The Atlanta Steam are preparing for their second season as a part of the Legends Football League USA, formerly known as the Lingerie Football League, with many new faces and some returning ones that are in new positions. The Steam hope to build on the success of their inaugural season, which included a 2-1-1 regular season mark and a Southeastern Division title, to achieve the team’s goal of winning the LFL championship-this season.
Atlanta will be led in their second campaign by new head coach Dane Robinson, named in early December to replace Ray Norell. Robinson was a part of the Steam coaching staff last season and is familiar with the returning players. While Norell proved to be both an outstanding teacher of the game and a courageous coach, there were off the field issues that concerned the league office and led to the naming of a new head coach despite the fact the Norell led a team that was projected by LFL analysts to go winless to a division title.
Two of the main areas of concern were player conflicts that resulted in unnecessary friction in the locker room and the failure of the team to effectively develop a fan base through team organized meet-the-public type events. Coach Robinson took action quickly on the first issue.
Robinson told me that shortly after being named head coach he spoke with Sweetness Jones and made the decision to part ways with the talented playmaker.
“It is my responsibility to preserve the integrity of this team and the development of this locker room. Sweetness Jones was a common denominator when assessing factors that did not move this team forward in 2013. To uphold my strategic plan for success for the Atlanta Steam in 2014, it was for the best that I release Sweetness as a member of this team,” he went on to say “Her dynamic play on the field will be missed and I wish her the very best in her future endeavors."
It is no secret that Atlanta will be working to make the passing game a bigger part of their offense, that and the return of running back Nasira Johnson would suggest that the Steam will be able to fill the void left by the departure of Jones.
Speaking of the passing game, Robinson will be working with a new starting quarterback this season due to the decision by Britt Morgan not to return. The decision had nothing to do with the coaching changes; Morgan had already informed Norell that she would not be returning to the team due to changes in her personal life. Those changes include an upcoming wedding and new opportunities in her professional career off the field.
"It's unfortunate to lose such a competitor such as Brittney but I will never fault a player for pursuing the opportunities that allows them to advance their career off the football field. Her leadership will be missed and we wish her the best in her future endeavors," said Robinson.
Robinson’s has set his coaching staff for the 2014 season. Mark White will be the offensive coordinator and will also work with backs and receivers; Carlos Bustamante and Robinson will be co-defensive coordinators with Bustamante coaching the secondary while Robinson will work with the offensive and defensive lines in addition to his head coaching duties.
The Atlanta Steam of 2014 will be very different from the 2013 version. It remains to be seen if those differences will produce a better team with a larger fan base, but it will be fun to see the second generation of the LFL experience in Atlanta.
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