XFL Week 4 Guardians – Wildcats Game Recap: Luis Perez injects life into New York’s season and assigns his former team a loss

New York Guardians QB Luis Perez (Credit: XFL.com)

East Rutherford, N.J– What a difference a week makes. The New York Guardians (2-2) turned their season around today with a 17-14 victory of the Los Angeles Wildcats (1-3). Both teams came into the day with entirely different outlooks. LA, coming off a dominant home performance against the then-unbeaten DC Defenders, and New York coming off of two straight demoralizing losses on the road, which saw the Guardians outscored 59-9.

With Luis Perez starting at Quarterback, and strong running by Darius Victor (18-82). The New York Guardians offense did just enough offensively to ward off the Wildcats led by Josh Johnson.

The schedule makers can get an assist in this outcome as well. LA had to travel to the east coast and play an early game on short rest. Adding to LA’s disadvantage was the fact that their top receiver Nelson Spruce (knee) and emerging runner Martez Carter (hip), were both unable to suit up and play.

With no ground attack, the LA Wildcats leaned heavily on Josh Johnson (25/40 330 yards 2 touchdowns) to win this game for them. That and Winston Moss employing a refuse to lose mentality and going for it successfully on 4th down on two separate occasions.  Most notably, on a 4th and 2 on their own 28-yard line in the second half. LA nearly stole this game on the road. Two missed field goals by veteran kicker Nick Novak ended up being the difference in the contest. LA outgained NY 350-250.

The difference in this game was the New York Guardians’ defense. Despite giving up big numbers to Johnson and Tre McBride (8-127-1td). The New York defense made big plays all day long in crucial moments. Oklahoma State Star Jarrell Owens had his breakout moment of the early season, with 2 sacks and a blocked field goal. Late in the game tied at 14-14,  LA was driving into NY territory to take the lead.  Superstar cornerback Jamar Summers made one of, if not the best individual defensive play of the early season, with a huge interception and return, that helped slow down the Wildcats second-half momentum.

The Guardians’ special teams also played a hand in today’s triumph. Kicker Matt McCrane made three big kicks (51,23 and 47) in windy conditions at MetLife. Punter Justin Vogel pinned LA deep inside the ten-yard line for what ended up being the Wildcats’ final desperation drive to potentially tie or win the game late.

The story of the day, however, was Quarterback Luis Perez. The player who was once assigned to the Wildcats and positioned as their franchise player was deemed expendable when LA acquired Josh Johnson. Late in training camp, Luis Perez was unceremoniously traded away for backup QB Chad Kanoff. On this day, Luis Perez took command of New York’s beleaguered attack and showed composure and poise in the pocket. Perez finished the day 18/26 for a modest 150 yards and a touchdown, but his numbers on the day could have been better if not for an uncharacteristic deep ball drop by Mekale McKay late, that would have sealed the game. Perez was the reason that LA walked away from MetLife today with a 1-3 record.

New York at 2-2, now heads back on the road to face Bob Stoops and the Dallas Renegades at Globe Life Park, Saturday 5 pm ET on Fox. With six weeks to go, the Guardians’ are now back in the playoff hunt in the East. For the now 1-3 LA Wildcats, they head back home and host the Tampa Bay Vipers in a 9 pm ET/6 pm PT primetime game on ESPN next Sunday.

Post-game Quotes

Los Angeles Wildcats Head Coach, Winston Moss

On being 1-3 and what you tell your team on the way back to LA:

“I thought we had a breakthrough, to be honest with you. After meeting with the guys and there were some emotions and there were some things going on. We’re at a crossroads and I think that with the heart and character, the Wildcat way will show itself strong moving forward. I think this loss is actually going to help us move forward through the rest of this season.”

Los Angeles Wildcats Quarterback, Josh Johnson

On playing consistent football and getting back on track:

“I mean just really focusing on the fundamentals of football- the details- and just trying to go out there and play the quarterback position the way I’ve been taught, and the way that our coaches want me to play it, just trying to take one play at a time, and just execute as best as possible- but obviously it’s not good enough right now. So, just got to find a way to get better.”

New York Guardians Head Coach, Kevin Gilbride:

On the win:

“We’re obviously excited about the win. We’re very pleased with the effort that our players put forth. I thought they continued to fight and play hard, which we needed to do if we’re gonna get a W against a very good football team. Josh Johnson’s a heck of a quarterback and made some spectacular plays, so we were very fortunate to hang in there and win, but that was the thing that I thought we could do if we just don’t self-destruct. We had that one moment where there was a frustrated young man with a holding call, and we just can’t have that. But other than that, I thought the guys showed the kind of discipline that you need to show, and good football teams have. It was a small step but it was at least a step in the right direction, so we’re pleased with that.”

On Quarterback Luis Perez:

“I thought Luis showed the kind of poise and composure and understanding of what we’re trying to do that you like to see from that position. I was very pleased with his effort. He’d be the first one to tell you that there were some chances that he didn’t quite see and he didn’t quite get the ball where he needed to get it to, but the bottom line is you keep playing, and when you miss a throw or you miss an opening that was available to you, it doesn’t destroy you and prevent you from coming back the next play. You continue to play, play in and play out, and he does that very well. Of course, that’s just his makeup. It was good – I think he was a significant catalyst to us playing as well as we did…He’s like most quarterbacks that are the right makeup – the competitive kind of guys that like to be pushed, they like to be coached, they like to be taught as to what you’re trying to achieve. He certainly is a guy that enjoys being a student of the game, a guy that likes to come in and watch the film. He lives with his family still out in California, his wife just had a baby. So he’s got a lot of time on his hands. So when we finished the day at about 5:00, it’s a long day. A lot of guys aren’t looking to come back in, you know. They’ve been here since 8:00 this morning, but he’s there every night. He’s got that kind of drive to absorb as much information and as much knowledge as he can, and he’s done a terrific job in a short period of time. He’s the makeup you’re looking for, no question about it.”

