The National Football League is approaching its’ climax, as the 2018 season is all but over. However, there will still be football to watch after the Super Bowl. For those who need a year-round football fix, the Alliance of American Football will kick off its’ inaugural season on Saturday, February 9th. While the competition won’t match the level of the NFL, quite a few NFL veterans found their way into the league. This is certainly true for the San Diego Fleet, who possess more than their fair share of intriguing players.
Alliance of American Football: Getting to Know the San Diego Fleet
The San Diego Fleet have perhaps the most interesting quarterback situation in the AAF. The team selected Josh Johnson with the first overall pick in the quarterback draft, but his future is somewhat uncertain. Thanks to a bevy of injuries to the Washington Redskins signal callers, Johnson played in four games during 2018, starting three. During that stretch, Johnson completed 57.1% of his passes for 590 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions.
Johnson reiterated several times that his plan was to return to the Fleet at the conclusion of the 2018 NFL season. However, Johnson performed well enough during his short sample to pique the interest of NFL teams around the league. Nobody will bring him in to be a starter, but he could earn a chance to fight for a backup role. Should an opportunity arise, will Johnson stick with the Fleet or take his chances at pursuing the NFL dream?
It’s worth noting that it sounds like it would take a lot for Johnson to leave the Fleet. Per the San Diego Tribune, Johnson will earn a $70,000 salary during the 2018 season. Additionally, Johnson reportedly enjoys that he is the franchise quarterback for this organization. Chances are, Johnson will stick around San Diego for the 2018 season.
Leading the San Diego Fleet will be longtime NFL head coach Mike Martz. Martz is best known for serving the offensive coordinator and head coach for “The Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams. Martz was once seen as one of the brightest offensive minds in football, piloting the Rams to four playoff berths during his six years as head coach. St. Louis won Super Bowl XXXIV with Martz as offensive coordinator and made it back to the big stage two years later in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Martz stepped down from head coaching after a heart condition led to internal struggles with the Rams front office. In all, Martz ended his head coaching career with an impressive 53-32 record. Since leaving the Rams, Martz served as offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, and Chicago Bears before temporarily retiring from coaching in 2011. Martz re-entered the coaching stratosphere back in 2015 when he served as head coach of the National Team for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Martz has won each of his last four appearances in the collegiate bowl and appears to still have a strong football mind.
Other Notable Players/Coaches
Longtime NFL quarterback Jon Kitna will be calling the plays for the San Diego Fleet. Kitna, now age 46, spent 14 years with the Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, and Dallas Cowboys. Throughout the course of his career, Kitna completed 60.3% of his passes for 29,745 yards, 169 touchdowns, and 165 interceptions. Kitna actually played under Martz in Detroit, so these two have a history together.
Kitna initially got his coaching career off the ground at his alma mater, Lincoln High School. The former quarterback spent three years with Lincoln before leaving for Waxahachie High School, where he would spend an additional three seasons. Kitna made his debut in the coaching ranks in 2018 when he signed on with Brophy College Preparatory. Kitna obviously has a deep knowledge of football, and his 36-16 record as a head coach shows that he has the tools required to make it as a coach.
Leading the Fleet’s rushing attack will be former Tennessee Titans running back Bishop Sankey. Sankey initially entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft but never played up to his draft status. Lasting just two seasons in the NFL, Sankey recorded 199 rushing attempts for 762 yards and three touchdowns. Sankey spent portions of 2016 with the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and Minnesota Vikings, but never saw the field. Any chance he had at an NFL comeback in 2017 was cut short when he tore his ACL in the 2017 preseason.
While he never quite found his footing in the NFL, there’s no denying that he was great while in college. Sankey was the primary running back for the Washington Huskies during the 2012 and 2013 seasons and put up some phenomenal numbers. During that two-year stretch, Sankey recorded 616 carries for 3,309 yards and 36 touchdowns. Additionally, Sankey added another 61 receptions for 553 yards and a touchdown through the air. The potential is there, but it’s anyone’s guess if he reaches it. If Sankey plays up to his ability, he could be one of the brightest stars in the AAF.
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