The AAF ceremoniously kicked off its inaugural season this past weekend. There were ups and downs, but, all in all, the weekend went well for the AAF. Like any sports league, some of the games were better than others. In Week 1, coaching and QB play dominated. The games were a fun experience with the coaches and players wearing microphones. The most interesting part of the game is the perceived partnership with the NFL and which rules may one day be adopted. The Sky Judge was definitely the most intriguing and focused on change that the Alliance included. If there was a onside-kick-conversion-thing attempted this weekend, then I completely missed it. After the successtul opening weekend each team has only one game, so this is the perfect time for me to rank them. Here’s my view from the couch:
1. Birmingham Iron
They didn’t have the biggest win of opening weekend, but they did have the most impressive win. The Iron tallied the league’s first shutout and posted almost 26 points of their own in the process. Quarterback Luis Perez threw for 252 yards and played much better than expected for a former Texas A&M-Commerce quarterback who bowled in high school. Former Alabama star Trent Richardson added 58 yards and 2 TDs. WR Quinton Patton had a big game with 107 yards on 9 targets. The offense looked poised and moved the ball well. The reason the Iron are number one in these power rankings is because of the defense. The defense dominated. Jonathan Massaquoi was nearly unblockable, tallying 2 sacks and 3 tackles for loss. The defense forced 3 turnovers. Head Coach Tim Lewis had the new Iron Curtain ready to play, and next week we’ll find out if they can lock down a team that isn’t quarterbacked by Christian Hackenberg.
2. Orlando Apollos
The highest scoring team of the weekend, Steve Spurrier had the Apollos offense firing on all cylinders. The Apollos won 40-6. Garrett Gilbert was the best quarterback of opening weekend. The only reason that they are being ranked #2 is that they gave up 6 points, and the Iron got a shut out. This team is going to be a force to be reckoned with if the Spurrier-Gilbert combination keeps rolling. I don’t think its unfair to say that Spurrier was probably the highest thought of coach in the league coming in, and he proved it this weekend.
3. Arizona Hotshots
Anyone who watched the Rick Neuheisel years at UCLA could not have felt great for the Hotshots coming into this AAF season, but the team with the best looking logo and the weirdest looking uniforms put on a great performance yesterday. Neuheisel surprisingly went with John Wolford over Trevor Knight as his starting quarterback, and Wolford rewarded him with 275 yards and 4 TDs. The offensive explosion resulted in a 38-22 victory over the Stallions. The defense was not as good as the offense and allowed Salt Lake to stay in the game throughout despite the Salt Lake starting quarterback pulling a hamstring in the 2nd quarter. It was the most fun game of the weekend, and the Hotshots played well enough to get the W and rank 3rd on this list.
4. San Antonio Commanders
The Commanders were okay in their 15-6 win, which was enough to get them 4th place in these rankings. The offense was not very good, but the defense picked off Mike Bercovici twice and Philip Nelson once. Unfortunately, the Commanders starting quarterback threw 2 picks of his own. The Commanders are only the #4 team because they won their game. The offense made too many mistakes. The defense bailed out Logan Woodside. The only team from Texas isn’t going to be able to rely on the defenders forever. We all know what happened the last time a squad tried to defend San Antonio. (that was a joke about the Alamo).
5. Salt Lake Stallions
I wanted to put Salt Lake at #4 on this list, but their starting quarterback, Josh Woodrum, got hurt in the second quarter of this game and did not return. We barely know is Woodrum is good, and we certainly don’t know whether or not Matt Linehan is good. I am just guessing that if Woodrum was the starter he was better than Linehan. Add to that the fact that this team lost, and they just couldn’t be ranked ahead of the Commanders. The defense gave up 38 points to a team quarterbacked by a guy who appears to be 5 foot 6 and got every other pass batted down at the line. The Stallions muffed a punt and two of their touchdown drives were aided by multiple illegal defense penalties.
6. San Diego Fleet
The good: the defense gave up 15 points and caught 2 interceptions. The bad: the offense scored 6 points and threw 3 interceptions. The ugly: they used 2 different quarterbacks, and they both sucked. The defense lands the Fleet the #6 spot only because the two teams below them didn’t have a defense or an offense.
7. Atlanta Legends
The offense only scored 6 points and that wasn’t the worst part of the performance from the Legends. The defense took the cake on this one, giving up 40 points. 30-year-old Matt Sims threw two interceptions and got replaced by Aaron Murray, who promptly threw an interception of his own. Mike Vick, the ex-OC, left the team the week before the game, so it isn’t all that surprising that the offense wasn’t great, but the defense should’ve been much better than it was.
8. Memphis Express
Wait, you mean to tell me a team coached by Mike Singletary and quarterbacked by Christian Hackenberg isn’t good? I am shocked. The coaching job that Singletary had before the Express? Trinity Christian Academy. TCA is a small private high school outside of Dallas, TX. We heard all week “Hackenberg fixed his mechanics and is going to be a great QB!” He did not. He was not. He ended up getting pulled from the game in favor of Brandon Silvers which was a weird decision in itself because Zach Mettenberger is also on the team.