Gut check time for Storm after getting blown away by SaberCats
TAMPA -- Ten knockdowns. Four sacks. Two fumbles. One interception. One safety.
And that was only how the first half went for Jason Boltus.
On a night where the Storm had a chance to test themselves against one of the best teams in the league, they came up incredibly short. It's not just that they were beaten by a superior team. It's not even that they were down 36-7 almost halfway through the fourth quarter. It's that they were literally beaten to a bloody pulp by a physically dominant team.
This, of course, should not be seen as an indictment on the Tampa Bay defense. Considering all of the superstars which the SaberCats have on the offensive side of the ball, holding them to 187 yards and 36 points was an impressive feat, especially for as many horrid positions as the offense left the defense in.
It also shouldn't be considered an indictment on Boltus either. Granted, this writer has questioned for years whether Boltus is legitimately a starting quarterback in this league or not, but he wasn't the problem tonight even though his final stat line read just 21-of-39 for 260 yards with four scores and a pick.
Though Boltus might not be the best quarterback on the face of the earth, he is one tough S.O.B. He was unofficially knocked down 18 times on 44 drop backs. He was tripped by his own center a couple times, had a horrid time getting snaps in crucial moments, and he was crushed from the blind side countless times.
Finding offensive linemen is going to be crucial for the Storm the rest of the way, because this combination of four quarterback protectors isn't cutting it. Ben Ossai has literally played for half the teams in the league over the course of the last 23 weeks of regular season play, but now, he is attempting to play fullback, a position which he is visibly uncomfortable with. Essentially, any time he tried taking on anyone aside from a mack linebacker, the end result was Boltus picking himself up off of the turf thanks to Ossai and the rest of this offensive line.
The Storm probably didn't realistically have dreams of winning an ArenaBowl this season, but finishing with a winning record and making the playoffs would be a good accomplishment for a young, undermanned squad.
However, after watching this game against San Jose, one of the premier teams in the league, one has to wonder whether the Storm's only win of the season was a byproduct of a weak game at Portland. If the real Storm are the ones who were beaten and beaten badly twice by Cleveland and San Jose, they are in a heck of a lot of trouble.
In a division where the Storm still have to play six games against an Orlando team which will surely bring heart if nothing else, and a Jacksonville team which surely will get back on track with all of its All-Arena players, even hoping for a .500 season at this point seems like a grim proposition.