NRC West Outlook
Snowhawks, Crusaders, Elks, Condors
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 Snowhawks claimed a 9-7 record in Season 5 - impressive for a team facing the hefty suspensions that they did at the beginning of the season. It's hard to look at the stats of this team over the course of the season and draw conclusions from them. The 4th worst offense and 7th worst defense statistics aren't quite representative of what this team is capable of. The Snowhawks bring to the table one of the highest rated offenses in the league, lead by elite playmakers like QB Joseph Guidugli, TE Keelan Linton, WR Carus Currie, HB DJ Scott, and many more. Additionally the Snowhawks have assembled an effective defensive unit, headline by the likes of FS Victor Stills, SS Casey Lott, and RE Randell Sylvester. Season 5 was in no way an indication of this team's true talent, and we look for the Snowhawks to bounce back in a big way during Season 6. Many believe the Snowhwaks to be an NRC favorite for Relo Bowl contention.
At 10-6, the San Diego Crusaders snuck into the playoffs by clinching the division over their rival Elks and Snowhawks (both 9-7). While the Crusaders ranked 5th in the NRC in terms of offensive yardage, they failed to put the ball into the end zone at an equal rate, ranking 8th in points per game. Ranking towards the bottom of the league defensively (5th most yardage and 4th most points allowed), the Crusaders looked to the offseason to gear up for a more meaningful run into the playoffs. Following their route to the Explorers in the Wildcard round (27-7), the Crusaders' objectives became clear. The team looked to sure up their defense with the free agency acquisition of CB Matthew Hall, and then again with their first round selection of FS AJ Bowen. They then made various moves to provide depth across both sides of the ball, such as the signing of CB Sergio Matthews. Transitioning to Season 6, the Crusaders are headlined by possibly the best offensive lineman in the league, LT Dion Gunn, who will be protecting signal caller Ben Wakefield as he looks to connect with WR's Elijiah Bentley and Alexander Colt. The Crusaders are a team that could compete for a playoff spot in the upcoming season, especially considering their additions; however their road will be a bit tougher with the Snowhawks looking to lock up the division.
The Salt Lake City Elks claimed a 9-7 record in Season 5 on the back of the 3rd best defense in the NRC. In contrast, the Elks held the 2nd worst offense in the NRC, second only to the Monarchs. RFL fans expected the Elks to address the offensive side of the ball in their efforts to increase offensive production, and they did just that with the 23rd overall selection of WR Roy Kincade of Tennessee. Additionally, the team elected to trade QB Kyle Bane, who they believed to be the reason behind their offensive woes, in exchange for Desperados QB Eric Fisher. The Elks will look to remain stout on the defensive side of the ball, lead by FS Garrison Ash, MLB Antuan Buck, and LOLB Tyrone Johnson. However, the key to success for the Elks moving forward will be their ability to harness the talents of their elite playmakers HB Darius Martin and WR DeAndre Mayle, who underperformed in Season 5. The Elks have a lot riding on their ability to come up with an effective game plan, and we'll we curious to see how newcomer Eric Fisher fairs in his attempt to lead the Elks to the playoffs.
At 7-9, the Condors found themselves at the bottom of the NRC West, following an unspectacular Season 5. With a bottom 5 offense (yards and ppg) and a bottom 3 defense (yards and ppg), the Condors sought to add a difference maker to the defensive side of the team. The selection of FS Ray-Ray Franklin out of Clemson was exactly what analysts expected from the Condors, and Ray-Ray gives the Condors a piece to build around on the defense for the future. The Condors, however, are an intriguing team, because they have playmakers in the likes of QB Chase McCoy, WR Carrick Giguere, and TE Antwan Caulcrick, who should be able to keep the team competitive. While the Condors aren't the flashiest team in the NRC, on paper we believe they could be a lot better than 7-9. With the right direction, this team could be on their way up, and they could even be competitive this season given the right formula. We don't expect a deep playoff run from this team, but RFL fans should keep tabs on how the Condors continue to build their roster.