Acquisition of Brown has Morris "Jacked" Up
A few days before the Chicago Rush took on the Kansas City Command last weekend, they made a move that further changes the dynamic of their defense.
The team made a trade with the Orlando Predators to obtain mac linebacker Nekos Brown. In the trade, the Rush gave up back-up quarterback Justin Roper, who has never taken a snap in Arena Football, and defensive back and kick returner Kelvin Rodgers.
This was a no-brainer for the Rush. What they get in this deal is two-fold.
First, they get one of the better mac linebackers in the league in Brown, who played for the Tulsa Talons last season and recorded 23 tackles, six assists, four forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. He led the Talons with 9.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 16 games played. In the off-season, he decided to sign with the Orlando Predators.
Brown had played in two games this season for the Predators, collecting four tackles, 3.5 of those coming against the Rush in week three.
"Before the season started, it was between here and Orlando," said Brown. "I wanted to go to Disney World. The kids had never been to Disney World."
Now that the novelty of Mickey Mouse and the Magic Kingdom has worn off, Brown is excited to be in Chicago and have the opportunity to play for the Rush.
"I'm very excited," he said. "The way that they do things (in Chicago) is well suited to the way that I play. We are going to get better every week and we just have to keep winning." Brown continued; "Chicago tried to trade for me twice last year when I was in Tulsa, but Tulsa would not let me go. It is a good system (with the Rush) and it feels good knowing that coach believes in me and my skill-set."
"Nekos is a huge addition for us. He is a playmaker and one of the top mac linebackers in the league," said Rush head coach Bob McMillen. "He makes an already solid group up front better. He is a great fit and we couldn't be more excited to have him here."
Second, and maybe more important, is the enthusiasm of current Rush jack linebacker Kelvin Morris.
Putting a quality mac linebacker next to one of the best jack linebackers in the league has Morris "jacked" up about the potential for him personally and the Rush defense as a whole.
"It's got me excited with all of the (talented) guys that we have here this year," said Morris. "I can't wait to develop everything and for him to get to really know the system. Having a guy like that is only going to make me better. Now that I know the quarterback can't hold the ball as much because Nekos is (adding an additional pass rush), it will allow me to make more plays."
Morris had been calling the teams' plays on the defensive line, a task typically handled by the mac linebacker in Arena Football. Now that Brown is aboard and capable of handling the play calling duties, Morris feels that a little pressure has been taken off of him and he can now concentrate more on his position.
Positives were seen in the game on Saturday night as the Rush defeated the Command 69-40 at Allstate Arena.
"He was calling plays before me," Morris said. "I knew that he was on top of his game. I was looking a little bit to see what was going on in the secondary to see what I had to do. It made me feel good knowing that he knows his stuff. And that's big when you've got a guy that knows his stuff. It takes a lot of pressure off of me having to call plays up front."
The result, Morris intercepted a Matt Gutierrez pass with one hand in the second quarter and was able to get in passing lanes to make things more difficult for the Kansas City quarterback.
Not only is Morris excited about having Brown in the fold in Chicago, the feeling is definitely mutual.
"I couldn't be happier (playing next to Kelvin)," said Brown. "He is a big help. There are some things that I still need to get down with the system. He is a vet and I would say the best jack linebacker in the league. It is great to work next to him now and we are only going to get better."
Brown feels that being in Chicago will help to improve his overall game and showcase his playing and leadership abilities, something that will help him to continue his football career and hopefully move up to the next level.
"There is a lot more game planning here than what I am used to in Arena (Football)," Brown stated. "It is preparation that is similar to the outdoor game. When you get to the game, it is all on you. You know the tendencies and everything else like clockwork. It makes it easy."
He continued, "I have a lot of years ahead of me and there are a couple of other leagues coming out. The UFL is supposed to come back and the USFL is supposed to come back next year. I just want to keep performing. Right now, Chicago is a better fir for my skill-set."
With this move, the Chicago Rush have further solidified what is almost always a top defense in the AFL. Currently, they rank third in the league in scoring defense after leading the league last season and are tied for fourth in turnover margin at +1.25 per game. With the addition of Brown, the Rush plan on being in the top spot once again.
Matt Gutierrez started the game at quarterback for the Command after only a few days of practice with the team. Earlier in the week, the Command reassigned both of their quarterbacks, Nate Davis and Steven Gachette, that were on their roster. Head coach Danton Barto felt the team needed a change this early in the season. Gutierrez looked good in his first outing completing 23 of 39 pass attempts for 258 yards and five touchdowns. He did throw two interceptions.
Rush defensive back Vic Hall finally notched his first interception of the season. This was the first regular season interception for Hall since week 15 of last season. Last year, Hall was ranked second in the league in interceptions with 15 on the season.
With the trade of Rodgers to Orlando, defensive back Semaj Moody was added to the roster and started for the Rush. Moody came close to having two interceptions, but dropped both of them. He played well registering six tackles and two passes broken up.
Not too happy was Command wide receiver Syvelle Newton. Since leaving the Rush after 2010, he is 0-2 in his returns to Allstate Arena.
Newly acquired back-up quarterback Luke Drone saw some action in the game and was promising in his debut. He completed five of seven passes for 64 yards and two scores.