ELF: Jim Tomsula and Rhein Fire hope to stay undefeated against 3-0 Barcelona Dragons

Jim Tomsula’s Rhein Fire played their first home game of the season last week blowing out the Istanbul Rams 42-13. In front of a rowdy crowd of nearly eight thousand fans, the Rhein Fire solidified what many fans already knew, that the Fire is back, this time as a red hot contender in the European League of Football. 

The former NFL Europe team will play against another former World League squad the Barcelona Dragons this Sunday, as two of the ELF’s three remaining undefeated teams square off in an early-season heavyweight bout. 

One of the surprises of Jim Tomsula’s squad has been quarterback Matt Adam. The former Indiana State (NCAA D1 FCS) passer is coming off a very mediocre year with the Hamburg Huskies in Germany’s second-level division. In 2021, Adam threw for only 10 touchdowns, completing 47% of his passes with 12 interceptions for a 1-9 Huskies squad. However, Adam has silenced the haters making highlight throws to a core of talented pass catchers through three weeks of great play for the Fire.  Currently, Adam has the best passer rating of any quarterback in the ELF (via Rene Bugner).

The Rhein Fire’s defense features Swiss linebacker Lukas Ruoss, as well as veteran safety Omari Williams. These two defenders are a lethal combo that has quickly built a reputation for creating turnovers one way or another. Expect coach Tomsula to have his defense ready for a high-flying Barcelona passing offense. 

On the visiting side, a revamped and confident Barcelona squad looks to go 4-0 against the Rhein Fire. After a 3-7 season last year, Barcelona has come out of the gate this year looking like one of the ELF’s best teams. Quarterback Zach Edwards’s running ability and Doug Flutie like ability to extend plays make this Dragons offense appointment television. Edwards sits second in the league in passing yards putting up 836 passing yards and nine scores.  

Defensively, former St. Louis Ram, Michael Sam and a long list of Spanish playmakers have stepped up when needed. The Dragons defense earned clutch stops against Cologne last week, as well as swarming to the ball against Hamburg and Stuttgart. Michael Sam, the only European League of Football player to be drafted in the NFL, seems to have shaken off some rust notching two sacks last week. If Sam and Dragons defensive line can hold up in the trenches expect them to earn their fourth win of the season.

B0th offenses have had the advantage, putting up over 30 points a game on average. Expect the fireworks show to continue this week as two of the ELF’s three remaining undefeated teams meet in a crucial Western Conference matchup. Expect another wild crowd in Dusseldorf as football fans are thrilled about the Rhein Fire’s reboot. 

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football