Loss of AD Mac Puts Tampa Bay, AFL in the Midst of a Storm
The Tampa Bay Storm were delivered horrible news on Thursday when Adrian McPherson was put on injured reserve, ending his season. The Storm are now going to turn the ball over to Randy Hippeard for the rest of the season.
McPherson suffered what was originally classified as a lower body injury in the loss to the New Orleans VooDoo. The Tampa Bay Times reported later that the injury was a hyperextended knee. It was only five days later though, that the Head Coach Dave Ewart told the Tampa Bay Times, "I anticipate he will be out there [against the Spokane Shock]."
McPherson was well on his way to a record-breaking season and a potential MVP award. McPherson ran for 415 yards and 31 TDs in his 13 games, and he threw for 3,151 yards with 59 TDs and five INTs. His 120.60 quarterback rating is currently fourth in the league behind the other three legitimate MVP candidates, Dan Raudabaugh, Erik Meyer, and Nick Davila.
"Adrian McPherson is a key member of our team. It is disappointing that his record-breaking season was cut short due to injury. Adrian is a tremendous quarterback, and we are confident that he will make a full and speedy recovery," said Tampa Bay Team President, Derrick Brooks in the team's press release on Friday morning.
To Hippeard's credit, he has put up some outstanding numbers over the course of his first few games. He has completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 862 yards with 16 TDs and no picks.
Unfortunately for the Storm though, they have yet to win a game since AD Mac was injured, and the offense has only averaged 49.25 points per game in those four defeats.
The Storm now have some massive problems going into the last three games of the season against the San Antonio Talons, the Pittsburgh Power, and the Jacksonville Sharks. They are struggling offensively, and they are struggling to protect Hippeard, who has been sacked five times in the last three games. Tampa Bay has allowed 41 sacks this season, the second most in the league this year.
If there is some good news for Tampa Bay, it is that right on the verge of the postseason in spite of its 7-8 record through 15 games. The Storm will clinch up a playoff berth with a win and a loss by either the New Orleans VooDoo or the Orlando Predators this week. With the VooDoo playing against the Arizona Rattlers this week in the desert, any victory over the course of the last three weeks of the season seems like it would lock up a playoff spot.
Herein lies the problem, though. The Storm are going to be decided underdogs against the San Antonio Talons this week on the road, and that could setup a potentially lethal Week 18 game against the Pittsburgh Power. Week 19 features a road game against the Jacksonville Sharks.
The likelihood is there that Tampa Bay will finish below .500. If that's the case, two teams in the American Conference playoffs will finish under .500, and both Wild Card slots could reasonably be taken by teams that only have seven wins. Meanwhile in the National Conference, it is very plausible that at least one team above .500 and one team at or near the .500 mark won't make the second season.
The National Conference is 30-11 in games against American Conference teams thus far this season coming into Week 17.
Last season, the 10-8 Spokane Shock and Chicago Rush were left out of the playoffs while an 8-10 New Orleans VooDoo team got into the second season. However, there has never been a point in AFL history when two sub-.500 teams got into the playoffs while a team above .500 missed out on the second season.