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Off its course
The struggles of the Storm, 1-6 for the first time in franchise history.
By DAVID MURPHY
Published April 19, 2007
After arriving home from Orlando on Saturday night, Tim Marcum's message to his team was simple: leave. Fresh off a 61-37 thrashing that dropped the Storm to 1-6 for the first time in franchise history, the coach wanted his players to get out of town and forget about football during the bye week. This certainly isn't the Storm of 2003, Marcum said, harkening back to the team's last ArenaBowl title. In what ways? Let us count.
Four reasons the Storm is 1-6
Against Orlando on Saturday, the Storm gift-wrapped the Predators 20 points (three defensive touchdowns, one safety). In a last-minute loss to New York, the Storm turned the ball over on its final three possessions. If it's quantification you desire, try this on for size: The Storm enters the bye week 14th out of 19 teams in turnover margin, and the five teams ranked below it have a combined record of 9-23.
Yes, quarterback Stoney Case may be lost for the season with a separated shoulder, but his is just one of a number of injuries that have plagued the Storm. The most critical are on the offensive line, where the team has used seven combinations in seven games. Week 1 starters Dwayne Morgan and Tom Kaleita have spent time on injured reserve, and the man brought in to help, Geir Gudmundsen, is currently there. The Storm's opening day fullback, Rodney Filer (broken ankle), is also out for the season.
A lack of speed
With a bruising rushing attack (fifth in the league in yards) and big-bodied, possession receivers in Lawrence Samuels and Terrill Shaw, the Storm seems built more for the NFL game than the Arena Football League . T.T. Toliver (sixth in the league in all-purpose yards) brings a little speed to the offense, but, by and large, the unit looks a step slower than most of those it has faced.
Yes, Arena League defensive backs are on an island, but that island isn't supposed to be engulfed by a tsunami on a weekly basis. Rookie Khalid Naziruddin has brought some much-needed physicality to the position, while veteran Jeroid Johnson is tied for sixth with four interceptions, but the Storm has struggled mightily at its third defensive back.
True, the Storm's 10 interceptions are tied for third-best in the league. But the 45 passing touchdowns it has allowed is tied for second-worst.
Three reasons to be optimistic
The AFL's all-inclusive playoff policy
We don't want to call the playoffs easy to get into, but last year, the Buccaneers almost qualified. Only three of the National Conference's nine teams won't get in. And right now, five teams have three or fewer wins.
Only three of the Storm's final nine opponents have winning records. Included are two games against Austin (2-5) and a game against Arizona (1-6). Then again, one of the Storm's losses is to New York (1-5).
It can't get any worse
Uh, it can't ... right?
David Murphy can be reached at blogs.tampabay.com/storm or (352) 848-1407.