The Streets have gone through a number of firsts during their inaugural National Arena League season, but they are currently trying to put an end to a first that they wanted no part of to begin with and that is the first losing streak in franchise history. On Saturday afternoon, the Streets will look to snap a two game slide when they welcome the defending NAL Champion Carolina Cobras to the Westchester County Center (3pm MSG Network).
After a 3-1 start to the season, the Streets have dropped to .500 at 3-3 and they’re hoping to regain that winning feeling.
“Of course losing never leaves a good taste in your mouth,” said Head Coach Rick Marsilio. “I would hope that everyone from front office to equipment manager is upset about losing and looking to find ways to get better.”
This will be the second meeting of the season between the Streets and the Cobras. Back on May 4th in Greensboro, the Streets suffered their first loss of the season as they fell to the Cobras 48-33. On that night, it was a battle of two teams that, at the time, were unbeaten at 2-0 but it was Carolina that was able to come out of the evening with an unblemished record.
“They showed us why they’re the defending champions in Greensboro,” said Streets quarterback E.J. Nemeth. “They had a good game plan and they executed it well. We’ll make the necessary adjustments and be better heading into this game.”
That night, Nemeth had a rough night throwing just three touchdown passes and was intercepted four times. But overall in 2019, the veteran Arena Football quarterback has been brilliant for the Streets as he leads the NAL with 33 touchdown passes and 1,429 passing yards. He also leads the league in total offense, passing average, passing efficiency, and completions to go along with a quarterback rating of 102.93 and six touchdown runs.
Nemeth’s favorite target has been Rob Jones who has hauled in 51 catches this season for 623 yards and a league leading 15 touchdown catches. Jones also leads the league in all-purpose yards and scoring. As good as the Streets offense has been this season, they have sputtered at times and this week they’re hoping to be a well-oiled machine.
“Offensively, we are leaving points on the board, missing assignments and not executing to the level we should be at,” said Marsilio. “That comes with reps and starts with my play calling.”
Despite the struggles at times, the Streets still lead the NAL in scoring with an average of 52.2 points per game. On Saturday however, the Streets high-octane offense figures to be put to the test against a Carolina team that is ranked second in the league giving up just 37.3 points per game. The Cobras defense is led by defensive back Mike Green who has a team leading 38.5 tackles along with a sack, six interceptions and 23 passes defended.
Offensively, the Cobras are led by quarterback Charlie McCullum who did not play in the first meeting because of a suspension. So far this season, McCullum has throw for 1,317 yards and 28 touchdowns. Jordan Jolley is the Cobras’ top receiver with 51 catches for 581 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Any way you slice it, it’s a tough task for the Streets.
“We are expecting a very tactical and physical game,” said Marsilio. “We get to see them this time with their full weaponry. We are excited. Gives our staff lots top work on to counter Coach (Billy) Back and his staff.”
In a case of both good news and bad news, the Streets will be without defensive lineman Herbert Moore for this Saturday’s game because he will be participating in the XFL’s Summer Showcase. The entire Streets organization is thrilled that Moore is getting this opportunity, but without him, the Streets defense will be devoid of one of their most dangerous players.
To fill the void of Moore’s 7.5 tackles, 2.5 sacks an interception and his overall presence, it’s going to have to be a team effort.
“As always, next man up,” said Marsilio. “One of the principles of our game and how we build a roster in New York is to have multiple players that can step in and play at multiple positions. We have several on the roster right now that can go form offensive line to defensive line and from linebacker to defense line. Herbert will be missed this week for sure, however several players are very eager to get that spot and showcase why they are also on our roster.”
This is going to be a critical game for both teams on Saturday night. At 5-2, the Cobras are knocking on the door of the first place Jacksonville Sharks (5-1) while the Streets are sitting in a playoff position at 3-3 but hoping to eventually move up the ladder and pass the Cobras for one of the top two seeds which would mean a home game for the first round of the playoffs.
The Streets are back in action this Saturday afternoon June 8th as they return home to the Westchester County Center in White Plains to battle the defending NAL champion Carolina Cobras in a 3pm kickoff. If you can’t make it out to the game, join me along with Will Holder and sideline reporter A.J. Ross for all of the action on the MSG Network as well as on the National Arena League’s YouTube channel.
New York Streets individual game tickets are available at ticketmaster.com. For season and group ticket information, call 1-833-697-8733 and choose extension one.