Week 2 in the AAF has come and gone, and we learned a lot about both the teams and the league in its second week. This is going to be a weekly collection of views from the couch about the AAF games the weekend prior. Eight teams means at least eight views from the couch. Every week will include a quarterback rankings and a power rankings. Often, those two lists will look remarkably similar. Let’s get into it. Here are the Views from the Couch from the AAF Week 2:
1. The SkyCam Sucks
It’s horrible. They need to scrap it. Now. It’s a horrible camera angle, and every play they show from that angle is a play that makes me want to never watch the league again. If they had a camera view from behind the QB, it would be cool to see the defense the way the quarterbacks do. Instead, we get a camera angle from 8 feet above and 12 yards behind the QB. You can’t see anything. Just give us the normal camera angle.
2. Watching the Replay Official make decisions is fascinating
Replay officials, they’re just like us! This week it was a key fumble that the Iron returned for a touchdown. We got to watch as the replay official said, “his knee is down, and the ball certainly looks like it’s in his hand” over and over. He then proceeded to let the ruling on field stand because there was no camera angle in which he could actually see the ball. I’ll be damned if every football fan hasn’t gone through that exact same process during every questionable fumble they’ve ever seen. I love being able to watch and hear the replay ref make the call.
3. No peeks behind the Iron Curtain
The Birmingham Iron defense in incredible. Oddly enough, the run defense is average (127 ypg), but the pass defense is absolutely insane allowing only 112 ypg through the first two games. Some quick math here (I am an engineer after all) tells us that the Iron Curtain is allowing only 239 yards per game. That is tops in the league.
4. Are running backs back?
Multiple teams were carried by their running game in week 2. Ja’Quan Gardner put the Fleet on his back and willed them to victory, despite his terrible quarterback, behind 15 carries for 104 yards and 2 fourth quarter touchdowns. He ran for 20 more yards than the Fleet’s opponent, the Atlanta Legends. Led by Kenneth Farrow II’s 13 carries for 74 yards and 1 TD, the San Antonio Commanders put up 175 yards rushing against the Apollos before they inexcusably abandoned the run in the 4th quarter. In the night game on Saturday, when both quarterbacks were struggling, the Express ran for 175 yards, and the Hotshots ran for 209. Zac Stacy became the first running back in AAF history to eclipse 100 yards when he ran for 101 on 19 carries for the Express.
5. Coaching Matters, A LOT
In the two closest games of the weekend, the Hotshots overcame a 12 point 4th quarter deficit to beat the Express, and the Apollos scored the last 17 points of the game to beat the Commanders by 8. The similarity between these two games? Both losing teams got vastly outcoached by superior coaches in the fourth quarter. I am on record not believing in Rick Neuheisel. I still don’t. But I would take a 12 year old who plays Madden with his friends sometimes over Mike Singletary. The guy couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag. We saw it with the 49ers. We saw it in Week one. We saw it again in the 4th quarter of Week 2. In the other game, Spurrier proved he is the best and most exciting coach in the league. He seems content to just outscore other teams. I love it. On the other sideline, the Commanders ran the ball with ease, and their QB probably should’ve thrown somewhere between 3 and 7 INTs. So, naturally, with the lead in the 4th quarter, they decided to put the game on the shoulders of Logan Woodside. He promptly threw a pick 6. The rest, as they say, was history.
6. MJD is coming into his own in the booth
During Week one, the broadcast teams were new also. You could tell they were feeling each other out, and they were vastly improved in Week two. If I am not mistaken, MJD and Marvin Lewis called two different games this weekend, one on each day. I am also not positive about this, but I’m pretty sure they had a different white play by play guy in either game. I know it was those two and Andrew Scilliano for the snoozefest that was the Legends vs the Fleet. They weren’t perfect; however, every time Scilliano spoke I felt like I was watching Sunday Ticket Red Zone on DirecTV, and MJD and Lewis kept the game watchable. MJD seemed a little timid in the booth in the first week, letting Lewis take the proverbial reigns. That didn’t happen in Week two. The two of them worked well together, including much back and forth complete with MJD obsessing over a running back who looked like a much worse version of him out there.
7. Quarterback Rankings
Gilbert had over 300 yards passing. The first time in Alliance history that anyone had done that. He looks to be in total control of Spurrier’s offense. He appears to be the best QB in the league by far.
Perez continues to be efficient for the Iron. He was 24/38 for 184 yards. No touchdowns, but more importantly no turnovers. He also escaped pressure a bunch of times and used his legs to his advantage. He is in this awful spot where his o-line can’t run block (Trent Richardson had 46 yards after contact but only 41 yards rushing), but his receivers have a horrible case of the dropsies. Hopefully Quinton Patton and company can figure out how to catch.
