Ranking the Arena Football League’s New Uniforms

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I don’t consider myself a fashion designer by any means, but I would jump at the chance to design some uniforms for various football teams. Where my adoration for football occasionally wanes with the seasons, my taste for sweet football threads is almost ashamedly immovable. Just recently, the Arena Football League announced they were partnering with Phenom to supply the league’s uniforms, and they showed them off all at once. It was a lot to take in—I prefer it that way. Continue reading “Ranking the Arena Football League’s New Uniforms”

Impressions from Week Seven of the 2016 AFL Season

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Well, I wanted to watch some AFL games this week. But… I forgot to. Twice. Shows how dedicated of a fan I am, huh? Regardless, the games I would’ve seen were quite the nail-biters. The competition of each game this week was surprisingly apparent, even between the best and the worst team in the league. I wonder if that’s more a compliment to the lesser team or an insult to the better?


Tampa Bay at Orlando

  • Did not watch.

So, apparently, Orlando took notes from the Kardiac Kids back in the ’80s, because they really like playing close games. And against Tampa Bay of all teams? Why is Orlando even giving them the chance?

Jason Boltus, the Storm’s new quarterback, seems to be giving a spark to the Storm that wasn’t present with Jonathan Bane. At least, he’s managed to put more than 30 points on the board. That’s right! Tampa Bay finally surpassed 30 points with this game, with a total of 40! Good job, boys! You’re still 0-6.

The real concern here is Orlando. The regular season doesn’t matter much, sure, but what’s with the random drop in quality? You can’t win an ArenaBowl by struggling against Tampa Bay! After their sure work of Arizona last week, Tampa Bay shouldn’t even be a smidge on Orlando’s radar.

A win is a win, but a disturbing win at that.


Arizona at Philadelphia

  • Did not watch.

I will give Philadelphia credit: after a shaky start to the season, they’ve become the offensive powerhouse they’re capable of. Raudabaugh is playing very well and they even have a stout running game in Jeramie Richardson. They’re a really good team overall, with the defense being able to hold up against most. Including the Rattlers.

The Rattlers, however, have an issue: they’re ravaged by injuries in the defense. Kerry Reed is out for the season and now Arkeith Brown looks to be out for a while, too. The defense on the back-end is weakening, so their defense can’t always keep a shoot-out from happening. This proved to be too much for this game.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Rattlers can recover after two straight losses, right after I predicted they could go undefeated if they wanted to. Right now, I think the Soul might be the best team in the league, just because they’ve been so dominant in the last few weeks. However, they have one loss, while Orlando does not. But Orlando… man, they need to easily win some easy games. That near-loss to Tampa Bay was alarming. Sorry, I shouldn’t be talking about that under here.


Portland at Cleveland

  • Did not watch.

Cleveland is now on a two-game winning streak. Against the Sharks, it was uplifting. Against the Steel? It’s a little suspicious. The Steel were playing former Cleveland starting quarterback Shane Austin for this game, which made them better in some ways, but they still aren’t that good of a team. Kudos to Cleveland, but they almost lost this game in the same way Orlando almost lost to Tampa Bay. Only thing is, Cleveland ain’t Orlando.

I believe if Shane Austin remains in Portland, they’ll win at least two or three games. It’ll likely be against Cleveland, Tampa Bay, or even Jacksonville and Los Angeles, but I believe they have enough ability to squeeze a win out of one of these teams, perhaps even on a few occasions. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking for an 0-6 team being competitive against a lesser team this week, but I sincerely feel they have some shot. I’ll guarantee this, though: it won’t be a pretty win.

Arvell Nelson is playing well enough to keep Cleveland afloat. I can’t say much more than that. He offers a threat with his legs, but he’s not exactly an efficient passer. He has more wins as a starter this season than any other quarterback to start for the team, so I’d probably keep him in there for the sake of continuity. That, and who else are they gonna replace him with? In any case, so long as they have Collin Taylor as a pass-catching threat, they’ll at least be respectable. Certainly more respectable than Portland.

