Two of the worst teams in the National Arena League (NAL) are ready to kick off Week 3 of the NAL season.
The Massachusetts Pirates (0-2) host the Orlando Predators (1-1), who had the worst game in the NAL this season. What can they do to bounce back? What must be done for the Pirates to seal their first victory of the season?
NAL: Bad vs. Worst; Only One Wins
Who: Orlando Predators @ Massachusetts Pirates
When: Saturday, April 27 at 7:00 pm (E.T.)
Where: DCU Center, Worcester, Massachusetts
The worst-ranked team in the league hosts a struggling 1-1 team this week. The Massachusetts Pirates look to get their first win of the season while the Orlando Predators need to dig themselves out of a hole after a Week Two embarrassment.
Pirates Sketchy Offense
2018 NAL MVP, Sean Brackett enters Week Three with a huge monkey on his back, as the Pirates have been held to a franchise low of 22 points in their first two weeks, having an 0-2 record, and throwing 32-of-68 for 288 yards, five touchdowns, and four interceptions. Those aren’t exactly MVP numbers, so what is going on with this offense?
First off, the Pirates lost their top receiver, Bones Bagaunte, to the Columbus Lions. Bagaunte shredded the league last season with 54 receptions for 524 yards and an impressive 14 touchdowns. Lavon Pearson, Mardy Gilyard, and Devonn Brown all have returned from last season, and were the top three receivers for the Pirates last year, but they aren’t seeing nearly the numbers they are used to. There is only one group of people to blame for this: The Offensive Line. Before getting into how bad the Pirates O-Line has been so far this season, we must remember that O-Linemen Cornelius Lewis and Fred Ruff have left for the Arena Football League (AFL). All of this happened well before the season kicked off, so the team knew what they needed to do and who to get for this season, but have still failed to do so.
Not only is the Pirates O-Line playing sub-par, they have starting lineman Mitch Bell suspended during this game for multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on him against the Carolina Cobras last week. With a struggling line and a suspension, this has “DANGER” written all over it. Don’t be surprised if the Pirates give up the game simply because Brackett doesn’t have enough time to throw the ball.
Allowing 54 and 50 points respectively is not necessarily a bad thing in arena football. That is typically an average score for most arena leagues. This means that the Pirates defense is doing what they need to do in order to give their offense some sort of chance. They have forced only two turnovers, which is their main area of concern. Their defensive line hasn’t touched the quarterback a single time this season, which is another area of concern.
If the Pirates don’t want to be looked at as a team like the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, Corpus Christi Rage, or even Dayton Wolfpack, they have to get their stuff together, and it all starts now, when it should’ve started two weeks ago. Not a single team in the NAL has made the playoffs after an 0-2 start to the season. Some have become close, such as the Maine Mammoths last year, but close and almost doesn’t mean anything in football.
Sticky Quarterback Situation
The Predators look solid on offense. They don’t look great, but they definitely don’t look bad. They have great receivers who find ways to get open, but can’t seem to do anything. Both quarterbacks looked strong, yet sloppy at the same time last week in New York. Starting QB Kyle Israel was 16-of-27 for 245 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions before getting benched by QB Gary Chouloute. He ended the night 4-of-9 for 51 yards and one touchdown. Neither quarterback looked impressive, but those numbers look pretty good, except they don’t matter when you can’t put points up on the board. The run game was not existent for the Preds until Chouloute entered the game and rushed for 27 yards, the most rushing yards a player had in the entire NAL last week. Nevertheless, the Preds have a sticky situation at the QB position.
The Predators looked like they missed the flight from Orlando to New York. It was all non-existent, allowing 70 points, the most of any team this year. They forced no interceptions last week and only got to the quarterback twice. This will not win a single game in arena football.
Conclusion and “Winner”
Both teams look like the worst teams in the league right now. The Columbus Lions may be 0-2 right now, but at least they somewhat put up a fight last week and stayed in the game, unlike the Pirates and Predators last week.
Both teams have no defense and can’t do much on offense. If it comes down to an offensive battle, the experience that Massachusetts has will win them the game. If it comes down to which defense will step it up, there is no telling who would win that one, which is why the Pirates should be able to travel the length of the field on numerous occasions this week and bring home their first win of the season.