Week 2 is in the books, and what a two weeks it has been. From the opening games on CBS to the thrilling Orlando win in San Antonio, the Alliance of American Football has it all. While there have been some positives and negatives to each team, the best are starting to show.
8. Atlanta Legends (0-2)
Last Week: 24-12 Loss to the San Diego Fleet
After dropping their first two contests, the opener against the Apollos 40-6 and squandering a two-score lead to the San Diego Fleet, the Atlanta Legends find their way in last place in our power rankings.
After a dismal two weeks, Kevin Coyle may be wishing Michael Vick was still the offensive coordinator. A dismal 223 offensive yards per game is less than ideal for a league that is considered to offensive driven.
Despite this start, there have been some bright spots to this team. Former Hawkeye Akrum Wadley has been coming into his own, having 8 receptions for 70 yards including a 32 yard screen in where he did most of the work. On the defensive side of the ball, DB Tyson Graham Jr. (from my alma mater South Dakota) is second in the league in tackles. Unfortunately for the Legends, the schedule doesn’t get any easier. Unless they can score an upset this weekend, look for them to start 0-5.
This Week: Home against the Birmingham Iron
7. Memphis Express (0-2)
Last Week: 20-18 Loss to the Arizona Hotshots
Well, what could you say about a team with a quarterback that is 24/48 for 189 yards through two weeks?
The Christian Hackenberg effect.
Two weeks into the season and after a horrendous shutout in the opener, they rebounded well and took the preseason favorite Hotshots to the wire in a game they probably should have won. While Mike Singletary’s return to coaching looks like a disaster, I am not sold that all is loss for the Express. The stringy defense (led by former Ole Miss product DeMarquis Gates) looked better in throttling a high powered offense.
RB Zac Stacy became the first person in Alliance history to eclipse the 100 yard mark, and they have shown success on the ground. However, this is a game designed to encourage teams to air it out, which does not favor the personnel on this offense.
While I think this is a team that can sneak into the playoffs as the 2 seed in the east, the Express’s schedule does not get any easier this week, as they get set to travel to Orlando to take on the undefeated Apollos.
It’s going to be full panic mode when they start 0-3.
This Week: Away against the Orlando Apollos
6. Salt Lake Stallions (0-2)
Last Week: 12-9 Loss to the Birmingham Iron
Special Teams, Special Teams, Special Teams.
While it may not be the biggest part of the game, it can mean the difference between a win and a loss as the Stallions found out. Last week’s game must leave a sour taste in their mouth as it was an opportunity to steal a win on the road, but a muffed punt along with Bertolet going 1-4 on FG’s ended up costing them in a 12-9 loss to the Iron.
Austin Allen ended up getting the starting nod against the Iron as a Josh Woodrum, the starter in Week 1, sustained a hamstring injury in that game and was unable to go. Karter Schult leads the league with 3 sacks and anchored a Stallions defense that has stepped up, limiting Trent Richardson and Co. to 12 points. If this team and get both sides of the ball figured out, watch out.
I could see this Salt Lake team righting the ship, but I am inclined to believe they will be a team that will start 0-5 or 1-4 just because of scheduling. I am ecstatic to see the home opener this weekend in Salt Lake, I expect a great turnout on Saturday.
This Week: Home Opener against the Arizona Hotshots
5. San Diego Fleet (1-1)
Last Week: 24-12 Win against the Atlanta Legends
With an attendance of 20,000 in the rain, football is back in San Diego.
After a disappointing Week 1 loss in San Antonio on opening night. The Fleet responded in a major way, overcoming an early 9 point deficit to the Atlanta Legends enroute to a 24-12 victory. Ja’Quan Gardner is tied for the league lead in rushing yards with 159 and this is a team that could very easily be 2-0 if not for some turnovers in the San Antonio game.
