Tag Archives: San Jose Sabercats

On San Jose Quitting the AFL

I said it was going to happen on ArenaFan late in the season in 2015 – not based on anything I’d heard from sources within the league, not based on any insider information, just based on psychology and how business works.

The San Jose SaberCats’ ownership never had any interest in operating in a league where they weren’t the top dog. Every single season since the reboot, they bought more and more talent* (okay, this is something that many, many people throughout the league have said). Last season they had no PR. They didn’t invest anything in their social media or broadcasting. The team in the heart of Silicon Valley couldn’t even provide an online video stream, something that anyone with a phone and a YouTube account can do, and they didn’t really seem to care to try, as people across the league and the league itself asked and threatened them if they didn’t get their act together. Continue reading On San Jose Quitting the AFL

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Game Preview: Portland Thunder (3-7) vs. Arizona Rattlers (8-2)

The Arizona Rattlers come into the Rose City this Friday pushing to stay within striking distance of the undefeated San Jose SaberCats for the top seed in the conference.

The Thunder, meanwhile, will try to hold on to their playoff position. Their 3-7 record ties them with the Spokane Shock and Las Vegas Outlaws for third in the conference, and a superior conference record (and head-to-head win) gives them an advantage over the Shock. The Shock and Outlaws play each other this week, so they’ll lose at least one spot if they lose.

Duane Brooks leads the Thunder into battle against the Arizona Rattlers this Friday. The Rattlers are better in all four offensive and defensive categories than the Thunder. Can special teams make up the difference?

Portland is looking to rebound from a loss to the previously winless KISS. Special teams continues to be a strong point for the Thunder, with Duane Brooks returning two kickoffs for touchdowns and jumping into a tie for 10th in AFL history with six return touchdowns in a season. He still has eight games to go, putting Hunkie Cooper’s record of eight kick return touchdowns in 2002 in jeopardy.

The Rattlers have given up a return for a touchdown this season, and Brooks himself managed a 34-yard return against them in the first matchup, so he has a chance to move closer to history.

To be successful, however, the Thunder need to try to prevent Brooks from having so many opportunities to return kicks – the defense needs to make some stops. After last week’s game against the KISS, the Thunder defense is dangerously close to becoming last in the league in defensive stop rate.

The bad news on that front is that Arizona quarterback Nick Davila has returned to the lineup. The Rattlers got along pretty well without him, winning everywhere but San Jose, but his return elevates them back up to elite status as an offense. Last week, he posted 275 yards on 60 percent completions and threw nine touchdown passes without turning the ball over against what had been the league’s third-best defense (they’re now fourth).

The main question most fans have is whether or not Alex Carder will get any action at the quarterback position. After intriguing fans with some deep strikes against San Jose, many (including me) thought Carder would get the nod against the KISS last week. Does the fact that the team is likely to lose this week change the thinking process? Let the younger player start since the team is unlikely to win anyway, and let him try to shock the league?

Whether it’s Carder or Rowley under center, I have to take the Rattlers in this one. They’re just too strong a team – they’re three-time defending champions for a reason. Rattlers 71, Thunder 42.

On ArenaFan: Team Rankings

The Thunder are getting dangerously close to having a worse defense than the KISS after last week’s game in Anaheim. Unfortunately, they face a reinvigorated Arizona Rattlers team this week, which won’t help them increase the gap. This week’s article also features the perfect example of how worthless yards are as a measure of offense in the AFL:

The Los Angeles KISS average more yards per game than the San Jose SaberCats, although the SaberCats have the most effective offense in the league and the KISS are the least effective.

Check out the rest of the numbers and this week’s picks over at ArenaFan.

Arena Football League Midterm Grades

All 12 Arena Football League teams have made it through the midpoint of their season, so it’s an ideal time to hand out mid-term grades.

I took the offensive and defensive success rates, added them up, then let the SaberCats set the curve, giving them an overall 100 percent grade. Everyone else gets their grades adjusted based on that 100-point scale.

The National Conference’s average grade was a 73.6; the American Conference tops that with an average grade of 75.3. However, the National Conference has a huge disparity, with both the two top teams and four of the five bottom teams. The American Conference is the AFL’s middle class, with four of their six teams earning Cs halfway through the year.

San Jose SaberCats A+ 100

They have the best offense and defense in the league, they’re 10-0, and they still have potential to do more. When they look sloppy and bad, they win by 20. What happens when they play well?

Arizona Rattlers B+ 88.3

Yup, the Sabercats are wrecking the league so badly that no one else scores in the A range. Arizona’s offense has had some hiccups while working through missing their receivers early in the season and then their quarterback problems with Davila’s injury and Coleman’s leaving the team. The Defense has been really good; San Jose’s defense has just been ridiculous. If this team gets healthy, they are definitely still a threat to the SaberCats. Continue reading Arena Football League Midterm Grades

Game Preview: Portland Thunder vs. San Jose Sabercats

This week I’ve been sick. Therefore, I don’t have as much to say about this game.

Let’s just say that the Sabercats have a significant advantage over every team in the league. That’s why they’re 9-0. It’s going to take perfection from an opponent to beat them, and the Thunder haven’t shown the ability to play a perfect game so far this season.

Maybe that means they’re due, but I’ll take San Jose, 68-42.

Game Day Breakdown: The San Jose Sabercats have an advantage in every way over the Thunder.

On ArenaFan: Measuring San Jose’s Success (And LA’s Lack Thereof)

How much better is San Jose’s defense (by far the best unit in the league) than Los Angeles’ defense (the worst unit in the league)?

The KISS would have to stop the next 69 opposing drives just to become San Jose’s defensive equal (if San Jose continues to force stops at the same rate). The KISS defense faces fewer than 10 drives a game, so that’s just about seven consecutive shutouts. We’re only eight games into the season!

For more drive-based stats, see my article over at ArenaFan.

(Pictured: the ninth stop of the season for the KISS. Again, we’re eight games into the season.)

Breaking down the #AFLTop50

I have a new infographic up at ArenaFan, this time going into the player-selected top 50 players in the AFL that the league provided this offseason.

All in all, the list had a definite winners’ bias – with 11 defensive backs selected, three top-ten interception guys somehow didn’t make the list – Cameron McGlenn of the New Orleans Voodoo, who was fifth in the league with 11 interceptions, and Eric Crocker and Varmah Sonie of the Portland Thunder with 10 and 9, respectively. Sonie also forced three fumbles, but it wasn’t enough to get him on the list

They also didn’t care much about offensive linemen, as only two, Richard Ranglin and Michael Huey, managed to crack the top 50, the only position for which I couldn’t make a full first-team squad out of the votes.

The below graph shows that San Jose has amassed more Top 25 players than any other division has for 2015. If any team seems to have the talent edge coming into the season, it’s them. Position breakdowns, the color key, and more data are found on the graphic over at ArenaFan. Check back later this week for a Thunder breakdown!

(Data accurate as of 3/21/15)

This is where the top 25 players in the league are, by team. In each division, there is one team with no players in the top 25 - Las Vegas, Portland, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay.
This is where the top 25 players in the league are, by team. In each division, there is one team with no players in the top 25 – Las Vegas, Portland, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay.