There’s no getting around the unpredictability of the AAF and Week 3 proved just that. But, hey, that’s why we like it, right?
Let’s dive into the AAF Week 3 Round Up starting with Memphis’ shocking turnaround.
Memphis Express (17) @ Orlando Apollos (W 21)
As an Orlando Apollos fan, this game became a surprising nail-biter. Memphis Express fans, you can thank Zach Mettenberger.
After the Express finally benched Christian Hackenberg (why haven’t they done this sooner), it injected much needed life and excitement into the Memphis players. Mettenberger started off right out of the gate with a 75 yard, 9 play touchdown drive. Blood transfusion successful.
In classic Steve Spurrier fashion, the Apollos’ head coach showed the AAF that he is resourceful and surprising, if nothing else. He’s going for it on 4th and 1 as the crowd is chanting “Go for it”. He’s recognizing that Garrett Gilbert is struggling to connect with his wide receivers, so he turns him into a running quarterback. Upon which time, I might add, Gilbert had 7 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown. Not just a piddley goal line carry either. It was a 21 yard run for a TD. Then, to top it all off, Spurrier says in his post game conference, that even though the team was 3-0, he didn’t think they were playing like it.
Spurrier can be wonderfully and entertainingly unpredictable, but the Apollos shoddy run game is still evident as we close out the AAF Week 3. About the only success they have had so far is running out the clock at the end of the game.
I am still shocked Memphis didn’t put Mettenberger in sooner, but what is done is done. And hopefully for good for all the Express fans out there. Although, those sleeves, Zach. It’s getting dangerously close to Sam Bradford territory and I will be obligated to make a meme to make fun of you.
Arizona Hotshots (15) @ Salt Lake Stallions ( Win 23)
I think it’s safe to say that losing quarterback John Wolford hurt the Arizona Hotshots. The Salt Lake Stallions defensive line bottled up the run game and forced the Hotshots to throw the football. Once Wolford went down, well, it’s easy to see how he won the starting position over the hyped Trevor Knight.
In all honesty, this game was a little blah for me. The Hotshots did not have a single 3rd down conversion in the entire first half. Knight’s inaccuracy rose to the forefront with Wolford out after a big hit on an intercepted throw. This game did show me that the Salt Lake Stallions needed quarterback Josh Woodrum healthy. Now that he is, the entire offense turned a corner and their defense showed up with them.
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One name I want to point out is former San Diego Chargers running back Branden Oliver for the Stallions. He pounded the Hotshots defense all game with 15 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown at 5’8” and 204 pounds.
Birmingham Iron (W 28) @ Atlanta Legends (15)
This was my favorite game to watch, even though the score was low and the Atlanta offense made me cringe the entire second half. There is just something magical about Trent Richardson, Luis Perez, and Jamar Summers.
To sum up the game for the Atlanta Legends, I will use one word.
Their offense only showed up in the first half. Simms looked at first on fire, then too predictable, and I am pretty sure all of the Legends’ receivers slathered their hands and gloves with butter before the game. I seriously lost count of all the incomplete passes. Simms threw a whopping 3 interceptions and yet the Legends still refused to pull him for Aaron Murray. Bad decision making, bad hands, and bad coaching.
Oy – I can’t do it anymore. I need to get this bad taste out of my mouth.
Ah, the refreshing Birmingham Iron.
Running back Trent Richardson scored 3 touchdowns on 17 carries for 46 yards. He is their clear bell cow.
Jamar Summers shined once again in week 3. Prior to this week’s game, Summers had allowed only one catch. He come up big once again with an interception on Simms.
Then there is the curious case of quarterback Luis Perez. Unless you live under an AAF rock, I am sure you have heard he did not play high school football. Instead, he learned how to be a quarterback by literally searching the term on YouTube.
Ok, we’ve said it, let’s move on.
Perez did throw his first interception of the season but bounced back nicely with 17/31 for 160 yards. But, here is what is so fascinating. He has yet to throw a touchdown. I am sure that will change, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on his numbers and how the Iron will call their plays if defenses somehow manage to bottle up Richardson.
San Antonio Commanders (11) @ San Diego Fleet (W 31)
Ok, wow. So, I did not see this rematch coming. After San Diego’s week 1 loss to San Antonio, I thought this was going to look pretty similar. Boy, was I wrong.
Ok, Mike Martz, I see you.
What I find interesting about this game, and the entire AAF actually, is that the Fleet’s starting quarterback, Philip Nelson, was fully expecting to be a 3rd string quarterback. Mike Martz was impressed enough to give him the start because he EARNED it.
Nelson threw for 17/25, 193 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception in the Fleet’s whallop of the Commanders.
Spreaking of Nelson… Nelson Spruce, yet another St. Louis Rams cast-off, was a favorite target for QB Nelson (confused yet?), leading the team with 7 targets, 4 receptions, 50 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Side note: He was injured after the Rams drafted him and they ultimately let him go. Martz mentioned that if he could have stayed healthy, the Rams would have started him, and Cooper Kupp may never have been picked up. Everything happens for a reason, I suppose.
Then there was Ja’Quan Gardner, aka Darren Sproles, aka Maurice Jones-Drew. Not only did he bust out 12 carries for 122 yards with his 5’7” 204 pound frame, but his touchdown came from an explosive 83 yard run. He is another one I am keeping an eye on moving forward.
San Antonio just didn’t look the same this week as they have in week 1 and 2. The fleet managed to bottle up Kenneth Farrow with 9 carries for only 27 yards. Trey Williams and Marquis Williams had fewer carries but more yards, yet the Fleet did not allow a single rushing touchdown. Once Logan Woodside left the game with an injured hand, Marquise Williams took over at quarterback but couldn’t get anything going.
I am not too worried about the Commanders yet, but they are definitely a team I want to follow to see if they can bounce back to their explosive offense after a disappointing loss.