Dragons Drop Second Straight to Start Season
Perhaps fans of the New York Dragons became a bit spoiled and expected a playoff appearance every season. Having the best quarterback in the Arena Football League does give one confidence. But Aaron Garcia has still not stepped on the turf since breaking a bone in his leg early last season. Although Nick Browder did a nice job taking over and bringing the team to the post-season, he is no longer here and the replacements have not been effective.
The Dragons dropped the season opener at the Nassau Coliseum by a score of 60-7 to the Dallas Desperados. Quarterback Clint Dolezel shredded the New York secondary for seven scoring passes, and old friend Browder even came off the Dallas bench to throw another. Leon Murray started the game for the Dragons at quarterback and was ineffective. He was replaced in the second half by Rohan Davey, who threw the only touchdown pass on the day to Mike Horacek.
The Dragons had a bye in the second week and then went to Chicago to face the defending Arena Bowl champion Rush, who began the season one up and one down. New York started out good with two touchdowns by newly acquired Ja'Mar Toombs. Heading into the locker room at halftime, the Dragons were ahead by a score of 30-27. The Rush defense then clamped down and the Dragons were only able to put up a late touchdown after giving up 34 straight points. Davey finished with 245 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Following the 61-40 loss, Dragons head coach Weylan Harding said to reporters, "We are getting better but not quite there yet."
The Dragons' road trip continues on Friday as they go down to Tampa Bay and take on the Storm, who have had their own share of troubles this season and are 0-3.
The team has been in New York since 2001 after the Iowa Barnstormers were purchased by Charles Wang and moved to Long Island. A successful club in their original state, the Barnstormers had Kurt Warner at quarterback and qualified for the post-season in five out of six seasons in Iowa. They lost in the Arena Bowl in consecutive seasons (1996 and 1997) and made the second round of the playoffs the year before moving to New York.
Since being here, the Dragons have only missed the playoffs twice in six seasons, and have made the last two in a row. They have won 10 games in each of those two seasons, and need to really turn it around quickly if they want to continue that streak.
The team is hoping that Garcia can make his return before the season slips away. It is impossible to replace a quarterback that has thrown for 104 touchdown passes, as he did in 2001. In a 13-year career, Garcia has thrown for 90 or more scores five times.
There is some hope that Davey can hold the fort down until Garcia is healthy. He has the size, being 6'2" and 245 pounds. He also has the experience, being with the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots. Add to that a World Bowl championship ring when he led the Berlin Thunder all the way in 2004 while playing in NFL Europe. He received Offensive Player of the Year honors by leading the league with a 105.6 passer rating, 19 touchdown passes and 1,676 yards. But this is his first season playing the indoor game. How he turns those impressive numbers into the Arena League remains to be seen.