Impressions from Week Six of the 2016 AFL Season

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I won’t say much as I don’t have much to say. However, this week turned out to be one of the more intriguing weeks of the season thus far.


Jacksonville at Cleveland

  • Did not watch.

Cleveland finally finished a game.

To be fair, the Sharks basically shot themselves in the face over and over again in the fourth quarter, but one has to give credit to Cleveland for sticking with it. They came back from a 19 point deficit to overtake the Sharks 41-40. This being said, it was a lucky break for Cleveland. Their quarterback situation is abysmal.

The Sharks… well, the Sharks are the Sharks.


Arizona at Orlando

  • Watched.

The unbeatable Rattlers were finally beaten.

Orlando put on quite a show despite being handed about six hundred penalties early on in the game. Their defense adjusted as the game went on and they started to take over. With results like this, it’s easy to wonder if the Rattlers are really the best team in the league. The Predators made it look easy.

Also note: Rob Keefe is hilarious in interviews.


Tampa Bay at Philadelphia

  • Did not watch.

Tampa Bay only put up 17 points. 17 points. That’s really sad.

I know I’ve said numerous times that Tampa Bay was the worst team in the league, but GOD DAMN are they bad. Through five games, they’ve scored a total of 125 points. They’re averaging 25 points a game. That’s not going to win you any games as opposed to one or two. Your defense better be the Steel Curtain if you’re gonna average so few points a game. And the Storm’s defense is certainly not.

Philadelphia has Arizona next week in what should be an intriguing match-up. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team saw this week as an automatic “W.” I bet they could’ve rested their starters and still won.


Portland at Los Angeles

  • Did not watch.

Speaking of pathetic teams, Portland didn’t fare so well this week, either. 27-66 against a team that tends to struggle against above-average teams. The future is not bright for our Portland Steel.

Nathan Stanley somehow managed to throw another pick in this game, but his performance was solid compared to the trainwreck starting for Portland. Darron Thomas, the third starting quarterback for the Steel this year, is a familiar face for the franchise, as he’d been on the team for the last two years before being re-signed a few weeks ago. In his debut, he proved to be another one for the scrap heap. Three touchdowns, five interceptions, including three pick-sixes. Perhaps they should go back to Southwick.

However, it doesn’t really matter. The Steel aren’t a good team and they won’t be no matter who they sign. They just don’t have the talent or the resources to pull it off.

Impressions from Week Five of the 2016 AFL Season

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The competition this week left a lot to be desired. Many of the match-ups ended up being one-sided, and aside from a surprise start from Cleveland, it was easy to see the difference in power between teams. This is a common complaint, but such is the state of the AFL.


Orlando at Cleveland

  • Did not watch.

This was quite the game for the first three quarters. Cleveland and Orlando going back and forth with scores, with lead changes aplenty. However, the MVP of this game is Brandon Thompkins, receiver for the Predators, who accounted for seven touchdowns in the game. Five receiving, one rushing, and one return touchdown. With production like that, it’s not hard to imagine the Predators are 5-0.

Cleveland, as is tradition, it seems, in Cleveland, did well enough to keep up for so long before sputtering by game’s end. They just can’t seem to finish a game, no matter who’s starting for them at quarterback. Speaking of which, five weeks in and they’ve had three different quarterbacks start for them already. This week, it was Arvell Nelson, who did a decent enough job aside from two interceptions.

The defenses didn’t seem to make themselves known this game. With an overall total of 132 points and just two interceptions by Orlando, there wasn’t a single sack in the game and just one turnover through fumble. There’s not much here aside from Orlando being a good team and Cleveland being a potentially good team under construction.


Portland at Arizona

  • Watched.

Remember the first game between these two a couple weeks ago? How the Rattlers destroyed them 28-80? The Steel had Danny Southwick starting for them at quarterback that game. This time, they had Kasey Peters.

