Arena Football League: Week 5 Preview

by Corey Mansfield

2018 Arena Football League Guide

Albany Empire (1-2) @ Washington Valor (0-3)May 11, 2018, 7pm, Capital One Arena
Buy tickets here

The Albany Empire earned their first victory in franchise history with a decisive 47-23 victory over the Washington Valor last Saturday night. The two teams will meet again this week, this time in the nation's capital. 

The Empire played arguably their best game all-around game of the season. From Tommy Grady's five touchdown passes, a pick-six from DB Marrio Norman, to a recovered "behind the leg" on-side kick by Kenny Spencer. Everything the Empire did worked. 

The Empire had a lot to celebrate last week (photo credit: Corey Mansfield)

However, they did catch a couple breaks...

The first Empire touchdown of the game was nearly intercepted as the Valor player caught the ball falling down but a heads up play by receiver Joe Hills to rip the ball away from the defender and get into the end zone resulted in an early lead for the Empire. 

The second was when a Tommy Grady pass ricocheted off the goal post and bounced to Collin Taylor for a touchdown. 

I'm not discrediting either of those plays but how often do see either of those happen in an a game?

The Valor offense was pretty anemic last week as quarterback Warren Smith was under constant pressure and couldn't settle in. The team sustained a few drives but ultimately couldn't keep up with the high-powered offensive of the Empire.

Warren Smith and Dean Cokinos hope for a better result against the Empire this week (photo credit: Corey Mansfield)
Deciding Factor:  Opposing teams are starting to see the capabilities of the Albany offensive and it's only a matter of time before teams start to get more physical with their receivers trying to throw them off their routes and frustrate them. The Empire will need to look for some more creative ways to their stars in involved.

The biggest factor may be how well their offensive line holds up. Last week, they were sensational. If they can continue to give Tommy Grady time in the pocket then it will be a long day for Washington.

The Valor will need to get their offense in a rhythm. They were doing too many 5-step drops with Warren Smith in the pocket, expecting their offensive line to sustain their blocks for a longer period of time against an aggressive Albany defensive line. They need to more 3-step drops and bubble screens with Warren Smith, getting the ball out quicker to their playmakers Reggie Gray and Rod Windsor and let them make plays.  If the the offensive sputters early look for the Valor to turn to back-up quarterback Shane Austin. Austin has 266 career AFL passing touchdowns.

Week 5, Who wins?

Washington Valor
Albany Empire

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