For those of you that don’t know, there’s a new professional football league beginning this weekend! That’s right! The Alliance of American Football, an eight team league, begins playing games on Saturday, and running through April 27th, when their championship game will be played. All eight teams play over the weekend, with two games on Saturday and two games on Sunday, and games can be seen on CBS.
They’ve already had some interesting developments, too! For example, the Memphis Express have a SCINTILLATING QB duel developing:
WHERE CAN I GET TICKETS?
Look, in all seriousness, these players aren’t quite at the NFL level, but they’re above college players. Kind of like a AAA system in baseball, if you will, and probably one last chance for a player to impress NFL scouts enough to get one more shot. All joking aside, I’m intrigued, and I’m going to check out a few games.
One of the things I find legitimately interesting about the new league, though, are rules that differ significantly from the NFL:
Let’s break these down and discuss, because in the daily post, I got into a sub-thread discussion about how the overall NFL product isn’t all that great, and some of these things could rejuvenate the game.
No extra point kicks. Every team must go for two. Look, if you’re a Vikings fan, I don’t know HOW you can disagree with this one. You can still kick field goals, but no more extra points. I really like this one.
No kickoffs. Teams start at the 25. Ehhh, I’m on the fence about this one. I still think a good kick returner is a weapon in football. But that said, the NFL is trying to backdoor eliminate the play, so if they are, just do it. If not, move the kickoff back, and allow for more returns. Either way, get off the fence. Credit here to the AAF for making a decision and going with it, whether you agree with it or not.
Onside kicks will be replaced by an option to attempt a 4th and 10 at the team’s own 35. I LOVE this rule. I was talking with Fil on the daily thread, I mean artistformerlyknowasfil,...I mean Fake Fil...whatever, and he had some great stats that support this being a better option than an onside kick:
On 4th and 10 exactly … there were 26 plays in 2017. Teams converted first downs 30.8% of the time. The vast majority of these plays happened in the fourth quarter (only 3 of the 4 were in other quarters) and in every instance but one, the team was trailing (but the game typically was close). I pulled all 4th and 10 from 2015-2018 and got a 24.6% conversion rate on 118 attempts. Pulling 4th and 11+ for the same time period, I got a conversion rate of 21.8% on 202 attempts.
There were 52 onside kicks this year. Only 4 were converted. (7.7%)
Personally, I think the 4th and 10 option would add a ton of drama and excitement to a game, as opposed to a play that is 90% dependent on a kicked football bouncing exactly the right way at just the precise moment. And even when that does happen, you still need an opposing player to mis-handle the ball.
There’s a bit of a caveat to this, though. You have to be down by 17 points, or either team can use this option when there are under five minutes left in the game. I don’t like the caveat; I’d prefer that option be open to both teams the whole game.
30 second clock, no TV timeout, and 60% less commercials: If there was a demand for AAF advertising right now, they’d have as many commercials as the NFL. That’s just a supply and demand thing right now—if the AAF grows, they will have more commercials. I do, however, love the 30 second clock and the no TV timeouts. I think it will speed the game up, there will be less dead time in between plays, and the flow of the game won’t be interrupted nearly to the extent an NFL game is. (Extra point, commercial, kickoff, commercial, injury on first down, commerical).
And I like Kevin Cole’s tweet about the AAF being a lab or testing ground of sorts, for these rule tweaks, and to see if they work or not. I really think the NFL needs some tweaking around the edges with stuff like this, as soon as they can figure out what a catch is.
What do you guys think? Good ideas, bad ideas, or something in between?