Team Building 101 – Where Are They Now?

Team Building 101 – Where Are They Now?

 

This is a reflection three years into the M17 Cycle of MSFL. Where all 32 Franchises will be reflected upon and analyzed as we take a look at where they’ve been and where they are now.  15 Franchises took a step back, 13 Franchises took a step forward, and 4 just stayed the same. This isn’t about Wins, Records, or Championships, but instead on each franchise's ability to build a roster or destroy what was already in place.

 

Going to start off with the franchises that managed to go absolutely nowhere after 3 years of potential development, 2 drafts, and tons of opportunity to improve talent via trades, FA, practice squad. Listed in no particular order here are the winners of the Jeff Fisher Award. Congrats!

STAYED THE SAME (JEFF FISHER AWARD)

(0 PTS) WASHINGTON REDSKINS 79 OVR

(0 PTS) HOUSTON TEXANS 81 OVR

(O PTS) BUFFALO BILLS 81 OVR

(0 PTS) ARIZONA CARDINALS 84 OVR

 

Now we move onto the franchise cripplers, these are the ones who came into a certain situation but instead of improving managed to go backward and hurt their respected franchises in more way than one.  Almost half of the league (15 teams) took a step back but these four franchises were above and beyond to ruin what they had. Carolina came into the M17 cycle as the SB 50 runner-up and one of the most wanted teams with a talented young roster just missing a couple pieces and ready to make a big push. But just as the real life Carolina Panthers came off to a slow start and eventually imploded so did the MSFL version of the Panthers. They had the biggest drop from 87 ovr to where they now currently sit at 80 ovr. Titans (77 ovr) went into the franchise with multiple draft picks, young talent and tons of cap. No idea what happened but their mismanagement led to the 2nd biggest drop with -5 points. Ravens (79 ovr) and Chargers (77 ovr) close this list with each dropping -4 points. Both franchises started the league with each having a rookie in the top 10 but haven’t improved like they had hoped.

BIGGEST FALL

(-7 PTS) CAROLINA PANTHERS 80 OVR (WAS 87 OVR)

(-5 PTS) TENNESEE TITANS 77 OVR (WAS 82 OVR)

(-4 PTS) BALTIMORE RAVENS 79 OVR (WAS 83 OVR)

(-4 PTS) SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 77 OVR (WAS 81 OVR)

 

13 of the league’s franchises took steps in the right direction and made improvements as all GM’s hope to do. But these four franchises set the standard of what it takes to run a successful franchise and improve. Chicago Bears (82 ovr) and Indianapolis Colts (86 ovr) came into this year's Madden cycle as the 2nd worst, and 7th worst franchises, respectively. They managed to not only turn things around but raised the bar as the only franchises to improve by a whopping 8 total points overall wise in 3 years. Cleveland Browns made a 5-point improvement (78 ovr) after implementing a John Elway strategy of spending big to acquire marquee names via trades, and FA. Detroit Lions wraps up our list with a 4-point improvement (84 ovr) thanks to drafting a franchise QB early and building from there.

BIGGEST GAINS

(+8 PTS) CHICAGO BEARS 82 OVR (WAS 74 OVR)

(+8 PTS) INDIANAPOLLIS COLTS 86 OVR (WAS 78 OVR)

(+5 PTS) CLEVELAND BROWNS 78 OVR (WAS 73 OVR)

(+4 PTS) DETROIT LIONS 84 0VR (WAS 80 OVR)

 

A look at the top 5 franchises in order of Overall

TOP 5 FRANCHISES (OVR/ ROSTER WISE)

1.     PITTSBURGH STEELERS 87 OVR

2.     NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 86 OVR

3.     INDIANPOLIS COLTS 86 OVR

4.     ARIZONA CARDINALS 84 OVR

5.     DETROIT LIONS 84 OVR

 

A look at the bottom 5 franchises in order of Overall

BOTTOM 5 FRANCHISES (OVR/ ROSTER WISE)

1.     SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 77 OVR

2.     JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 77 OVR

3.     TENNESSE TITANS 77 OVR

4.     SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 77 OVR

5.     NEW YORK GIANTS 77 OVR

 

Here is the total list of all 32 franchises listed in power ranking order back when everything began (9/9/16) and where they sit now.

