The Jacksonville Sharks (3-3) are on their way to turning their season around after starting the first four weeks of the National Arena League (NAL) season 1-3. One obstacle lies in the way of the Sharks for exceeding that .500 mark. That would be their game against the Maine Mammoths in Week Seven on May 19.
This could be the turning point for the Jacksonville Sharks
The Jacksonville Sharks haven’t earned a victory from any winning team so far this season, which concerns fans and spectators all around the sport of arena football. How good are the Sharks this season after their dominant 2017 season, where they went 11-1?
The only current winning team that the Sharks have defeated this season is the Carolina Cobras, who are now 4-2, but were 0-1 after their loss to the Sharks in Week One. The Sharks also defeated the Maine Mammoths, who were 1-3 after their loss to the Sharks. Finally, the Sharks defeated the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks last week, who are now 0-5 this season.
When is the Sharks next game against a winning team and will they finally win that game or will they rely on beating the Steelhawks and Mammoths to stay in the playoff picture?
The next Sharks game against a winning team is next Saturday, when they travel up to Worcester, Massachusetts to take on the Massachusetts Pirates, who are on fire this season with a 5-1 record. The last time these two teams faced each other, the Sharks were lining up to kick the game-winning field goal, but the Pirates had other plans and returned it for a touchdown as the clock struck triple zeroes.
What about the game against the Columbus Lions? The Sharks were in a close game against the Lions until the fourth quarter when the Lions held onto the ball for over half of the quarter. The game ended up in a Jacksonville loss by 10 points.
Improvements and Changes
A High-Powered Offensive Unit
There is one thing that the Sharks have changed since those losses, and that is the roster. The addition of Quarterback Adrian McPherson brings a lot of potential to the table, as he has a quarterback rating of just over 102. McPherson has thrown for 476 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions in a matter of three games. That is an average of 158.67 yards per game, two touchdowns per game, and one interception per game.
Some more key additions to this Jacksonville Sharks team takes place at the Wide Receiver position, as they have added receivers Tom Gilson and Kendall Thompkins. Gilson has 14 receptions for 149 yards and three touchdowns in a span of three games. That is an average of 4.67 catches per game, 49.67 yards per game, and one touchdown per game. Thompkins has also played a big role in the Sharks recent success, playing in two games and recording seven catches for 82 yards and one touchdown. That is an average of 3.5 catches per game, 41 yards per game, and 0.5 touchdowns per game.
To add onto the Sharks improvements, their offensive line has changed a whole lot, not with new guys, but with how they play. Prior to Week Five, the line would allow many hits on the quarterback, allowed sacks, and didn’t open up any holes for a running game to get going. In Week Five, that all has changed, especially with rushing. In Weeks Five and Six, Fullback Derrick Ross has rushed 20 times for 63 yards and five touchdowns. Putting those numbers together, that is 10 rushes per game for 31.5 yards per game and 2.5 touchdowns per game. In Weeks One through Four, Ross only rushed for 68 yards on 25 attempts and scored four touchdowns. That’s an average of 6.25 carries per game, 17 yards per game, and one touchdown per game. Ross and the Offensive Linemen have all stepped up their game to pad some stats.
An Unstoppable Defense
Over on the defensive side of things, the Sharks have made a lot of changes all over. Many defensive backs are new, there is a new defensive lineman that rotates with the other defensive lineman and could be used as a Mac Linebacker to power through the opposing offensive line. Defensive Lineman Damien Jacobs had a streak going with continuous games with a turnover while active. That streak ended last week against the Steelhawks. To make up not forcing a turnover, Jacobs forced a safety.
Defensive Lineman Silverberry Mouhon has made an immediate impact on the defense, getting to the quarterback for 2.5 sacks and a fumble recovery returned for a 13 yard touchdown last week.
Defensive Back Dallas Jackson has an active streak of one interception in each of the last three games.
The Big Question
All of the changes and improvements look to help the team out a lot. Are they going to be able to take down the Carolina Cobras, Massachusetts Pirates, or the Columbus Lions?
With all of the improvement to the team from the first few weeks, the Sharks are looking to be on pace to be a top team in the league. Offensively, they are moving the ball. Defensively, they are stopping or at least slowing down the offense. With this success happening at the same time in the same game, the Sharks will be tough to beat. The season so far consists of a really good offense or a really good defense. There hasn’t quite been both, but that is all expected to change.