A LOOK AT THE LIONS BY THE NUMBERS AT THE BREAK
The Lions are currently in the middle of what amounts to a three week break from the regular season and they have a total of 21 days between games. With this break, there is an opportunity for the Lions to make necessary changes based on how the season has gone and try and perfect certain schemes and techniques before returning to the field. In this article, I will be taking a look at where the Lions rank in the NAL in a number of different categories as well as what their upcoming schedule looks like.
Since the start of the season, the Lions have been one of the top offenses in the entire league, scoring 60 in the season opener and never looking back. They are currently second in the league in points per game with 55.0 and total points scored with 275. The only team with a better scoring offense is the Albany Empire, the team that the Lions lost to in the season opener.
The Lions strength on offense comes in their passing game with Mason Espinosa at the helm and a very talented receiving core surrounding him. Espinosa is second in the NAL in yards, completion percentage, touchdowns, yards per game, interceptions and efficiency among quarterbacks with at least ten attempts.
Espinosa does lead the NAL in both attempts and completions as the Lions have leaned heavily on the passing attack throughout the season. With that reliance on the passing game the Lions have not done much in terms of running the football, ranking fifth in the NAL in rushing yards and fourth in touchdowns.
The receiving core that Espinosa has been connecting with all season has been one of the best in the league which has allowed the veteran quarterback to share the ball and not rely on one receiver. The Lions are the only team with three receivers in the top ten in touchdowns with Romond Deloatch and Lonnie Outlaw tied for fourth with nine and Desmond Reece ranked eighth with six. Outlaw and Deloatch are also tied for second in the league in receptions with 35 each. While Darius Prince leads the NAL in every major receiving category, the Lions have one of the best groups in the entire league.
This offense is equally as dangerous in the red zone, with the Lions leading the NAL in red zone scoring. The Lions have scored points on 37 of their 42 trips to the red zone which is 88% red zone percentage, the best in the NAL. They also lead the league in red zone touchdown percentage with an 83% success rate.
One area where the Lions have struggled is on third down. The Lions have only 14 of their 36 third down plays which is good for a 39% conversion rate which is fifth in the NAL. The Lions make up for the issues on third down with the best fourth down conversion rate in the league, converting 73% of their conversion attempts.
To complement the strong offense led by Espinosa, the Lions have one of the best defenses in the NAL. The Lions lead the league in forced turnovers with 13 combined interceptions and fumble recoveries and they have the best turnover differential with +8. They are also first in sacks with 11 so far this year, with Ulric Jones leading the way with 5.5. They are even first in total tackles with 175.
The Lions defense has been excellent at limiting big plays and coming up with key stops against opposing offenses, which has led to the Lions having the best scoring defense in the NAL. They are the only team that allows under 40 points per game with a league-best 36.3 points allowed per game. The defense is the only unit in the league to hold teams to under 200 yards per game, only allowing 191 yards per game. This defensive unit, with defensive coordinator Brandon Reed at the helm, has rebounded since the season opener and has become arguably the best defense in the NAL.
The Lions have been excellent on offense and defense through the first five games of the season.
Both units compliment each other perfectly, with the methodical Lions offense controlling time of possession and scoring often while the stifling Lions defense keeps teams out of the end zone better than any other defense in the NAL.
The team will face a challenge when they return against the Sharks. The Sharks have made a quarterback change with Danny Southwick now leading the way for Jacksonville at quarterback. Southwick and the Sharks were able to upset the first-place Empire on June 26. The Lions will be back home on June 24 for what could be the biggest game of the season in a possible battle for first place with the Empire. The Lions and Empire are currently tied for first, each with a 4-1 record. They will wrap up the season at home against the Jersey Flight on July 31.
The Lions will return on July 17 when they travel to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. EST. The game can be watched live with CTV Beam, at https://www.nationalarenaleague.com/home or on the NAL’s official Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSzSD8STXiEVPVtUDO9juhA.
ABOUT THE COLUMBUS LIONS
The Columbus Lions are members of the National Arena League (NAL). Founded in 2007, the Columbus Lions are starting their 15th season in 2021. The Lions are a 3x league champion and 13 playoff appearances in their rich history. The Lions play their home games at Hughston Field in the Columbus Civic Center. Lions Season Ticket Memberships are on sale now call (706) 322-3336 or visit columbuslions.com. Follow the Lions on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Lionsfootball/, twitter @columbuslions and instagram.com/Columbuslions.
ABOUT NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE
The National Arena League was founded in 2016 and hosted its inaugural season in 2017 as the premier league in arena football. The National Arena League will kick off its fifth season in 2021. For more information regarding expansion opportunities or partnerships, contact Commissioner Chris Siegfried at email@example.com For more information about the NAL visit www.nationalarenaleague.com, facebook.com/nationalarenaleauge, twitter.com/NALfootball, Instagram.com/nationalarenaleague.