This past weekend, the Aviators traveled to San Diego to take on the Growlers, which ultimately resulted in a disappointing loss for our aerodynamic friends. Although the final score of 17-22 doesn’t actually look THAT bad on paper, it never truly felt like the Aviators were going to make up for the early breaks handed over in Week 3’s contest. A familiar script to Week 1, the Aviators O-line took a few points to settle in, but by then the damage had already been done. Although both the Growlers and the Aviators O-lines had their fair share of turns in the first quarter as each team became acclimated to the windy conditions, the Growlers D-line did a better job of taking advantage of the turnovers and rattled off a few breaks early, which proved to be the difference in the game once again.
Due to the absence of some key personnel and unusually windy conditions, the Aviator’s O-line suffered immensely by their inability to threaten the deep-space. Indeed, it was clear that there was a very narrow, very long Everest Shapiro sized-hole in the Aviators offensive attack. As the Growlers D took an early notice the deep space just wasn’t a threat, they were able to make unders more frustrating for the Aviators cutter layer, which slowed the movement of the disc and made the resets easier to pressure as well. The result was an Aviators offense that looked uncomfortable, and at times forced to thread the disc in smaller, D-able windows. Hopefully moving forward the Aviators can regain their tempo and apply more deep pressure, especially as their prodigal, uncomfortably tall son Everest Shapiro returns to resume his Rookie of the Year campaign.
Now that we have the negatives out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the positives: first, Brandon Van Duesen had a MONSTER game, rattling off 618 throwing yards at a 96.05% completion percentage. Say what you want, but this guy LOVES slingin’ some plastic. Additionally, Sam Cook casually racked up 321 receiving yards, meaning that statistically he loves snaggin’ plastic a little over half as much as Van Duesen loves to slang it, and that’s what statistics are.
Another positive takeaway is the effectiveness of the late-game onside pull of the Aviators, which forced 2 turns in 3 attempts (I’m pretty sure, idk someone check the tape). The nasty double team was effective in producing short-field turns (and even one negative yardage turn) that could prove game-changing in the future if the deficit is more within reach.
The reality is, the Aviators have begun the season 0-2, not the ideal start the team was hoping for. Moving forward, staying competitive in this stacked West division is going to be an uphill battle as the Summit and Shred already look poised to be league powerhouses this year. However, there are still a lot of games to be played, and the Aviators will have an excellent chance to improve their record this Sunday against a winless Seattle Cascades team coming into L.A. for a Sunday morning game after having played in Portland the previous night. Depending on how the Aviators match up against the Portland Nitro, it seems incredibly likely that they can rattle off some wins in the coming weeks, so hold off on hitting that panic button for now.