07/28/2015 12:29 PM
JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville Sharks and the Arena Football League announced Tuesday that a pair of Sharks have won weekly League awards for Week 18 of the 2015 AFL season. Quarterback Tommy Grady has been named the Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Week, while defensive lineman Joe Sykes has been named the Riddell Defensive Player of the Week. Grady and Sykes are being honored for their stellar performances in the Sharks’ 63-16 victory over the Tampa Bay Storm.
In Saturday’s game, Grady piloted an efficient offense from the opening snap, as he led the Sharks to a touchdown on each of the eight drives for which he was in the game. Grady spread the ball around well, as starting receivers Tiger Jones, Joe Hills and London Crawford each caught at least one touchdown pass, while Cornelius Lewis nearly score on a screen pass as the eligible tight end. In all, Grady finished the game 15-of-22 for 179 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.
This season, his first in Jacksonville, Grady has completed 351 of his 536 pass attempts, ranking fifth among all AFL signal-callers in completing 65.5 percent of his passes. Grady ranks fourth in the League in both passing yards (4,136) and passing touchdowns (86), putting up those numbers while throwing just nine interceptions – at least three fewer picks than any of the quarterbacks ahead of him in those two categories. A sixth-year Arena Football League veteran, Grady has now amassed 598 touchdown passes during his AFL career, putting him on the verge of becoming the eighth member of the League’s 600-touchdown club.
On the other side of the ball, Sykes was a relentless force off the edge throughout the course of the game. On Tampa Bay’s opening drive, Sykes hit Storm quarterback Jason Boltus as he threw a fourth-down pass, leading to an incompletion and the first of the Sharks’ seven defensive stops. As the game progressed, Sykes was credited with three pass breakups, getting his hand on several passes at the line. As the game moved into the fourth quarter, Sykes seized the moment and made AFL history.
On a fourth-down snap from Jacksonville’s 14-yard line, Sykes beat his man off the line and brought Boltus to the turf, forcing yet another defensive stop. With that play, Sykes broke his own single-season AFL sack record, as his total of 17.0 sacks in 2015 now stands as the most dominant individual pass-rushing season in League history. This year, Sykes has also set a new single-season record for forced fumbles (10), and has totaled 36.0 tackles, 21.0 tackles for loss and six pass breakups. Sykes has also recorded a safety and recovered a fumble. Now in his fifth AFL season, Sykes ranks tied for third in League history with 52.0 career sacks.
With Grady’s and Sykes’ awards taken into account, the Sharks have now won 10 individual League honors this season. Wide receiver Joe Hills was named the J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Week for Week 1 and earned Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Week honors in Week 12. Wide receiver Tiger Jones earned Offensive Player of the Week honors in Week 3 and Cutters Catch of the Week honors in Week 4. The Sharks had two weekly award winners in Week 14, as Grady was named Offensive Player of the Week and Jackson earned Playmaker of the Week honors. Sykes earned the AFL Highlight of the Week for Week 16, while Greg Reid earned Playmaker of the Week honors in Week 17.
About the Jacksonville Sharks
The Jacksonville Sharks are a member of the Arena Football League (AFL). The ArenaBowl XXIV and four-time South Division Champions are presented by Sea Best Seafood and play all home games on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Shark Nation Memberships for the 2016 season are now available, starting as low as $99. To reserve your membership or for more information, please call (904) 621-0700 and speak to a Membership Activation Specialist. Follow the Sharks on facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.com/sharkattackdance and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks.
About the AFL
Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased a fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. The ESPN family of networks and CBS Sports Network will nationally broadcast AFL games each week for the entire 2015 season. The AFL schedule culminates with ArenaBowl XXVIII Saturday, August 29, 2015 on ESPN.