  

BEFORE (09/09/2016) / Now (12/22/2016)

 

1.     CLE BEFORE (73 OVR) / NOW (78 OVR) (+5 PTS)

2.     CHI BEFORE (74 OVR) / NOW (82 OVR) (+8 PTS)

3.     SF BEFORE (75 OVR) / NOW (77 OVR) (+2 PTS)

4.     NYJ BEFORE (77 OVR) / NOW (80 OVR) (+3 PTS)

5.     MIA BEFORE (77 OVR) / NOW (78 OVR) (+1 PTS)

6.     LA BEFORE (78 OVR) / NOW (79 OVR) (+1 PTS)

7.     IND BEFORE (78 OVR) / NOW (86 OVR) (+8 PTS)

8.     JAX BEFORE (78 OVR) / NOW (77 OVR) (-1 PTS)

9.     TB BEFORE (79 OVR) / NOW (81 OVR) (+2 PTS)

10. WAS BEFORE (79 OVR) / NOW (79 OVR) (0 PTS)

11. NO BEFORE (80 OVR) / NOW (82 OVR) (+2 PTS)

12. DET BEFORE (80 OVR) / NOW (84 OVR) (+4 PTS)

13. NYG BEFORE (80 OVR) / NOW (77 OVR) (-3 PTS)

14. PHI BEFORE (80 OVR) / NOW (83 OVR) (+3 PTS)

15. HOU BEFORE (81 OVR) / NOW (81 OVR) (0 PTS)

16. BUF BEFORE (81 OVR) / NOW (81 OVR) (0 PTS)

17. SD BEFORE (81 OVR) / NOW (77 OVR) (-4 PTS)

18. ATL BEFORE (81 OVR) / NOW (80 OVR) (-1 PTS)

19. MIN BEFORE (81 OVR) / NOW (82 OVR) (+1 PTS)

20. DEN BEFORE (82 OVR) / NOW (81 OVR) (-1 PTS)

21. TEN BEFORE (82 OVR) / NOW (77 OVR) (-5 PTS)

22. BAL BEFORE (83 OVR) / NOW (79 OVR) (-4 PTS)

23. ARI BEFORE (84 OVR) / NOW (84 OVR) (0 PTS)

24. DAL BEFORE (84 OVR) / NOW (83 OVR) (-1 PTS)

25. OAK BEFORE (84 OVR) / NOW (82 OVR) (-2 PTS)

26. CIN BEFORE (84 OVR) / NOW (81 OVR) (-3 PTS)

27. SEA BEFORE (85 OVR) / NOW (83 OVR) (-2 PTS)

28. GB BEFORE (85 OVR) / NOW (83 OVR) (-2 PTS)

29. PITT BEFORE (85 OVR) / NOW (87 OVR) (+2 PTS)

30. KC BEFORE (85 OVR) / NOW (82 OVR) (-3 PTS)

31. CAR BEFORE (87 OVR) / NOW (80 OVR) (-7 PTS)

32. NE BEFORE (87 OVR) / NOW (86 OVR) (-1 PTS) 

Wendell Smallwood named MSFL’s Most Valuable Player

This has been the season of Wendell Smallwood. The only question is whether the new league MVP will finish it all off on Sunday with a Super Bowl title.

Smallwood was named the league’s Most Valuable Player as MSFL Honors Sunday night, barely winning 8 of the possible 20 votes from the rest of the league. Demaryius Thomas came in close second finishing with 7 votes. Mychal Kendricks received 3 votes. Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo each earned one vote, but their closing arguments in Week 17 of the regular season diminished any chance to steal votes. Smallwood had a tight race until the very end however, due to Philadelphia’s 14-2 record it left no room for debate. Smallwood closed out his rookie season with league-leading 1,638 rushing yards.

The votes were taken before the wild-card round of the playoffs, but Smallwood’s performance in the postseason only confirmed his spot at the pinnacle of MSFL halfbacks. He is one of the best long yardage and red-zone runners in the league. The threat of him breaking a tackle and his speed to separate quickly helps make Philadelphia one of the most explosive running games in the MSFL. Smallwood’s rushing ability (491 yards and 16 scores on the ground) puts him over the top, but that’s not why he was the game’s best player this season. The fact that Smallwood being a rookie and making an immediate impact on his team leading them to the #1 seed, helped carry the load. When Rookie QB Wentz went down on multiple occasions throughout the season due to injury Smallwood rose to the occasion and carried the team on his back.