It didn’t make much of a difference, as they again got thrashed 21-68.


Jacksonville at Tampa Bay

  • Did not watch.

Tampa Bay has quite the streak going. After a bye week last week, they welcome the Sharks and still aren’t able to muster up at least 30 points in a game. That’s four weeks in a row, perfectly encapsulating the offensive insignificance the Storm possess. Jacksonville, on the other hand, didn’t fare much better. They won the game, but only put up 33 points in the process. Whether this was due to a strong Tampa Bay defense or a lackluster performance by the Sharks’ loaded offense, I don’t know, but that’s the way it played out.

I’ll say this, though: the Storm are just so pitiful right now. I’ve been watching the AFL for four years now and I’ve never seen a team so incapable of scoring as the 2016 Tampa Bay Storm. I may be able to find a team similar looking through the history books, but I’ve never seen something so noticeable. I suppose it’s the small number of teams this year that makes them stand out, but it’s really quite something nonetheless.

C’mon, Jacksonville. You’re better than this. Scoring only 33 points against Tampa Bay? You have so much offensive talent it’s almost unfair, but it seems they share the same water as the team up in Cleveland, because they can’t seem to use the vast amounts of good players on their roster. They tend to struggle on special teams, which may have something to do with it.


Philadelphia at Los Angeles

  • Watched.

Ever since their Week Two loss against Jacksonville, the Philadelphia Soul have emerged the team everyone expected them to be. Dan Raudabaugh has thrown 22 touchdowns and one pick in the last three weeks. They’ve gone 3-0, and they’ve done it with ease. However, it may have to do with the competition they’ve had in that span: Portland, Cleveland, and now Los Angeles. None of these teams are exactly Arizona.

Something else I noticed while watching this game is that the KISS’s offense is a bit mechanical. By that, I mean they take their time going down the field, not much for going with the flashy trick plays or bombs down the field. If they do, it’s likely because a player was wide open. This, in turn, ended up costing them greatly in the later portions of the game, as they had little time to catch up with the Soul’s offense, which seemed to score with ease every time it came out. For as flashy as their uniforms are, the KISS aren’t exactly fire-starters offensively.

Nathan Stanley, after the results of this week, has thrown nine interceptions in five games, and isn’t even completing 60% of his passes. Those are not numbers you want to see out of the starting quarterback of your franchise. It’s almost amazing to me that they’re even 2-3 right now, but regardless of Stanley’s Jekyll and Hyde performances, the KISS are an alright team when need be. They just aren’t a good team, like the team that handed them a 56-33 loss in Week Five.

Impressions from Week Four of the 2016 AFL Season

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I’ll be frank: I voluntarily chose not to watch anything AFL-related this week. I just wasn’t up for it this week, as I had a lot of things in my real life to prepare for, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to miss one game. The only televised game available to me was Philadelphia against Cleveland. Clearly Philadelphia would crush them, right?

As it turns out, this was the best week of games thus far this season. How ironic that when the two worst teams in Portland and Tampa Bay both have a bye week that the level of competition between teams during games suddenly becomes a lot more even and interesting. I was constantly checking Twitter to see the outcomes to these games, because for one, I had already opted out of watching the first game and by the time I realized the game was actually good, it was halfway through the fourth quarter, and the two other matches came down to the wire. I didn’t know who would win! This is what I watch the sport for! And the week that I choose not to partake in it is the week that it suddenly becomes magical again! Such is life.


Cleveland at Philadelphia

  • (Voluntarily) Did not watch.

The game I decided to miss turned out to be an unexpectedly competitive one. At one point, Cleveland was up 28-13 over Philadelphia, which is amazing considering Cleveland is one of the lesser teams in the league. At that point, it seemed the scripts had flipped, but alas, Cleveland couldn’t hold their breath, as Philadelphia started bombing their way ahead by the fourth quarter.

