Just a few months ago, the Atlanta Legends looked like one of the AAF teams with the best chances of gaining quick popularity. They had a big-name head coach in Brad Childress, an electrifying offensive coordinator in Michael Vick, and a local hero in homegrown quarterback Aaron Murray. However, the AAF season hasn’t even kicked off and everything is already going wrong for the Atlanta Legends.
Atlanta Legends Already Facing Serious Hardships
What Could Have Been
The most important part of just about any football roster is the head coach and the quarterback. Entering the off-season, it looked as though the Atlanta Legends were in good shape on both ends. The offensive-minded Brad Childress coached at either the collegiate or NFL level in 39 of the past 40 years and had a winning record as an NFL head coach. His stacked coaching resume had him as our third-best head coach back in July.
With the head coach seemingly set, the next step for the Legends was to find their franchise quarterback. They seemingly did so when they selected former Georgia standout Aaron Murray. Childress hand-selected Murray during the Chicago Bears 2018 training camp, telling him about the opportunity provided by the league. Already a legend throughout Georgia, Murray had a chance to be one of the brightest stars in the AAF.
While he doesn’t have the most coaching experience, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick certainly would have made for an interesting offensive coordinator. The longtime NFL veteran is synonymous with dizzying displays of athleticism and highlight-reel plays. While nobody in the AAF has his type of athleticism, Vick has 13 years of NFL experience. On paper, this would have been an exciting hire, if for nothing more than entertainment value.
What Actually Is
Unfortunately for Atlanta, all of the aforementioned franchise cornerstones are in a bad situation. Childress himself is no longer with the team, as the 62-year old suddenly resigned a month before the season. In his place, the Legends brought aboard the defensive-minded Kevin Coyle to serve as head coach. Coyle spent three years as the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator and 13 years as the Cincinnati Bengals defensive backs coach. Obviously, it’s far too early to judge this hire, but there’s no denying that his resume pales in comparison to that of Childress.
Murray remains on the roster, but he unexpectedly lost the starting job to former New York Jets quarterback Matt Simms. Simms was selected in the second round of the AAF quarterback draft and never showed much in the NFL or collegiate ranks. Murray didn’t fare well in the NFL either, but he had a fantastic collegiate career. Missing on the second-overall pick is a bad look made infinitely worse by Murray’s close ties to the Atlanta area.
Vick might be the most interesting case of them all. At noon on Thursday, the Atlanta Legends official twitter account tweeted out an image citing Michael Vick as offensive coordinator. Just a few hours later, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution broke the news that Vick won’t be the offensive coordinator, although he could remain with the team in an undisclosed role. There’s a lot still unknown about this situation, but it’s never good to lose your offensive coordinator and play-caller just days before the start of the season.
Seeing Through the Fallout
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: the Atlanta Legends are off to a rough start. However, there’s still football to be played, so let’s take a look at what we currently know. Coyle is a defensive-minded head coach in a league where scoring probably won’t be as prevalent as it is in the NFL. It’s hard to call Coyle an upgrade on Childress, but his natural philosophy could fit the AAF better than the offensive-minded Childress.
Aaron Murray may be on the bench, but he’s still on the team. Should Simms struggle, Coyle and the coaching staff could turn the reigns over to the local hero. If nothing else, it will get fans invested in the game. Additionally, it’s not like starting Simms in the worst thing in the world. After all, the former Jet is the only AAF starting quarterback with an NFL touchdown pass to his name.
It’s hard to tell where things stand with Vick, as nobody knows the reason behind the sudden coaching shift. The organization claims Vick had too many other commitments to fulfill, but there’s probably something more going on. After all, it’s not like the team didn’t know about Vick’s other commitments over the past year. As of this posting, the Legends have not announced who will call the plays come Week One. However, whoever it is cannot have less offensive coordinator experience than Vick.
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