Fleet Ready for AAF Opener

San Diego's new pro football team starts inaugural season on Saturday

The Super Bowl is over.

Let pro football season begin!

On Saturday night the Alliance of American Football starts its inaugural season and its first offering to the masses will feature San Diego. The Fleet play their first game against the San Antonio Commanders at the Alamodome in a prime time game on national TV (5:00 p.m. in San Diego on CBS).

That game will be broadcast to 78% of the country with the rest getting the Atlanta Legends at the Orlando Apollos. So, what can we expect to see from this upstart professional football league?

Nobody is really sure.

The players were grabbed from a whole ton of different places. For example: the Birmingham Iron have QB Luis Perez, a San Diego native who only played one year of high school football as a wide receiver before going to Southwestern College to learn how to play quarterback and getting a shot at Texas A&M-Commerce where he won the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy and went to training camp with the Los Angeles Rams as an undrafted free agent. The Iron also have RB Trent Richardson, who went to Alabama and was the 3rd overall pick by the Browns before putting himself on the short list of the biggest busts in NFL Draft history.

Both are exactly the kinds of players the AAF is looking for. They’re hoping to find diamonds in the rough and redemption stories.

It’s up to some established coaches to take all these disparate parts and put them together into one cohesive unit. San Diego’s Mike Martz has been working on that for a while now and after training camp he knows he still has a lot of work to do.

“We’ve got to get them all on the same page and it’s hard,” said Martz. “There’s no nice way to do that other than put their face to the fire, so to speak, but I think we’re getting close.”

Martz, who won a Super Bowl as the offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, has to teach things that should be automatic.

“I didn’t realize in college football some of these guys, after practice, they never went and looked at film from practice. How do you teach anybody anything?” asked Martz. “It’s just like, you film it and the coaches are going to look at it but you don’t show it to the players and teach from it. So their background, they were technically poor from that standpoint.”

Their learning time is not over (Martz says they’ll keep building as the season goes on) but they’d better have something in the tank ready to go. Their one exhibition game was against San Antonio but that showing wasn’t exactly something to build a game plan on.

“We don’t know anything about this team,” said Martz. “We played one game and it was vanilla. You know, it was 30 defense, God bless America, cover eight, and that’s it. We don’t know what they’re going to do and that always makes you nervous. We’ll move around until we figure out what they’re doing and increase each week.”

Their home opener is on Sunday, February 17, at 5:00 p.m. at SDCCU Stadium against Atlanta.

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