Coach Flame commented, “A rookie running back drafted in the 4th round was forced into action after the veteran he was supposed to learn from went down in week 1. With little knowledge on how fast this league moves, he didn’t play well, he played one of the best seasons anyone has ever seen. A truly amazing season, I’m glad I was part of it. Congratulations Wendell”

It feels like Wendell owned the entire 2016 season, and we were just going along for the ride. He just needs one more big game and he will reach a status few football players ever achieve.

Sorting out the Super Bowl Contenders

The thrilling 19-16 Overtime win for the 6th seed Oakland Raiders over the #3 seed New England Patriots helped kick off the wildcard round with a bang. Eagles ended the season on a 9 game winning streak knocking off 4 Super Bowl contenders in the process. We know that Winston without his coach is not nearly the same as Winston with his coach on the sideline creating plays to unleash Evans. We also know that no MSFL team is unbeatable after seeing Texans lose 2x to the worst offense in the league (Indy). With first time quarterbacks Carr, Wentz, Mariota, and Winston making their post-season debut, will it become an annual tradition or an odd occurrence?

We know the Packers and Seahawks have dominated in turnovers. We know the Chiefs walk in with the second best offense in the entire league behind best QB Award winner Alex Smith. Even the Pittsburgh coaching staff has managed to get the best out of it’s current roster coming in as the 3rd best defense in the entire league and 2nd best defense of all the super bowl contenders. As the saying goes Defense wins championships if that’s the case expect Packers and Steelers to make a big run.

Redskins come in with the 2nd best conversion rate of the entire MSFL. With Cowboys and Titans being amongst the very best in the red zone. We also know that Raiders and Buccaneers are identical in tying for 3rd most interceptions.

The eleven teams we just listed are the eleven best franchises in the MSFL right now, with all apologies to the Patriots (lost in OT).

These are the Super Bowl contenders and soon enough we will be able to answer the important question of not who is the best right now but “who has the best chance of winning in the playoffs?”

To find out, let’s rank the best and worst teams among the Super Bowl contenders in a variety of playoff-important categories: Quarterback play, defense, big-play capability and so forth. After we run the best of the best through this gauntlet against one another, a clear winner or two should emerge.

Let’s get started:

Category 1: Quarterback

It’s hard to win without a good one. (Isn’t that right Buffalo?)

Best: Aaron Rodgers

Runner-Up: Russell Wilson.

This is a strong field, of course. Romo can also attempt to stake a claim to the runner-up position. Wilson has 31 passing touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and a 69 percent completion rate, and a 108 QBR. (Romo for comparison: 36 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, and a 65% completion rate, with a 107.8 QBR)

Worst: Ben Roethlisberger.

He threw for 5 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 4 games against the NFC east this year. He is the only one with a QB passer rating fewer than 89. Given the choice between Mariota, Cousins, Osweiler, and Carr, we’ll take the one that has managed more consistency this year.

Category 2: Offensive Depth/ Diversity

The ability to win by both running and passing, with a variety of offensive weapons, can keep a playoff caliber defense from easily shutting you down.

Best: Redskins.

Jordan Reed, Desean Jackson, Josh Doctson is the only trio to combine for over 3,000 yards. Matt Jones also did some heavy lifting rushing for over 1,200 yards.

Runner-Up: Seahawks.

The only team amongst the contenders to have the most receivers with 50+ catches on the year. Seattle leads with 4 meaning they are able to spread the ball well whether that is to Kearse, Lockett, Baldwin and even Tight End Graham.

Worst: Raiders.

Amari Cooper has had a great year but after him the offensive productivity drops significantly with the next best thing man with a whopping 30 receptions less and less than half of Coopers yards.

Category 3: Defense Consistency

Solid week-to-week, situation-to-situation defense.

Best: Packers.

Runner-Up: Steelers.

There was only one time all year long this Steelers defense held an opponent to less than 20 points and loss. So these contenders better plan on putting up 20+ or don’t expect to advance.

Worst: Chiefs.

Despite having the 4th best in interceptions they ranked amongst the bottom tier of all teams defense wise by allowing 6th most total yards on offense.

