Soul D-line finds a way to pressure QBs
Horton: San Jose O-line vs. Philadelphia D-line
Editor's Note: This analysis is one in a series as Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton looks at the key matchups in ArenaBowl XXII.
San Jose O-line vs. Philadelphia D-line
The SaberCats have an under-rated offensive line and it does not get the credit it deserves. The line is anchored by center Dan Loney, who is one of the best in the league at using his hands in pass protection. He is not overly physical or big, but he wins most of his battles with position and techniques. Loney is durable and a big key at protecting against the inside pass rush, which is an area of vulnerability for QB Mark Grieb. But one concern is he can struggle versus a bull-rush type NT and that is what he will face in Philadelphia's Bryan Save. Flanking Loney are Julius Gant and Jason Thomas. Both guys have good size and adequate quickness, but they are still developing as pass protectors. This can be a problem at times as they play for an offense that asks its QB and WRs to read defenses and make adjustments on the move and that can take more time for the QB to get the ball out, forcing the line to hold its blocks longer. This is a solid unit, but they are not elite.
Philadelphia has a fierce pass rush led by DE Gabe Nyenhuis, who led the Soul with 9.5 sacks during the regular season and had a league-high 12.5 tackles for loss. He is not overly physical and his athleticism won't dazzle you, but he is tenacious, never quits on a play and uses his hands well. A lot of his production comes late because offensive linemen can't seem to match his ability to play to the whistle. San Jose is vulnerable on the edges to tenacious rushers like Nyenhuis and it will have trouble containing him. On the other side, DE Kevin Carberry is a young, developing player without great stats, but he is a steady guy and will keep Gant or Thomas busy. A big key for the Soul will be the play of Save. He is a strong, interior rusher with solid experience and gets an excellent inside push. He had 5.5 sacks during the regular season, which is impressive for an inside guy. His matchup with Loney will be an important one to watch. Loney is an excellent technician with great hand use and Save is an aggressive, move-the-pile guy who plays with leverage. If the pocket collapses, Grieb could be in serious trouble. Philadelphia also gets good pass rush production Jack linebacker Anthony Dunn, who collected five sacks during the regular season. As a whole, the Soul posted a very respectable 24 sacks. Part of the success of the guys up front is due to an excellent secondary with good cover skills. The Philadelphia defensive backs make is to tough for receivers to separate and because of their tight schemes, QBs are forced to hold on to the ball an extra second or two, and that gives the guys up front extra sack time.
ADVANTAGE -- Philadelphia Soul
Gary Horton, a pro scout for Scouts Inc., has been a football talent evaluator for more than 30 years. He spent 10 years in the NFL and 10 years at the college level before launching a private scouting firm called The War Room.
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