The Jacksonville Sharks are 2-2, and they could easily be 3-1. However, the first four games have really told us nothing about the state of the team going into another key matchup against a rising arch nemesis, the 1-3 Philadelphia Soul.
The good news, historically the Sharks have taken care of business in the regular season. The bad news, when the two teams meet in the playoffs, Jacksonville’s season typically ends at their hands. With recent form, there’s potential for it to happen again.
The good: the defense. With five sacks, two interceptions, and several pass breakups against Tampa Bay, Jacksonville showed that they can step up against teams that they’re somewhat expected to beat. At home, they show shades of the record defense from last year and the style that’s won them four straight division titles and an ArenaBowl. They kept the same core in Jerry Turner, Rashaad Duncan, and Aaron Robbins, and with Micheaux Robinson and Terrance Smith in the secondary, there’s plenty to look forward to.
The bad: quarterback inconsistency. I could’ve gone with something else here, but this seems more fitting. R.J. Archer has developed a Jekyll and Hyde personality so far this season. At home, he’s unstoppable. Twelve touchdowns, two interceptions (one at the end of the game after a strange bounce), and Jacksonville has scored at least 60 in both games.
On the road, it’s a different story. Granted, it’s still pretty good: eleven touchdowns, one interception, but only a 57.6 completion percentage and averaging 42.5 points per game. Was his performance against the Storm enough for him to keep the starting job? Right now, it could possibly be no. As reported by Adam Markowitz of ArenaFan, both Aaron Garcia and head coach Les Moss either hope or expect to have Garcia as the starter moving forward. With Garcia’s pedigree and the current state of the American conference, it’s almost a no-brainer who the starter should be if Jacksonville wants at least an ArenaBowl appearance. It only took one pass for AG to make an immediate impression, and call it what you will, there’s a variety of reasons why he decided to report to the Sharks at this point of the season.
Who the starter is will be one of two glaring questions not just against a team like the Soul, but over the course of the season. Can AG reproduce the form we’ve seen throughout his career? Will he show the form that got him traded from San Jose? Only time will tell, but if only two days of practice can yield that on one play, we’ll see if he can eclipse the 1,400 mark for career touchdowns by season’s end.
The ugly: special teams. Plain and simple, Fabirizio Scaccia is not the answer at kicker. There have been multiple chants of “Bring back Marco” (and yes, this writer will take credit for attempting to initiate one or two of them), and they’ve already cost Jacksonville one win. Scaccia has only converted 13 of 20 extra points this season, and missed his only field goal attempt. Capozzoli was to say the least, automatic. You want another adjective” Try clutch. His 51-yard field goal to beat Georgia in the 2012 playoffs remains a franchise record, shocked crowds with his rare misses. Now granted, it’s not entirely Scaccia’s fault. There have been several botched snaps, going from pregame warmups to several crazy moments in game situations. Will Marco Capozzoli come back through those doors? Many fans hope so. If he doesn’t, then someone else who has a more consistent leg better. At this point, I’m sure Jacksonville fans hope so. At this point, expect Remy Hamilton to get a phone call or two…
If these questions aren’t answered, then the Soul could find themselves on a winning streak. If, however, the Sharks fix these issues, and quickly, then Jacksonville could see themselves above .500 for the first time this season, and remain in a very tight race for the South division.
For more on the Jacksonville Sharks, including the latest news, updates, and transactions, log on to www.jaxsharks.com. For more on the rest of the Arena Football League, log on to www.arenafan.com and www.arenafootball.com.