at pass protection (13+ sacks allowed the past two seasons) so that doesn't sound promising. Mathis was a 40+ player when he was signed but that rating has dipped. He has been a career backup with 24 starts in three years for Fargo and likely remains a backup in Atlantic City. Wolf is a bit of a project signing, as he is in his 4th year but still shows room for improvement. While he doesn't have starter talent, the hope is that he turns into a solid backup. Many people (ok, that would be me!) are calling 2043 first round pick Gray a bust. Hopefully he is not Clements part two.
Defense: While the offense was much better in 2042, the defense took a step back. The talent in the front seven was there but the secondary and the overall pass defense was horrible. There is a renewed emphasis on defensive game planning so hopefully that will bring this defense back to respectability.
- RDE - Winston Harper - 6th year - 60/60
- LDE - Justin Ford - 5th year - 46/46 - NEW (7 sacks)
- LDE - Tony Nuston - 10th year - 33/33
- LDE - Avery Ingram - 2nd year - 21/33
- RDE - Winston Harper - 7th year - 54/54
- LDE - Justin Ford - 6th year - 54/54
- RDE - Louis Dennis - Rookie - 27/42 - NEW
2042 was the second year for Harper in a Phantoms uniform and was even better than his first. He finished with 12.5 sacks and 44 tackles. Ford was one of the big free agent signings last year and he didn't disappoint. This combination should once again put plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Nuston and Ingram were not re-signed so a backup defensive end was a big need entering the draft. Strangely, the only defensive lineman take was a defensive tackle in Dennis. At 6-1 and 284, the plan all along was to move him to defensive end. The hope is that he develops into a quality backup in the years to come. Depth is a concern and may need to be addressed with a late pickup.
- LDT - Brenden Maloney - 5th year - 77/77
- RDT - Benjamin Holmes - 5th year - 70/70 - NEW (5 sacks and 53 tackles)
- RDT - Travis Osborne - 6th year - 45/45 - NEW (3.5 sacks and 19 tackles)
- LDT - Ted Scancella - 2nd year- 42/50
- LDT - Jumbo Bertrand - 3rd year - 37/42
- LDT - Benjamin Holmes - 6th year - 74/74
- LDT - Ted Scancella - 3rd year - 55/55
- LDT - Jumbo Bertrand - 4th year - 40/46
- RDT - Travis Osborne - 7th year - 35/35
Maloney, who cost the Phantoms a top five pick in 2042, was a free agent in the offseason and the team decided not to franchise him. He ended up signing with Denver for $132.45 million over 4 years. The decision was made that although he has superstar ratings, the production they received (4 sacks and 44 tackles) was not worth the contract that he was looking for. This puts a lot of pressure on Holmes, who moves to LDT from RDT, and Scancella. Scancella had 2 sacks in 2042 but his progression was an additional factor in the decision to let Maloney walk. Osborne has aged a bit this year so time will tell if his ratings drop is a true sign of his production. Bertrand has not received much playing time but is a quality backup at either tackle spot.
- SLB - Corey Fisher - 9th year - 66/66
- MLB - Marlon Walton - 8th year - 54/54 - NEW (111 tackles, 3 sacks and 2 interceptions)
- WLB - Axel "Porsche" Carrere - 2nd year - 34/52
- WLB - Billy Joe Butler - 5th year - 42/42
- SLB - Dexter Vanhorn - 8th year - 43/43 NEW (26 tackles)
- MLB - Elliot Earle - R - 22/52 - NEW (8 tackles
- SLB - Corey Fisher - 10th year - 63/63
- MLB - Marlon Walton - 9th year - 42/42
- WLB - Billy Joe Butler - 6th year - 41/41
- WLB - Axel Carrere - 3rd year - 38/55
- MLB - Elliot Earle - 2nd year - 34/52
- SLB - Dexter Vanhorn - 9th year - 33/33
Entering the pre-season, ACI had 8 linebackers on the roster including 2 new additions who were brought in to provide some quality, 40+ rated depth. Unfortunately, both new players took a bit hit in ratings at training camp and were then cut (although ACI will be paying some cap hit penalties over the next couple years). Despite the free agent failures, the linebacker group is a pretty strong unit and remains intact from 2042. Fisher is aging and his ratings have dropped a bit but he is still a very strong strongside linebacker. Walton is solid in the middle, as shown by his 111 tackles / 2 interception season last year. Butler and Carrere will continue their battle for playing time at weakside linebacker. Butler is the stronger current player but Carrere has a much bigger upside. Earle continues to progress as a future starter in the middle when Walton's contract is up after the 2044 season. Vanhorn was not immune to the ratings dip and is now a backup that you really don't want to see too much on the field.
