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Horrible Beating In War on I-4 Should Get Munsey Fired

Adam Markowitz
Saturday May 5, 2012

TAMPA BAY – There are just no two ways around it. The 2012 Orlando Predators have given up on Head Coach Brett Munsey. When the Preds hired Munsey to coach them for this season, I thought that it was a great signing. He is an ArenaBowl winning coach, and I still contend that he is one of the best X's and O's coaches that this league has to offer. However, there comes a time for virtually every coach to move on from his team and a time for every team to move on from its coach, and at 1-7 with virtually no chance of getting into the playoffs, the time is now for Orlando and Coach Munsey to go through a divorce.

This year's Snore… err… Bore… err… War on I-4 was anything but a "war," as the game was drab from the get go, and it never really got any better. There were very few memorable plays. There really wasn't all that much jawing like you would normally see when these two teams meet each other. There were only 8,488 in attendance as well, easily the worst crowd in the history of the rivalry. This was the first time in goodness knows how long that the Predators didn't send a bus to Tampa Bay, and it showed. There were only about 50 fans in attendance donning red and black as best as this writer could see in the press box.

Oh, and it was only a mere 20,257 fans short of when these teams met in 1993.

And in the end, the Tampa Bay Storm walked away with a 55-31 victory, their third biggest win in the history of this storied rivalry. The Storm would have broken the record for the biggest margin of victory in team history by either team (62-31 in ArenaBowl XII) if not for the fact that they took their foot off of the gas pedal and allowed the last two TDs of the game.

So sure, from that standpoint, it was hard to blame the Predators, who are now 1-7 in their first eight games in their most disastrous season in team history, for not really showing up. However, there is a point that you just have to realize that things aren't working and that something has to change.

Offensive Coordinator Rob Keefe was fired four games into the season with the Preds averaging just 33.3 points per game. Since then, the team has averaged 41.3 points per game, and 21 points were scored by the team in total garbage time over the course of the last two weeks.

Firing the quarterback didn't work either. Collin Drafts threw 15 TDs against six picks, completed 57.1 percent of his passes, averaged 233.2 yards per game, and had a QB rating of 82.6. Justin Roper likely finished his Preds career by throwing 15 TDs against eight picks, completing 56.7 percent of his passes, averaging 232.8 yards per game, and putting together a stellar QB rating of 78.0. Chris Leak came in and looked pretty bad, going 9-of-17 for 78 yards and three TDs. At least he wasn't picked off, but that quarterback rating of 104.9 wasn't all that encouraging either.

So what's left to fire? You're not going to fire anyone on the defensive side of the ball. The Preds have allowed just 270.9 YPG and are conceding 48.0 PPG. Of course, the offense has put the defense in countless bad situations with a whopping 25 turnovers. We won't mention the other 26 stops either that the offense has had. Yeah, you've got that right. That's 51 total stops for the year in just eight games, an average of 6.4 stops per game. The team has 38 touchdowns on offense, 4.8 TDs per game. Yep – 83 possessions and 38 TDs – 45.8%. The offense has turned the ball over 25 times against those 38 TDs as well. Hell, coming into this week, the Kansas City Command averaged 4.3 stops per game and had a TD scoring percentage of 52.3%. That's how bad it is for Orlando right now.

But what's even worse is the fact that the team has just given up, and it is easy to tell. When the Storm stretched their advantage to 48-17, Orlando started its next drive at its own 1-yard line. Instead of at least trying to throw the ball, the team tried running ball right up the gut. What ensued was a fumble that ended in a Tampa Bay touchdown that stretched the margin out to 38 points, one point shy of the biggest lead that either team has ever had in this series at any point. In the next drive, Orlando marched down the field and scored a meaningless touchdown, and instead of even remotely trying to come back with an onside kick, Coach Munsey elected to kick deep, ending any hope of a comeback.

Look, I get it. When you're down 31 points, you aren't winning too many games… unless of course, you're playing against these Predators, in which case, it is happening on average every four weeks. But this is still a team that is trying to learn on the job, and Chris Leak, the man who was dubbed the, "face of the franchise" by the team's Managing Partner Brett Bouchy cleared needed as many reps as he could get, since he is clearly going to be taking over as the team's starting quarterback next week.

The other way to quantify how a coach is doing is to see how he is doing in the second half of games. Halftime adjustments are always key to winning football games at any level. The Predators now have a whopping 96 points scored in the second half of games, 21 of which came in garbage time. Averaging 12 points per game in the second half is just inexcusable in this league, especially when you're allowing 27.8 points per game in the second half. The only game this year in which the team outscored the opposition in the second half was in the loss to the Chicago Rush in Week 3. Since then, the scoreboard for the second half reads Opponents 179 – Predators 63. Yikes.

The one thing that you cannot guarantee in this league is that your players are coming back for another season. With one-year deals all that you can guarantee to a player, "grooming" a quarterback really should be out of the question. However, you can groom a coach. The Brett Munsey is only eight games old, but it is the worst eight-game stretch in team history, and it is time for it to come to a close. If the 2012 Orlando Predators have any hope whatsoever of turning their season around, they need to find a coach that is going to come in and motivate the team to play once again, and motivate it to play a full 60 minute game, something that we just haven't seen all season long.

Adam Markowitz is an accountant and a freelance sports writer living in Orlando. As a Florida State graduate with degrees in music and history, the garnet and gold will forever be a part of him, but he bleeds the black and red of the Orlando Predators like none other. Adam has been following the AFL since 1991 and has been at well over 200 games, including 16 ArenaBowls. You can follow Adam on Twitter @AFLGuru.
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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