The Fleet didn’t play great in their first ever win, but they played good enough to pull away from the Atlanta Legends.
Mike Martz even said himself that San Diego “had way too many mistakes” but he was proud of how they responded. And he should be. The Fleet came back after going down early and ended up winning 24-12 over the Atlanta Legends.
Martz utilized the run well after underutilizing it last week against the Commanders.
The Fleet ran for 185 total yards at about five yards a carry and dominated the line of scrimmage against Atlanta. San Diego still struggled to throw the football as the rain was coming down during the home opener. Phillip Nelson completed less than half of his passes for only 142 yards and one interception. The Fleet receivers also had at least four drops, which has been a big problem so far across the league. After a slow start, the offense picked it up behind a strong running game in the second half and the defense stepped up in a big way, holding the Legends to 12 points and 222 total yards.
The Three Star system I am using is pretty simple. I select who I believe are the three best performers from the game, and rank them. Three Stars equals third best, Two Stars equals second, and One Star equals the best performer of the day for the San Diego Fleet. Win or lose, there are always Three Stars from this weeks game.
Three Stars- Donny Hageman
He has been a fantastic late addition to this team. He has made every single kick he has attempted this season, going four for four today and making a long of 46 yards. His consistency kept the Fleet in the game early, even though the offense didn’t look great. Replacing Cole Murphy with Donny Hageman is looking to be one of the best moves Dave Boller has made this year.
Two Stars- Shakir Soto
I have a feeling I am going to be including at least one of the Fleet defensive linemen in this report every week of the season. It’s the best group from top to bottom on the whole team. But out of the whole group, Shakir Soto stood out the most today. He had 1.5 sacks, five total tackles, and one tackle for a loss. He proved to be too much to handle for the Legends interior lineman as he impacted the running and passing games of Atlanta. Soto and the rest of the defensive lineman were some of the biggest reasons the Fleet only allowed 12 points to the Atlanta Legends.
One Star- Ja’Quan Gardner
Gardner showed up and showed out during San Diego’s home opener and was the driving force behind the Fleet’s running game, totaling 104 yards on 15 carries and adding two touchdowns. He averaged 6.9 yards a carry today and is averaging that same amount on the year. He really picked up the offense in the second half along with Terrel Watson and controlled the tempo during the fourth quarter. He gained 72 yards on seven carries in the second half, averaging over 10 yards per carry during that stretch.
Gardner’s patience, which was praised during Mike Martz’s post-game press conference, was one of the main reasons he excelled late. He often found a whole late and burst through it for a big game. Gardner has a great skill set and showed today that he should be considered a legitimate NFL talent.