Since today is Friday, there are football games each of the next two days! It feels weird typing that after the Super Bowl. Most of you have cut your cable off because, seriously, who wants to watch Golden State win another title? Most of the NCAA teams are pretty good, but not great, and outside of Duke and Zion Williamson, what are we watching?
Nothing. We’re seriously all just killing time until at least the NFL Draft if not Week 1. Come on, April 26th!
I’ve posted a couple articles about The Alliance of American Football to mild response, and now that Valentine’s Day is past, I need your attention here. The future of the NFL is being fleshed out between the lines in what I’m lovingly referring to as “the proving grounds”.
Something to think about is that every year, there are roughly 12,000-15,000 college football players and only 224 get drafted, which is less than 2% of the available pool of players. If you’ve noticed, most organizations are terri-bad at drafting.
Of course, the Colts are very lucky they had Bill Polian and now Chris Ballard in the drivers’ seat, but in terms of the overall quality of product you’ll see on Sunday (Monday & Thursday, too), the AAF will show you another 500 or so players in 10 weeks, tripling the number of players that organizations will have clean tape to watch.
No more wondering “Will this guy’s motor translate from FCS to the NFL?” No more wondering if that quarterback you love from college ball will stand a chance under center. The AAF is not just made up of washed-up college players. A lot of the players you see are very recent NFL players looking for a second chance, and there aren’t a bunch of players with off the field issues taking up spots in this league.
Again, this is just another opportunity for teams to evaluate guys that are likely looking at getting drafted in rounds 4-7 or are going to be UDFAs. If you look at the numbers, most of the players in the NFL right now were drafted after the 4th round or later, or not at all. Think about that. Obviously, the combine and draft (and the preseason, while we’re at it!) are just one big dog-and-pony show. This is not such a show.
The rule changes make the game more watchable. First, QBs are not being treated like they’re made of glass and touching the QB in a way that looks harmful will result in the defensive player having to sacrifice their first-born. Instead, we’ve seen some big hits that shut down drives (part of the game) and also have seen a couple teams light up the scoreboard having provided protection for their QB (also part of the game).
Here’s this week’s lineup with a little blurb about each team. All games are shown on CBS.
Salt Lake at Birmingham Sat, Feb 16 2:00 PM ET
In Week 1, former Liberty and New York Giants QB Josh Woodrum and former Idaho Vandal QB Matt Linehan went a combined 17/35 for 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions for the Salt Lake Stallions as their offense was anemic and they got beat on the road. For the Birmingham Iron, on the other hand, much like the world thought, Alabama put a beatin’ on Utah’s finest and were led by former Texas A&M-Commerce and 2017 Division II National Champion QB Luis Perez, who went 19/33 for 252 yards in his opening start.
Notable sightings included not one, but two touchdowns scored by none other than former Colts RB Trent Richardson! I expect the Iron to put another pounding on the apparently hapless Stallions. Last week, former Jets WR Quinton Patton led the Iron with 4 catches for 107 yards.
Arizona at Memphis Sat, Feb 16 8:00 PM ET
Former Wake Forest and Jets QB John Wolford won the AAF’s first Player of the Week award after going 18/29 for 275 yards and 4 touchdowns AND two 2-point conversions for the Arizona Hotshots!
Memphis, on the other hand, trotted out QB Christian Hackenberg, the former Penn State and Jets 2nd round draft pick, who went 10/23 for 87 yards and an INT. I expect more of the same from each and a Hotshots win!
Orlando at San Antonio Sun, Feb 17 4:00 PM ET
Former SMU/Texas QB Garrett Gilbert started for the Orlando Apollos last week and went 15/25 for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns AND a receiving TD as the Spurrier-led Florida squad put up 40 points in their opener in a win over the Atlanta Legends.
Atlanta at San Diego Sun, Feb 17 8:00 PM ET
Atlanta played the duo of former Tennessee Vol (also a former Jets QB!) Matt Simms and former Georgia Bulldog (and Chiefs!) QB Aaron Murray last week and frankly, that ain’t it, coach! The duo went a combined 19/35 for 164 yards and 3 INTs in that loss to the Apollos.
The Fleet didn’t do much better, though, with the duo of Mike Bercovici (from Arizona State and the San Diego Chargers) and Philip Nelson (college at Minnesota and then a CFL QB!) who went a combined 20/35 for 244 yards and 3 INTs. Better yardage and completion percentage out of the Fleet QBs, but otherwise, there wasn’t much to smile about.
Could be a rough outing for both, but Atlanta did just give up a 40-burger to Orlando, so my thoughts are the Fleet may be in the driver’s seat here.