Let Me See You Touch .500
SHELTON, CT - The second year of the Llamas franchise was certainly an interesting one. After a promising start in 2003 where the franchise won 6 games, owner Kevin Sansone's squad finished a game off that pace in 2004 at 5-8, despite going 5-1 against divisional opponents. Unfortunately for the Llamas they struggled all season outside the division, ultimately finishing without a victory at 0-7.
Putting their final record aside, last season was still an encouraging one for the Llamas as a nucleus of young players started to emerge. After a miraculous run to the NFL Super Bowl, Jake Delhomme returned with a solid season casting aside doubts that he may be another one-year wonder, Andre Johnson improved on his rookie year, registering consistent points and securing his place as David Carr's go-to guy on passing downs, and after returning from an injury that sidelined him most of the YFFL season, Julius Jones burst on the scene registering 5 TDs and almost 350 yards rushing in his final 2 games. All of this adds up to a core group of players the Llamas should be able to build around as they climb the ladder in the AFC East.
Biggest Question Facing Owner Kevin Sansone
Can Jerome Bettis repeat last year's performance? Left on the scrap heap by Bear Poop, Bettis was acquired by the Llamas as a veteren presence in the locker room - they never expected a career year from the big guy, but that's what they got in 2004. Bettis will be hard pressed to replicate his performance last year as Ben Roethlisberger improves at the QB position and a healthier Duce Staley splits more time but The Bus should still provide goal line scores and complement feature back Julius Jones.
There have been rumblings that Sansone may be looking to select a franchise quarterback in Alex Smith with the 6th overall pick in the draft, but concerns at wide receiver should be addressed while Jake Delhomme is still a serviceable starter. Andre Johnson is the only legitimate starter at wideout with a cast of slot receivers vying for a spot opposite him in the Llamas lineup. The return of Drew Bledsoe as Terry Glenn's QB means Glenn has the inside track for this spot, but after him are a collection of unproven or disappointing receivers. The Llamas should have a shot at either Mike Williams or Mark Clayton at #6, both of which could be big-play guys to go along with Johnson.
Delhomme, Jones, Bettis, Johnson, Glenn, Jolley, Stover, #1 Draft Pick
The Llamas have assembled a good nucleus in their 2 years of existence and will go as far as Julius Jones takes them this year. As Dallas' RB, Jones is assured of getting carries early and often in games and if his body can hold up for an entire season, he could post huge numbers for this Llamas team. With that said, entrusting your team's season to a kid with only 2 YFFL games under his belt is a nerve-racking proposition for any owner, especially when the Bobby "Rupert Murdoch" Sansone is already calling him out on the YFFL.com message board. Jones may have a few more bumps along the way than some might expect, but look for the Llamas to finally crack .500 this year and possibly go on the road and upset a contender late in the season. They're still a year or two away from a run at the playoffs, but headed in the right direction.
7-6; 3rd AFC East