- FS - Ronnie Bonney - 10th year - 37/37 NEW (60 tackles and 1 int)
- SS - Craig Fann - Rookie - 36/51 - NEW (90 tackles and 2 int)
- SS - Mitch Schroeder - 6th year - 35/35 NEW (28 tackles and 1 int)
- SS - Renaldo Hudson - 5th year - 35/35 NEW
- FS - Cary Gonzalez - 5th year - 33/33- NEW
- SS - Craig Fann - 2nd year - 52/52
- SS - Rod Lewis - 7th year - 44/44 - NEW
- FS -Deron Rodgers - Rookie - 16/29 - NEW
The safety group was a disaster and has undergone a massive change for the second straight year. Gone are Bonney, Schroeder and Hudson with the only holdover being Fann. Bonney is a prime example of a player taking a nosedive in a very short period of time. In 2040, he was second team all-league. He was injured in 2041 before being released in 2042 and signing with ACI. After a terrible season, he was not resigned by the Phantoms and went to New Orleans where he is currently a low 20's rated safety. As mentioned, Fann was the lone bright spot as one of the few early ACI draft picks (2-1 in 2042) who was not a bust. Gonzalez is another recent free agent signing who was in the 40's when he signed the contract but now is in the 30's. He had 4 interceptions each of the past two seasons so maybe he can find a role as a dime back. Lewis is a good run defender who is likely the starter opposite Fann. Rodgers is a rookie 7th round pick that needs to excel on special teams if he wants to remain on the roster. With little depth, the problem is that if he is activated for a game as a punt returner than there is a chance he sees the field on defense where he is a huge liability.
- LCB - Seth Hutchins - 8th year - 51/51
- RCB - Sammy King - 7th year - 47/47
- RCB - Alex Dunn - 2nd year - 41/41 - NEW (3 interceptions and 3 passed defensed)
- LCB - Travis Farley - 6th year - 29/29 - NEW
- LCB - Donnie Banks - R - 18/31 - NEW
- LCB - Sammy King - 8th year - 44/44
- RCB - Kendrick Rossum - 10th year - 35/35 - NEW
- LCB - Alex Dunn - 3rd year - 39/39
- LCB - Claude Ahmad - 5th year - 41/41 - NEW
When you have a poor pass defense, much of that blame must lay at the feet of the cornerbacks. The #1 corner was Seth Hutchins and he turned out to be the scapegoat and was not resigned after 2 years in Atlantic City. This moves King to the starting spot at LCB while Dunn becomes the nickel back. Two free agent cornerbacks were signed to compete for the RCB spot in Rossum and Ahmad. Like FS Gonzalez, Rossum has already taken some ratings hits so Ahmad is the clear front runner.
- Jose Wynn - 3rd year - 57/57
- Jose Wynn - 4th year - 46/46
Wynn was resigned to a one year contract for the second straight season despite a ratings dip. If a better option becomes available, this could be an early season switch.
- Fred Brien - 5th year - 51/51
- Sammy Vaughn - 15th year - 58/58 - NEW
Brien was not re-signed which led to the acquisition of Vaughn, a veteran was 19/20 for Honolulu in 2042.
- PR - Malik Burnside - 3rd year
- KR - Jeffrey Emack - 3rd year
- PR - Deron Rodgers - 3rd year
- KR - Jeffrey Emack - 4th year
Burnside was not re-signed as the money he wanted was beyond what ACI was willing to part with for a punt returner at that time. Now that the final roster is set, that could be a mistake as Rodgers is the best on the team and as mentioned earlier, he is a liability on defense. As the best offensive talent on the team, Emack will be on the field as much as possible.
So the OTAs, mini-camp, and training camp highlights were all real -- this is not the old Outlaws franchise anymore.
The new look Outlaws unveiled their new offense and defense today and QB Archie Blanchard hit the ground running (2 rushing TDs) and gunning going 25/32 for 341 3TDs and a 142.3 QBR
so much for relying on a heavy run game to ease the rookie into things -- this guy is a stud
Reporting from Brooklyn...Sonny Beaches
On a solemn note Brooklyn's all-time leader in points has retired. Place-kicker Tyrus Wooden has announced his retirement after finishing second all-time in field goals made, 496. Given one more year he might have broken Norm Doman's 13 year-old record of 528.
In order to fiil the shoes of Wooden, Brooklyn spent a second-round pick on George Kooiker who immediately made his presence felt in the weight room by out bench-pressing fellow rookie Trey Becerra, 22 to 21.
Where the beaches are are always sunnier in Brooklyn,
Reporting from Brooklyn...Baxter Child
I am not going to argue that North Carolina's Kooiker is not going to make a fine place-kicker, but to use a second round pick? Brooklyn might have passed on several, solid, EVERY-DOWN players.
Meanwhile it was management that left "MVP" Wooden, as he was known in the Big Apple, go without a contract for the second straight year. So let's not be surprised that he decided to hang it up. Let's all remember that the biggest retirement this year was Wally "Deep" Wooden not Tyrus "MVP" Wooden.
Where Brooklyn equals Crooklyn,
GM Report...Dean Gullberry
I think we look competitive this year. There are a few concerns, but we will see how the season shakes out. Good luck to all.