Atlanta hosted the Alliance powerhouse, the Orlando Apollos, in a week one rematch on Saturday. Not much had changed from the first time these two teams squared off (well except for the Legends white jerseys, which I kind of liked). The final ended up being, Legends 6 and Apollos 36, the second straight loss by 30, or more, points. Atlanta looked as cold as ice on offense; the 255 total yards was the lowest production since week 2. The 195 yards passing off 21 completions on 30 attempts was the third lowest of the season. However, the defense wasn’t without fault either, as you can infer by the score. The number one ranked defense against the pass, gave up 217 yards through the air, only the second time a team has broken the 200 yard mark against them (the other occurrence was Orlando in week 1).
Unfortunately, performances like these are not too ‘foreign’ when the Atlanta Legends play a team with a winning record. If you hadn’t guessed this week’s theme after the hint in the last sentence, it is the late 70’s arena rock band: Foreigner. I will acknowledge that Foreigner is not my favorite band ever, but their songs integrate well into this article. Now it’s time for the Atlanta Legends AAF week seven review with this week’s: The Good, the Bad, and the “Double Vision.”
- Aaron Murray 9-9 first half finished 16-22
- Atlanta’s only touchdown came on their first drive
- Malachi Jones had solid performance 7-6 for 53yds and a TD
- Offense unable to generate big plays
- The defense struggled in man-to-man coverage
- Gave up too many big plays
- Murray’s age and extended absence from football may be catching up with him
The First Half
“It feels like the first time.”
There has been a common trend developing with the Legends; they execute much more efficient in the first half. This week was no exception to that trend. Going into half time, the Legends trailed the Apollos, 6 to 14. Aaron Murray had not thrown an incomplete pass and had 9 completions on 9 attempts (only had 7 completions on 13 attempts in the second half), and the Legends were 1-1 in the red zone (no fake field goals!). The Legends’ only touchdown of the game occurred on their first offensive possession. After a 15 play 75 yard drive, set up by a Bug Howard reception that put Atlanta into the red zone, Aaron Murray connected with WR Malachi Jones for an 8-yard touchdown. This was the last time the Atlanta Legends would hang points on the board.
— Atlanta Legends (@AafLegends) March 23, 2019
Pass Catching Statistical Efficiency
“It feels so right, so wrong, and true.”
I know “pass catching statistical efficiency” sounds very wordy, but I had to stretch it as much as I could to incorporate it into “the Good.” The Legends had five players catch every target or every target but one. Let me take a minute to celebrate those guys: M. Jones (7-6), B. Howard (4-3), B. Radcliff (3-3), D. Robinson (2-2), and T. Folston (2-2). Malachi Jones had a highly impressive outing, amassing 53 yards and a touchdown on his six receptions.
However, the overall efficiency of these high catch rates is a bit deceptive (this is why I had to classify it as a statistical). The majority of these receptions were hauled in off of short passes by Murray, who averaged 6.1 YPA. The production value of the pass catchers was their ability to extended the play with high yards-after-catch numbers.
— Atlanta Legends (@AafLegends) March 25, 2019
Giving Up the Big Plays
This might have been the most frustrating aspect of the Apollos at Legends game. Atlanta’s biggest play was an 18-yard jet sweep by Malachi Jones. Orlando, they had six plays of 18-yards or more. Every time the defense appeared that it might stop an Apollo’s drive, they would collapse to allow Gilbert to complete a deep downfield pass or fail to contain the running back. Atlanta allowed a play of 16-yards or more on two key third downs, each would have resulted in favorable field position for the offense. Then there was the 4th and 4 at the Atlanta 38 where the defense allowed Gilbert to dunk it off to TE Scott Orndoff for a 25 gain of 35 yards.
Tyson Graham, Jr.’s presence was deeply missed this game. The Legends’ secondary appeared to struggle all day when lined up in man-to-man coverage. The best example of this was on the 47-yard deep ball to Rannell Hall. As you can see in the video below, the Legends’ were lined up man-free coverage, and Desmond Lawrence was the corner responsible for Hall. Lawrence was lined up in tighter coverage, so I don’t know if there was miscommunication and he was expecting help from the free safety over top? However, when Reynolds wasn’t there, and Lawrence had been beat, it was an easy throw for Gilbert.
If you’re wondering how @6_Speedo got his nickname… 😏
— Orlando Apollos (@aafAPOLLOS) March 23, 2019
“Cold as Ice”
Saturday’s game was not a good day for Legends’ quarterback Aaron Murray. The once crowned hero struggled to get the ball downfield. He ended up with a stat line of 16 completions on 22 attempts for 153-yards, along with two interceptions. Near the half-way mark in the third quarter, Murray underthrew a short out route intended for Seantavius Jones but was picked off by Ayodeji Olatoye who returned it for a 65-yard touchdown.
Murray has been sacked six teams over the last four weeks. The 28-year-old who hasn’t played since 2013, took a devastating roughing the passer hit late in the third quarter. Three plays after the hit he threw an interception. Murray did not return to the game after that drive. During the post-game press conference, Murray claimed the hit did not contribute to the interception on a pass he forced over the middle at the ORL-3 yard line (as he had a bandage on his right eye). It’s hard to believe that statement and fear how the wear and tear over the remaining three weeks will impact him going forward.
We’ll take that 👐
— Orlando Apollos (@aafAPOLLOS) March 23, 2019
The “Double Vision”
Not much was different between the Legends’ week seven and week one matchups against the Apollos. I guess we did hold them to for points less, but you have to be even more of an optimist than I am for that to make you smile. Aside from maybe the Hotshots, Atlanta has to be one of the hardest teams defensively to figure out. On offense, the problems are turnovers, no established run game, and red zone inefficiency. However, the other side of the ball leaves me scratching my head. Atlanta is ranked first in pass defense and total yards per game and last in the league for points allowed. So, it may be the team can’t execute in the red zone. However, the Legends are away next week and let’s hope the outcome is better a “long, long way from home.”
Songs in the Article
- “Feels Like the First Time” – Foreigner, 1977
- “Cold as Ice” – Foreigner, 1977
- “Long, Long Way from Home” – Foreigner, 1977
- “Hot Blooded” – Double Vision, 1978
- “Double Vision” – Double Vision, 1978
- “Head Games” – Head Games, 1979
- “Juke Box Hero” – 4, 1981
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