Have the Las Vegas Outlaws Already Set Themselves Up For ArenaBowl?
The Las Vegas Outlaws, The newest member of the AFL, have yet to even hit the practice field, but have they already set themselves up as a dark horse to be ArenaBowl winners this year?
Let's start from the top. Vince Neil of the band Motley Crue, the owner of the Outlaws, brought in Aaron Garcia as the first head coach of the franchise. Garcia, over a 20 year AFL career, had a 63.7% completion rate with 62,159 passing yards. He also threw for 1,336 touchdowns to only 229 interceptions. Over a 20 year career, he averaged 66.8 TDs per season to only 11.45 INTs, a ratio of 5.83. Those are comparable to the stats of Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers (his ratio is 3.83 over just 100 games).
I think it would be safe to assume that Garcia will have a good idea of what kind of offense he wants and will know that offense inside out. It should be noted, that Garcia was the de facto offensive coordinator midway through the season last year with the Los Angeles KISS, but due to the entire team almost going down with injury, I don't think that is a good benchmark for his OC or head coaching abilities.
Now to the players that the Outlaws have signed so far.
Let's start with the signing of QB JJ Raterink on October 14.
Raterink is a five-year veteran of the league, and his career stats are 61.8 % completion rate with 356 TDs to 69 INTS, a ratio of 5.16. If we do his average season stats, he is averaging 71.2 TDs a season to 13.8 INTs. As of this moment, he will be the Outlaws starting QB.
It should also be noted that in 2012, Raterink broke the Iowa Barnstormers's (now with the IFL) for passing yards (4,870) and passing TDs (93) in a season. The TD record was previously held by Kurt Warner and JJ's current coach, Garcia.
The fourth and final piece of the puzzle? The Outlaws signing of former KISS WR Donovan Morgan to the roster.
Morgan, who is in his 7th season in the league, was Raterink's and Garcia's former teammate on the KISS last year.
Morgan's career numbers include 9,182 receiving yards on 661 receptions, an average of 13.8 yards a catch. He also has 205 TDs in his career. Playing with his regular season stats, Morgan averages 1,530.3 yards per season on 110.1 catches with 34.1 TDs. Basically he's scoring a TD, once every 3 catches.
So, the Outlaws have everyone in place. They have a coach in Garcia that has 20 years experience in this league, and is the #3 player of all time. They have Raterink, and they have his favorite target from last season, Morgan.
Will having these key three pay off in the long run? Will Garcia's first year as a coach go in his direction? It's too early to tell. But so far, the Outlaws have set themselves up for a great year. They will take the San Antonio Talons spot in the National League, so the Outlaws could only have to win six games or so to make the playoffs in 2015.
There's entirely too many things not settled at this point to know for sure if the Outlaws will make it to the ArenaBowl in their inaugural season. But, if they can make the playoffs anything can happen.
Daniel is 20 years old. He has three passions in life: Family, film making, and last but not least sports. He was born bleeding burgundy and gold (Go Skins!), but his new-found love is Arena Football. His ultimate dream is to win a Best Picture Oscar one day (with one of his eight screenplays that he has written), but getting to play on an Arena or NFL team would be a close second.