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Breaking it Down - 2010 Week 13

Andy Lopusnak
Thursday July 1, 2010


This was one of the most lopsided weeks in recent league history with six of the seven games being decided by at least 12 points. Home teams continued their unprecedented domination this year and Utah became the first team mathematically eliminated from playoff contention (though the Blaze hasn’t contended in its last six games). This and more AFL stuff than you can shake a stick at are in this week’s Breaking it Down.

 

Click here to view my images from the Week 13 BattleWings-Storm game.

 

WEEK 13 RESULTS

TAMPA BAY 78, Bossier-Shreveport 39

Spokane 62, MILWAUKEE 48

TULSA 65, Cleveland 44

CHICAGO 55, Orlando 43

IOWA 68, Utah 32

OKLAHOMA CITY 35, Dallas 31

Arizona 66, JACKSONVILLE 50


Home team in ALL CAPS

BYE: Alabama

 

WEEK 13 NOTABLES

·         The home team went 5-2.

·         Seven players had 100-yard receiving games.

·         Three QBs posted 300-yard passing games.

·         Utah was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

 

QUICK RECAPS

In my hometown, the Storm walloped Bossier-Shreveport in one of the worst nationally-televised games in league history. The BattleWings actually led early in the second, but the Storm scored 48-straight points to double up Bossier-Shreveport. Tampa Bay 78-39.

 

In Jacksonville, the Sharks dropped their second straight and third in the last four weeks to fall out of first place in the South Division while Arizona won its sixth straight. Rattlers WR Rod Windsor continued his dazzling season with 15 grabs for 186 yards and three scores in the win. Arizona 66-50.

 

In Chicago, the Rush used two late second half takeaways to beat the Predators. Rush QB Russ Michna returned to the starting lineup after missing last week’s game because he attended a UFL mini camp. He tossed for 231 yards with four scores and added rushing TD along with 21 yards on the ground. Chicago 55-42.

 

In Milwaukee, the Iron dropped its second straight and fourth of its last six games after the Shock took control late in the third quarter. The win gave Spokane its AFL-leading seventh straight win and the team continues to hold the league’s best record (9-2). Spokane 62-48.

 

In Tulsa, the Talons were once again without a stats crew competent enough to run the league’s pathetic stats software and again there was no live stats or updates at all during the game on the league website. Thankfully, ArenaFan Online had score updates, but this is just embarrassing. It’s quite sad to look at a team press release that states: “With errors in the statistics, receiving stats are not available.” Anyway, this game was close early on until the Talons defense stopped the high-scoring Gladiators offense from reaching the end zone on seven of ten drives to propel the Southwest Division leaders to their seventh victory of the season. Tulsa 65-44.

 

In Des Moines, the Barnstormers never trailed against Utah led by QB Ryan Vena’s superb game. He completed 20-of-22 (90.9%) for 245 yards with seven TDs and no interceptions. Vena also ran for 38 yards and a score. Iowa 68-32.

 

In Oklahoma City, the Yard Dawgz needed two touchdowns in the final minute to beat the Vigilantes and prevent Dallas from sweeping the season series. OKC quarterback Tommy Grady connected with Craig Fulton Jr. with 15 seconds left to give the game’s final points. An interception in the end zone as time expired secured the victory. Oklahoma City 35-31.

 

DOUBLED UP

The Storm doubled up the BattleWings Friday night in the 39-point win. It marked the most points the Storm had ever scored at home in its previous 140 regular season home contests. Tampa Bay’s previous record of 77 was against the Florida Bobcats in 2000. Back then, current Storm assistant coach Dave Ewart was at the helm of that Bobcats team. Tampa Bay’s 78 points is its most since scoring the same amount in the 2005 regular season finale at Columbus (Storm won 78-53).

 

BATTLING BACK

Bossier-Shreveport fullback Jason Schule ran for 30 yards with two scores (on four rushes) and had a short pass that he turned into an impressive 26-yard reception in his first Arena game of the year and first since being diagnosed and beating testicular cancer. Last season, he ran for 655 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry – both of which would shatter the current AFL single-season records for both categories.