Philip Nelson, new QB for the Fleet after Mike Bercovici was benched, also had the most impressive completed pass of all time (if you have not seen it, check it out ASAP). Nelson sparked just enough life into this offense, despite 2 interceptions. Ryan Moeller and Damontre Moore lead this defense that is going to be tested again in a rematch of Week 1, this time in San Diego.
This Week: Home against the San Antonio Commanders
4. Birmingham Iron (2-0)
Last Week: 12-9 Win against the Salt Lake Stallions
Trent Richardson may only have 99 yards on the season, but he has earned every single one of those yards. Richardson helped to seal the game down the stretch against the Stallions (despite a little luck) and are sitting atop the East along with the Apollos.
The Iron followed up a commanding 26-0 Week 1 win over the Express with a gritty win 12-9 against the Stallions.
Luis Perez has been the best story of the Alliance to this point with multiple scouts reaching out to him, but don’t count out Jamar Summers. The former Steeler is proving he has what it takes and is one of the best CB in the league to this point. The Iron may not be the most talented or flashy team in the league, but any team that starts strong has a great chance of making to the playoffs.
This Week: Away against the Atlanta Legends
3. San Antonio Commanders (1-1)
Last Week: 37-29 Loss to the Orlando Apollos
San Antonio has captivated the Alliance world.
Following two straight games of almost 30,000 people in attendance, the Commanders fans have officially made the Alamodome the toughest place to play in the league. While last week may not have gone according to plan, as a touchdown lead turned into a touchdown deficit in the span of less than a minute, Mike Reilly’s squad is an offensive machine, averaging 381 yards through two weeks.
While the defense may not have been as good as Week 1, they still boast arguable the best defensive line in the league, led by Winston Craig and Joey Mbu, which will help them as the offensive line play improves in the coming weeks.
While a 1-1 start is probably not what Coach Reilly was hoping for, their rematch against the Fleet this weekend is the game of the week that will have major implications come April.
This Week: Away against the San Diego Fleet
2. Arizona Hotshots (2-0)
Last Week: 20-18 Win against the Memphis Express
Winning ugly is still winning.
I am sure most Hotshot fans were expecting a thorough butt-whooping of the Express after seeing what the Iron did to them, being in a 12-0 deficit heading into the 4th quarter to the Express was surly the end of the undefeated season.
As the great Lee Corso says, “NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND”.
Despite being limited for 3 and a half quarters of the game, the offense roared to life in the 4th quarter behind John Wolford. Even with 2 interceptions, he was able to regain composure and breathe some life into the offense, saving the undefeated season.
Anytime win on the road is a big win, and that is exactly what the Hotshots were able to achieve.
You don’t drop the Rick Neuheisel-led preseason favorites after one close performance that they still came away with a victory.
This Week: Away against the Salt Lake Stallions
1. Orlando Apollos (2-0)
Last Week: 37-29 Win against the San Antonio Commanders
The Orlando Apollos are the #1 team in the inaugural Ball On The 25 AAF Power Rankings.
Going into a hostile environment like San Antonio, it is one thing to be competitive in the fourth quarter.
It’s another to win the game.
Garrett Gilbert (yes, that Garrett Gilbert) has proven himself to be the best quarterback in the AAF right now. He threw for a whopping 393 yards on Sunday and has thrown for 4 (and caught another) touchdown this year. This air raid passing attack has shown little signs of slowing down with the two best receivers (Jalin Marshall and Charles Johnson) terrorizing defensive backs.
On the defensive side of the ball, Keith Reaser is arguably one of the favorites for MVP at this point in the season. He has 9 tackles and has 2 INT’s after two weeks. His 2nd interception a game winning pick-6 on a 10 yard out-route in the San Antonio game that showed his ability to be a lockdown corner.
In a league like this where all the players are equal and talent, the coach able to get the most out of his player and develop the best scheme will win.
Insert Steve Spurrier.
The HBC has proven himself to be the coach to beat in the league, providing us with numerous memorable mic’d up moments (including roasting Tennessee). Assuming no let down this weekend, expect the Apollos to be sitting here next week.
This Week: Home against the Memphis Express