Stop me if you’ve heard this before; teams featuring players from Florida, Alabama and California are undefeated in a football league.
Who ever saw this coming?
I get it. From the time the confetti stops falling at the Super Bowl through mid-July, football moratorium is upon us.
“There’s not enough talent for the NFL, let alone a league full of misfits, nomads and vagabonds”, you say.
I pointed out on Sunday that there are at least four quarterbacks in this league that I’d rather watch play football than Blake Bortles or really anyone prior to Sam Darnold of the Jets, meaning essentially the bottom half of quarterbacks in this league.
This past weekend, all 8 AAF teams were back in action, like they’ll be for the next 10 weeks right up until the 2019 NFL Draft!
First, on Saturday, the Birmingham Iron defeated the Salt Lake Stallions 12-9. The Iron are led by QB Luis Perez, who went 24/38 for 184 yards and has yet to turn the ball over in each of his first two games while completing 60% or more of his passes each game. The Iron’s leading receiver is Quinton Patton, the 28-year old WR from Louisiana Tech and a former 4th round draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers. He’s come back from a foot injury he sustained as a Jet in 2017 and has 151 yards receiving through two games. Of course the Iron’s leading rusher is Trent Richardson, but his output isn’t remarkable. He’s basically a lumbering oaf that occasionally ambles in the right direction. However, that direction has led to back-to-back wins and the Iron are 2-0.
The Iron defense is led by LB Beniquez Brown with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery as well as LB Jonathan Massaquoi with 9 tackles and 2 sacks.
For the Salt Lake Stallions, their running game isn’t awful, as they’ve got two running backs in Brandon Oliver and Joel Bouagnon that are averaging 4 or more yards per carry. It’s their passing game that clearly needs help. Through two weeks, the Salt Lake QBs are a combined 32 of 66 (under 50% completion rate for those not terribly into math), with Matt Linehan leading the team with 53% completion thus far. Clearly they’ve got a long way to go as a team and they’re 0-2 at this point.
The Stallion defense is led by DE Karter Schult with 10 tackles and 3 sacks as well as S Cody Brown with 10 tackles.
The late game Saturday featured the Arizona Hotshots and the Memphis Express. As I predicted, the Hotshots are now 2-0 after beating the Express 20-18, who fall to 0-2. Hotshot QB John Wolford is now 32/51 (62.7%) with 6 TDs and 2INT for 469 yards. Additionally, the Hotshot backfield is stacked with three running backs average 4 or more yards per carry in Jhurell Pressley, Justin Stockton, and Tim Cook. WR Rashad Ross leads Arizona in receiving with 9 catches for 170 yards and 3 TDs.
The Hotshot defense is led by LB Steven Johnson with 13 tackles and an INT and LB Da’Sean Downey’s 2 sacks.
Memphis’ offense is straight up anemic, and frankly that falls on QB Christian Hackenberg, who is currently 24/48 (50% completion percentage) for 189 yards and an INT. RB Zac Stacy is filling the #1 running back role and has run the ball 31 times for 159 yards and a TD, but the team lacks a clear #2 back. The receivers aren’t offering a lot of help, with Reece Horn, the Express’ leading receiver, having 7 catches for 84 yards through two games.
The Express defense is led by LB DeMarquis Gates with 16 tackles and a fumble recovery as well as LB Anthony Johnson with 9 tackles and 2 sacks.
On Sunday, the Orlando Apollos beat the San Antonio Commanders 37-29 in the best game the league has had thus far. Orlando QB Garrett Gilbert went 19/28 (67.9% completion percentage) for 393 yards and 2 TDs in a victory. Called shot, Gilbert starts in the NFL in the next year or two and probably for the Titans or Jaguars if we’re being honest about it. Maybe the Bucs if they get off the Winston Wagon and stop riding Fitzmagic? No, seriously, peep the stats. Through two games, Gilbert is 34/53 (64.3% completion percentage) for 620 yards and 4 TDs with no INTs thrown. Important to note is that the Apollo offense is run by none other than Steve Spurrier, the Ole Ball Coach, and he loves to air it out. As far as the rest of the Orlando offense goes, the backfield features D’Ernest Johnson and Akeem Hunt, both averaging well over 5 yards a carry. Charles Johnson leads the Apollos in receiving and has 11 catches for 252 yards and a TD. Given that the Orlando defense gave up 29 points, it’s pretty apparent how this team wins games, am I right?
The Apollos are led on defense by LB Terence Garvin with 9 tackles and 2 INTs as well as S Will Hill III with 9 tackles.
The San Antonio Commanders are not sitting quite as pretty and it starts under center. I want QB Logan Woodside to be a starting NFL quarterback because I like guys that make plays with their feet as well as their arm, but I can’t say he’s ready given that he’s 38/75 (50.7% completion percentage) for 478 yards, a TD and 3 INTs. That said, it’s not always on the passer. The Commander backfield is led by Kenneth Farrow II, who has 27 rushes for 111 yards and 2 TDs. He is aided in his efforts by the likes of RBs David Cobb and Aaron Green, that are good, but not great back-up running backs. Mekale McKay and Alonze Moore share the lead at WR, and given their target share, I think it’s fair to say Logan doesn’t have a #1 receiver yet but when he finds his guy, I think his completion percentage will shoot up. Logan Woodside is a guy I can see playing in the NFL in the next year or two if he continues to improve.
The Commander defense is led by CB De’Vante Bausby with 7 tackles and an INT as well as LB Shaan Washington with 4 tackles and 3 sacks.
On Sunday night, the San Diego Fleet defended the homefront and beat the Atlanta Legends 24-14. San Diego is having a little QB shuffle going on, and I think Mike Bercovici is the long-term starter and another potential NFL starter, should he develop some sense of awareness to keep himself from getting mowed down by a pass rusher. That said, Philip Nelson showed up on Sunday and made plays with his feet as well, which I hold in high regard because I’d rather get a few yards on a scramble than take a sack, right? Fleet RB Ja’Quan Gardner leads the backfield with 23 carries for 159 yards and 2 TDs and outside of RB Terrell Watson, there isn’t a lot of depth at the position. WR Brian Brown leads the receiving group, but a TE to keep an eye on is Gavin Escobar.
The Fleet defense is led by SS Ryan Moeller with 6 tackles and 2 INTs as well as DE Damontre Moore with 6 tackles and 2 sacks.
The Atlanta Legends are going to suffer a similar fate to that of the Jets by continuing to trust QB Matt Simms with protecting the football on top of being accurate when he throws it. See, Simms is 32/53 (60% completion percentage) for 286 yards, a TD and 3 INTs. The Atlanta backfield is in shambles with no clear #1 back, and you know your offense is in trouble when a running back is your leading receiver through two games.
The Legends are led on defense by DB Tyson Graham, Jr. with 14 tackles, half a sack and an INT, as well as DB Ed Reynolds with 10 tackles and a sack.
I get that there is no football like NFL football, but this is the best method for assessing players after college and before the next season starts. We may not get a bunch of QBs from this year’s class, but there are definitely some talented players all over the league and it’s just getting started.