Category 4: Big-Play Capability

This applies to both sides of the ball and special teams. The ability to quickly put six points makes a huge difference in any game, but particularly a postseason game.

Best: Eagles.

The Eagles lead the league in interception with 45 with the second best being 12 away the Eagles take advantage of a mistake and capitalize fast with explosive HB Smallwood.

Runners-Up: Buccaneers.

They come in at 5th for turnover difference and with plenty of players who rac up Run after Catch, and Doug Martin being one of the best this isn’t a team you want to turn the ball over to.

Worst: Titans.

This team relies on ground and pound or Mariota throwing interceptions. In the playoffs where almost every defense is elite how will they react to adversity.

Category 5: Home-Field X Factor

Best: Eagles.

The Eagles have not lost all year at Lincoln Financial. Now that they have won the NFC east and secured the #1 seed means they will maintain home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Does anyone have what it takes to dethrone them at home?

Runners-Up: Texans.

Second best home record in the entire league and with the Super Bowl being Hosted this year in Houston will they be the first team to make it and play the biggest game in their own backyard?

Worst: Chiefs.

With 5 of their 6 losses coming on the road, this team is dependent on being a home team.

 

Let’s add up the real categories and see what we have. Each team’s record against other playoff opponents is listed in parentheses.

 

Scoreboard

HOU Texans (5-0): One Runner-up

PHI Eagles (5-2): Two Best

WAS Redskins (5-1): One Best

TEN Titans (3-2): One Worst

KC Chiefs (3-3): Two Worst

GB Packers (2-4): Two Best

DAL Cowboys (2-5) One Runner-up

SEA Seahawks (1-2): Two Runner-up

TB Buccaneers (1-3) One Runner-up

PIT Steelers (1-3): One Runner-up, One Worst

OAK Raiders (1-4): One Worst

 

Conclusions

The AFC is too close to call now that the Patriots have flopped out of the wildcard round. The team that preserves home-field advantage in the playoffs will probably reach the Super Bowl.

The Eagles and Texans have created a huge enough gap when playing at home they are near impossible to beat. Can the Packers once again prove why Defense wins championships? Will the Buccaneers show up when the game is on the line since the coach seems to keep not showing up when needed when, and can Seattle dynamic passing attack spread the tough defenses it is bound to face?

Yes, the Cowboys, Chiefs, Titans, and Redskins are probably still in the mix somewhere. And yes, it’s interesting the AFC #1 seed Steelers happens to have one of the worst records when facing playoff competition.

In other words, we all know these teams can be very good, but they have to face each other to determine who is the best.

Midseason Review: Winners and losers from First Half of MSFL Season

New England Patriots and Washington Redskins are playing championship football. The New England Patriots owned the first half of this MSFL season, so perhaps it’s appropriate that they fell flat in such entertaining fashion to close out week 7 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was a reminder that the next 9 weeks won’t resemble the first half at all.

Very little has been decided, especially in an NFC with 5 teams only having one loss. Similarly, AFC teams don’t look truly “out of it” with about 9 teams having winning records. Former 2x Super Bowl champion Coach Barry Allen’s Giants are far from a juggernaut, and they will have to battle uphill just to make the playoffs, much less secure home-field advantage.

As we continue our midseason review week here at TheMSFL.com, here’s a look at some of the biggest winners and losers from the season’s first half:

MOVING UP

Playoff races: Denver and Green bay are the only squads to have two-game or more leads in their divisions, and we’d expect Philadelphia and Dallas to make the NFC East a three-team race. The wild-card races in both conferences look even more insane. The AFC isn’t as deep as the NFC, but we’re hitting midseason with the Bills, Browns, and even the MSFL preseason champion Raiders out of the playoff picture. In the NFC, only one loss separates the No.1 seed from the No. 8 team. Basically, the first half was just about eliminating four NFC teams: Atlanta, Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles. Everything else is possible.

Passing League: It’s been a nice half-season statistically for Quarterbacks that all happen to have a common denominator, a struggling defense. Eli manning tops the list leading the league in passing yards with 2,251 yards throwing for a 2 TD to 1 Int ratio paired with the #27 ranked defense in the league. Paxton lynch follows suit throwing for 1,978 yards. Despite the rookie QB Lynch having all this defensive talent around him they have struggled thus far and managed to come in at a measly #28 pass defense forcing the young quarterback to get them out of bad situations.

