Baxter's Blueprint: Bull Trader? Captains, Schedule + More
Bulls on parade If the RFL faithful were curious as to how new Boss Bull Doug Baxter would be approaching the offseason, they now have their answer: he's a 'gamblin' man'.
Baxter had mentioned when he first took the job that he wanted to see what the team had on-hand before signing flashy free-agents or making any real roster moves, and he was true to his word.
However, once the OTA portion of the offseason wrapped up, it was clear that changes were coming. In consultation with new DC Albert Torres, a few players switched positions, most notably JT Collier. Stepping back from his boundary CB position to lean on his zone cover + strong tackling abilities, Collier will now start at FS, while rookie Malcolm Washington competes to take snaps away from him. Ch-ch-ch-changes... Less dramatic changes came on new OC Austin Trask's offense, but most notable were along the Offensive Line. While some players moved around, others just got outplayed. Last year's starting LT Gordon Kay lost his job to G Davante Dean, as Dean proved athletic enough to win the position outright, finding both Kay + Demetrius Higgins on the losing end of their starting jobs from a year ago. Baxter + Trask seemed aligned on the moves, with both mentioning the need to "become more agile" on the offensive line, as they move towards a zone-based scheme that finds "big nasties" like Higgins as an odd-fit. Kay should have been a starter, but seemed a constant liability in the run-game, which found him sitting behind Dean. While the Bulls stayed relatively quiet in Free Agency, Baxter's phone suddenly got hot as the regular season drew near.
The Bulls swung a major trade for SuperStar wideout Derriontre MaChaivelli
Not only did Brooklyn trade for the Miners game-breaking WR, but they also picked up a starting-caliber TE in Ben Hartman and a 1st round draft pick from the London Bulldogs in exchange for odd-man-out LG Demetrius Higgins, giving the Bulls two 1st round picks in this coming year's RFL college draft.
The MaChaivelli trade also swapped out the benched Kay in exchange for backup LT Kevin Schroeder from Sacramento, losing 1 OL in total but having a huge upgrade at WR and adding more first round draft capital.
In all, the Bulls believe they gained more than they lost, and should have the following picks in next year's draft:
1, 1 (London), 4, 4 (Miners), 5, 6, 7
Oh Captains, my Captains
In maybe his least surprising move, Baxter relied on previous Captains + team veterans to wear the 'C' this season, though he seemed to indicate that's all 'part of the process'. While QB Layne Kerney, RB David Jones + MLB Jack Brown have been here before, its a new feeling for TE Sedrick Marts, DE Derek Herrera + SS Addison Lyons. "We're here to be dependable, accountable to one-another, day-in and day-out. The "C" is nice but it doesn't change how I approach my job," said first-timer Addison Lyons.
s7 Schedule revealed
Two for the road? Or as Baxter put it to the media today, "we'll be living out of suitcases to start the season."
With back-to-back road games against the Voyagers + Red Dragons, Brooklyn doesn't have a home-opener at Big Apple Field until week 3 against the Riverhogs. The battle-tested team will cap the season with 3-straight home games, with hopes of clinching a playoff birth in front of their hometown crowd.
Flying high for Pre-season scrimmage
The Bulls didn't have a preseason game this year, so they worked with the MFL's Altoona Falcons from nearby Pennsylvania to show off for fans on New Years with an organized scrimmage. While their technically wasn't a final score, it was clear that the Bulls were finding a rhythm with their passing game. New star 'DMac' MaChaivelli snagged a physical TD grab while second-year man Carlos Luzon proved a viable threat, hauling in tough completions in traffic before clutching in an absolute moon-shot 69 yard pass from Layne Kerney deep down the Altoona sideline.
Baxter's Bulls stampede the Altoona Falcons in NYE scrimmage
Pretenders or Contenders?
In all, Baxter's Bulls seem primed to battle it out in s7 against the RFL elite. Will they be Relo-Bowl Champions? Many may doubt, but none of them are inside this new tight-knit BK locker room.