 

HANK HISTORY

Tampa Bay wideout Hank Edwards became the first Storm player in the storied history of the five-time champs to reach 200 receiving yards in a single game this past weekend. That’s an impressive deed considering the great receivers to don a Storm uniform over the past two decades like two-time ArenaBowl MVP Stevie Thomas, three-time ArenaBowl MVP George LaFrance and Ironman legend Lawrence Samuels. Edwards’ 209 yards through the air, on ten catches and three TDs, surpassed the team’s previous record of 199 set by Thomas in 1992 against the Dallas Texans. At the half, Edwards had already posted 130 of his 209 yards. Edwards’ final grab of the night put him over the 200-yard threshold when he nabbed a 24-yard pass from Land O’ Lakes High phenom Drew Weatherford (who also leads the Storm with 13.5 special teams tackles). A week earlier, Edwards posted the third most receiving yards in team history (195 at Utah).

IRON “MAINE”

Storm OL/DL Jermaine Smith posted three tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, a safety and a pass breakup on defense. He did play some on the offensive side of the ball as well as special teams. One of his forced fumbles resulted in a safety, while teammate Michael Hawthorne recovered the other for a touchdown.

 

CROWDED AT THE TOP

The Storm won its sixth straight this past weekend to claim the best record in the American Conference, which has shown in the turnstiles as Tampa Bay leads the league in average attendance per home game. Tampa Bay has had five of the seven highest attended games in the league this year, including the top two. The AFL has always been popular in the state of Florida, but it’s quite clear Floridians love some ArenaBall this year as ten of the top 13 attended games have been played in the Sunshine State – (five in Tampa, three in Orlando and two in Jacksonville.

 

TALE OF TWO STRETCHES

The 2010 story of the Milwaukee Iron can be spilt into the first six games and last six games played. In the first six games, the Iron held the best record in the AFL (5-1) and was at the top of nearly every offensive category. However, in its last six games Milwaukee has gone 2-4 with wins over two bad teams (Dallas and Cleveland). The Iron’s last three losses have all came at the hands of the other National Conference playoff leaders (Arizona, Chicago and Spokane). Luckily, for Iron fans, Milwaukee’s final four games are against teams with losing records, but three of those are on the road where the Iron has won just one game this year.  

 

Through his first eight games, Milwaukee QB Chris Greisen was without question the league’s best player. He led the league in all passing categories and had an impressive 55 passing TDs to just one interception. His team also had the best record in the league (7-1). Four games later and the Iron has dropped three of four games and Greisen has tossed seven interceptions. Even though Greisen has had a tough last four games, his eight interceptions on the year is the least of any starting QB with at least 2,000 passing yards. He continues to lead the AFL in passing yards and is tied for the most passing touchdowns. Both Greisen and Cleveland’s John Dutton should easily become the first 4,000-yard passers of the season this weekend.

 

WINDS OF CHANGE

Arizona WR Rod Windsor continues to climb the AFL’s single-season record book. After this weekend’s impressive 15-catch, 186-yard outburst, he’s now tied for the ninth-most receptions in single-season history (138). If he duplicates his 15-grab night this week against Spokane, Windsor will move all the way to third most in a season. He’s on pace to shatter the league marks in receptions and receiving yards. With 40 more receiving yards, Windsor will hit the 1,700-yard mark. It would be just the 18th time in league history a player has reached 1,700 yards. If he gets at least 140, Windsor will have the 11th season with 1,800 receiving yards.

