Atlanta Legends Week 4 Takeaways: the Good, the Bad, and “A New Hope”

Credit: Atlanta Legends

ATLANTA LEGENDS WEEK IV: A NEW HOPE

A long time ago, the Legends appeared to be a team whose destiny lay at the bottom of the AAF. As week four approached, many assumed the 0-3 Legends held no chance for victory on the road against a 2-1 Arizona Hotshots team. However, in a desert far far away, the pillars of destiny were shaken. With the game tied at 11-11, kicker Younghoe Koo made a 33yd field goal with 1:07 left in the game to put the Legends up by three. Now, for the first time ever, I have the opportunity to write, “the Atlanta Legends won the game,” as they extinguished the Hotshots (the pun was too hard to resist) in Tempe, Arizona. After sixty minutes, the final score was 14 to 11 as the Legends advance to 1-3 on the season. The theme for this week’s “The Good, the Bad, and the (clever phrase)” is Star Wars.

Quick Hits

  • Fans got to see QB Aaron Murray entered the game after Matt Simms left with an apparent hand injury
  • Murray, 20-33 passing for 254 yards & 7 carries for 54 yards
  • Time of Possession: Atlanta Legends 37:49, Arizona Hotshots 22:11
  • DB Ed Reynolds, Jr. recorded the first safety in AAF history
  • Legends’ red zone woes continue, failed fake field goal on fourth and goal
  • For the second week in a row, the QB has led the Legends in rushing yards
  • Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope cast as Atlanta Legends

The Good

Aaron Murray

“Help me Aaron Murray, you’re my only hope”

Legends’ fans who were chanting “We want Murray!” in Atlanta last week got their wish on Sunday. Murray was called in after starting quarterback, Matt Simms, exited the game due to an apparent hand injury. The former Bulldog capitalized on the opportunity, completing 20-of-33 passes for 254 yards along with 7 carries for 54 yards. He showcased his ability to create big plays both inside and outside of the pocket: the former on a 37-yard deep ball to wideout Bug Howard and the latter a 36-yard screen RB Tarean Folston on a drive that would end on a failed fourth and goal attempt from the 1-yard line. He did get another crack at the endzone and this time he found success on a pitch-out to RB Denard Roberson for a 9-yard TD but would fail on the two-point attempt.

Controlling the Tempo

“These aren’t the Legends you’re looking for”

With Murray under center, Atlanta saw an immediate improvement in ball security. He was able to utilize his mobility to avoid negative-yardage plays or turnovers. However, Matt Simms has struggled in that department this season, leading the AAF with 6 interceptions and 10 sacks on the season. Sunday’s game marked the Legends’ first offensive performance without an interception and allowing only one sack (occurred with Simms at QB). Murray’s ability to mitigate negative plays sustain drives was best highlighted by the time of possession deficit. The Legends outgained the Hotshots in time of possession 37:49 to 22:11, their highest margin of the season. Also, Atlanta’s offense was only limited to one three-and-out (no that was not a typo).

Ed Reynolds, Jr. and Tyson Graham, Jr.

Nothing passes through “The King’s Court.”

Alright, I know, that was a pretty bad attempt at establishing a nickname, but the safety duo of Reynolds and Graham deserve a nickname. The pair of Atlanta Legends’ safeties put on another dominating performance in Arizona. The duo alone combined for 21 of the team’s 52 tackles while making their presence felt throughout the turf. Tyson Graham’s 11 tackles notched his season total up to a league-high 31. In the first quarter, Graham recorded five consecutive tackles on a single drive. Then there is Ed Reynolds who recorded ten total tackles, along with his name in AAF history books as the culprit for the league’s first-ever safety. Reynolds brought down Hotshots’ wideout Rashad Ross behind the goal line after Ross attempt to reverse the field.

 The Bad

4th and Goal

“Use the force, Coyle.”

How long will the Legends’ red zone ineptitude continue to be such a paramount issue? Multiple botched red zone possession could be repaired by a blatantly obvious solution: stop going for it on 4th and Goal. Kevin Coyle’s crew by now should understand that when your team averages 10 points per game, points come at a premium, so don’t leave any free ones out there. Well, they went for it on fourth and goal twice in Arizona. Okay, I’ll cut them some slack on the attempt from Arizona’s 1-yard line; however, I’ve tried searching my feelings but can’t find anything to warrant the fake field goal.

No Consistency in the Backfield 

“Running Back Roulette”

For the second consecutive week, the Atlanta Legends’ quarterback led the team in rush yards. Brandon Radcliff, the newly signed back in place of Akrum Wadley who was held out of Sunday’s game due to injury, led the team with 12 carries. Lawrence Pittman has all but disappeared after his 42yds on 8 carries performance in San Diego. Denard Robinson this week had 43yds and 1 touchdown on 9 carries. Robinson in week one through three had a total of 10yds off 8 carries. Who will get the most carries next week? It’s anyone’s game when you’re playing running back roulette. 

The Captain’s Final Take: A New Hope

“A long and drawn out metaphor of why I don’t fully trust Murray just yet.” 

Continuing the Star Wars theme, the obvious direction to take here would be to compare Aaron Murray to Luke Skywalker: Luke, a nobody from nowhere-turned savior of the galaxy and Murray, a backup quarterback-turned savior of the Legends.

However, this comparison isn’t fully accurate as the two individuals’ story-arcs vary quite differently. Aaron Murray has been a household name in Georgia since he was 17. He holds the SEC records for Career Passing Yards and Career Touchdowns. Going into Murray’s senior year, the Bulldogs were ranked 5th with championship aspirations, but the teams season couldn’t have ended any worse, as Murray tore his ACL in November and the Bulldogs finished 8-5. This story of rise-and-fall from greatness strangely echos that of Star Wars (plot twist) greatest villain, Darth Vader.

Vader, once a Jedi prodigy, betrayed the man who trained him (similar to how Murray’s team performed his senior year) and it ruined his (Murray’s injury) body forcing him to wear the mask. In Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope, Vader confronts his long ago master and drops this iconic quote, “I’ve been waiting for you, Obi-Wan. We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete.” I feel like Legends’ fans might be Obi-Wan, Vaders old master, and Murray is here just to crush our hopes one more time. *I am a proud and loyal South Carolina Gamecock, SEC rivals with Georgia, so there may be bias

Star Wars Cast as Atlanta Legends 

  • Luke Skywalker: Younghoe Koo
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi: Kevin Coyle
  • Darth Vader: J.T. Jones
  • Han Solo: Tyson Graham, Jr. 
  • Chewbacca: Ed Reynolds, Jr.
  • Princess Leia: Matt Simms
  • Adrimal Akbar: Jeff Overbaugh (I didn’t forget about you. Congrats on the shout out during the broadcast)

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