Rookie wide receivers: It’s supposed to be difficult for rookie wideouts to get up to speed at the MSFL level. But these talented crops of wideouts have come out of the gates quickly. Sterling Shepard, Corey Coleman, Will Fuller V, and Josh Doctson could all be candidates for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Indianapolis relevance: The colts haven’t had a defense ranked in the top 5 since 2007 yet here they sit as the #1 ranked defense after 7 weeks. If they can take care of a dangerous Kansas City at home, they will be 5-3. This doesn’t look like a playoff team yet, but it’s nice that one of the league’s worst franchises, roster wise will be playing November games that matter and could have an impact on the conference.

Coach Maxwell: All of Chicago’s regular season moves are turning to gold. The Bears have the best rushing attack in football with Jacquizz Rodgers and Lamar Miller leading the league in rushing. Even newly added Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is getting in on some of the action. One thing is for certain this Bears team is already better than it was a season ago.

Washington creeps: Coach Urban Meyer has quietly led his team to the top of the MSFL standings with a 6-1 record on top of what seems as the toughest division on paper in the NFC East. Plenty of reason for his recent success due to being ranked 3rd in turnover difference with 20 takeaways vs only 10 giveaways. They may not stand out anywhere in terms of offensive or defensive production but if you make a mistake against this roster you will surely pay for it.

MOVING DOWN

Falcon's demise: The very passionate return of coach DJ has become a roller coast ride of emotions, most of it being a downward spiral. As the time of this writing, they are on an 8 game losing streak and remain one of only two teams that have yet to taste victory in the MSFL. The only positive note to take from the first half is that Atlanta is actually the most disciplined team in the league leading in avoiding penalties, but that can only take them so far.

AFC North: How did this once intriguing division get so bad, so fast? The ravens have yet to win in back to back games, Bengals barely broke a 4 game losing skid vs divisional foe in Cleveland, and Pittsburgh started off the season on a 3 game losing streak. They have however seemed to have turned it around but time will tell if they can continue this improvement in the second half.

Hoops on Hot Seat: After trading away the newly extended Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo decided to turn to its 4th round rookie quarterback out of Ohio State, Cardale Jones. This handpicked quarterback has played so poorly and in turn left the team in shambles that it could go down as one of the worst GM decisions in the history of the league. Tyrod Taylor may not have been the franchise Quarterback the Bills wanted but Cardale Jones IS NOT the Quarterback they need.

Every Franchises Rehab Facility: After 7 short weeks, there has been an epidemic of devastating injuries impacting each franchise one after another. Either coaches need to get smarter about resting players who fatigue or strength and conditioning trainers need to be reevaluated. Either way, something must be done in hopes that this trend does not continue and ends a franchise playoff run before it even begins. 

If the season ended today

NFC Seeding’s:

#1 NFC East Was (6-1)

#2 NFC North GB (6-1)

#3 NFC South Car (5-1)

#4 NFC West Sea (4-2)

#5 Wildcard TB (5-1)

#6 Wildcard Phi (5-2)

Bubble: Cowboys, Saints, 49ers

 

AFC Seeding’s:

#1 AFC East NE (5-1-1)

#2 AFC West Den (5-2)

#3 AFC North Pitt (4-3)

#4 AFC South Ind (4-3)

#5 Wildcard KC (3-2-1)

#6 Wildcard Mia (4-3)

Bubble: Texans, Jets, Chargers

MSFL's new home

Good morning MSFL, I am very excited to announce the latest project we have been working on can finally be revealed. After much deliberation, we have decided to take another big step in the expansion of the league by launching the one stop shop for all MSFL content, info and more. Due to delays in other sites, we have decided this will now be our permanent base of operations moving forward. When EA decides to release the companion app we will also continue to implement the data and statistics that our member know and love with the continued support from Daddyleagues. So that means we will continue to function how everything was in the past but through the use of our new home. We want to thank all of our members old and new, as this couldn’t have been possible without each and every one of our dedicated owners. We have much more planned ahead for the future including a shop where you can get your exclusive MSFL gear, live shows and more. This is just one of the many steps we will continue to take to distance ourselves from the pack and stand out as stand out as the premier online Madden league on the PlayStation. See you on the field!