Dan Raudabaugh’s stats by the end of this game: 26 of 31 for 315 yards, eight touchdowns, and one interception. That’s the performance one should expect from an MVP quarterback.

Dennis Havrilla, and later Arvell Nelson’s combined stats by the end of this game: 13 of 30 for 196 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. It’s amazing Cleveland put up as much of a fight as they did with those kinds of numbers. I think that seems to be the running theme for Cleveland: they have the potential to be good, they just can’t seem to find it within themselves. After all, just two years ago they were in the ArenaBowl… getting slaughtered by Arizona, but nonetheless!


Arizona at Jacksonville

  • Did not watch.

What a nail-biter this game was!

This is the sport that I love to watch! Two good teams going at it! Score after score after score! Big numbers! Back and forth lead changes! Offensive powerhouses! Defensive turnovers! Man, I really wish I watched this game!

Nick Davila threw eight touchdowns. Tommy Grady threw eight touchdowns. Arizona had three rushing touchdowns; Jacksonville had two. The game went into Overtime. The game had drama. The game had feelings! Gah! This game!

A great performance by Jacksonville for almost beating the best team in the league. If not for some miscues by both teams, I’m not sure the game would’ve been as exciting as it was. However, this has become a running theme for the Sharks: they have all the talent, all the potential to be on-par with the Rattlers, but they struggle in the clutch and have a tendency to implode in the worst moments. This was a small example in a large sample of times this has happened. But damn was this implosion fun.


Los Angeles at Orlando

  • Did not watch.

Nathan Stanley is turning into a turnover machine. Through four games, he’s thrown seven interceptions. That’s tops in the league.

Randy Hippeard, on the other hand, has thrown three, which may factor in to why the Predators are 4-0 this season. Although, the Predators are a curious case. Much like the Sharks have a tendency to stutter in the clutch, the Predators bask in it, which is lucky because they always seem to be in it. The Predators rarely put a game out of reach. It’s not uncommon to have them win a game by one score or less, much like this game, which they won 43-40. 4-0 is 4-0, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of where they’re at talent-wise. I guess they’ll have to face the Rattlers to test that.

The KISS had a lot of potential coming into this season, but it seems they can only bully the weakling teams in the league. Perhaps if Stanley would stop throwing so many picks and stop taking so many sacks, the KISS would be better off, but for right now, they’re a talented team that don’t know how to handle themselves. Kind of like Jacksonville.

Impressions from Week Three of the 2016 AFL Season

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Two blowouts, two shootouts. After this week, one can tell just from the scoreboard which teams are real and which are not going to go very far in the playoffs. This also marked the first week that Arena Football was broadcasted on Univision Deportes, as in “All-Spanish sports, all the time.”


Los Angeles at Cleveland

  • Did not watch.

One of two shootouts of Week Three. Despite the final score of 47-42 being relatively low by AFL standards, it was still back-and-forth enough to constitute as such. After looking fairly good in the season opener, the KISS have shown to be a rather pedestrian team since then. Luckily for them, Cleveland is yet another pedestrian team in a league full of displaced talent.

So what’s to say about this game? Were the defenses dominant? Or were the offenses less than dominant? I’m going to go with the latter, with three combined interceptions in the game and two missed field goals by Cleveland’s Adrian Trevino. In a game as (typically) high-scoring as the AFL, one field goal is plenty, but two field goal attempts in one game? Your offense clearly isn’t getting the job done.

Neither quarterback has been sterling this season. That might be the difference in these games. They have pieces of offensive talent on both sides with Collin Taylor and Donovan Morgan, but if they can’t get a quarterback to throw it to them, what’s the use? And to think, if Trevino would’ve made those two field goals, Cleveland may have won this game.


Tampa Bay at Arizona

  • Did not watch.

