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Riding the Wave: Are the Tridents a Contender?

Their defense sure suggests so.

The Tridents didn't expect much out of Week 2. Or their season for that matter. Coming out of preseason with a low ranking and low expectations, they then performed miserably against the Ragnarok. But then Week 2 came.

Who honestly would have expected the Tridents to withstand the raging storm of Harry Danders? But not only did the Tridents hold their ground against Danders, they trounced him.

Danders was limited to 22.5 yards per carry. Not good. And predictability wasn't at fault either here: Danders actually passed twice for 20 yards per pass. The Tridents defense... was actually defending! More than that actually. They were totally and utterly shutting down the Kittens offense with ability matched only by the Chefs; the #1 ranking team in the league nearing the end of Week 2.

But not only did the Tridents limit the average yards, they were also very consistent. Those stats aren't the result of big sacks but occasional huge plays being given up. They are the result of only allowing one 50+ yard play all game. In fact, the Tridents forced the first Turnover on Downs of the season.

So how did they do this? How did they manage these incredible stats? If you look at the film, you can notice a pattern in the play calling. They ran a run zone on nearly every play. What's a run zone? A run zone is a play call that generally involves a large portion of the defenders being off the line by quite a distance, and it usually activates players without any defined intentions. This makes it highly flexible, as shown by the five yard sack in the first half, as it can shift from a general 20 yard zone to a blitz, or to coverage.

But if this defense is so unbeatable, why doesn't everybody use it? Three reasons:

It relies on good D-Line blocking. Money and Bruce do this better than most teams.
It usually lets up 20-30 yards per carry, as well as making short tight end or slot passes easy. While this isn't a problem against the Kittens, as 20-30 is wonderful against Danders, it could prove problematic against stronger passing teams.
It is slow to adapt, and thus terribly susceptible to the quick throw. That means that it is useless against teams like the Griffons, where the ball leaves Plumber's hands by the third card.

So was Week 2 really the perfect storm? The perfect matchup for the run zone gameplan that the Tridents so excel at? Not necessarily. The Tridents did perform particularly well. They made all of their tackles, most of their blocks, and had a solid offense to back it all up.

George Edwards is on pace to become an elite running back. He's behind only Thor Odinson in yards per game, he's scored 3 out of 4 of his teams TDs, and he's just shown exemplary skill at reading a play and finding holes. Edwards is what keeps this offense afloat. If he sinks, the Tridents are doomed.

But at least they have a passing game, right? Right? Mary Iota is not doing well. Not by a long shot. She did have that wonderful run TD with only a few minutes left in the half, but as a passer, not good. Part of this is due to the receivers. Edwards, for all of his strengths, is not a good outlet receiver. But Iota needs to get her act together soon, as the Tridents move on to take on the tough defenses of the Reapers and the Rattlers in Weeks 3 and 4. But if she can get some passing going, if Edwards continues his running, and if the defense holds up, this could get interesting.

But is that really enough? Perhaps Danders was just having a really bad day. Perhaps it was a fair bit of luck. Those are both possibilities. But there is now a chance that this might happen again, and if it does, we might witness a magical season this year.
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