The success or failure of any football league depends on the quality of the play of its quarterbacks, which is driven by the quality of the play of the various offensive lines. With not nearly enough good quarterbacks to go around, and with solid offensive line play not the easiest thing to engineer, the Alliance of American Football has baked into the rulebook procedures for helping the quarterbacks and their blockers seem better than they may be.
While scanning the AAF rulebook rulebook, the following restrictions on defensive formations stood out: (1) no more than five players may rush on passing plays; (2) any player who aligns on the line of scrimmage either prior to or at the snap is designated as one of the five players regardless of whether he rushes; (3) no defensive player may rush from a position more than two yards outside the widest offensive lineman and more than five yards from the line of scrimmage (they’ll call it the “defensive pressure box”); (4) a player is deemed eligible to rush if he has both feet inside the box at the snap; (5) no more than four players may rush from the same side of the ball; (6) adjacent linebackers may not rush from the same side of the ball; and (7) two or more linebackers aligned between the offensive guards may not rush.
So, basically, up to five players can rush the passer and each of those five players must be aligned within two yards of the widest offensive lineman and five yards of the line of scrimmage. This means that there will be no corner blitzes. There will be no delayed blitzes from linebackers and safeties. There will be no double-A gap blitzes.
These limits expire if the person who takes the snap pretends to hand the ball off to another player, either via play action or a run-pass option, or if the ball leaves the tackle box. In those situations, for example, cornerbacks could crash toward the quarterback, or players more than five yards behind the line could try to rush into the backfield.
It’s a major change from what the NFL allows, which is pretty much whatever any defense is able to concoct and execute. It will be interesting to see whether the NFL explores any of these restrictions, if they allow the AAF to rack up the kind of scoring and yardage that will fuel interest in a football league that, for now, is being viewed with mild curiosity, at most.