With half the country under a wintry blanket of white snow, San Diego is experiencing another phenomenon. Rain. Southern Californians are forced to grab an umbrella as opposed to the occasional hoodie as a wet February is setting up a slippery matchup against the Atlanta Legends Sunday.
What kind of impact might this have on both teams? As many passionate football fans know, rain typically favors the offensive units. While a defender is backpedaling gauging which way his opponent will move, the offensive player already knows where he’s supposed to be going. Advantage offense.
Defensive backs are already on their toes, so to speak, and having to make athletic split time decisions are already tough enough. Factor in a slippery, wet surface and you have another challenge added to an already daunting task.
Looking to Sunday night at SDCCU Stadium Mike Martz has already installed the game plan they hope to defeat Atlanta with. The question is, “How have the elements affected his strategy?” Will we see the Greatest Show on Surf get in a groove, or will it be more of what we witnessed the last week in San Antonio.
Just as the defensive backs give up an advantage in inclement weather, so do offensive linemen. In pass blocking that is. Run blocking is much about dominating your adversary and driving them back. Like the old Madden Video Game Rating suggests, “Road Grader” is all about plowing ahead.
Pass blocking, however, is an entirely different experience for a lineman. They might take an initial step forward to give the appearance of a run block, but they will quickly begin some quick steps backward to create the pocket and protect their passer, buying him enough time to make a play through the air.
This motion can leave them susceptible to pass rushers exploiting their backward motion. An elite pass blocker can use his long arms, balance, and power to win most battles. The Fleet offensive line was anything but elite in week 1. Before being replaced by Philip Nelson, starting quarterback Michael Bercovici was hit early and often. Advantage defense.
In week 2 Philip Nelson will take the helm looking to right the ship for the Fleet. Nelson boasts a better range of mobility than Bercovici. He also has a quick release that can be huge when your protection unit is still trying to gel.
Expect a fair amount of quick passes from Nelson to both tight ends, Gavin Escobar and Marcus Baugh with more targets going to Ja’Quan Gardner coming out of the backfield. With plenty of rain in the forecast, a quick-hitting attack will bode well for keeping the chains moving.
Speaking of keeping things moving, a guy who was really close to making some big plays against San Antonio was Francis Owusu. He was targeted seven times and though he only had two receptions, he clearly was getting open. Should the short passing game and run game start effective, some play action could find Owusu downfield Sunday.
This is another thing that stood out to me when watching the film of Nelson while at Eastern Carolina. He was very effective running play action and also looking defenders off. With his quick release, he regularly made plays after the defender bit on his deceptive glances.
While the team came home down one in the loss column, they will look to play to their strengths. If Nelson can find a rhythm, distributing the ball to multiple pass catchers, the game will really favor this team.
Rain or shine it is an all hands on deck alert for San Diego Fleet fans. Nothing gives a team another advantage like a loud raucous home crowd. This team has what it takes to get a win this week. You can help them by getting to the game and getting LOUD! Advantage Fleet!
Regardless of the outcome, football is back in San Diego. Come Sunday night the Fleet are expecting fans to turn it up. Time to show the rest of the league what a real fan base looks like. What is a little water right? Plus, it could be worse. At least it’s not snow! Advantage Fleet Fans.