Rush "20" Continue to Hold Strong
In any team sport, it takes the full commitment of each player on the roster to help make the team successful and accomplish its goals. From practicing hard each day to teaching each other new things to get better, each individual on the team makes a difference.
Per Arena Football League rules, each team is allowed a maximum of 24 players on its active roster. On game days, each team can have 20 active players with four being listed as inactive.
Not the Chicago Rush. They are the exception to the rule!
In what has been a debacle of a season thus far from an ownership (and league) standpoint for the organization, the players on the Rush roster have helped support each other to avoid all of the obstacles put in their way and then some to still win games.
Call them the Rush 20!
Since the league resumed ownership of the organization back in early May, the team has not been allowed to add another player that was not already on the roster, unless they fall below the 20 active player limit due to injuries.
Since the game on May 4th against Philadelphia, the approximate timeframe of when the team was taken back over by the league, the Rush have only made 24 roster transactions (according to Arenafootball.com the transaction total for the league during that time span is 636). Take away the trade with Cleveland (accounting for four transactions), three suspensions (players that left the team), and one other league exempt, the Rush have only made 16 roster moves. To break it down even further, there have only been four transactions since June 1st. This has made practices and preparation much more difficult for the players on the roster and the coaching staff.
“I can only do what the league is allowing me to do,” said Rush head coach Bob McMillen. “We’ve just got to do the best that we can. Give every player in that locker room credit for doing it because we are short on numbers, but it is the way that the rules are written for us right now and we have to abide by them.”
In the team’s 68 – 32 victory over the Cleveland Gladiators on Saturday night, many players had to fill different shoes.
Luke Drone was given the starting quarterback assignment for the second time this season after Carson Coffman had a rough outing the previous week against the Philadelphia Soul. As has been the case all season long, McMillen is not devoting himself to just one quarterback.
“Carson has gotten us where we are right now, but I just thought that he had struggled the past two games,” stated McMillen. “The way that he performed in the first half of the Philadelphia game, he struggled ridiculously. Luke hadn’t played much better but did not get many reps in practice. We decided to give Luke most of the reps (in practice) this week. We were not 100% sold until tonight. It was a game day decision. Next week, we will see who practices better and figure it out that way.”
After defensive backs Vic Hall (hand) and Josh Pleasant (foot)went out with injuries, jack linebacker Kelvin Morris moved over and played the DB position while wide receiver Jared Jenkins came in to play defense in Morris’s jack linebacker position.
Defensive back Jorrick Calvin also spent some time on offense at wide receiver. He made the most of his opportunity to play on the other side of the ball picking up one reception for 45 yards that he took all the way for a touchdown.
“It is not just one guy on this team,” said McMillen. “Everybody is stepping up knowing that we are in the position that we are in right now. “
After having a 28 – 20 lead at halftime, the Rush started the second half by scoring 21 unanswered points sparked by their special teams.
Wide receiver and kick returner Reggie Gray started the half with a 54 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Kicker Jose Martinez hit the iron on the ensuing kickoff that was recovered by the Rush. Drone would score moments later on a one yard run. Martinez would continue his spectacular third quarter with a perfect onside kick that was recovered by the Rush. The ensuing drive would finish with a 20 yard touchdown pass from Drone to wide receiver Taurus Johnson.
“This was a do or die game for us,” said McMillen. “(Martinez) hates to kick in this building, but he came up big on those kickoffs. We are trying to steal a possession and put points up on the board. We were trying to put this game away early.”
The Rush are trying to stay atop of the Central Division and make some noise in the playoffs. They understand it will take a complete team effort to get it done.
“Everyone knows what it takes to get it done,” said mack linebacker Tyus Jackson. “We’re gonna go out there and make it work.”
It is the understanding, the commitment, and the motivation of his team that are helping coach McMillen through the end of this season.
“I don’t need to (motivate). The players are doing it themselves,” he said. “We have good leadership and we have good character guys. They know what is at stake and they know that we want to be in the playoffs.”
After a season that to this point has seen ownership issues, tiffs with the league office, difficulties with its home arena, playing all of its games basically on the road, and being pushed to the limit by the league rules, these players have a motivation to win the Arenabowl and stick it to the rest of the league
As jack lineback Kelvin Morris stated, “(We) want this one so bad.”
Hall says that he will be okay and will be able to play next weekend against Arizona.
Josh Pleasant’s status for next week was uncertain after the game. Coach McMillen hopes that the league will allow him to pick up another player for next week.
Reggie Gray posted his sixth straight game with multiple touchdown receptions.
The line play for the Rush has been phenomenal. No matter who has been behind center, the offensive line has only given up five sacks over the past nine games. On the opposite end, the defensive line is putting pressure on its opposition recording 15 sacks in the same nine game stretch.