One of two blowouts of Week Three. Is there really anything about these two teams that already hasn’t been said? Tampa Bay is the worst team in the league and Arizona is the best. When you pit the worst team against the best team, 60-27 is a score that won’t surprise anyone.

Three weeks in a row that Tampa Bay can’t manage more than 30 points of offense. Even with recently-returned Jason Boltus, the Storm can’t manage to do anything right this season. In their defense, two of the last three weeks they went up against the better teams in the league in Arizona and Orlando. Though, even against Cleveland they faltered their chance to do anything.

Arizona is Arizona. If not for San Jose last year, they’d likely win their fourth championship in four years. They seem to be high and above any other team in the league right now. Unless they fuck up royally, I don’t see any reason they couldn’t have a perfect season this year.


Portland at Philadelphia

  • Watched.

The score at halftime was 6-42. That’s really all that needs to be said. Philadelphia is good. Portland is bad.


Orlando at Jacksonville

  • Watched.

¡Que rico!

The Spanish broadcasting of this game was muy bueno. I really appreciated the energy and the spirit that was put into just about every play, and especially the touchdowns. ¡Touchdowns, más touchdowns, y más touchdowns! There were a couple slip-ups here and there, such as one announcer calling Derrick Ross “Tiger Jones” and calling the Predators the “Pranthers,” but for the most part, they knew their stuff. Despite not knowing 98% of what they said, I still enjoyed the game just as much (if not more) than I would the English counterpart.

Now, the game itself was also muy bueno. The second of two shootouts in Week Three. The game had all sorts of goofs and different ways of scoring, including a missed field goal return for a touchdown late in the second quarter. Both teams played their cojones off, but Orlando ended up outlasting Jacksonville despite playing poorly early on.

Jacksonville is a lot like the now dubbed Los Angeles Rams. They have loads of talent on one side of the ball (Rams with their defense; Sharks with their offense), yet can never consistently use it to their advantage. Grady is one of the better quarterbacks in the league, with two of the best wide receivers in the league with Tiger Jones and Joe Hills. Despite this, they can never blow the top off of most defenses in most games, only occasionally. One would think that with this kind of firepower that the Sharks would be up in the ranks with the Arizona Rattlers, but for whatever reason, they don’t always click. Whatever it may be, they’re quick to falter, and Orlando took advantage of it. Though, it ended up being closer than I would’ve expected it to be.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Impressions from Week One of the 2016 AFL Season

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Football has made its return, but this probably isn’t the league you were thinking of.

A little personal history beforehand, I became aware of the AFL after seeing a commercial for it while watching the NFL Network back in early 2012. I asked my father about it and he painted it in a positive enough light for me to be interested in watching it. I find a strange sense of appeal with this type of football: more scoring, faster-paced offenses, no punting, so there will always be a fourth down attempt! I became entranced and soon enough, it became less of a distraction in the NFL’s absence and more of a genuine affection as time wore on. This league is also constantly swirling with debt issues and rumors of being debunked year in and year out, so it’s easy to root for the underdog in this case. In any case, I’ll continue with the first week of rather one-sided affairs.


Orlando at Tampa Bay

  • Did not watch.

The largest defeat in the history of the Tampa Bay Storm, this game did not paint a pretty picture for the home team, which was celebrating the 3,000th AFL game with some zumba-inspired jerseys. Quarterback struggles seemed to doom the Storm from the beginning, with starter Adam Kennedy only throwing three touchdowns to two interceptions. Orlando, on the other hand, seems to have everything in place to be great this year, especially their defense. With five pass deflections, three interceptions, and a sack in the game, they held the Storm to only 25 points—a putrid mark for any AFL game.

This is only Week One, but it really showcases the difference in quality between these two teams. Orlando seems to be one of the better teams in the league, while the Storm would be lucky to finish with an even .500 record. Being a Storm fan right now feels a lot like being a Cleveland Browns fan; two storied franchises for their respective leagues with pretty mediocre teams currently.