 

AFL SINGLE-SEASON RECORDS

PLAYER

REC

PLAYER

REC YDS

1. S. Burley, UTAH (2007)

166

1. S. Burley, UTAH (2007)

2,129

2. M. Nash, LV (2004)

154

2. C. Shexnayder, AZ (1998)

1,982

3. D. Harrell, COL (2006)

152

3. S. Burley, UTAH (2006)

1,934

4. C. Jackson, GEO (2007)

145

4. D. Harrell, COL (2006)

1,920

5. A. Bailey, NO (2005)

144

5. C. Jackson, GEO (2007)

1,915

6. D. Lee, CMB (2008)

142

6. D. Lewis, AUS (2007)

1,903

7. C. Jackson, PHI (2008)

140

7. K. Swayne, NY (2001)

1,890

8. D. Lewis, AUS (2007)

139

8. M. Horacek, IOWA (2000)

1,880

9. R. Windsor, AZ (2010)

138

21. R. Windsor, AZ (2010)

1,660

NOTE: Windsor is on pace for AFL records for receptions (201) and receiving yards (2,415).

 

SO WHAT IS HE?

There’s one twist to Windsor’s 2010 season…is he an AFL rookie or not. Windsor was the most dominant player in the af2 and earned 2009 af2 Offensive Player of the Year and 2009 af2 Rookie of the Year. With Rio Grande Valley, he led the league in scoring (362 points), total touchdowns (59) and receptions (184). He was second in receiving yards (2,364).

 

In the Rattlers’ press releases, Windsor is called an AFL rookie, which normally he would be. However, according the AFL’s commissioner, Jerry Kurz, Windsor should be considered a second-year player because the Kurz said that the league would be combining the records of the AFL and af2; thus making most of Windsor’s 2009 stats new AFL records. To make matters worse, the league’s PR staff has yet to put out a record book with these combined numbers (or anything for that matter) and has said nothing at all in any releases about the combining of AFL and af2 stats.

 

At his current pace, Windsor will likley be named AFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2010. However, the more important question is if Windsor is eligible for Rookie of the Year (which he can claim right now based on his numbers – no one is better…PERIOD). If he is eligible, then there is no possible way that the AFL can combine the records and history of the two leagues into a single record book. How can you be the Rookie of the Year in the same league in back-to-back seasons? Also, if the records are combined how can you explain that the two biggest receiving seasons in league history were by the same player, who was named Rookie of the Year in both seasons?

 

IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY

Tampa Bay and Jacksonville swapped places in the playoffs because of the Storm’s win and the Sharks’ loss. The rest of the potential playoff teams remained in the same position as last week. Utah became the first team to be mathematically eliminated with its 68-32 loss at Iowa.

 

AMERICAN CONFERENCE

#4 Alabama (6-5) at #1 Tampa Bay (8-3; South Division leader)

#3 Jacksonville (7-4) at #2 Tulsa (7-5; Southwest Division leader)

 

NATIONAL CONFERENCE

#4 Milwaukee (7-5) at #1 Spokane (9-2; Western Division leader)

#3 Arizona (8-3) at #2 Chicago (9-3; Midwest Division leader)

 

Officially Eliminated: Utah (1-10)

 

Week 14 playoff scenarios

Chicago: clinches playoff berth with a win and a Iowa loss

Spokane: clinches playoff berth with a win and Iowa and Cleveland losses

Dallas: eliminated with a loss and an Orlando win

 

There are two fantastic Friday night contests in Week 14. The four teams with the best records face off this weekend when the Storm (#1 in the American Conference) hosts the Rush (#2 in the National Conference). Later that night, the Shock (#1 in the National Conference) hosts the Rattlers (#3 in the National Conference).

 

OFF THE NET

The league’s inept attempt of producing a stats program from nothing with the dynamic duo of DakStats and Point Streak continues to have numerous issues. I’ve backed off a bit on my criticism of this program as many changes have been implemented for the better, but there’s plenty of problems and bugs with this software. One of the biggest issues that apparently still hasn’t been addressed is the net recovery. This happens a lot in this league, but this stats program doesn’t input it properly. In the Spokane-Milwaukee game, there was a net recovery for a touchdown and this is the exact wordage that was in the newspaper short box that was faxed/emailed to the media (it was also in the game report’s scoring summary):

 

ONSIDE Kickoff by Taylor Rowan from SHOC 0 for 50 yards returned by Emery Sammons Not an actual onside kick, but recovered by SPK in end zone. 50 yds TOUCHDOWN. 0 yds.

