With a record of 4-8, it is safe to say that the Los Angeles Avengers have had a roller coaster season thus far far. At times they have looked like a legitimate playoff contender with efficiency from the quarterback (Tim Hicks or Sonny Cumbie) and stifling play from their defense. However, they have also looked like an AFL doormat, embarrassing themselves on national television against the Chicago Rush a week ago. Despite their obvious sub .500 record, the Avengers still have an excellent shot at earning a playoff birth. Currently they are the 5th seed in the American Conference with six of the eight teams advancing to the postseason.
With the bye now over, the Avengers have two home games and two road games left on the schedule. The combined record of their remaining opponents is 16-30 so the Avengers have a great opportunity to reach the playoffs and earn an even higher seed. However, to reach this goal, the Avengers need to win at least three out of the final four games to be in a good position for the playoffs.
With the amount of talent on this team, I have typically been optimistic regarding their future, but if they are going to make a playoff run the need to become more consistent. Each week I often think to myself, ”Which Avengers team will show up?” That shouldn’t be the case with this team. One week they will go out and score well over sixty points, while the next week they will score a measly 29 points. One week the defense will be stifling, holding their opponents to just 33 points. However, the next week they might give up 72 points like they did against Chicago.
It is unfair to place the blame on just one unit of the team, but they offensive line must share the bulk of the team’s struggles. Last week head coach Ed Hodgkiss fired offensive line coach Bill Dobson, hoping to spark the guys up front and fix one of the team’s most glaring holes. The big uglies have struggled to protect either Tim Hicks or Sonny Cumbie, often forcing them into poor throws and bad decisions. Because of this, one week Hicks will throw seven touchdown passes, but will be benched the following week. Both Hicks and Cumbie have proved to be capable AFL quarterbacks but need protection in order to live up to their potential.
Because of this major problem, the return of a healthy Lonnie Ford should help to strengthen the pass protection and also aid the running game. However, without an adequate offensive line it becomes nearly impossible for a team to run an efficient offense. Therefore, the team must find some consistent from the line, which will increase the production of the entire offense. If the line play can improve and become more consistent than this team can win three of its last four and possibly even host in the first round.