European League of Football: Playing GM – Rhein Fire

How do you build to improve a perfect season?

The Rhein Fire completed the 12-0 European League of Football regular season and never really looked in trouble during the postseason en route to winning the championship so this rebuild is going to be a very individual challenge.

The main premise will be preparing for potential losses to other ELF teams and having players in the wings ready for potential retirements or injuries. This will be the shortest of all the rebuilds, with the offence being 1st in league history and the defence being in the top half of the league this year. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Coaching staff

HC JIm Tomsula and Offensive Coordinator Steve Logan Photo:

It goes without saying that the coaching needs to stay the same as it was in 2023. The defense being lower ranked than others I believe to be one of the stats that isn’t representative of the situation.The defense of the Fire was extremely active because the offense was so quick to put points on the board, leading to more possessions and more yards/points allowed. When looking at it from an individual standpoint, we had a Fire player in the top 5 of sacks and interceptions, with multiple players earning All-Star awards (Omari Williams, Jason Chikere, Alejandro Fernandez). It’s clear that the defense is better than the rankings show, so no coaching changes on either side of the ball if it is possible.

Improving the offense


The first item on the agenda is re-signing every single one of the offensive line. Five of them were All-Stars, with only Yasir Raji being left out. He is an extremely valuable and athletic player who should unquestionably be re-signed if available. If there is a chance that any of them would depart, Laurits Tvilling Vinther, the Danish lineman from the Ravensburg Razorbacks would be the first choice as a replacement. He’s super mobile, versatile and has the nastiness required at the ELF level. He would be worth a European spot without question, and with the quality we have, we can be flexible on the assignment. The reigning MVP Jadrian Clark is re-signing and it goes without saying as the league’s best player.

The receiving corps is where there could be some movement.

Anthony Mahoungou could be tempted to make the move the Paris so to prepare for the possibility, we should consider Tommy Wilson of the Dresden Monarchs who is a player who could be ready for a step up this season. Harlan Kwofie, in my opinion, is completely capable of being a number-one receiver in this league. If Mahoungou were to depart, Kwofie could step into the role and Wilson could be a speed option that offensive coordinator Andrew Weidinger could seriously develop. Wilson had an excellent rookie year in the GFL finishing with 1,161 yards and 16 touchdowns. He would instantly be the fastest player in the league and one who only going to get better with good coaching. As it happens, Weidinger has spent time coaching receivers at an NFL level, so it could be a perfect match.

Dresden Monarchs WR Tommy Wilson #23 Photo: Anastasia Goncharova

Other than that, adding another young German receiver who can be developed would be good for depth, Noah Bomba formerly of the Frankfurt Galaxy and Stuttgart Surge is still only 23 years of age, yet has a big frame that could see him rotate in on red-zone situations and blocking downs. Continuing along the same process, both American receivers struggled with injuries in the year. Robitaille only played four games all season, putting up 487 yards and four touchdowns at a 64.10 catch rate percentage. In a six-game span, Patterson accumulated 506 yards and six touchdowns at an 83.33 catch rate percentage. Nathaniel Robitaille and William Patterson both performed at a high level when on the field so deciding between them is a difficult one. Ultimately, it would have to come to who fits the scheme better and who the coaches feel matches the coaching philosophy. If neither is in shape for the season, the 2023 GFL receiving leader Austin Mitchell, also of the Dresden Monarchs, would surely give the offer some thought as he would be stepping into a great scheme with some of the best players and coaches in Europe on his offense.

Photo: Michael Freitag

Running back and tight end both follow the trend of changing as little as possible, Glen Toonga is one of the best running backs the league has seen and, in his absence, Sergej Kendus was highly effective. Tight ends aren’t a point of emphasis on the Fire, but with Florian Eichhorn and Marvin Pludra, among others, we are stacked in that position too. With that, the offense is complete, largely the same as the previous year but is a list of players who could step up if we lose a piece or two. Our offensive line is built around German talent with only one European spot. After that, the receiver and running back positions also take up a spot each, giving us a balanced approach for the European assignment.

