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Defense Wins Championships

Scott Miller
Saturday June 11, 2005

The Arena Football League is known for offense. Fans come for the high-scoring "Indoor War." However, members of both the Colorado Crush and the Georgia Force predicted defense, as in other professional sports championships, would be a determining factor during their game in Las Vegas. They will meet at the Thomas & Mack Center for ArenaBowl XIX.

The championship game will be an offensive battle. Head Coach of the Colorado Crush, Mike Dailey, acknowledged that "This is a quarterback league. You cannot get too far away from what your quarterback does for you." However, his plan to win is to get after the other teams quarterback.

Colorado quarterback, John Dutton, while discussing his plans for the offense of the game predicted "…Defense is definitely going to be the difference in this game. Whoever gets the most turnovers will come out on top."

Crush defensive specialist, Rashad Floyd, discussed the ascent of defense in the playoffs. "I think people are starting to understand how important defense is. " When asked how to assess the defense in a league where stops are unusual he countered that the Crush had stopped Chicago three times in a row at the start of the game and San Jose three or four times in this season’s playoffs. He then offered these observations, "Those kinds of things turn games around and cause momentum. Things to watch for if the defense is doing well or not: do they stop big plays? If you see the offense on the field for a long time…. the more they (the offense) are having to work (for a big play)." Floyd feels the big plays are important because it actually harder to score in arena football with a play from the 5-yard or goal line than with a big play.

While Floyd acknowledged that defensive coordinators were bringing new strategies to improve defense in the league, he felt the main reason was better players. "Offensive minded players have been coming to this league for years. Now defensive players, true corners and true linebackers, are coming in this league. "

Georgia Force Head Coach, Doug Plank, summed up the ArenaBowl this way. ""I think the team that plays the best defense -- and I am not trying to over simplify this -- is going to be the ones (sic) that win this game. I have had the benefit of playing (as defensive coordinator of the Arizona Rattlers) in the last three ArenaBowls and unfortunately we lost all three of those games, but ultimately it has been the defense and not the offense that made the difference in those games." Coach Plank continued that their focus this week had been on stops and turnovers. "There is one dramatic statistic when you look at teams that progress in the playoffs: their ability to create turnovers."

ArenaBowl XIX kicks off at 3 PM EDT on June 11th. In all respects the two teams are closely matched on paper. The Las Vegas casino’s opened the betting with Georgia a three point favorite. If Colorado defeats Georgia on Sunday, John Dutton can become the first starting quarterback to record ArenaBowl victories with two different teams. Dutton became the starter for the San Jose SaberCats late in the 2002 season, replacing the injured Mark Grieb.

Colorado reports no players injured.

Georgia has reported WR/DB Donnie Caldwell (Ankle), OL/DL Earnest Grant (R Calf), WR/DB Justin Taplin (R Calf), WR/DB Nick Ward (Knee) and FB/LB Jermaine Younger as doubtful and DS Nate Coggins (Back), OL/DL Marcus Keys (Ankle) and OL/DL Gillis Wilson (Ankle) as probable.

Scott Miller is a professional computer geek and talk show host in Las Vegas. His show is streamed live from on Fridays at 8PM. Archives of his show, The Usual Suspects can be found at his website.
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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