Next up on our tour of the UK American Football scene, we head way up north to Aberdeen and their offensive co-ordinator. Dont forget to check out our interview with the Manchester Titans here and a whole host of podcasts over on apple podcasts/spotify. If you would be so fabulous and subscribe to our pod and leave a 5 star review, that would make our day.
On with the interview…
Name and Role: Matthew Watt – Offensive Coordinator
How long have you been with the team: 2 and a half years
How did you first get into American Football and what made you go in to coaching:
I started watching American football in 2003 when on holiday in America, with a Sunday night football game. I would watch on tv in the UK periodically over the next few years when I then started watching religiously as I got more into it. I’d always enjoyed the schematics of the game, and after a brief playing career in my university days I decided to message the team to see where I could fit in with the current coaching staff.
How would you describe the teams play style, do you have a particular way of playing and what does your team try and achieve:
Our style on both sides of the ball tends to follow a more modern style of play with a scheme made to suit the talents of our roster. Offensively we follow utilise mainly spread and air raid concepts in tandem with zone running, with consideration of our speed and agility. This coming season was due to see some new players and coaches come in to employ new ideas and play styles and we felt that we would have a great deal of success scoring points and keeping defences off balance.
Give us a quick reminder of how the team got on last season and what your or the team learned:
We ended 2019 in 3rd place of Division 1 North with a 4-6 record and it was certainly a bittersweet year. The Roughnecks clearly showed they were capable of the level of play of the division however some loses were certainly within grasp and the team hopes to continue to progress and challenge the top teams in the division.
Obviously the offseason has been disrupted, but did you manage to conduct any offseason training/rookie days (and how important are the rookie days in your view?):
Yes absolutely, we were very much in the final stages of preparation for our last preseason scrimmage and were running through the game plan for game 1 of the season before the unfortunate suspension of all activities. Rookie days are hugely vital to all teams and the sport of American football in the UK in order to keep introducing more people to the sport whether it be playing or coaching. It’s an immensely tough sport to learn so we always want to get new guys in and given as much experience as possible before playing games. We have been lucky over the past couple of years to have rookies come in and contribute for the team and continue to get better in their respective roles.
What other teams (Flag/Youth) do you have as part of the setup?
The Roughnecks are in the process of building up a youth and junior team and have had great success in building up numbers there.
What has been advised to the players to help them try and stay as well conditioned as possible considering the current pandemic?
As things stand, we’re not asking too much of the players, but we have plans in place to get started at a moments notice should we be lucky enough to get the go ahead. For now, the team is encouraged to ensure they are watching film and processing play designs as necessary.
Do you think we will see any Britball football this season and would you settle for a shortened/more compact season (i.e play each team once, less gaps between games):
I think it’s looking highly unlikely we get any competitive football as we know it this year due the worldwide situation, which is extremely unfortunate. I absolutely believe that the sport in the UK needs to have some form of games this year, I know our team have been working exceptionally hard and it would be crushing to be unable to do anything until 2021. In terms of a compacted season, I do think this could work, and there’s been ideas thrown around, although I imagine there’d be complications in working such things if promotions and relegations were factored in.
Who would win in a tug of war between your Oline and all the defence?
It would be close, but I’d have to go for the O Line this year…
Favourite/least favourite training ground drill?
I’m a big fan of any run fits or running back drills where I’m allowed to strip the ball. Preseason 1v1 drills across the team are always exciting as well.
Which player (or player position group) is most likely to forget their gumshield?
Wide receivers for sure
Which player (or player position group) is most like to sleep on an away game?
I think the unanimous answer for the Roughnecks is #4 Stu Don
Which player (or player position group) think they are in the NFL?