I am so not sold on Wolford it’s crazy. When Arizona got the ball back with 4:47 left in the third quarter, they were losing 12-6. Wolford was 8/15 with 57 yards and 2 INTs. That is a horrible stat line. He ends up 14/22 for 194 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs. That is bolstered by a 64 yards catch and run in the 4th quarter. Wolford is also short, and he continues to get passes batted down at the line.
I will never understand why the commanders of the Commanders put the ball in his hands after the Apollos showed zero indication they could stop the run at all. Woodside rewarded the faith in him with a pick-6. That is going to overshadow how well he played in the first half/3 quarters. I don’t care what his numbers are because I will only remember this game for the 3 sentences before this one.
He is fine. Just fine. He ended up 17/25 for 160 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. That is just fine. Just fine doesn’t win football games. See ATL’s 0-2 start for proof of that. Aaron Murray is the #LegendSavior. It’s only a matter of time before we see the much younger quarterback starting in the developmental league.
It was obvious the coaching staff didn’t have much faith in Austin Allen. At times it didn’t look like Allen had faith in Austin Allen. It certainly didn’t help that he was trying to take down the Iron Curtain, which appears to be a very tall task. Under 50% completions and only 114 yards passing for Allen lands him at #6 on this list. On the bright side, he didn’t turn the ball over, and he only took 2 sacks.
I don’t really know what more anyone can say about how bad Hackenberg is. He ends up 14/25 for 102 yards. Singletary is going to have to find an answer without the initials CH.
That is all. Also, check how horrible the damn SkyCam is.
8. Power Rankings
The Steve Spurrier/Garrett Gilbert/Charles Johnson combination looks terrifying. Johnson almost had 200 yards receiving. The Apollos had 10 carries for 12 yards before their final drive of the game. They scored 31 points with 12 yards rushing (6 of their 37 total points came from a pick-6). This offense is the least balanced but most explosive in the league. They have a legit passer in Gilbert, a legit number 1 receiver in Johnson, and THE HBC calling the plays. Defenses be ware.
The Iron Curtain is legit. The offense will come around.
The Hotshots got manhandled by the Memphis Express defense for 3 quarters. If Memphis had a QB, they would’ve won this game. I have no faith in Neuheisel or Wolford.
San Antonio Commanders
The Commanders coaching staff lands them at #4 on this list. They got completely out-coached in the 4th quarter by Spurrier. If they continued the momentum from the first 3 quarters, the Commanders are the #1 team on this list. The run defense looked fantastic until the final drive of the game for the Apollos. Everyone in the world knew they were going to run the ball, and the Apollos gained 54 yards on only 8 carriers.
Salt Lake Stallions
This whole season is going to be “what could have been” for the Stallions. The defense played really well against the Iron, but the offense couldn’t get anything going through the air. They will continue to rely on their running game. Hopefully, Woodrum gets healthy or Allen gets better.
The defense was great again. They held the explosive Hotshots offense in check as long as they could. The Hotshots had 0 points at halftime, 6 points after 3 quarter, and only 20 points on the game. That’s a great performance. Unfortunately, Zac Stacy couldn’t overcome Christian Hackenberg, and the Express lost again.
San Diego Fleet
The ONLY reason that the Fleet are ranked above the Legends in this list is that they beat them yesterday. Philip Nelson is so, so, so bad. So bad. Gardner put this team on his 5 foot 7 inch back, MJD about creamed his pants watching the guy run, and they got lucky that Atlanta is more poorly coached than the Fleet somehow. The Fleet had to call timeout on their second play from scrimmage to avoid a delay of game. At home. Martz has clearly lost his touch. It looked like the offense was running plays that were designed to be run out of the shotgun, but Nelson was under center. The center went to Georgia Tech (who runs the triple option which is exclusively snapped under center) and didn’t play last week. Is it possible that Martz doesn’t trust the center to snap a shotgun snap consistently?
It was by sheer coaching malpractice that Atlanta lost last night. Nelson was the worst player on any field this weekend. Atlanta should have sold out against the run, but, instead, they got dominated by a guy who might not be tall enough to ride rollercoasters. Just give the Atlanta fans what they want: former UGA QB Aaron Murray, aka the #LegendSavior.
About the Author: I am Michael Pappas, aka THE @CouchPaptato, and these are Views from the Couch. Not necessarily my couch. Usually my couch…because I don’t often leave my apartment. I have a really great couch. Any couch is great though, I don’t discriminate. My home couch is in Dallas, TX, but for the last 5 years my butt has happily been couching in Auburn, AL. Hit me up on twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what the view is like from your couch. Or how stupid the view is from my couch.