Well, the first five games of the inaugural Alliance of American Football League have been completed. The regular season is at it’s midway point and the storylines that have developed couldn’t be more exciting! The AAF has proven the doubters that they can, and will, produce a great product. I’m going to break down some major points in this column and grade each team’s mid-season performance to date.
-Quality of play – The biggest question surrounding the AAF’s inaugural season was “how good is the quality of play going to be?” Unsurprisingly, when you’ve fallen victim to the NFL’s exposure for as long as we have, it’s going to be the biggest question asked. The AAF has dispelled a lot of those questions with exciting football and even more exciting play. Look for the play to continue to improve as the second of the season gets underway.
-Changes in game play – The AAF made several changes to help improve the speed of the game and help keep people’s interest. They focused on the flow and eliminated kickoffs and lengthy commercial breaks. This has been one of the better improvements to the overall product. As much as kickoffs are exciting to the game, eliminating them has been unsurprisingly a positive change. The second half of the season, we’ll continue to see the improvements of these changes.
-Illegal defense – This rule change has bothered me the most. I understand the AAF wanted to protect it’s players and not overly expose the quality of player on the field. But the limitation of blitzers, how you can blitz and how many rushers you can put into the box, has been beyond frustrating at points. The AAF’s rule to protect those offensive lines was smart, on paper, but the presentation and seeing how it’s been handled isn’t worth the paper it was written on. The worst part of this rule? It’s a 15 yard “unsportsmanlike conduct” penalty – c’mon! That’s just blasphemous.
-Inconsistent QB play – This one shouldn’t be surprising for making the list. The AAF knew it was going to get inconsistent play because these QBs needed time to develop. The biggest part of the AAF’s mission statement has been that they are providing in opportunity for players to get repetitions and gain valuable in-game experience to improve their skillsets. This has worked for quarterbacks like Garrett Gilbert, Philip Nelson and Zach Mettenberger. But the inconsistent play from Christian Hackenberg, Matt Simms and Luis Perez has given a black eye to the good QB play we’ve seen. Hopefully, this will continue to get better as the second half of the season continues.
Orlando Apollos – A-
Birmingham Iron – B
Atlanta Legends – C-
Memphis Express – D
San Antonio Commanders – B+
San Diego Fleet- B+
Arizona Hotshots – C
Salt Lake Stallions – C-
Mid Season Awards
AAF MVP – Garrett Gilbert, QB Orlando
RB of the Year – Ja’Quan Gardner, San Diego
WR of the Year – Charles Johnson, Orlando
Offensive Player of the Year – Garrett Gilbert, QB Orlando
Defensive Player of the Year – Jamar Summers, DB Birmingham
As the season wraps up, I’ll have a complete awards list given out. This was just a preview of where I’m currently progressed in my awards. I’m excited for the second of the season and to see what these teams do moving forward as they make a late season push to the playoffs!
FB: Michael Washington