TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Storm (0-4, 0-2) will head to Philadelphia to take on the Soul (4-1, 0-1) this Monday, May 9 at Wells Fargo Center. The Storm will look to earn its first victory of the 2016 season over a strong Soul team. Fans will be able to catch all of the action as Darek Sharp and Ian Beckles make the call for 1250 AM WHNZ. The game will also be broadcast nationally on Univision Deportes. Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m. ET.
This will be the 15th time these two teams have met and the eighth in Philadelphia. The Soul leads the series with a record of 9-5 and holds a commanding record of 6-1 when facing the Storm at home. Last season, the Storm lost both matchups versus the Soul.
Last week, the Storm suffered another heartbreaking loss to the Sharks. While the loss put the team at 0-4, there were several positives to take away from the performance. The night saw quarterback Jonathan Bane make the first start of his AFL career. He finished the night having completed 21-of-38 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns. Bane also did an excellent job of protecting the football, throwing zero interceptions.
The key to Bane’s success was not only his ability to extend plays, but also the protection from the offensive line. Protection has been better all-around this season, with the offensive line allowing just four sacks over the first four games. To put this into perspective, the Storm allowed 10 sacks through the first four games last season. This is not an easy feat, considering the Storm has seen limited consistency on the offensive line, with seven different linemen seeing the field over the course of the four-game period.
This week, the Storm offensive line will need to be on its toes all game. The team will face one of the best defensive lines this season. Through five games, the Soul has recorded eight sacks. Veteran defensive lineman Teddy Jennings leads the team with three sacks on the season. The Storm will also face its former nose guard, Richard Clebert. Clebert has played in just two games, but has made an impact on the field, tallying his first sack of the season versus the Cleveland Gladiators in week four.
The key to success will be the need for the offense to execute with perfection. The past few games, the team has been just a play away. A missed pass here and a broken route there means the difference between a win and loss. With perfect execution, the offense should have no problem scoring. Over the first few weeks, the team has added depth at the wide receiver position, slowly accumulating some of the top receivers in the League. The team’s latest addition, Mike Washington, made an immediate impact with a 58-yard kickoff returned for a touchdown on the opening play of the game. Newcomer Xavier Boyce also made a play, catching a pass for 13 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, the Storm will look to apply the pressure on Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh. This will be no easy task as the Soul has the best offensive line in the League which has allowed no sacks through five games. While the Storm has not had a sack, the team has thrived at putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, forcing them off their marks. This allows the defensive backs to make plays in the defensive backfield. The team has quietly put together one of the top defenses in the League, holding the Sharks to just 33 points which was 22 points off its season average (55.0) heading into week five.
Look for the Storm to continue to gel and find an identity. A victory would give the team its first victory of the season and give it something to build on as it heads deeper into the season.