NRC East Outlook
Steamers, Shamrocks, Gunners, Monarchs
We will explore several moves made by RFL teams throughout the offseason, in an effort to get you caught up on what’s to come for Season 6. We’ll briefly touch on moves made through Free Agency, Trading, and The Draft. We aim to highlight key acquisitions and departures, who may impact the future of a team. We will take a statistical approach to analyzing the teams’ Season 5 performances. And, we will look to analyze a team’s avenues to success for the upcoming RFL Season 6. We hope to touch on each team and their endeavor to obtain an elusive Relo Bowl.
The Steamers dominated the NRC East, coming out on top with a 12-4 record in Season 5. Lead by MVP-Caliber QB, Reed Wagoner, the Steamers faced off against the Lancers in wildcard week, ultimately falling in upset 24-21. Boasting the number 2 offense and number 7 defense in the NRC, they elected to add to the defensive side of the ball with the 13th overall pick, selecting Stanford safety Monsieur Chappell. In addition, they selected CB Ray Stevens, of North Dakota State, in order to bolster their secondary further. The Steamers are a very young team overall, with veteran talent at key points on the roster. A team with extremely high pedigree, the Steamers only look to improve in Season 6 with further development and added cohesion. WR Romeo Jackson will look to continue his connection with his QB, complimented by TE Eric Reece and WR JJ Von. Expect Star DE Diego Lizarraga Jr to improve upon his 10.5 sack season as he's joined by CB John Gibbson headlining a hungry defensive unit. The Steamers are a potential favorite in the NRC to make a deep playoff run in Season 6, so keep close tabs on this team as we near the start of the season.
The Shamrocks closed out Season 5 with a 10-6 record, narrowly missing out on playoffs due to tiebreakers. The Shamrocks are a very interesting team that comes into Season 5 looking to build upon a solid defense, which gave up the 6th least amount of yardage in the NRC and 7th lowest ppg average. Their offense was equally middle of the pack (8th in yardage and 10th in ppg). The true strength of the Shamrocks in Season 5 was QB Tom Wilson, who nearly eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards, while also throwing for 3,500 in the same season. Add in a solid 1,241 from HB Lester Gadsden on the ground, and we can see why the Shamrocks had the number one rushing attack in the NRC. It's hard to say where the Shamrocks need to improve to get over the hump and find themselves in contention, but the answer may lie with player development. A step forward from young stars like CB Xavier Richwalski, RE TL O'Neal, and WR Roland Woods could be the key to success for the Shamrocks. We don't believe that this team is far from playoff contention, but they have a wide array of expectations for Season 6. We'll be watching closely to see what type of game plan the Shamrocks come up with to try to gain that edge in the coming season.
The Gunners came away from Season 5 with an 8-8 record, which turned out to be a big disappointment. For a team that appeared in the NRC Conference Championship during Seasons 3 and 4, 8-8 was a very big step backwards. With an impressive array of talent from veteran QB Ja'Bre Jackson and WR DeAndre Cayion to CB Tavares Gholston and RE Dewayne Coston, this team's record shocked many RFL fans. Ending Season 5 with the 6th best offense (ppg and yardage), and the 9th best defense (yardage), the Gunners' fall from playoff contention is a bit more difficult to understand. Breaking things down further, we can see that the Gunners underperformed defending the run (2nd most rushing yards allowed). In order to find a path back to success it was crucial for the Gunners to fix their run defense in the offseason. Electing instead to add playmaking WR Carlton Scruggs of Ole Miss, the Gunners are loading up on the offensive side of the ball. We expect the Gunners' run defense to be a major weakness in Season 6 again, and it will fall heavy on the shoulders of Jackson and his supporting cast to outscore opponents. With a team like this, we wouldn't be surprised to see them make it back to the playoffs this season, but watch out for a similar season if they can't find a defensive scheme to stop the powerful rushing attacks of the NRC.
At 5-11, the Monarchs claimed one RFL victory during Season 5, and many questioned if they would win an RFL game at all. Much like the Pioneers of the ARC, the Monarchs are a team that's in desperate need of talent and direction. Having the worst offense and 2nd worst defense in the NRC, it was almost unthinkable that the Monarchs could go wrong during the offseason. Many believed the Monarchs would select a franchise cornerstone with their 2nd overall pick, or trade it way for a haul similar to that of the Pioneers'. The Monarchs would proceed to move their 2nd overall pick in return for the Thunderbirds first round pick and 28-year-old WR Montrell Lansanah. At face value, the trade doesn't look all that bad, but considering the depth the Monarchs already had at the position, adding the elite playmaker created more problems for the team than they already had, while failing to address any team needs. After the organization wiped the slate clean with an entirely new front office, the Monarchs are potentially headed in a positive direction. The team possesses a solid offensive line, which is a great place to begin for a team looking for a path to compete, as well as a star 22-year-old QB in Preston Schroeder, who has a healthy group of playmakers around him. Additionally, they've got young stars scattered throughout their secondary in the likes of SS Aram Beal, FS Zachary Bates, and CB's Brandon McCullough and Tom Wood. We don't expect this team to take a massive step forward in Season 6, but we are intrigued enough to keep an eye on the development of their future stars.
Keep an eye out for our final division write up as the RFL season is set to begin!