Power coach James shows who's the boss
During his seven weeks on the job, Power coach Ron James has made three points clear:
• He is in charge.
• The team comes before individuals.
• Displease him, and suffer the consequences.
James made a bold move last week when he decided not to play wide receiver James Shaw against the Philadelphia Soul, even though two other top pass catchers — Prechae Rodriguez (foot) and Aaron Lesue (knee) — were out with injuries.
“Coach's decision,” James said, explaining the absence of Shaw, who was ejected from the Cleveland game April 26 for throwing a punch at a Gladiators player. Shaw was not suspended by the Arena Football League, but he was forced to answer to a more immediate authority.
The result was a 65-57 Power victory against the Soul that proved James' point: teamwork wins. All four wide receivers — Shaun Kauleinamoku, Hank Edwards, Rodney Wright and Tyrone Goard — caught touchdown passes in Shaw's absence.
“I told them I felt betrayed as a coach,” James said of the 55-28 loss to Cleveland in which the Power were called for 14 penalties for a loss of 101 yards. “I thought we were building something for a month (when the Power won three in a row) and in one week they tore it all down. So we had to go in and rebuild getting into the Philadelphia week. Hopefully, that's a lesson learned and we can put something together here.”
That won't be easy.
The Power have a difficult test Friday night when they visit the Spokane Shock (5-2).
The Shock set a franchise record for fewest points allowed last Sunday in a 70-21 victory at the LA Kiss. Overall, the Shock is third in the league in scoring defense (43.7 ppg).
James said his team recognized his disappointment and showed admirable resiliency in beating the Soul.
“They went outside the game plan,” James said of the repeated penalties at Cleveland. “They hammered home the game plan (against Philadelphia), made sure everything was taken care of and played as a team.”
Now more than ever, the key player is quarterback Tommy Grady, who gives the Power a legitimate chance to win every game. Grady leads the league with 173 completions and is 71 yards short of 20,000 career passing yards.
With Lesue out for the season and Rodriguez probably two weeks from returning, the team will go as far as Grady will take them. Assuming, of course, they continue to heed their coach's words and avoid those costly penalties.