Philadelphia at Cleveland

  • Did not watch.

Speaking of Cleveland, their AFL counterpart didn’t fare so well in their first outing, either. The good news is, their defense did all that it could to turn the game to their favor, recording two pick-sixes. The bad news is, so did Philadelphia’s, recording three pick-sixes and four sacks. Much like the Tampa Bay Storm, the Cleveland Gladiators seem to have a conundrum at quarterback. Starting quarterback Chris Dieker threw two touchdowns to four interceptions in the game. That would be really bad in the NFL, even worse in an offense-based game like the AFL.

The Soul, on the other hand, have the reigning Offensive Player of the Year and league MVP in quarterback Dan Raudabaugh. Along with a stout set of receivers and a punishing defense, Cleveland didn’t really stand a chance. Again, the difference in power between these two teams is apparent with this one-sided victory. This game, however, at least has a bright side for Cleveland fans. Their defense can play, as long as the quarterback isn’t turning it over four times a game.


Arizona at Portland

  • Watched three and a half quarters.

This game was almost sad to watch. The Arizona Rattlers have won three of the last four ArenaBowls. The Portland Steel are a second-year franchise without any stable ownership or talented pieces in place. If longtime fans of the game didn’t pick this game to be a blowout from the start, they haven’t been paying attention very well.

The Rattlers have the privilege of having Nick Davila at quarterback throwing to Rod Windsor at wide receiver. This duo of players is essentially the AFL’s Manning to Harrison, Montana to Rice, Unitas to Berry; whichever you prefer. They showed it in this game, as Davila found Windsor for four touchdowns before the fourth quarter. If the Rattlers sound scary on offense, you’d be correct, but they’re also pretty nasty on defense. With two interceptions and one pick-six, two sacks, and constant pressure on Steel quarterback Danny Southwick throughout the night, they showed that they haven’t dipped in talent whatsoever. Then again, that could just be a testament to how poorly-equipped Portland is.

I’d be surprised if the Steel won four games this year. Danny Southwick looked shaky in his debut for the Steel, resulting in a number of overthrown passes and holding on to the ball. Still, he was able to score a few touchdowns on deep throws, so he has that going for him. Tom Gilson also seems to be a good target for Southwick to develop a chemistry with. That man would catch any pass thrown his way, no matter how little the play gained in yards. Almost like an AFL equivalent to Julian Edelman. Portland’s defense managed two sacks in the game and recovered a forced fumble, but that’s really the only highlight for them overall. They’re essentially there.


Jacksonville at Los Angeles

  • Watched.

Poor Jacksonville. They had made the ArenaBowl last year after an 0-4 start to the 2015 season. They’re one step closer to repeating that process… the 0-4 part, anyway.

The L.A. KISS have improved tremendously since their debut last season, unlike their timeline relatives in Portland. Some would say they had bought all of the best talent from last year, and they’d be partially right. But it’s one thing to get the talent, it’s another to use them. New starting quarterback Nathan Stanley, when not playing with his hair on the sidelines, looks to be the answer for the KISS at quarterback. He played tremendously well, and despite an injured wrist after Halftime, he still managed to score some points with his throws (albeit inconsistent). It helps when you have one of the league’s best wide receivers in Donovan Morgan.

The game’s score was 33-33 at Halftime. You can’t any more competitive than that. The second half, however, the Sharks seem to have imploded. They only scored six points by the end of the game, while the KISS scored another 31. Tommy Grady, Jacksonville’s quarterback, is known to be one of the better quarterbacks in the league, but he had a bad stretch during the second half of this game. I believe he was only 8 of 16 passing after going 14 of 17 in the first half. Not to mention, his very first pass of the game was a deep score to receiver Joe Hills. Despite the offensive talent that the Sharks have at their disposal with Grady, Ross, Jones, and Hills, they couldn’t muster up the effort to make this an even-sided game, resulting in the fourth and final “blow-out” of the week.