 

I know it was a net recovery for a touchdown, but what is that poor schlep at the news desk going to put in the newspaper? Come on AFL, get your stuff together. I hope you realize this stats software is an EMBARRASSMENT to you and that you just need to suck it up and go back to StatCrew next year. After all, you already have the previous 32 years of Arena Football history (22 AFL, 10 af2) completed using StatCrew. I have zero confidence that the math-challenged folks over at DakStats/Point Streak can convert those 32 years with this year for a definitive history of the league. There are so many game books that still haven’t even been corrected yet from this season and I feel that they will never get fixed until the league gets a decent PR staff in the league offices.

 

WHAT THE #^@%?

Week after week, the AFL has put out a “Players of the Week” press release just irks me. And it’s not how the league misses the boat more times than not on who should get each of the six awards (this week was one of the worst). It’s the fact that whoever is writing these releases apparently knows nothing about this great sport or how to properly promote it (or how to write an effective press release for that matter).

 

Now Lord knows I make some typos and other errors in my lengthy columns and normally I wouldn’t rant on about these weekly releases. However, I saw that in an official AFL press release that Iowa QB Ryan Vena “accounted for an incredible 245 yards,” it floored me. If 245 is considered incredible, then Tampa Bay QB Brett Dietz’s 342 must be astronomical. The only reason to mention Vena was his great completion percentage (90.9%) after completing 20-of-22 and not tossing an interception, which he is the best in the league at doing (AFL-leading 17 picks).

 

That wasn’t the only issue with this release. The AFL claimed that Tampa Bay’s Hank Edwards had a fumble recovery when he, in fact, did not. I know the stats software sucks, but it’s pretty darn easy to see that Edwards had no defensive numbers. Also, the league called the Storm’s arena “Forum Arena.” Nope, it’s actually called the St. Pete Times Forum and if you read the Tampa Tribune, they call it the Times Forum.

 

Wait there’s more. Apparently, Chicago’s Robert Boss has become the league’s first “offensive full back.” First, a fullback is an offensive player and it’s one word not two. Second, the AFL originally had Boss as the league’s Offensive Player of the Week before it changed its mind and let him share the Ironman of the Week award with Spokane’s Antwan Marsh. The league’s release doesn’t even mention that Boss had a rushing touchdown in the contest to go along with his two receiving scores. There’s nothing in the release that shows what Boss did on defense or special teams to garner even consideration for the Ironman award.

 

Is there more? You bet there is! In the opening paragraph, the league gives props to four of the six corporate partners that present awards, but I guess NiFTy and Spalding aren’t as important as the other four. Also, at the end of the release, there’s a list the candidates that didn’t earn the Ironman, Offensive Player or Defensive Player awards. In the league haste to switch Boss to Ironman, add Marsh and Edwards to Offensive Player; the AFL forgot to take off Marsh and Edwards as candidates. How in the heck does Tampa Bay’s Jermaine Smith not get nominated for Ironman or Defensive Player of the Week after posting three sacks and two forced fumbles?

 

HEY NFL NETWORK, IT’S TAMPA BAY NOT TAMPA

In all the promos for the Week 13 BattleWings-Storm game, NFL Network promoted the game as Bossier-Shreveport at Tampa. Yes, the city is Tampa, but the team name is Tampa Bay. By this logic, I guess would it be okay to say Green instead of Green Bay or Golden instead of Golden State.

 

FLEX IT

The AFL has announced that the Week 18 Spokane-Jacksonville game will be televised on NFL Network. Originally, the Tulsa-Oklahoma City game was supposed to on NFL Network, but as mentioned in a previous Breaking it Down, this game was probably going to be the only one left on the schedule that the league would flex.

