Offensive firepower in the Bayou
All-Arena DB Rashad Floyd breaks down the two ArenaBowl offenses.
Editor's Note: Rashad Floyd is an All-Arena defensive back for the Colorado Crush. He has faced both ArenaBowl teams on numerous occasions and offered to give a player's perspective of the offenses for ESPN.com.
New Orleans may be known as the home of Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest and the Bayou Classic, but this week it's also going to be the home of offensive fireworks as the San Jose SaberCats and the Philadelphia Soul meet in ArenaBowl XXII for what should be quite a show.
These are two of the best offenses in the history of the league as they feature a Dan Marino and Joe Montana-style quarterback and receiving corps that are darn near impossible to stop. We're going to see some outstanding offensive play this week and probably a couple of moments worthy of the "SportsCenter" Top 10.
San Jose SaberCats offenseThe SaberCats' offense is a juggernaut. Opposing teams know what they are going to run and the Cats know it but still score all the time. Their game plan is very simple as they bring motion across the backside and run three different plays out of that formation. It's actually pretty cool because it's straight-up football and hasn't been stopped yet. Offensive coordinator Terry Malley has done a great job getting this team to execute with such precision and making it such a dominant force even though everyone in the arena almost always knows what is coming.
Quarterbacks: Mark Grieb is a precision quarterback who reminds me a lot of Montana. He makes very few mistakes and knows at all times whom to throw the ball to and where. His confidence in his team and in himself is evident the moment he steps onto the field. He has the same quiet confidence and composure whether his team is up 20 points or down 20 points. He's the kind of guy who probably could complete 50 percent of his passes blindfolded because he knows exactly when and where his guys should be at all times.
This week he's facing an extremely difficult defense that will attempt to force him out of his comfort zone as often as possible. The Soul will gamble at times and when they do Grieb will make them pay. He isn't afraid to nickel and dime an opposing team and make it take a risk it shouldn't take and then -- bam! -- he's running down the field with his arms in the air because he just threw yet another touchdown. The SaberCats' ability to be so dangerous with such a limited offensive repertoire is also a testament to Grieb's precision.
Running game: The SaberCats' running game is darn near nonexistent. They use the run more as a change of pace, much like how a fastball pitcher will throw in a changeup just to keep a hitter honest. It's a junk pitch with no real expectations and that's the way the SaberCats look at their running game.
Receivers: This is when it gets spicy for San Jose. The loss of receiver James Roe hurts them obviously, but not as much as most people think because of the strong play of the other receivers.
The X factor on this offense is receiver Rodney Wright. He's the Dante Hall of the league as he can take a 5-yard little hitch and take it to the house with no problem. He's fun to watch, but a complete pain to have to worry about when you're on the field because he can take an ordinary play and make it extraordinary. Also, his presence on the field allows receivers Jason Geathers and Cleannord Saintil the opportunity to just run their routes without having to worry about complicated coverage schemes. Saintil is the true deep threat and will stretch the field, while Broussard and Geathers run more crossing patterns and other routes.
Philadelphia Soul offense
Quarterbacks: Matt D'Orazio is an underdog and his body language complements that perfectly. To equate it to poker, he always looks as if he's holding pocket deuces. It's not a hand he wants to push all of his chips in with, but somehow someway he always seems to turn them into a full house or quads at the end of the hand.
Not to be disrespectful in any way, but his play is way above his God-given ability. He wasn't dealt great size, strength or power and doesn't have much of what you'd want from a quarterback in terms of physical tools, but he wins and that's what's important now.
D'Orazio makes the big play as well as the little play and always finds a way to make it happen, whether it's by threading a pass that you didn't think he had in him or just taking off and running with the ball and throwing his body around to get a touchdown. You can see the desire and the fight that is in him every time he lines up under center. Amazingly at the beginning of the day he's an underdog, but more times than not at the end of the day he's the winner. It's a pleasure watching him play out there.
Running game: While the Soul do a better job of running the ball than the SaberCats, the running game still isn't a huge part of the team. In this game you'll probably see D'Orazio leading the team in rushing yards and attempts as he has an uncanny ability to get on the edge of the defense and make a play with his feet downfield.
Receivers: If D'Orazio is the guy holding pocket deuces, then wide receiver Chris Jackson is the guy holding pocket aces. He's going all-in and everyone on the field knows it because he's the best player on the field most times he's playing. He's already one of the two best receivers in the history of the game (along with Chicago's Damian Harrell) and he has a fierce competitiveness in him that all great players have. He has the ability to will things his way and that's why I call him Chris "By Any Means Necessary" Jackson. He's going to jump off the wall, bounce off the net or dive through fire to catch the ball and make the play. He doesn't care what defense you throw at him or how many DBs are opposite him. He knows he will find a way to catch the ball if it's coming his way.
On the other side of the field, he is perfectly complemented by Larry Brackins, who can give opposing defenders fits because of his size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and speed. The SaberCats are going to have to bump at the line and try to disrupt him as much as possible before he gets going or he and Jackson will have huge games.
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ArenaBowl XXII: San Jose vs. Philadelphia
Philadelphia won its first AFL championship as the Soul edged defending champ San Jose 59-56 in ArenaBowl XXII. Matt D'Orazio was named the game's MVP.
Recap | Watch: Highlights | How Soul did it
Watch: AFL Video Blogs
Soul DB Mike Brown's video blog
• Arriving in New Orleans
• A little work and a little play
Visit to Childrens' Hospital of New Orleans
• Meet the Haglunds
• Converting Christopher
• Coach Darren Arbet lets the rings do the talking
• Philadelphia's Chris Jackson talks about the day
Page 2's Mary Buckheit
• Champagne, sharpies and hugs
• Celebrating with Bon Jovi
• SaberCats Omarr Smith's bling
• Media Day madness with the Soul
• Hangin' with Miss America and the players
• Soul don't want Jackson to change one bit
• Soul's Brown works hard on charity and football
• The secret of San Jose's success
• Grieb: Brains of the San Jose operation
• D'Orazio: Philly's insurance policy pays off
Horton's X's and O's breakdown
• Who has the better QB -- San Jose or Philly?
• San Jose pass O vs. Philly pass D
• Philly pass O vs. San Jose pass D
• San Jose O-line vs. Philadelphia D-line
• Philadelphia O-line vs. San Jose D-line
• San Jose special teams vs. Philly special teams
• Preview and prediction
• Colorado DB Floyd breaks down the offenses
• Chicago WR Harrell breaks down the defenses
• Soul LB Rod Davis
• San Jose OL/DL George Williams
• Commissioner Baker on Mike & Mike
• San Jose's Grieb on Inside the AFL