Out coached, outplayed and exposed on most levels. This may be a pessimist view of Birmingham’s performance on Saturday. The Orlando Apollos came into Legion Field confident and ready to play. From the first snap of the game Coach Steve Spurrier, Quarterback Garrett Gilbert, running backs De’Veon Smith and D’Ernest Johnson tore through the Alliance’s leading defense. Using trickery and straight forward power running, Orlando proved why they are the top team in the AAF.
After starting the game 3 for 7 passing, Quarterback Luis Perez was benched. He did finally manage to pass for a touchdown though. Unfortunately for the Iron, it was to the wrong team. Apollos Corner Keith Reaser returned the interception 40 yards for 6 points. Enter Keith Price. Price came in and sparked the offense. Price went 18/29 passing for 234 yards and the Iron’s first passing touchdown on the season. The pass was a 30-yard catch and run by tailback Brandon Ross. Price brought versatility to the offense with his ability to scramble and extend plays. With Birmingham having so many issues within the OL group he should be the starter going forward. He does have some vision issues but can go through reads and progressions more aptly than Luis Perez.
— Birmingham Iron (@aafiron) March 9, 2019
Brandon Ross has proven himself over the past two weeks to be the most effective runner for Birmingham. While Trent Richardson has established himself as the red zone and short yardage back, Ross is proving more capable of handling the load of an every-down back. His ability to catch out of the backfield as well as his quick first step should sit him atop the depth chart for now. His numbers may not show it from this contest, but there is a huge difference with him in the lineup. He still has some work to do in pass protection, however.
The Iron’s leading receiver was TE Wes Saxton for the second week in a row. With three catches on four targets, Saxton racked up 75 yards with a long reception of 35 yards. A late addition to the roster, he has quickly made his presence known. WR Tobias Palmer was third in receiving for the Iron catching all five targets for 36 yards. Trent Richardson was second on the day adding 37 yards in 4 receptions with a long of 14 yards.
Defensively the Iron were up and down all game long. Gilbert and Co exploited seams in coverage as well as out dueling man coverages on the perimeter. The running game was extremely effective as well. Birmingham allowed its second consecutive 100-yard rusher, and three different runners averaged over 5 yards per carry. Jamar Summers’ normally effective in pass coverage was nullified by Orlando receiver Charles Johnson. He did, however, recover a fumble on a muffed punt in the first quarter.
— Birmingham Iron (@aafiron) March 9, 2019
LB Beniquez Brown was his usual effective self leading the Iron in tackles with eight on the day. DB Bradley Sylve was second on the team with six. The once impenetrable Iron defense is starting to show some holes as the wear and tear of constantly being on the field has taken its toll. They will have no reprieve in the week upcoming as they travel cross country to face Mike Martz and the San Diego Fleet.
The Iron may have found their Quarterback in Keith Price. Offensive Coordinator Steve Logan should look to adjust the play calling to maximize the talent available. The personnel up front just isn’t there to continue trying to play power football. Price’s ability to move the pocket and the speed available at receiver fits a more spread style of offense. This will also take some pressure off the offensive line, which is breaking down more each week.
Hang tough fellow Iron faithful. There is still plenty of football to be played. Head Coach Tim Lewis has proven himself as a fit and worthy leader. The talent is there for Birmingham to compete and win against any team. Adjustments are part of the game. They are needed. With the promise showed by recent contributors in Saxton, Ross, Washington, and now Price, the past two weeks will be used as teaching points. The culture established in the program already will not allow them to be definitions of the team. We as fans must do our jobs and support the team through the good times and the bad. Embrace our fortune in having this team and show up to support them. Remember, WE ARE BIRMINGHAM, and we must FORGE ON!