 

GOLDEN GOODY

Former ArenaFan.com writer Tom Goodhines has been named the general manager of the revamped Philadelphia Soul that kicks off in 2011. Goodhines wrote 29 articles for this site before officially joining the AFL’s public relations staff the following season. When Goodhines left the AFL to take care of football operations and communications for the expansion Utah Blaze, the league’s PR began its downard spiral to the abyss that we have this year. Oh, how I miss you this year Tom. Philly is lucky to have you.

 

WEEK TWELVE’S STATS LEADERS 

100-YARD RECEIVERS

PLAYER, TEAM

RECEIVING YARDS

RECEPTIONS

TOUCHDOWNS

Hank Edwards, TB

209

10

3

Rod Windsor, AZ

186

15

3

Chris Johnson, CLE

156

8

1

Xavier Lee, OKC

143

9

1

Matt Fields, DAL

123

9

3

Tyrone Timmons, TB

106

9

5

Jeff Hughley, TUL

101

9

2

 

300-YARD PASSERS

PLAYER, TEAM

PASSING YARDS

PASS TDs

INTERCEPTIONS

John Dutton, CLE

345

6

2

Brett Dietz, TB

342

8

0

Tommy Grady, OKC

339

4

2

  

BREAKING IT DOWN MVP OF THE WEEK: Ryan Vena, Iowa QB

The plump passer completed 90.9% of his passes (20-of-22) for 245 yards with a season-high seven passing TD and no interceptions for a passer rating of 152.7. He also ran three times for 38 yards and a touchdown. His 90.9 completion percentage ranks as the highest this year by any QB with at least 20 passing attempts. On the year, Vena leads all QBs in rushes (59), rushing yards (232) and rushing TDs (17). He has posted four games with at least 30 yards on the ground and has run for a score in nine of 11 contests. Vena’s 17 ground scores thus far are tied for the 15th most in league history and are the third most ever by a quarterback.

 

2010 BREAKING IT DOWN MVP OF THE WEEK

WEEK

PLAYER, TEAM

STAT NOTE

1

Chris Greisen, Milwaukee QB

83 comp. pct, 327 pass yds, 9 TD, 0 INT

2

PJ Berry, Bossier-Shreveport WR/KR

357 all-purpose yards, 201 rec yds, 7 total TD

3

Kyle Rowley, Spokane QB

75.7 comp. pct, 316 pass yards, 8 TD, 1 INT, 1 rush TD

4

Rod Windsor, Arizona WR

16 receptions, 230 rec. yards 6 rec TD, 2 rush TD

5

Tanner Varner, Iowa DB

15.0 tackles, 2 INT, 2 PBU, 1 TD

6

Tommy Grady, Oklahoma City QB

81 comp. pct, 430 pass yards, 10 TD, 1 INT

7

Ben Nelson, Cleveland WR

13 receptions, 202 yards, 6 TD

8

Nick Hill, Orlando QB

314 yards, 5 pass TD, 1 INT, 21 rushing yards, 3 rush TD

9

Caesar Rayford, Utah lineman

3 defensive TD (2 INT, 1 fumble), 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 FF

10

Rod Windsor, Arizona WR

16 rec, 162 yards, 3 rec TD, 2 rush TD, GW 2pt conv.

11

Tiger Jones, Milwaukee WR

11 rec. 138 yards, 5 TD

12

Nick Davila, Arizona QB

77 comp pct, 319 yards, 9 TD, 0 INT

13

Ryan Vena, Iowa QB

90.9% (20/22), 245 yards, 7 TD, 0 INT, 38 rush yds (1 TD)

 

 


 
Andy Lopusnak is an 11-year AFL front office veteran, spending time with the Tampa Bay Storm, San Diego Riptide and Grand Rapids Rampage. He works as a statistician for NFL and college sports for CBS Sports and is a freelance photographer. Lopusnak received two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of South Florida and has been a fan of ArenaBall since its inception.
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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