The ups and downs of the Cologne Crocodiles and Canadian QB Christian Strong

Cologne Crocodiles Canadian quarterback Christian Strong has definitely had a rollercoaster ride of a time in Germany since his arrival in 2019. He now plans to close the final leg of the 2021  season out on a high.

Two years ago, on October 5, 2019, Strong ended a winless season as quarterback for the Düsseldorf Panther with two losses to the GFL2 team, the Elmshorn Fighting Pirates in a relegation playoff series. This knocked Düsseldorf down to Germany’s second division for the following season. It was a sombre demotion for Strong after a disappointing season for him personally when he threw only 13 touchdown passes against 21 interceptions. In fact, it left the Canadian on the fast-moving conveyor belt of North American quarterbacks coming in and out of Germany.

But the Canadian quarterback (who also has British citizenship) had more in the tank and after a non-starter 2020 COVID season in Germany, he bounced back by signing with the Cologne Crocodiles.

“Since I arrived May 15th, the Crocodiles organization has shown me complete professionalism and love! Adapting to it all was a smooth transition; Cologne as a city is beautiful and has been super fun so far! I look to continue enjoying my time here on and off the field the rest of the way! “

Strong’s new environment came with an overhaul in performance too. In just seven weeks he has already obliterated his 2019 stats, throwing for 23 TD’s, 2,342 yards and only nine interceptions – ranking him second in passing in the German Football League. But he humbly attributes his success to those around him:

“This season has definitely been an improvement from my last season in GFL. Naturally, I feel like I have matured as a QB over the past year after experiencing 2019’s tough season. A lot of focus and effort in the off-season to just be better in all aspects of football physically and mentally. But even with that said, a lot of the success so far is based on the team we have here in Cologne, I have an amazing O-line, arguably tops in Europe in my eyes. Without them, none of this is possible. In addition, our playmakers here on offense are lethal and very explosive. It makes my job easier getting the ball into their hands. And then Coach O[denthal] does a great job trusting in me and placing us in good situations to excel with his play calling. All in all, a whole team effort helps.”

Photo: Hans Kaestle

Two things that Strong is fortunate to have are AJ Jackson and Markell Castle. The two receivers are borderline unstoppable, a fact that Strong has taken advantage of hitting the pair for a combined 1847 yards and 20 TDs on the season. 

“It’s truly been a blessing to have such amazing skilled receivers in AJ and Markell, both cause havoc for defenses. They show up each and everyday ready to work, and push others to be great as well! 

But just as Strong has had ups and downs during his European football career, so has Cologne. The team has not had two consecutive wins since the season started, flip-flopping between shootouts and blowouts, resulting in a now standing 4 – 3 record. Even in the losses, the Cologne offense has produced, but costly turnovers and a deficiency in the redzone left the team wanting.

The team that handed them their biggest loss will be the team they face this weekend, the Potsdam Royals. The run-heavy Potsdam side appeared susceptible to the pass during week four against the Dresden Monarchs as Dresden quarterback Kyle Carta-Samuels tore them apart – despite Potsdam having the second-ranked pass defense. But during Strong’s first encounter with the Royals, he threw a dismal four interceptions, leading to their inevitable defeat, 31 – 7. 

“Potsdam is a great team that will come ready to play. We have to be sharp on both sides of the ball and special teams if we want to secure a win. I personally have to do a better job protecting the ball this week compared to the last time we played them. Our defense stepped up well last time around, so now it’s time to put it all together.”

Despite Strong’s tough loss to Potsdam at the end of June, his career in Germany shows the mark of a resilient quarterback in terms of both leadership and on-field performance. His inconsistent record is overshadowed by his tenacity and gun-slinging ability.

If anyone can bring down the titans in Potsdam, it could well be Cologne and their Canadian quarterback, Christian Strong.

Watch the Cologne Crocodiles play the Potsdam Royals live on AFI.tv, Saturday, August 21 at 15:00 CET (3 pm, 09:00 am ET).

Feature image: 66 Photography

 

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who has worked in B2B journalism and comms in the third sector; with experience in both education and human rights. He has played football for the London Warriors for the last 15 years as well as the