AAF Crash Course

The Super Bowl is nearly a week away and typically what happens after the big game is fans fall into a sea of boredom and despair on Sundays with no football left to watch. That may not be the case anymore. The Alliance of American Football (AAF)  has formed as a spring league to keep NFL fans entertained. However, getting invested in a whole new football league can be tough. There’s a lot to cover and that’s where Unfiltered Access has you covered.

Arizona Hotshots

Coach: Rick Neuheisel

Notable Players: QB Trevor KnightTE Joseph Fauria, DB Sterling Moore, K Nick Folk

Rich Neuheisel is a former head coach of the Colorado BuffaloesWashington Huskies and the UCLA Bruins. He has experience in the NFL as the quarterback’s coach and offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. The57-year-old is the first coach of the Arizona Hotshots, who are stationed in the same city as the NFL’s Cardinals.

As far as players go, the Hotshots boast former Oklahoma Sooners and Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight. At 25-years-old has never recorded an NFL statistic. He’ll have a fairly reliable target in tight end Joseph Fauria who recorded seven touchdowns off of 18 receptions in his rookie season for the Detroit Lions in 2013. The defense will be held down by defensive back Sterling Moore who at age 28, has recorded six career interceptions and six career forced fumbles in 31 games as a starter.

Salt Lake Stallions

Coach: Dennis Erickson

Notable Players: QB Matt Linehan, RB Matt Asiata, RB Branden Oliver

Dennis Erickson, the current Stallions head coach has held the same position at several locations. College jobs included stops at Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State, Miami (FL), Oregon State and Arizona State as well as in the NFL as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.

Erickson, will have one of the best running back tandems in the AAF to work in Asiata. The former Minnesota Viking was always the second choice on his team in the NFL. He did, however, record 570 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014 and Oliver put up 582 yards rushing and three touchdowns in 2014.

The backs will help take some of the load off of young quarterback Matt Linehan, son of former Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Another interesting thing about the Stallions is that they have former Idaho punter Austin Rehkow on the roster as a punter but no listed kicker. Rehkow did also kick at his time in Idaho so he is expected to fulfill that job.

San Antonio Commanders

Coach: Mike Riley

Notable Players: QB Logan Woodside, WR Demarcus Ayers, K Nick Rose

Mike Riley is another head coach in the AAF who has a lot of experience coaching in college. Managing to piece together a 112-99 record in the college ranks, 14-24 in the NFL and 40-32 in the CFL, making the AAF seem like a perfect place for Riley to land.

Riley’s first order of business will be seeing what he can get out of the 2018 Cincinnati Bengals seventh-round pick in Woodside. He hasn’t played a game in the NFL but he racked up some impressive numbers in his four years of playing at Toledo. He’ll also have the help of wide Ayers who has played in two NFL games and recorded six catches for 53 yards and a touchdown across those two games. Lastly, they’ll have a leg they can trust kicking field goals in Rose who has a career average of 78.6% (11/14) on field goals.

San Diego Fleet

Coach: Mike Martz

Notable Players: QB Mike Bercovici, RB Bishop SankeyTE Gavin Escobar

Mike Martz is one of the most recognizable coaching names on the list. He has experience coaching in the NFL in from 1992 to 2011, he has a Super Bowl win under his belt and his total record as a head coach is 56-36.

Bercovici has been jumping around on and off of NFL rosters since 2017 until he finally found a place to call home with the Fleet. He has never played a game in the NFL like many players coming into the AAF. Bercovici’s best weapon will be his running back in Sankey. In his career he played in 29 games (started in 12) where he posts a stat line of 231 touches for 1034 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. The offense will likely be funneled through him and the tight end Escobar who in his five years as a Cowboy recorded 30 catches for 333 yards and eight touchdowns.

Brimingham Iron

Coach: Tim Lewis

Notable Players: RB Trent Richardson, WR Quan Bray, WR Quinton Patton, LB Jonathan Massaquoi, K Nick Novak

Tim Lewis has as much coaching experience as any coach in the AAF, however, he has never been a head coach of a football team until now. He jumped around the NFL for years as a position coach and a defensive coordinator.

