Tampa Bay Storm Midseason Review: Playoffs! And more
Nearly a year ago to the day, the Tampa Bay Storm fell to 1-9 and were in the midst of their second losing streak of six games or more in 2016. Of course, the team went on to finish the regular season 2-14 with a blowout “playoff” (all teams qualified) loss to the Philadelphia Soul. The offseason brought plenty of coaching changes and roster maneuvering, and here we are at the mid-point of the 2017 season.
The Storm, on their longest winning streak since 2010, are 7-1 and have already clinched a playoff spot for the 24th time in franchise history.
“You take it whenever you get it”, says head coach Ron James after the teams sixth straight win on Saturday over the Washington Valor. “You gotta play the thing through. It’s really about playing your best football at the end of the season and we’re starting to get to the end. So six games left to play, we gotta start turning the page and getting a little bit better and being more efficient than we were tonight.”
Off to their best start since 2001 and entering a showdown with the undefeated Philadelphia Soul this Saturday night, the Storm can clinch a home playoff game with a win and a Baltimore Brigade loss. The Storm last hosted a playoff game in 2010, on their away to an ArenaBowl XXIII appearance.
While many things have improved for Tampa Bay under new head Ron James, beating the Soul is not one of them. The Storm are 5-13 all-time against the Soul and 1-8 on the road in Philadelphia but did hang tough in Week 2, losing 56-52 at Amalie Arena.
Yes, this is a five-team league. And yes, three of the six wins on this Storm streak have come against the Valor. But when was the last time that so much was on the line for the Storm entering a game? And more importantly, when was the last time you felt this confident in them?
Here are a couple more interesting facts and quirks about this Tampa Bay Storm team as we head into the second half of 2017:
- Now with 24, the Tampa Bay Storm/Pittsburgh Gladiators franchise passes Orlando for the most playoff appearances in Arena Football League history
- In last week’s victory over the Valor, WR Joe Hills moved into 14th place all-time in career receiving touchdowns. The Storm’s lethal WR now has a touchdown reception in 76 consecutive games, two shy of the record.
- Also in Saturday’s win over Washington, the Storm recorded a safety. It was the first safety in a game since July 20th, 2013.
- With an announced attendance of 9,856 at Amalie Arena last week, the Gladiators/Storm franchise became the first in AFL history to reach 3,000,000 fans in attendance for all home games.
- Tampa Bay has trailed in four games this season by double digits, including last Saturday. The Storm are now 3-1 in those games. For comparison, the Storm lost 11 games, of 17, by double digits last season.