The Last Good Bye… week of the season. The Cardinals,
Chiefs, Chargers and Vikings will be watching on from the Platform as everyone
else catches up. After this it’s the crucial games leading up to the fantasy
and real life playoffs. The waiver wires get thinner, trade deadlines kick in
If you didn’t grab him last week, Guice is a must pick-up this week. He’s 50% owned but after this set of waiver wires it will be closer to 80%. Tarik Cohen (60%), Jaylen Samuels (60%) may be out there and are also worth looking for. However, if they are all gone in your league then here’s some other options to look for:
jonathan williams 0%
nyheim hines 30%
With Marlon Mack looking questionable with a hand fracture there are carries to be had in Indianapolis. Williams and Hines will probably see most of the work but maybe in a close split, so don’t be expecting miracles. With their main start out, can these Colts fill those shoes?
raheem mostert 10%
jeff wilson 0%
Mostert was dropped from many teams as the Coleman/Breida combo returned. This week Jeff Wilson got a crucial TD and Breida was out. Mostert had a disappointing day but with time to recover from injury he might be the better bet for next week, but Wilson is a very good, deep option. Who must start? Will soon know.
Kalen Ballage (MIA) – 30%
He may be a mediocre player on a terrible team, but he is getting the touches and is often a TD option. The Miami guy is good if you’re in a vice.
Lookout for injury returners as well as replacements. Will Fuller (60%) and John Ross (10%) may well return this week.
Josh Reynolds (LAR) – 10%
We don’t know what the issue is with Robert Woods and while he and Cooks are out it leaves Kupp and Gurley to receive. Clearly Goff is going to need more options, even if he uses them sparingly. He’s a great option but the risk is that too many Cooks May spoil his outlook.
James Washington (PIT) – 20%
The Steelers will be angry after the defeat to the Browns and with the whipping boy Bengals in town, anyone is an option. If there’s no Juju or Dionte then Washington will be capital to the Steelers success.
Deebo Samuel (SF) – 30%
If you didn’t pick him up last week you really have to now. Options for Garoppolo are thin on the ground and Samuel is starting to establish himself. Will they team up and form the Garoppodeebo?
MASON RUDOLPH (PIT @ CIN) – 10%
He has enough chips on his shoulder currently to supply a small fast food chain, so the Bengals may get toasted. He will need help from Vance McDonald and Washington but as one Rudolph goes on bye, it’s time for another to take the reigns.
SAM DARNOLD (NYJ VS OAK) – 10%
This seems an icky play but the Raiders do give up points to the QB and with the receiving corps starting to show signs of life, it’s not a bad time to plug him in. Let’s see if he wins the battle against Derek Carr; Mono y Mono.
RYAN GRIFFIN (NYJ VS OAK) – 0%
The Jets play the Raiders and with a pretty weak pass defence, Griffin becomes a useful asset. I can’t use the same punchline as last week so let’s see if Griffin can raid Oakland for points.
JACOB HOLLISTER (SEA @PHI) – 10%
I mentioned it last week, Hollister seems to be cool in Seattle and provides Russell Wilson with an outlet to keep his MVP level season going. We’ve had body spray and cool dude puns, so this week let’s see if he can fashion a good fantasy day.
TITANS (TEN VSJAX) – 40%
Remember the Titans, they were in bye last week. The Jags have pretty much knocked themselves out of the running so it will be a bit of a learning curve coming up. In this situation the Titans tend to smash the Jags so there are worse options.
GIANTS (NYG @CHI) – 0%
The Giants DST is terrible, but Trubisky feels worse.
LIONS (DET @WAS) – 0%
Near enough the same scenario as the above. Terrible
defence, worse offence.
These are the last advanced tickets of the season, from
next week the article gets shorter as we get towards the business end and the
I can’t see people dropping Kyler Murray or Pat Mahomes, Rivers has been awful, but Kirk Cousins has the Seahawks, Lions and Chargers in his next 3 games. Not a terrible draw.
Damien Williams has a shot at a resurgence if he stays healthy but could be a drop candidate for some teams.
Mike Williams may be a heavy drop and he has disappointed many this season. So much so, he will probably turn up for the fantasy playoffs and win leagues. Keep an eye out. Diggs, Thielen, Hill and Kirk won’t fall off benches and not a lot else is worth a pickup so no help here.
Kyle Rudolph is getting an enlarged role with Thielen out and even when he returns, the chemistry is back up and running and it’s simply been working. Henry and Kelce won’t drop and the Cardinals TE’s are nearly all still on the wire.
By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y) and Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland)
Week 4 is done and dusted! It goes so quick! Before you get ready for the waiver wires in fantasy and don your NFL shirt to go to the Wembley game, here are the main stories to take away from last weekend’s action!
