Rocco broke multiple franchise passing records in 2012.
Feb. 7, 2013
By JONAH ROSENBLUM, AFNATION
2012 RECORD: 8-10 (t-3rd, American Conference South)
LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2012, lost to Philadelphia Soul in the Quarterfinals
COACH (RECORD): Pat O’Hara (27-25 overall, 8-10 in New Orleans)
OFFENSIVE STAR: Kurt Rocco, QB (5,317 passing yards, 107 TD, 17 INT)
DEFENSIVE STAR: DeMarcus Robinson, DB (91.5 tackles, 17 PBU. 6 INT)
2012 OFFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 7th overall (13rd rushing, 5th passing), 9th scoring (54.4 ppg)
2012 DEFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 10th overall (t-11th rushing, 8th passing), 10th scoring (55.3 ppg)
KEY ADDITIONS: QB Zack Eskridge (Kansas City), WR Shay Hodge (Georgia), WR Donovan Morgan (Philadelphia), WR/KR, Brent Holmes (San Antonio), WR/KR Larry Beavers (free agent), DB Eddie Moten (Orlando), Derrick Boyd (Cleveland), DB Dustin Bell (Cleveland)
KEY DEPARTURES: WR Josh Bush (Orlando), WR L.J. Castile (Utah), WR Greg Ellingson (Tampa Bay), JLB Alvin Ray Jackson (Pittsburgh), DB Gladel Brutus (Orlando), DB Jeremy Kellem (Arizona)
KEY FREE AGENTS: FB Joe Alajajian
MARQUEE MATCHUPS: Orlando (Week 1), at Tampa Bay (Week 7)
PROGNOSIS: Last season was a big year for the VooDoo, as the team snapped a 12-game home losing streak dating back to 2008 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Much of the resurgence can be credited to head coach Pat O’Hara and his quarterback Kurt Rocco. Rocco made great strides in his first season in New Orleans, setting single-season franchise records with 5,317 passing yards and 107 touchdowns. If that progress continues, there will be plenty of cheering in “The Graveyard” this season. However, the VooDoo will have some obstacles to overcome. On the offensive side of the ball, Rocco will be without three of his four favorite targets from a year ago, as Josh Bush, L.J. Castile and Greg Ellingson all found new homes in free agency. On the plus side, the team did acquire former All-Arena receiver Donovan Morgan in an offseason trade. The offense will depend heavily on Morgan’s experience and playmaking ability to pick up the slack for the departed talent. O’Hara’s squad will need players to step up on the defensive side as well. New Orleans lost two 2012 All-Arena selections in free agency, as Jack linebacker Alvin Ray Jackson relocated to Pittsburgh, while defensive back Jeremy Kellem joined up with the defending ArenaBowl champion Arizona Rattlers. The additions of Eddie Moten, Derrick Boyd and Dustin Bell, as well as 2012 holdover Demarcus Robinson and a wildcard in former LSU recruit Delvin Breaux, should assist in softening the blow dealt to the secondary. With so many new faces, the group that could be the biggest difference makers is the defensive line, a youthful unit that showed dramatic improvement upon the acquisition of Xavier Brown last season. If Brown, Marlon Favorite and Derandus Frye continue to progress in their sophomore campaigns, the VooDoo will be in good shape. Opposing quarterbacks, however, may not be.