It is unclear who will win the Iron’s starting quarterback job. They have three rostered quarterbacks: Marcus McDade, Luis Perez and Keith Price. However, on offense, they have NFL draft bust turned CFL superstar Richardson, along with former 49ers wide receiver Patton who recorded 880 receiving yards in four years with the team. On defense, they boast linebacker Massaquoi who made an impact on the stat sheet for the Falcons in his three years in the NFL putting up six sacks, 11 tackles for loss and 15 QB hits. The Iron also serves as a home for Novak, a 37-year-old former NFL kicker who struggled to find a home for years until now.

Memphis Express

Coach: Mike Singletary

Notable Players: QB Zach Mettenberger, QB Christian Hackenberg, RB Zac Stacy

If Martz wasn’t a recognizable name, Mike Singletary should do the trick. Singletary is best known for his work as a player on the 1985 Bears defense that took the franchise to their first Super Bowl win in Super Bowl XX. Since then, he’s had minimal coaching experience in the NFL but is now hopping on board with the Express.

The Express have the most intriguing camp quarterback battles in the AAF. Former Titans quarterback Mettenberger squaring up against NFL draft bust Hackenberg. It’s unclear who will come out on top but both will likely make the final 52 man roster.

Whoever is starting at quarterback will have the luxury of having Stacy in the backfield. Stacy nearly had a 1,000 yeard season his rookie year – he fell just 17 yards short. He also racked up seven touchdowns. After that, he fell off but he will hope to recapture that magic and bring it to the Express this spring.

Orlando Apollos

Coach: Steve Spurrier

Notable Players: RB Akeem Hunt, WR Jalin Marshall, WR Charles Johnson, DB Will Hill III

Steve Spurrier has a storied coaching career, a majority of it spent coaching the South Carolina Gamecocks. He hasn’t coached a football team since 2015 but the Apollos decided he was the man they want for the job.

The Apollos are loaded on offense. They have some questions at quarterback, but they have some of the best skill position players they could possibly have. Hunt was in the NFL for three years where he averaged 5.1 yards per carry on 45 rushes. Meanwhile, the top two wide receivers in Marshall and Johnson create a very good duo. Marshall played one season where he managed 162 yards on 14 catches and two touchdowns while Johnson at his best, put up 475 yards receiving off of 31 catches with two touchdowns.

Of course, the Apollos boast Hill, the former NFL safety who has four career interceptions and three forced fumbles who will be a solid centerpiece to the defense, something some of these teams lack.

Atlanta Legends

Coach: Kevin Coyle

Notable Players: QB Matt Simms, RB Denard Robinson, K Younghoe Koo

Kevin Coyle is another coach who jumped around the college ranks before becoming a coordinator for NFL teams like the Bengals and the Miami Dolphins. The defensive specialist, like many coaches in this league, have traveled throughout the sport.

The Legends have the son of Phil Simms as their presumed starting quarterback. Simms played in four games, starting none of those for the New York Jets and threw 19 completions on 39 attempts for 156 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Legends also boast converted quarterback Robinson at running back. He could in theory play either quarterback or running back but he’s on the roster as a running back for now. In 4 seasons as a Jacksonville Jaguar, Robinson racked up 1058 yards on 263 rushes with five touchdowns along with 310 yards on 47 receptions.

The Legends have kicker Koo who got ousted from the NFL fairly quickly after four games with the Chargers where he was perfect from the PAT mark but 3 for 6 on field goals.

That’s the basic crash course for the AAF. Obviously as the season progresses, surprise players will shine through but that’s what the slate looks like before the season starts.

The AAF season will start Saturday Feb. 9. The season is 12 weeks long in total with the championship slated to take place on April 27. As for watching the games, the AAF reached an agreement with CBS where they will broadcast the inaugural games and the rest can be streamed on the AAF’s website and via the AAF mobile app.

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