After Further Review - Jacksonville
After Further Review, Game Three, vs Jacksonville
By: DJ Wagner
Photo By: JD Jackson
Jacksonville (0-2) at Carolina (2-0)
Greensboro, NC - In a game you would expect between two rival teams that tend to not get along with each other. Throw out the records because it all comes down to what happens on the field. Saturday night, a lot happened in all three phases of the game. In what finished as Carolina going 1-0 for the third straight week to run the record to (3-0), this has only happened one other time in Cobras history (2019), it also led to another first, the Jacksonville Sharks have now started 0-3 for the first time in their history, in any league they have been in. The scoreboard said 53-48 at the end of the game, but there was a lot more to this messy affair in the Greensboro Coliseum. Time to review the tape.
Let’s start with the Offense.
If you just look at the stat sheet, it would be hard to say the offense was sloppy, first off, Jonathan Bane completed 16 of 21 passes for a 76.2% completion percentage, with two TDs passing and two more rushing. DJ Myers was the leading receiver with seven catches for 135 yards and a touchdown and Zack Brown led all rushers with 21 yards on 9 carries and another rushing touchdown. Bane only threw one interception, a great theft by the Sharks Markus Smith who took the ball away from Kendrick Ings. The offensive line did not allow a sack against the Sharks, though Bane did take some pretty big hits. One issue for the Cobras last night was they ended up going one for five on third downs for the game. This led to three FGs as those three drives were bogged down in the red zone. Which remember for the Arena game, the red zone actually starts at the 10, not the 20. The Cobras offense is now second in the league in points per game at 53.3.
Next, we look at the Defense.
Fresh blood did the Cobras really good going into week three as DB Cris Page came off the IR to make his season debut and what a splash he made. With two interceptions in the end zone that stopped Shark drives, and two pass break ups to go along with a team leading eight tackles, he brought a great energy boost to the defense. Tre Long also had his third interception of the season so far. Joe Powell also had a good game when he was in, compiling seven tackles to go along with 0.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup. Walter Thomas, Zack Brown and DJ Myers were next with four tackles each. The Cobras were not able to generate any sacks for the game. There were also quite a few penalties called on the Cobras, some more obvious than others, but we will discuss that more later. The Cobras scoring defense is still first in the league giving up an average of just 41.7 points per game.
Now to special teams,
There is a reason that TC Stevens was the only guaranteed roster spot going into the season for the Cobras, he is very consistent. Last night he was 5-6 on PATs and would have been perfect if not for a great effort by Gibrill Ghee to knock Micah Robinson into the kick on one attempt. But it was his record setting FGs, going 4-4, with the four made FGs doubling the previous record of two, formerly done twice, once by Craig Peterson vs Lehigh Valley in 2018, and Nick Belchers vs NY Streets in 2019. Cris Page was also stellar on special teams with a 56-yard kick return for a TD, just when the Cobras needed it in the fourth quarter.
The messy part:
The most glaring part of last night was the penalties, the two teams combined for an insane 26 penalties and each team had 13, some of those penalties saved drives for the Sharks as well as for the final drive of the first half for the Cobras. That certainly needs to be cleaned up going forward. Another thing that needs to be worked on, and you can beat the Coaches have a plan on this, is working on the blown coverages that led to a couple of Shark TDs. Considering the next game for the Cobras is Sunday in Orlando followed up just five days later at home vs San Antonio, this is going to be a big test ahead, especially with the ironman rules. The staff will have to figure a way to keep players healthy and the legs fresh.
Head Coach Josh Resignalo had this to say after reviewing the tape, “We definitely have to work on some things and tighten up across the board. We have been deep into film from our games to know both us and our opponents. We have great plans going into each game. We have to execute 100% not 70%. We are good right now and 3-0 is great. But we aren’t even at our potential yet. We want to win the ship, we have to be clicking at full speed and hit that 100% mark, and we will!”
The good news is that the Cobras are 3-0 and have a half game lead over Columbus in the NAL Standings, and Saturday may have been their worst performance so far, but they found a way to win in fairly comfortable fashion for the third week in a row. These next two games are really going to be a test, but first things first, the focus is on the trip to Orlando for the Sunday game at 3pm. This will be the first chance for the Cobras to start a season 4-0 and you can be sure they will be focused on trying to go 1-0 for the fourth time this season. Just a reminder the Cobras beat Orlando 48-26 just last week, and you can bet the Predators are going to have that fresh on their mind, as they try to bounce back from a two-game losing streak after falling to Albany 78-61 at home. Jacksonville will be home this Saturday to take on the Columbus Lions (2-0), who beat them in week one 56-49 in OT.