The Alliance of American Football (AAF) season began this past Saturday. For some, it looked like bad football with minimal offense. For others, it was seen as a more than capable substitute for the NFL until that action kicks back up this summer. Before we delve into the games, let’s talk about the league as a whole.
The AAF was formed with the goal of being a small league that’s a complement to the NFL. It’s not meant to compete with the NFL and it doesn’t have the talent to do so.
However, for the first week of an inaugural league, the first round of games seemed to be a screaming success. The game between the San Antonio Commanders and the San Diego Fleet brought in higher ratings than a nationally televised NBA game which is incredible news for a league that’s just starting out. And once teams finally begin to mesh and find a rhythm and play more entertaining football, this league has real opportunity to be a success.
San Diego Fleet 6 @ San Antonio Commanders 15
In the first game of the week, most households were viewing a stout Commanders defense. The team from San Antonio took on a Fleet team that struggled to generate anything on offense. What really stole the show in this one was a sack early on that left Fleet quarterback Mike Bercovici rattled.
Bercovici struggled for the Fleet completing 15 of his 25 passes for 176 yards with two interceptions. He was eventually benched for Phillip Nelson who threw the game-sealing interception on a short distance lob into the end zone that got snatched by Zack Sanchez.
The Commanders defense left this one allowing just six points (two field goals) and recording three sacks and three interceptions. It was a defensive brawl in South Texas and both teams have some kinks to smooth out on offense, but the Commanders defense came ready to play and it gave their team the win.
Atlanta Legends 6 @ Orlando Apollos 40
It wasn’t any secret that the team coached by Steve Spurrier would be good. Apollos quarterback Garrett Gilbert stole the show in Orlando Saturday night throwing for 227 yards on only 15 completions. He also caught a five-yard touchdown thrown by wide receiver Jalin Marshall.
Offensive struggles seemed to be a theme this week as the Legends also struggled on offense, unable to generate anything with Matt Simms, who threw for just 128 yards and two interceptions before eventually being replaced by Aaron Murray.
Memphis Express 0 @ Birmingham Iron 26
This game contained what looked to be the best and worst performance by a quarterback in Luis Perez for the Iron and Christian Hackenberg for the Express. Perez, despite throwing no touchdowns looked poised and on target all day and had no problem tearing up the defense of the Express.
Meanwhile, Hackenberg failed to move the ball on anything that wasn’t a slant or a check down. His best pass of the afternoon, a beautiful deep ball that fell into the hands of his receiver in the end zone was negated by a penalty. He was eventually replaced with Brandon Silvers who threw three straight completions before throwing the game-sealing interception.
If nothing else, a bright spot for the Express is that the defense forced two turnovers which
Salt Lake Stallions 22 @ Arizona Hotshots 38
To end the weekend was a game that was very offense heavy. In this game, the standout star was Hotshot quarterback John Wolford. Wolford got the start instead of Trevor Knight and made his case with a 275 yard, four touchdown night.
Salt Lake was keeping pace with Arizona until starting quarterback Josh Woodrum injured his hamstring at halftime and didn’t return for the rest of the game.
Hotshot receiver Rashad Ross had 103 yards and two touchdowns on five receptions. The running back duo in Arizona of Jhurell Presley and Justin Stockton combined for 110 yards on 25 carries. This game was the only one this week where both teams scored in double digits. Overall, it showed us that there is still some high powered offensive showdowns to look forward to in a league that seems to be largely dominated by defensive talent.
What We Learned
There’s still a lot for these learning on the fly in the early stages. It’s too early to really tell what teams are better than others after one week. Overall, despite the fact that there’s still a lot of the season left to go, the AAF has given us a lot to look forward to in its inaugural season already.