The media meal for tonight’s Pittsburgh Power game at Consol Energy Center consisted of some tasty fajitas and tacos. I’m thinking the Power (1-5) offense had some of it because they played like they had indigestion throughout much of tonight’s 52-38 loss to the previously winless Orlando Predators (1-5).
The problem with that theory is that this team has played like this the entire season. Jordan Jefferson was missing wide open receivers, sailing passes high, and even when he did manage to make some good throws his receivers dropped the ball.
In other words, it was business as usual for the Power.
Mind you Jefferson didn’t throw an interception or a fumble, but the Power turned the ball over on downs four times and ran out of time in the first half on a 5th drive. Jefferson did manage to lose possession of his helmet for one series when Shamar Graves took it onto the field by accident. What followed was a comical sequence of Derek Cassidy entering the game which elicited loud cheers from most of the Power faithful only to see Jordan Jefferson return a few plays later amidst strong negative reaction from the fans.
Perry Baker failed to help Jefferson tonight coming up with several crucial drops on fourth down conversion attempts. His final drop of the night negated what little hope the Power had left in the game and gave the ball back to Orlando to finish things off. His inconsistency at wide receiver has been a problem all year for the Power but he may be called upon more if Berry is out any length of time. Forgive me if I’m not exactly optimistic.
How about that kicking game? Josh Czajkowski once again missed three extra points and Head Coach Derek Stingley wasn’t too pleased about it in the post-game press conference. Kicking has been a major issue for the Power in their three years of existence, just like the quarterback position.
It wasn’t all negative though tonight. Shamar Graves made his first game appearance for the Power and I watched a man possessed out there fighting for every inch of yardage he could get. He finished with seven catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns. We also saw Alvin Ray Jackson have a huge game on both sides of the ball for the Power with an interception return for a touchdown and he also had two catches for 57 yards while filling in for the injured P.J. Berry who left the game with a hip pointer.
The problem, as it has been all year long, is not enough overall playmaking ability for the Power. Look at the change in the way the Orlando Predators looked with the addition of Aaron Garcia. Suddenly the experienced wide receiving corps played with a purpose. He led them nicely on each throw allowing them and only them to make plays. Pittsburgh had no response for Garcia for most of the night. In fact at one point the PA system started playing “Welcome To The Jungle” which was appropriate since Orlando seemed to make themselves at home.
Coach Stingley was clearly frustrated after the game, upset that his defense had blown a few coverages and given Garcia some easy scores. I can understand that but the defense is once again not the reason this team lost. The defense isn’t responsible for the Power having the worst offense in the league. This team has crossed the 40-point plateau once this year and even that effort was aided by a defensive touchdown.
Stingley mentioned not wanting to dumb down the offensive schemes anymore. I completely agree. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This team needs to make roster moves and they needed to do it 4 weeks ago. You can’t keep trotting the same players out there and expect anything to change. You need players that understand this game and not ones who can’t even pass AFL 101. You have to do everything you can to give yourself a chance to win.
Pittsburgh loves running short yardage plays but it was the other team tonight that showed you how to do it properly. Hit receivers in stride a few yards off the line and let them make plays. Instead we watch our receivers catch the ball a few yards behind the line of scrimmage and have to fight their way for positive yards. It’s this conservative play calling overall that leads to all the fourth down plays the team struggles with.
As in any league, when you play conservatively, you are playing not to lose and you usually end up doing just that. Just look at the Power to see how true that is.