Two weeks in and the Alliance for American Football has proven to be an exciting display of gridiron grit and talent. Three teams are currently undefeated, the Arizona Hotshots who hold the lead in the Western Conference and the Orlando Apollos, and Birmingham Irons.
The Apollos and Irons are tied for first in the Eastern Conference. On the flip side, there are also three teams that are winless – The Salt Lake Stallions, the Memphis Express, and the Atlanta Legends.
The San Antonio Commanders and the San Diego Fleet hold one win apiece. However, there was some good, some bad and sheer ugliness that has come out of the league so far.
On an OurTurf podcast earlier this year, I spoke with my fellow reporters about what coaching job I felt would be a good situation to get into. Dayna and I agreed: Tampa Bay.
There are no sky-high expectations because they finished last in their division. They have a decent group of players that they can work with. Players such as two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans, linebacker Lavonte David, and a pretty solid defensive corps with players such as defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib, and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy
There’s a lot of good groundwork that can be built upon, that new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles can take advantage of. Granted, McCoy could be leaving Tampa Bay, however, that would give them about $13 million in cap room, should they do that. That would also allow their 2018 1st round pick, DT Vita Vea a good chance to shine, even though last season he was hampered by injury.
The NFL and controversy. They kind of go together. When was the last time we had a football season that went smoothly?
Let’s take a look back, to when it was summer and we were all excited for kickoff. Quite interestingly enough, these were the top 10 brewing controversies heading into the 2018 NFL season as per Frank Schwab/Yahoo Sports.
To look at the NFL today it’s hard to imagine it without the diversity it displays, but there was a time when there wasn’t. In honor of Black History Month, we will look at the changes the NFL has gone through as it pertains to African American players.
African Americans have been a part of the American Football evolution as far back as the 1920s with players like Fitz Pollard and Bobby Marshall leading the way. The position of quarterback had not been a position that was openly offered to African Americans, but in 1968 that all changed with Marlin Briscoe.
On Friday, Feb. 15th, the NFLPA released a statement saying that the NFL has reached a settlement with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and current Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid in their collusion case against the NFL.
The almost 3-year saga has, for all intents and purposes, has come to a sort of anti-climactic close.
Regardless of if you support Kaepernick and Reid or not, it opened up dialog. Or at least attempted to. I had a hard time finding people who could civilly discuss this online, but hopefully more civil discussions were had in “real life”.
Going into the 2019 NFL season many teams have needs. Some have different needs than others, but no need is more important than that of the quarterback. There are at least 5 teams that are going to need some help at that position.
The Denver Broncos addressed theirs by agreeing in principle for Baltimore Ravens benched QB Joe Flacco. While Flacco won’t be the answer long term for the Broncos, he will at least give them some time to find their franchise quarterback.
Many NFL analysts have ranted that this 2019 quarterback class, to say it nicely, is average. No one guy stands out at this moment. You’d have to assume Bronco’s GM John Elway agrees with that assessment since he pulled the trigger so quickly on Flacco. I’ve always felt that if you pick a player in the first round, that player has to start day one. I just don’t feel that there are day one starters in this draft, which in my mind is why Flacco is a Bronco.
So what does this signing mean for the other teams that are quarterback-starved? It means another free agent/ “Gap” quarterback is about to hit the market. If the Broncos can’t find a team to trade their one and done QB, Case Keenum to, then he is expected to be released.
There wasn’t a lot to say about the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. Honestly, it was basically a throwaway season. However, with the Cards having a new coach and the first pick in the draft, can 2019 bring a turnaround?
After going 3-13, the Cardinals knew things had to change. They started with firing head coach Steve Wilks after just one season, and hiring college football coach, Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury started coaching in 2008 moving from the University of Houston, then on to Texas A&M, and finally to Texas Tech. He had been hired as the offensive coordinator at USC in December, but obviously, let that go to coach at the NFL level.
Reaction to the Kingsbury hire was, to say the least, cool from fans and media. However, he coached quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, Johnny Manziel, and Case Keenum. So there is reason to think his system could carry over to the NFL. Add to that the fact they brought in former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph as defensive coordinator, this team has a completely fresh start in coaching.
A dream that has been floating around for many years and has finally found a voice through the Alliance of American Football.
The league came about as a way to appeal to the undrafted college players, the tossed aside unsigned NFL players and former coaches. It is an opportunity for a chance at redemption and to be a part of a league that gives players a stage to prove they have what it takes to play in the NFL. Below are a few things we learned from the inaugural kickoff:
Old and untapped running backs and wide receivers show their skills.
Former first-rounder for the Cleveland Browns, Trent Richardson bounced around the NFL but proved he still had game with 2 rushing touchdowns, 23 carries, 58 rushing yards, and a fumble for the Birmingham Iron.
Keep an eye out for RB Jhurell Pressley of the Salt Lake Stallions. He went undrafted in 2016, bounced around five different NFL teams but was impressive in the opener with 18 touches for 84 yds, 2-2pt conversions, and a receiving TD.
It’s not easy being a female sports fan. More specifically, a female football fan.
On Monday, it was announced that the Cleveland Browns signed former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. To refresh our memory, Hunt was released by the Chiefs back in November for domestic violence allegations. He was caught on camera kicking a woman in a hotel. Though he still potentially faces disciplinary action from the League, as of today, he’s a Cleveland Brown.
League spokesman on new Browns RB Kareem Hunt: “There’s an ongoing investigation, and the team understands he’s subject to league discipline.” Now that he’s signed, Hunt will go on the commissioner’s exempt list.
My husband once told me, “I don’t know how you can be a woman and still like the NFL.” Ummm…wow. That hurt a little bit. But he’s right. (And no, this isn’t the first time I’ve acknowledged that he’s right, BTW)