Viva Las Win Column! Sharks get first win of 2015 over Las Vegas
It was Elvis night in Jacksonville night and, thankfully for the Jacksonville Sharks, their play on the field was much better than their Elvis impersonator’s vocal performances as the Sharks got their first win of the season over the Las Vegas Outlaws.
This was the type of game that many experts and fans expected out of the Sharks all year, and it came at a time when they desperately needed a win to get some momentum rolling in 2015. All three phases clicked in this one outside of a kickoff return touchdown allowed to Gerald Young, but he’s already done that three times this year.
So what was different about this one? How did it go so right for once?
Let’s start off by pointing out that the Sharks only failed to convert one third down on the night and the only fourth down play they had to face was a successful field goal by Julian Rauch to make it 45-21 with left in the third quarter. Tommy Grady was extremely efficient, completing 74% of his passes and posting a zero interception total for his third time in five games this year. Joe Hills and Tiger Jones continue to rack up huge offensive numbers on the season.
The biggest change was the presence of a ferocious pass rush for the first time this year. Joe Sykes had a sack and a forced fumble and looked every bit the type of player the Sharks expected when they signed the former Defensive Player of the Year. Jerry Turner’s final stat line might not show any sacks, but he provided constant pressure on J.J. Raterink and had a forced fumble recovered by the Sharks overturned by a penalty.
It’s no secret the sudden emergence of a pass rush helped the secondary play better and it was nice to see Alvin Ray Jackson get his first interception of the season. I also felt the addition of LaRoche Jackson really helped this secondary shut down the Outlaws passing attack.
In other words, this is exactly how the Sharks need to play if they want to win games this year and the formula works just fine against the top tier teams in the league as well. Let’s not forget that this Outlaws team beat the defending champions convincingly earlier in the year.
Julian Rauch continues to reward the Sharks decision replace Fabrizio Scaccia after two games as he has shown a strong accurate leg on field goals and extra points, with only one missed PAT in this game, and three overall in three games. He remains a perfect 3-of-3 on his field goal attempts this year.
There’s still a long way to go in the season but the Sharks have at least taken that first step towards respectability and saw both teams in between them and the fourth playoff spot lose this week. As a result, both Tampa Bay and New Orleans are now only one game ahead of them in the playoff picture so a nice little winning streak would go a long way for the Sharks. The Sharks also have the good fortune of facing one of those teams this week as they travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Storm.
Much like a Vegas headline act, maybe this show was one night only, but I happen to think the star power of the Sharks is worthy of an extended run.