2015 Season Preview: Spokane Shock
2014 in review
For the Spokane Shock, 2014 will be remembered as an injury-riddled season. Key contributors from every phase of the game missed time nursing a variety of injuries in an 11-7 campaign. WR Adron Tennell and DB/KR Terrance Sanders were both unavailable for good portions of the season. But the injury that really did damage to the Shock was the collarbone break of the 2013 AFL MVP, Erik Meyer. The Shock cycled through a number of signal callers in Meyer’s absence, with mediocre results.
Still, the Shock remained competitive in 2015. Particularly when Meyer returned, it looked as though Spokane was poised to make run in the playoffs. The San Jose SaberCats dashed those hopes with a thorough beating in the first round of the playoffs.
Hopefully you like quarterbacks, because they are coming by the truckload to Eastern Washington. Arvell Nelson returns to the Shock after a one year stint with the Pittsburgh Power. Nelson was a Swiss Army Knife for the Shock in 2013, serving as the backup QB while also playing snaps at linebacker and wide receiver. He appears to be the favorite to win the starting QB job.
But there will be competition. 2014 PIFL MVP Warren Smith will be in camp, trying his hand at the arena game after a number of successful years playing indoor football. Jarrett Brown also returns after missing most of 2014 with an injury. Former Barnstormer Carson Coffman will also be in the mix.
DB Sergio Gilliam is returning to Spokane in 2015 after spending the last two years with the Pittsburgh Power. Gilliam helped lead the Shock to a championship in 2009 in the af2 and is sure to be well received back at the Spokane Arena.
Where to even begin? Spokane was ravaged in free agency, losing a number of their top players. Meyer is gone, taking his game to the Bay Area to suit up for the rival SaberCats. Adron Tennell followed suit.
Terrance Sanders, known affectionately in Spokane as “Mr. Electricity,” will also be wearing a different uniform in 2015. He signed with the Jacksonville Sharks.
Terence Moore, too, was whisked away in free agency. The Shock’s primary defensive enforcer will be suiting up for the Orlando Predators this season.
The 2015 season will be a success if…
This is a simple question to answer. The Shock will be successful if one of their quarterbacks can pan out and deliver something close to Meyer-level production. There are a number of talented passers on the roster; the question remains if any of them can become an upper-echelon guy in this league. Spokane has proven over the years that it knows how to develop talent. It lost a lot of strong players in the offseason, but it has always found ways to replace that production. It’s a quarterback-driven league. If one of its quarterbacks can step up, Spokane will be just fine.
Spokane’s 2015 MVP will be...
Whoever starts at quarterback will need a strong presence on the outside that can be relied on to make the tough catches. Mike Washington can and must be that presence. His receiving stats dipped a little bit in 2014 with shaky QB play mostly to blame. Expect him to close in on 1,700 yards and 30-plus touchdowns this season as the number-one threat.
In 2015, the Shock will win...
Nine games. This is a very difficult call to make at this point, though. While I believe in Spokane’s ability to replace lost talent, it would be irresponsible to predict it to win as many games as last year when considering how many talented players were lost. Its MVP quarterback, top wide receiver and game-changing defensive back are all gone. Without knowing Spokane’s future under center, the Shock will go 9-9 in 2015, but don’t be surprised if they manage to surprise everyone with a strong playoff push.
Keep an eye out for our ArenaFan team-by-team previews for the 2015 season. Tomorrow... Cleveland Gladiators