(OMAHA, NE.) Despite landing the league’s most sought after free-agent in 2016, the re-signing of former head coach Dontae Allen and the return of several former veterans, the Omaha Heart continue to underwhelm leading to the inevitable 2017 off-season question being – will the league return the Omaha Heart franchise?

For Chicago, such questions are never asked, why? The Bliss have won 3 of the last 4 Legends Cup and could win a 4th on Labor Day weekend in Los Angeles.

With the new pieces in place for Omaha entering tonight’s game there was a strong possibility that Omaha could play competitively with Chicago, that thought lasted all of 20 seconds as the much-critized Jayne Caldwell silenced her critics with a 35yd touchdown dart to Tamar Fennell. That touchdown pass was one of a Bliss and Caldwell game-record 5 touchdown passes.

The loaded Bliss roster was too much to handle for an Omaha defense that despite the return of veteran aces Kelsey Lane, Lindsey Burse and Jaqueline Good, were simply out-played physically upfront. The often forgotten about Bliss offensive front three, headlined by tight end Mae Gamble, opening up holes that you could drive Mack trucks through, with Javell Thompson and Caldwell benefiting to the tune of 113 rushing yards.

Defensively, Chicago is off-the-charts when it comes to athleticism, speed and tenacity and it simply does not get better than 2016 ‘Defensive Player of the Year’ and Bliss middle linebacker Kristin Morrison, who finished the game 9.5 solo tackles and 1.5 sacks. In fact, the 2nd year linebacker’s attack-oriented play ultimately ended Omaha quarterback Alex Drake’s season and possibly career with a 3rd quarter de-cleater against the walls.

Omaha lacks speed and consistent quarterback play on offense, Shalynn Durham despite her best efforts does not have the fundamentals and speed to be effective at the position, finishing the game with a lackluster 2.9 per carry average. The broadcast commentators also referenced the poor play-calling by offensive coordinator Dontae Allen, who would call stretch plays against a very fast defense and even called a reverse with his injury-prone quarterback, Alex Drake. Drake finished night with another disappointing performance, completing only 3 of 13 passes while throwing an interception.

The off-season has started for Omaha, the keys to return to glory in 2018, if there is a 2018 season in the America’s heartland, are the following:

  • Alex Drake needs to learn the fundamentals of the position and get into better physical shape.
  • Identify and groom a true starting running back.
  • Make certain all key starters return to build around (Good, Burse, Lane, Durham).
  • Sign a game-breaking free-agent wide receiver and develop Marissa Mitchell-Riley at the position.
  • Stress physical conditioning this off-season, the team was often winded in the 2nd half which is where they lost games.

Chicago now is one game away from an undefeated 2017 regular season, with only the woeful Denver Dream in their way. The real focus of this Bliss roster will be a date with a certain team from the South, on August 20th in Chicago for the Eastern Conference Championship.

Chicago Omaha
Score 60 0
First Downs 12 5
Rushes-Yards (Net) 13-113 29-29
Passing Yards (Net) 118 40
Passes Att-Comp-Int 8-5-0 22-5-2
Total Offense Plays-Yards 21-231 51-69
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards 0-0 1-12
Interception Returns-Yards 2-19 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-1
Penalties-Yards 3-24 1-2
Possession Time 13:33 26:27
Third-Down Conversions 1/2 2/13
Fourth-Down Conversions 1/1 2/10
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 4/4 0/0