The New Monsters of The Midway
We knew going into the game at Soldier Field on Sunday that the strength of both the Vikings and Bears lied on the defensive side of the field. We left the game without a doubt that one of those defences is far superior to the other and that defence belongs to the Chicago Bears.
The loss of Vic Fangio has not led to any drop off as Chuck Pagano is marshalling a defence that is the most loaded in the league. On pace for 32 takeaways, 2nd in the league for sacks and 2nd in the league for pts allowed per game this unit as awesome.
Khalil Mack is obviously the star but bear in mind they did this Sunday without Roquan Smith and Akiem Hicks, the sky is literally the limit for these monsters.
He probably will not win it, but, Christian McCaffrey should be considered for MVP honours. Remember what MVP stands for? Is there any single player more valuable for their team than the Panthers running back?
Playing in a ridiculous 98.3% of the offensive snaps so far on the season, McCaffrey once again was the offence on Sunday. A career high of 37 touches produced 93 rushing yards on 27 carries and 86 further yards through the air on 10 catches. The all important touchdown was also produced inevitably by CMC as the Panthers improved to 2-0 without Cam Newton.
Carolina is proving it can survive without their grandma impersonating quarterback, they will keep everything crossed they don’t have to deal with life without #22.
Step Away From The Kliff Edge
Remember when we were excited to see what Kliff Kingsbury would bring to the NFL? A promise of an air raid offence, ran at speed that defences would have no clue of how to stop it.
Well that was the advert at least.
The reality? How do I put this politely? A bit of a snooze fest. Yes the Cardinals run a lot of plays, that is backed up by the fact Kyler Murray is averaging 42.5 pass attempts per contest so far in his short (no pun intended) NFL career. The problem is the lack of explosiveness, it’s all a bit too safe, a bit too dink and dunk.
Of course the problem for the Cardinals is that’s all well and good until you get behind on the scoreboard as was the case again this weekend. They are not built to play from behind and the supposed revolution is certainly yet to materialise.
Feed The Chubb
It took 4 weeks but the “real” Browns showed up in Baltimore. Powered behind a career day from Nick Chubb, Cleveland dominated the Ravens by a score of 40-25 to take the early lead in the AFC North.
Chubb gashed the Ravens for 165 yards and 3 scores on the ground and unsurprisingly with that level of production on the ground, Baker Mayfield looked the best has all season in this one. Jarvis Landry also has a career day with 167 yards receiving as the much talked about group finally produced.
All of a sudden things are looking up in NorthEast Ohio and the talk of Freddie Kitchens being in over his head and Baker Mayfield being overrated will be silenced for a week.
If the Browns continue with this formula they should be the team to beat in the division, as the saying goes “feed the Chubb and he will score”.
Vontaze- Far From Burfict
In quite possibly the shortest ever takeaway….. Goodbye and don’t ever come back! How on Earth this guy was made a team captain I will never know. His shot on Jack Doyle was disgusting and the league has rightfully acted by suspending him for the remainder of the season. Fingers crossed he never sees a field again!
Clever Trevor earns his Spurs
Staying with the Raiders, when the Green Bay Packers traded WR Trevor Davis to the Raiders after Week 2 the transaction barely made a ripple. Now it’s making a king size bar of Fruit and Nut.
In the first quarter of the Raiders Week 4 victory over the Colts Davis returned a punt one yard but remained on the field. Chucky must have been impressed by Davis’s running ability when he faced him in the 2019 pre-season, as he gave the former Cal star the handoff on first down. The result a spectacular 60 yard rushing touchdown and a 14-0 lead. Brought in as a return specialist Davis is no replacement for AB but he has an excellent opportunity to impress.
The development continues for Davis at Tottenham Hotspur’s new ground on Sunday against an opponent he will be very familiar with from his former NFC division. Davis may be a gadget player, but if he continues to make highlight package plays then we could see his role expand. Not a bad debut to make in Silver and Black.
Kerryon impressing please
Sid James, if he would have been a Detroit Lions fan, would have plenty of reasons to unleash his trademark cackle in years past at a moribund running game in the Motor City, but it’s all change now.
