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Coleman becoming reliable Plan B for Rattlers

Matt Loeschman
Tuesday May 19, 2015

When league most valuable player Nick Davila went down earlier this season against the Los Angeles KISS, my first thought was, “there goes the Rattlers' shot at a four-peat.”

This is the one player I consider irreplaceable for Arizona. Davila is the leader, by his words and actions, of the team that has won the last three Arena Football League championships. He couldn't even walk off the field under his own power; members of the opposing team showed tremendous sportsmanship by assisting him to the sideline.

What made it even worse was Davila's foot injury occurred on a play where a penalty was called and the play blown dead. But the officiating crew was slow to blow their whistles and the quarterback was rolled on in a situation that never should have occurred.

Why, football gods, why? The season is basically over, right? Not so fast my friend.

As the 2015 AFL season commenced, Rattlers Head Coach and General Manager Kevin Guy spoke to the importance of having a quality backup quarterback. With Jason Murrietta leaving the game to work a normal job, Guy brought in former Green Bay Packer B.J. Coleman to provide insurance in case anything happened to Davila, the league's best player.

And now Guy is very glad he did.

“I think B.J. is playing great. He is going to continue to grow and that gives us the flexibility not to rush Nick back if we don't have to,” Guy said following the Rattlers' 60-41 “revenge” win over the Las Vegas Outlaws.

Frankly, there is no need to rush back Davila at all.

Even with 10 games remaining in the regular season, barring an epic meltdown, I believe it is going to be difficult for Arizona to catch the San Jose SaberCats for the top seed in the National Conference. This 8-0 San Jose team is for real. They came into the Snake Pit earlier this season and did what they wanted in dispatching the Rattlers 56-34. 

There are rumblings this San Jose team could run the table and go 18-0 in the regular season. After seeing them dismantle the Spokane Shock 83-28 last weekend, it is hard to argue against that prediction. Arizona's road to a fifth straight ArenaBowl appearance is very likely to go through the SAP Center.

San Jose's 22-point win in Phoenix marked Coleman's first full game as Arizona's signal caller. Since then, he has come a long way in three games at the helm. 

One thing everyone noticed immediately is Coleman has an absolute cannon for an arm. The guy throws a fastball Nolan Ryan could be proud of. But in arena football, that doesn't always translate to success. An accurate touch is just as important as the ability to throw the football with a vapor trail on the end of it.

Coleman struggled to a three touchdown, three interception stat line against the stout San Jose defense while completing just 45 percent of his passes. He showed improvement against the New Orleans VooDoo before firing seven TD passes and just one interception in Week 8 against the Outlaws.

“I've had Coach Guy and Jason Murrietta telling me about their experience in the arena game,” said the former University of Tennessee-Chattanooga standout. “They have been through this. I've tried to match up my footwork with the timing of the receiver's routes and tonight it was better.”

With his fourth start on the horizon, Coleman is still absorbing all aspects of the arena game.

“It takes some time,” he admitted. “This game is a lot different than the outdoor game. You don't want to overthink it.”

The Rattlers are 6-2 and have a bye this week before returning to the field May 30 at Spokane. They hope to have Davila back in the fold by then but it is unknown whether the Latin Laser will be ready to suit up. If not, Coleman will be more than ready to answer the call.

Matt Loeschman is the business editor/city reporter at the Williamson County Sun and a color commentator for SHN Sports in Georgetown, Texas. As a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, he bleeds burnt orange but is also an avid fan of the Arizona Rattlers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Stars, Texas Stars, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo and Austin Aztex. With nearly 20 years of experience in print journalism and radio, Matt has covered sports ranging from high school to the pros along with local news. He has followed the AFL since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter @MattLoeschman.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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