Impressions from Week Two of the 2016 AFL Season

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Week Two provided a little more competitiveness between its matches, and even one surprisingly good outing from the Portland Steel. However, the dominant teams still outshone their inferior counterparts and some games were just downright ugly on all cylinders. Let’s not waste any more time dwelling.

TB @ CLE (AFL)

Tampa Bay at Cleveland

  • Did not watch.

Two weeks in a row when the Storm couldn’t even muster thirty points in a single game. That is downright embarrassing. To give them credit, they held the Gladiators to only 41 points. Then again, they were playing a quarterback who had two or three starts to his name. Despite the offensive struggles, the game was pretty back-and-forth, with no team playing any better than the other. Cleveland simply outlasted the Storm (I’m sorry).

One noticeable distinction to this game was that there were a lot of turnovers. The combination of Adam Kennedy and Jonathan Bane threw three interceptions to the Cleveland defense, two being picked by Joe Powell, who is making a nice case for Defensive Player of the Year thus far. Tampa Bay’s defense managed a pick and two forced fumble recoveries. That’s six total turnovers for the game. No wonder the score was a combined total of seventy.

I expected more out of Cleveland, but that’s what’s to be expected with a quarterback with as little experience as Dennis Havrilla. At least they have a dependable kicker, too. Tampa Bay’s Craig Peterson went 2 of 4 on extra points. Woe is the Storm this harrowing season.

PRT @ ORL

Portland at Orlando

  • Did not watch.

Well, last week Portland didn’t fare so well against the Rattlers. This week, they put up a valiant fight against one of the AFL’s better teams. I did not expect the Steel to be in a shoot-out with the Predators when I saw the match-up card. I didn’t even think the Steel would have anything to shoot, but lo and behold, they were a last minute interception away from pulling away with a win. That’s determination.

It certainly didn’t help that Orlando kicker Mark Lewis was 5 of 8 on extra point attempts. It also didn’t help that the only turnover for this game was the aforementioned interception with twenty seconds or so left in the game. Neither defense seemed to be capable of getting a stop whenever an offense was on the move. Surprising for both the Portland offense and the Orlando defense.

The quarterback play was also pretty uneven. No interceptions for Randy Hippeard, but a 50% completion percentage is pretty mediocre. Southwick, if not for the interception, would’ve been 25 of 37 for 223 yards and five touchdowns, which is a much better performance than he had last week. I would hazard a guess and say that Orlando wasn’t playing its best this game and Portland was smart enough to take advantage of it. If the Steel can continue to play smart like that, maybe they’ll have more than two wins this season.

ARI @ LA (AFL)

Arizona at Los Angeles

  • Did not watch.

Remember when the KISS played well against the Sharks last week? That KISS didn’t return this week.

Disparity between teams has never been so apparent since Tampa Bay went up against Orlando last week. By the third quarter, the Rattlers had this game in the palm of their hands with no chance of losing it; maybe even before then. Nick Davila, arguably the best quarterback in the league (and my personal pick on the matter), made a mockery out of the KISS defense without being flashy about it. The Rattlers even ran the ball nine times for 36 yards and three scores. Those numbers would be decent for a running back in the NFL, as opposed to a pass-happy league like the AFL.

Nathan Stanley had a much more sobering performance. Three touchdowns to three interceptions, only completing 21 of 44 passes. The offense did all it could, including another dazzling performance by receiver Donovan Morgan, but the Rattler defense continues to show its superiority. Three sacks and three interceptions. The Rattlers look like the team to beat this year, as is apparent just about every year. Consider them the New England Patriots of the AFL. The KISS can be the Los Angeles Rams.

JAX @ PHI (AFL)

Jacksonville at Philadelphia

  • Watched.

Before I say anything about the players on the field, I’d like to take a shot at the officiating of this game. It was fucking terrible. Numerous times they made decisions that go against the obvious, while other times they just make decisions that are completely off-base.

  • “Pass interference on the offense… and the defense.” Really? Just pick one, you dopes!
  • The ball bounces off the wall and into the defense’s hand. A whistle is blown calling the play dead before the defender has control of the ball, even though it shouldn’t have been blown in the first place. “By result of the play, the defense gets the ball.” No! You blew the whistle before it got into his hands! It has to stay with the offense! Why are you so brain-dead?!

My frustrations with the zebras aside, this game was pretty back and forth, and undeniably sloppy. Dan Raudabaugh, the reigning MVP of the league, threw three interceptions against three touchdowns, and now has five interceptions in two games so far this season. That’s not the kind of resume a reigning MVP should have the following season. The Sharks also got a fourth turnover off a forced fumble. The Soul played very, very poorly this game, and incredibly unlike the Soul of the last couple of years. Raudabaugh in particular was throwing behind receivers left and right (which led to a few picks), while Grady on the other side wasn’t faring much better. The Soul never took advantage either, as I recall two chances where Soul defenders could’ve intercepted Grady’s passes, but dropped them.

Each team had a fourth-down stop near each other’s goal lines. The defense for both teams, for the most part, played well, with extra points going towards Jacksonville for being able to force turnovers. Grady played somewhat inconsistently, but didn’t turn it over and threw seven touchdowns throughout the game. Man, I would think the Sharks would play a lot better with how great a receiving core they have. Tiger Jones is a deep threat and Joe Hills might be the best receiver in the league right now. Still, they managed to squeeze this game out… though perhaps because of Philadelphia’s self-inflicted wounds than anything else.

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