Once considered a laughing stock, and even cursed since the shock retirement of Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders, Detroit went a stupendous 70 games without a 100-yard game on the ground from an individual player. That was finally called to a halt in 2018 when Kerryon Johnson finally reached the century mark. Week 4 2019 saw Johnson have his third 100+ yard game in just 14 career contests.
If he remains injury free Johnson can establish himself as a top 10 NFL RB. 26 carries at almost five yards a carry against the Chiefs will be pleasing Coach Beardtricia. Johnson had been having a rough start to the season, failing to reach a ground-based half-century between weeks 1-3.
This game may not have resulted in a Lions win, but it shows Kerryon is reliable and on his way, if the climate controlled dome wind goes in his direction, for a 1,000 yard plus rushing season.
Somebody is melting away their window of opportunity
There is a QB who is second in the NFL in passing yards, has recorded four consecutive 300+ yard performances, is third in TD passes thrown and is completing over 70% of his passes. This is the same QB who leads the league in interceptions thrown and has managed a maximum of 24 points in four games to date. Stand up, or in the case of a rookie led offensive line, sit down on your backside Matt Ryan.
There is no denying Ryan is a savvy veteran passer who knows how to move the ball, is accurate, and calm in the face of pressure, but 1-3 is not what Falcons fans were expecting. Ryan was one period of greatness from a Super Bowl win just three years ago, and expectations were high coming into the 2019 season.
Ryan is being let down by a sub-par running game especially Devonta Freeman who is yet to find the end-zone through the ground or in the air, and is averaging a six-year career low 3.3 yards a carry. The Falcons have winnable games coming up, but they need the running game to mirror Ryan’s consistent output.
The irony of Matty Ice needing to warm up the rest of the team is not lost, but he needs to cut out the interceptions and quickly. When you have Julio Jones catching the ball you know there is a game-breaking threat available on any play.
The weapons are in place for a team to be performing better than the 1-3 record they currently boast at the quarter point, let’s just hope Ryan goes full Elsa in October.
More tanks than an aquatic superstore
The narrative before the season was that the Miami Dolphins would be tanking for Tua (Tagovailoa) and nothing has been done on the field to contradict that position. The only problem is there are three other teams vying for absolute dreadfulness and possibly a shot at the number one pick in the 2020 NFL draft.
The single most disastrous team in the NFC is the Washington Redskins, who gave their rookie QB Dwayne Haskins his first NFL regular season outing in Week 4. Poor Haskins looked out of place and frankly befuddled by a Giants defense that scares nobody. Three interceptions in relief of Case Keenum will be a hard debut game to forget for Haskins.
In the AFC the Bengals and the Broncos are also winless. At least Joe Flacco is helping Denver to be competitive. Devastating last second field-goal losses in Week 2 (v Chicago) and this past week against Jacksonville will be hard to cope with. In Ohio the Bengals are back bungling. The red rifle Andy Dalton has suffered 19 sacks in four contests and seems to be struggling making reads and avoiding pressure. Dare it be mentioned, but is it time to give fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley a shot in the stripy helmet before the mid-point of the season?
The Dolphins are still favourites to finish the season 0-16, but this is going to be a bizarre race to the finishing line with a Redskins team that will be matching Miami week by week for on-field inadequacy.
The fact they play each other in Week 6 will be entertaining, with the winner losing their grip on the keys to the tank.
Singing the praises of two superb secondaries
When you make Tom Brady look like a backup and hold a potential league MVP to no touchdowns then you need to be recognised for doing your job well.
Both the Buffalo Bills and the New Orleans Saints secondaries excelled in Week 4, one in a six-point loss and one in a two-point win. Perhaps the biggest single difference maker was the Saints third-year corner Marshon Lattimore who punished Cowboys number one WR Amari Cooper all day. Cooper caught a season low 62.5% of balls thrown his way, had his lowest yards per target (6) and was held under 10 yards a catch for the first time in 2019.
Often corners and safeties get recognised for big plays such as the Rams Marcus Peters who returned the pigskin to the house against the Buccs on Sunday just a few plays after being burnt alive by Mike Evans for a 60 plus yard score. However, it is the performance that might not show up on the individual’s defensive stat sheet, but is instead reflected in the game’s final outcome that is the true definition of excellence.
