No starting QB? Missing #1 CB? Philadelphia Stars say no problem!
This was a crucial game for both Tampa Bay as well as the Stars of Philadelphia. What started as a slow scoring affair with lots of defense blossomed into a shootout between two offensively minded coaches. Philadelphia actually showed an ability to run the ball, as well as generate pressure and contain opposing runners with their front 4.
Tampa’s Jordan Ta’amu put in a solid performance by the numbers. He still seems a bit shaky behind this offensive line, having trouble staying consistent with his accuracy and decision making. Despite numerous overthrown balls and forced passes, Philadelphia allowed Ta’amu to find the end zone 4 times through the air racking up 333 yards in the process.
By The Numbers
Case “The Chef” Cookus didn’t have the most impressive day by any stretch of the imagination. Considering he spent a lot of time avoiding Tampa Bay defensive linemen, it may have been more impressive than the numbers show. After taking what is best referred to as a “team sack” in the first quarter, clearly having the wind knocked out of him, Cookus couldn’t seem to settle in the pocket. One area of comfort he did find though was the sure-handed TE Bug Howard.
Howard led all Stars receivers in targets, receptions, yards and added 2 TD for good measure. The connection between Howard and Cookus is getting stronger each week. Clearly the favorite inside the RedZone, look for the “Bug Man” to continue putting up solid performance week after week. Not to be outdone on the day, RB Matt Colburn shined brightest of all the Stars.
The USFL’s worst rush offense most of this season, Matt Colburn proved it’s never too late to show up at a party. Gashing the Bandits defense up the middle seems to be a trend developing this season. While the offensive line did struggle to keep Cookus comfortable in the pocket, Colburn found holes for big gains multiple times. He seems to have assumed the #1 spot in the rotation of tailbacks the Stars deploy each week. Speaking of #1 guys in rotation, DB Channing Stribling who leads the league in takeaways (INT), was absent for the contest. That didn’t slow down the emerging Amani Dennis from showing he isn’t a guy to pick on though.
8 total tackles, 6 solo and 3 pass deflections with another INT, Amani Dennis seems to be just as dangerous on the outside as the injured Channing Stribling. On a day when the defense showed an ability to generate pressure with the DL, Bandits QB Jordan Ta’amu still found himself putting up great numbers. The Stars defense allowed him to find his receivers and TEs for 333 yards and 4 TDs. It may not have been the most impressive performance by a defense during week 6, but it was enough to get to .500 and move 2 games ahead of the Panthers
Overall it was a decent day for Philadelphia. The defense looked strong during the first half only allowing 14 points. Though they did allow themselves to be outscored in the 2nd and 4th quarters. This is something that most teams need help with it seems. Closing out games and maintain a lead. With the loss to the Stallions and the Stars W, the Panthers fall another game behind in the playoff race. This is good for Philadelphia as it seems the New Jersey Generals are running away with the division.
If Channing Stribling can return soon and the front 4 continue to improve on their week 6 showing, this may be a defense to fear. The offensive line needs some help in pass protection before the Stars lose another starting caliber QB to injury. Matt Colburn III may have done enough to lock in his starting spot in the backfield, but consistent play from this group has been lacking. Through 6 weeks there has been dramatic improvement no doubt. There are still far too many shortcomings for this group to be considered a title contender. Who knows what can happen in the playoffs right?
There are 4 weeks left to play before the playoffs start. If Philly wants to win a championship they need to step it up at the most fundamental aspects of the game. They have some of the most talented players in the most important positions. Coach Andrus has shown he can win at this level before. It’s not far fetched to believe he can do it again. New Jersey and Birmingham may have something to say about that though.