Opportunity for some. Redemption for others…
When you look around at the list of head coaches in the AAF, you can check off names that have made waves in the football world either at the collegiate or professional level. Except for one; Birmingham Iron Head coach Tim Lewis. For those average football fans, he is an unknown. Even avid football folks have to scratch their heads and think “Who?” Tim Lewis. A defensive minded, no non-sense, “do it right, or do it all night” kind of coach. His most notable position was Defensive Coordinator for the New York Giants in 2005-2006. In fact, that is how he got the job, thanks in part to Justin Tuck.
While the Alliance was in the process of assigning coaches, they awarded arguably the most talent-rich area’s team to a man who had never been a head coach thanks in part to his proximity to the Birmingham area. J.K. McKay, Head of Football Operations wanted Coach Lewis to be a part of the Alliance and here was a grand opportunity. Lauded by Justin Tuck for his commitment to excellence, knowledge of the game and work ethic; Coach Tim Lewis was named Head Coach for the Birmingham Iron. Now it was time to put together the staff that would be responsible for making his vision and concepts a reality. Meanwhile, fans who were keeping track of Alliance of American Football happenings scratched their collective heads in bewilderment… Steve Spurrier in Orlando, Brad Childress in Atlanta (has since resigned), Mike Singletary in Memphis and Birmingham got who?
Let’s see if we can assuage the doubts. In this two-part series, we will go over the Offensive and Defensive coaches with a brief history of each and some of their success. We’ll start with the Offense.
Offensive Coordinator and QB’s coach Steve Logan may be a recognizable name. He was the head man for East Carolina for a full decade from 1992-2002. He moved on to the NFL from there and was an offensive assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they drafted Carnell “Cadillac” Williams 5th overall in the 2005 draft. They created a friendship which would be a big factor in Logan to coming to coach the Iron. While both coaches were with the 49ers in 2015, Logan and Lewis formed a solid working relationship . Coach Logan has plenty of experience dealing with professional athletes and should be well up to the task.
I mentioned Carnell Williams because he was the Running Backs coach for a good part of training camp until making a move to his Alma Mater(Auburn) to coach the same position. He was already in place when Steve Logan was brought on staff and the chance to mentor the young coach was a big factor in Logan agreeing to the job. Even after his departure, his influence is still felt throughout the RB’s stable.
Named to be the successor to Coach “Cadillac” Williams is Gerald Brown. With twenty-two years coaching experience, Coach Brown has contributed to two Pro-Bowl guys in Michael Turner and Ovie Mughelli. He spent 6 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons as the Running Backs Coach from 2008-2014. Prior to that he coached at the University of Indiana and produced many successful seasons. While a freshman, Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis became just the seventh frosh in program history to rush for 100 yards and the third to go for 200 while under his tutelage. Coach Brown has spent the last few years as an analyst for his home states University of Tennessee where he started his career as a graduate assistant in the late 1980s.
Coaching the big guys up front is long time O-Line Coach Dave Magazu. For thirteen years Magazu coached up some of the strongest and most dominant lines in the NFL. Multiple times his lines either produced a top 5 leading rusher in the league as well as providing the top protection for the guy under center. A coach with the Carolina Panthers from 2003-2010 he helped Jonathon Stewart and DeAngelo Williams to be the first duo to both reach 1,100 yards. From 2011-14 he provided protection for Peyton Manning to have a career year in Denver. 2015-2016 he opened holes for rookie Jordan Howard to reach 1,300 yards rushing. Safe to say the man can get the job done.
Wide Reciever Coach Alex Mortenson has been learning the ins and outs of coaching from one of the greatest to ever do it. He has been a graduate assistant under Coach Nick Saban at the University of Alabama for the past four years. Producing names like Calvin Ridley, Ardarius Stewart, Jerry Jeudy, and this past year’s standout freshman Jaylen Waddle, Coach Mortenson has proven he can get the best out of his talent. Experience in the professional ranks with Arizona and St. Louis, he is no stranger to athletes at every level.
Last but not least is Special Teams and Tight Ends coach Ray Rychleski. With ties across the South East, Coach Rychleski has plenty of experience as an assistant. As a coach for the same position groups at South Carolina, Georgia Tech, and the Indianapolis Colts Coach Rychleski has gotten it done at multiple stops.
Offensively the Birmingham Iron has the talent as well as the coaches to be able to contend and win within the Alliance of American Football. None of the names may stand out or shine under the lights but rest assured the Iron is in capable hands. In my next segment, I will delve into the Defensive Coaches. Stay tuned and until then #ForgeOn.