Improving the defense

Rhein Fire DL Alejandro Fernandez #11 Photo: Rhein Fire

As previously mentioned, the defensive stats do not tell the story of the defense. On an individual level, they are one of the most talented units in European football. Starting on the defensive line, Alejandro Fernandez started slowly in a Fire uniform but returned to form in the mid-season. He is the future of the European RUSH player and with the All-Star capabilities of Jason Chikere, we already have a stacked line. To add to the rotation of German talent, Aaron Große Kleimann of the Berlin Thunder was severely underutilized as a 6’8, 280 pound defensive piece and at only 22 he could be a development player who can sit behind the starters and be used on situational downs, similar to how he was used in Berlin, but with more of an emphasis in his development. The pad level and aggressiveness on the initial contact are going to be the focus of his offseason. Just to add to the fear factor of the defensive line another European could be added, Aslan Zetterberg joined the Surge halfway through the year and was one of the best interior linemen in the league, even on the Kings. The Fire have the pull for probably any player in the league and the chance to play under Tomsula, who is a defensive line specialist, might be too much to say no to.

At linebacker, again it’s largely the same. The key is keeping hold of Flamur Simon as he is entering into what could be a pinnacle year for attracting NFL IPP or CFL Global attention. In addition to him, Marius Kensy had a successful year inside. It’s unconfirmed if Lukas Ruoss is returning to Europe or if he remains as part of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but before he went, he was initially signed to the Fire. If we can convince him to come back with the clear championship favorite team, then he could be persuaded to return. There was a heavy change up with the linebacker position from a European spot point of view so if Ruoss is staying in Canada for another season then I would like to look at Digaan Gomis from the Paris Musketeers. The former Bishop’s linebacker was quietly one of the better linebackers in the league this season. With the immense pull of the Fire at the moment it’s not out of the realm of possibility to tempt him over. Alternatively, Rene Zeevat is a graduate student at Bishop’s from Belgium. He was a semi-active player over a four-year college career with 30 games played. He could certainly be a player to trail and see if he is a potential sleeper pick-up.

Photo: Rhein Fire

Defensive back is another talented group that saw a lot of rotation. The American spots were split between Koi Freeman, Omari Williams, and Terrell Morrison. Morrison and Freeman dealt with injuries, and each played six games in the year, but Williams is a lock for a return as an All-Star player and a turnover creator. The corner position lacked speed when Morrison was inactive so preferably the last American spot would be used on him or another speedster corner like Darius Robinson if he is returning from last season’s injury. Once again, we are preparing for multiple possibilities. Karim Ben El Ghali could also be an interesting young German player who can provide depth and starter potential in the near or immediate future if he can improve his speed and quickness.

Special teams’ upgrades

The fact is that the Fire are going to be kicking a lot more extra points than everyone else. Sebastian Van Santen was a successful PAT kicker during the year but struggled with field goals. Granted, he only had to attempt seven all season, but it is something to note. The regular occurrence on these rebuilds is the leave it up for the open trials because the cost of bringing in a kicker from a different location isn’t worth the costs when we already have a capable kicker. That again is the trend here, Van Santen was fine during the year, so I see no reason to change it up. The team hasn’t seen much change so overall there shouldn’t be much movement in the specials production.

Key Moves


  • Bringing back the all-star talent on the offensive line.
  • Preparing the receiving corps for injuries or transfers.
  • Keeping the system intact.


  • Having young German players in the wings ready for starting opportunities.
  • Consistency at the European linebacker position.
  • Creating an All-Star defensive line that teams can’t handle.

That’s the end of our rebuild on the reigning Champions of the league. This was certainly one that was hard to replicate because they were perfect during the season. The reality of European football is that we most certainly will see more movement than we have noted but we do have capable players waiting in the wings. It’s hard to see how they could fall during the year.

Until next time.