The Jacksonville Sharks lost their home opener on Saturday, April 14, 2018 to the Massachusetts Pirates 56-63. The score brings the Sharks down to a 1-1 record and the Pirates to an unbeaten 2-0 record. What exactly happened in Jacksonville and what has changed since last year?
Jacksonville Sharks Current Situation
First, the Sharks lost Quarterback Tommy Grady, Offensive Linemen Cornelius Lewis and AJ Harmon, and many receivers that were all on the team last year.
Since then, the Sharks have struggled at each of those positions. The quarterback situation could be a huge mess, especially if Patrick McCain’s MRI comes back a negative result. That would leave Jacksonville to their backup Ryan Walker. Walker was signed just two days before their loss. If McCain doesn’t play next week against the Columbus Lions, then there might be an issue with how Walker plays. Walker isn’t necessarily a bad quarterback, but he lacks knowledge of the playbook and one week will not fix that issue. It will take more time and practice to learn the receivers and the plays in the playbook.
Let’s take a look at Grady and possibly why he left. Grady was entering his fourth season with the Sharks, but backed out just five days before the first game started, which left Jacksonville in a panic. Should the fans of Jacksonville really blame him for leaving? Last year, he tore a ligament in his foot/ankle, which ended his season. All of that happened with the best offensive line in the league. This year, the blocking has been significantly worse, which is why McCain got injured in this game. If Grady got hurt with the best line last year, how could he possibly stay healthy with a line that isn’t all that great? McCain got hurt, Fullback Derrick Ross got hurt in Week One against the Carolina Cobras. The Sharks backup quarterback in the second game was being rushed like crazy, and so was McCain before he got hurt.
The receivers are good this year, but it is a lot of one-receiver shows. In Week One at the Carolina Cobras, it was Montario Hunter who got a lot of the catches and touchdowns. Against the Massachusetts Pirates, it was mostly Antonio Vaughan who saw the passes and touchdowns. The Sharks aren’t equally distributing the ball when it comes to the pass game. Either one receiver gets the ball the whole game or there is no passing game at all. That type of playing is what will make teams lose. Keeping the defense concerned will also result in better plays. If there’s one receiver getting all the targets, then the defense will do what they can to shut that receiver down. But if there’s three or four different receivers getting equal amounts of catches, the defense can’t double team those three or four receivers, making them wonder where the ball is going.
Overall, it is going to be a long season for the Sharks if they can’t figure something out with the Offensive Line. The quarterbacks don’t have enough time to throw except for quick three or four yard passes that sometimes don’t work.
Could this Offensive Line issue continue this season and possibly knock the Sharks out of the playoffs? We would love to see your input on what is happening to Jacksonville.