Week 1 Preview: Philadelphia Soul
The Philadelphia Soul (0-0) and Orlando Predators (0-0) are set to kickoff their 2015 seasons as the two teams will meet at Amway Center for a 7:00pm ET kickoff. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN2.
Philadelphia will look to bounce back from a disappointing (9-9) 2014 season, but managed to make the AFL playoffs and almost pulled off the gigantic upset against the Cleveland Gladiators in the AFL quarterfinals (eliminated on last-second field goal).
It will not be easy for the Soul offense though. The team had to replace their top offensive weapons Tiger Jones and Derrick Ross, who will suit up for the Jacksonville Sharks in 2015. Philadelphia responded by revamping quarterback Dan Raudabaugh‘s supporting cast by going out to acquire FB Tommy Taggart (167 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns) , 2014 receiver of the year Marco Thomas (151 receptions, 1946 yards, 39 touchdowns), and WR Shaun Kauleinamoku (124 receptions, 1,359 yards, 19 touchdowns) that should make for a smooth transition.
Statistically, QB Dan Raudabaugh is coming off one of his worst passing seasons since his rookie year in 2010. Last season, the quarterback threw for 4328 yards, 85 touchdowns (career lows) and 18 interceptions.Raudabaugh avoided a lame duck situation when he was resigned to a two year deal back in November.
Defensively, Philadelphia has put a formidable all-around squad together. Teddy Jennings made a run for 2014 Rookie of The Year with his 11.0 sacks, tying the single-season Soul sack record last season. With Jennings blossoming into a young star, he will lineup next to a savvy veteran Bryan Robinson, who struggled in 2014. Philadelphia traded for DL Beau Bell from LA Kiss, a First Team All-Arena player at the Mac linebacker position last season, to pair with Joe Goosby at linebacker. After losing star defensive back Rayshaun Kizer, Philadelphia will turn to former AFL Defensive back of The year Kent Richardson, DB Brandon Freeman, and emerging star James Romain.
Keys to Victory:
1. Take crowd out early — With a new AFL season, there is new hope for the Predators and their fans, especially after an (11-7) season and capturing their first division title since 2006. It will be important that Philadelphia can take momentum away and keep the Predators’ crowd quiet.
2. Gain comfort with new offense — Raudabaugh is going to have to adjust to a whole new offensive supporting cast around him. Given his experience and elite talent that the Soul acquired in the offseason, it shouldn’t be long before he and the offense get clicking.
3. Contain Bernard Morris — With Morris as the projected starter for the Predators, Philadelphia will have to get pressure on Morris and keep him from scrambling out of the pocket, an attribute that Morris does so well. If the Soul can limit Morris to just being a pocket-passing quarterback and get pressure, the Soul should be able to lead Morris into poor decision-making, poor throws and mistakes that Philadelphia can capitalize on.