Between the Saints and the Bills secondaries we could be looking at a couple of All Pro’s and at least four Pro Bowl nods. When you hold Tom Brady under a 50% completion rate you deserve a cheer, and was it not for the injury to Josh Allen this could have been a week where secondaries clearly decided the fate of their team.
It’s no surprise the Bills and the Saints are both 3-1. This is a passing premium league, so if you can neutralise the primary threat you stand a good chance of being alive when it comes to January.
The Night Santa Claus Came Early – By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)
Being a fan of the Cleveland Browns doesn’t always lead itself to masses of happy memories in recent times. Fans of the team will tell you that you need an awfully thick skin and often a great sense of humour to be able to survive week to week. But every cloud has a silver lining and for us in the dawg pound it means cherishing even the smallest of positives.
Christmas Eve 2016, the Browns coming in at 0-14 host the San Diego Chargers inn their final home game of the campaign. Only a trip to Heinz field left on the schedule and the Browns never beat the Steelers! This was it, realistically, the final chance to avoid a winless season to join the infamous 2008 Detroit Lions side in going 0-16.
Being Christmas Eve I had made sure the kids were in bed early for the visit of the big man overnight and I settled in for the game. Just over 4 minutes on the clock and the Chargers had waltzed down the field and Antonio Gates was in the end zone. The feeling of inevitability was impossible to prevent and even the Christmas tipple wasn’t helping.
It’s the hope that kills you though! The Browns hadn’t read the script and powered by 2 rushing touchdowns from Isiah Crowell found themselves 20-10 up halfway through the 3rd quarter. Throughout the season there had been some competitive games and surely it was about time they found a way to get over the line. Queue the comeback……..
An 11 play drive covering 75 yards was punctuated with Tyrell Williams finding the end zone and all of a sudden the 2 score game was once again in the balance. I had seen this movie many times before and I didn’t like the ending that was about to play out in front of me. The good guys were about to lose yet again despite the promise of success throughout.
The 4th quarter seemed to take an age with neither team able to move the ball with any consistency. It had the feeling of a slow death though as the Chargers gradually won the field position battle. It culminated in Britton Colquitt having to punt from the Cleveland 3 yard line with just 5 and a half minutes left on the game clock. A punt return set the Chargers up on the Browns 33 yard line and in a position to strike.
The defence held and out trots Josh Lambo to tie it up. Maybe we will win it in overtime? At least we haven’t conceded a touchdown. Hang on a minute, it’s been blocked! Big Jamie Meder gets his paw up and rejects it. Just over 3 minutes to run out the clock and we have done it, just 2 first downs…..more hope.
3rd and 7, only the 2 minute warning to come, convert and it’s over. Kessler drops back……sacked! Of course he was, we can’t win, even at Christmas we don’t get nice things. Ball punted away, just under 2 minutes for Phillip Rivers to lead the inevitable game winning drive. I turned to “Santa’s tipple” that the kids had left out and decided it was better for me to drown my sorrows than it was for a bloke driving a sleigh.
Every second seemed to take an eternity to tick off the clock despite the Chargers having no timeouts. 3 incompletions in a row though and its 4th and 10, just 1 more stop. Rivers takes the snap and of course finds Antonio Gates for 25 yards. I knew it was inevitable, ball spiked still 45 seconds to go. The next 45 seconds though were a complete blur.
Because the ball was spiked it was already 2nd down and a botched snap brought up 3rd down. Rivers of course found Antonio Gates, again but he was shy of a 1st down. The Chargers couldn’t clock it as it was 4th down and Rivers legs it off the field screaming for the field goal unit to get on. The clock that had felt like it was running slow seemed to go into even slower motion as bodies were running everywhere, but of course they got the kick off just in time.
IT’S NO GOOD! Off to the right and the Christmas miracle had indeed been realised. The sense of relief, the sense of shock and the sense of unrivalled joy hit me all at once. I screamed that loud at the sight of that ball missing the uprights I quite possibly woke up every kid in the street but I didn’t care. My team had won and in that moment 14 weeks of misery was forgotten. The infamy of a losing season was no more, because surely it would never get so close to realisation again. Oh………..