QB Luis Perez calls the play. (Credit: XFL.com)

New York Guardians Quarterback, Luis Perez:

On the transition from being an elite bowler to community college to DII Player of the year, now starting for the Guardians:

“I think faith is number one – after so many times – you get stomped on and there are so many different circumstances that happen, you just got to keep faith and keep working, and believe in your work ethic and hope that everything will work out.”

His personal assessment of his first start:

“There are a lot of plays that I wish I had back – As a quarterback you want to be perfect all the time, but obviously that’s not going to be the case, but ultimately it’s about improving, so I’m going to go back and watch the tape and improve for next week.”

On what the message was to the team before the go-ahead FG drive in the fourth quarter:

“It all started by saying we have a bunch of leaders on this team. Coach then says ‘we are going to hit adversity at some point in the game and it’s about how we respond to it that matters. Let’s get a drive going and let’s go get some points.’

On the way the entire team came together to win the game:

“This was the definition of a team win. Matt [McCrane] making all of those kicks, and they were some long kicks. Justin [Vogel], at the end, pinning them inside the 10 yard line. Offense doing our part. We talk about no turnovers all the time in all aspects, and the defense got one, and we didn’t turn it over.”

On the incompletion to McKay:

“Not every play is going to be made. He knows he makes that play 99 out of 100 times. I told him, as soon as that happened, I’m coming back to you, I still have faith in you, and I know you’re going to make a play for me.”

On the crowd support:

“On third down you can hear them chanting and that definitely helps, especially because, as quarterbacks we have the earpiece and when it starts getting really loud, it’s hard to hear the communication. The false starts, all the penalties, it shows up. The crowd played a huge part in that.”

On facing his former team:

“It definitely felt good going against them. Ultimately, I wish them nothing but the best. They’ve been great to me. I talked to a lot of the guys after the game everything was fun and love, I wish them nothing but the best going forward.”

On keeping the momentum going into next week:

“This is definitely a momentum game. Now we got one down, we just need to keep stringing them along, and we know that. We know we didn’t play our best in all facets of the game. We’ve got to be obsessed with detail- not being okay with being average. I think with this win it’s going to help motivate everyone to stack these wins together.”

Collective Wisdom – Week 4 Predictions

Collective Wisdom by XFLBoard.com

We are happy to say that just over 750 XFL fans added their wisdom to our system. The closest entrant will win a tee-shirt proclaiming them the Genius of the Week.

We have crunched the numbers and have come up with the predictions for this week’s games. This week the collective wisdom says the visitors will win 3 of 4 games. Could this be true?

Last week our Collective Wisdom went 3-1 to increase our season record to 10-2.

Collective Wisdom – Week 4 Predictions

Visitor

Home

Los Angeles Wildcats

27

New York Guardians

16

Seattle Dragons

16

St. Louis BattleHawks

26

Houston Roughnecks

28

Dallas Renegades

25

DC Defenders

27

Tampa Bay Vipers

22

 

Analyzing all XFL first round draft picks through three weeks

With almost a third of the regular season complete, here’s a look at how the first round draft picks from each phase have fared:

Phase 1 Skill Players

DC: WR Rashard Davis, James Madison: The first overall player chosen, the Defenders knew what they were doing: Davis signed with the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad before camp and was signed to their active roster in December, where he currently resides.

Houston: QB Connor Cook, Michigan State: Cook competed with Houston’s allocated QB, P.J. Walker, in one of the more intriguing camp battles. Walker won out, but there’s no shame in that – he’s on his way to an MVP-like season. Cook, the backup, has yet to see game action.

New York: WR DeAngelo Yancey, Purdue: Yancey’s presence would help New York’s stale pass offense, but alas, he was placed on injured reserve just before the end of training camp.

Dallas: WR Jeff Badet, Oklahoma: One of three starters at receiver for Dallas, Badet has shared targets with other receivers, backs, and tight ends. Even then, he’s been a high-volume target, catching 11 passes. But he only has 72 yards, good for just a 6.5 yard per catch average.

Tampa Bay: TE Nick Truesdell, Grand Rapids, CC: Truesdell has shown glimpses of why the Vipers made him the first tight end off the board. In two games (he missed the third due to injury), Truesdell has seven catches for 78 yards.

St. Louis: RB Christine Michael, Texas A&M: Listed as a starter on the BattleHawks depth chart, Michael has spear-headed a two-man rotation in the offensive backfield for St. Louis. He has 35 carries for 82 yards, a 2.3 average, and three catches for 21 yards. He’ll continue to get the rock in this run-first offense.

Seattle: RB Trey Williams, Texas A&M: Averaging a healthy 4.3 yards per carry on 22 runs, Williams has also contributed eight catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. This all comes with Williams acting as the third team running back.

LA: RB Elijah Hood, North Carolina: Hood missed last weekend’s game due to injury, but LA’s running game didn’t miss a beat. That could cost Hood some playing time to Martez Carter and Larry Rose in the future, as he had been averaging only 3.4 yards per carry as starter prior to the game against the Defenders.

Phase 2 Offensive Line

LA: OT Storm Norton, Toledo: Norton is entrenched as the starting left tackle of the Wildcats, tasked with protecting the blind side of QB Josh Johnson. He has performed well to this point.

Seattle: OT Isaiah Battle, Clemson: Battle would be Seattle’s starting left tackle were he not battling an ankle injury that has kept him out the first three weeks of the season. He’s listed as “probable” on this week’s injury report and is expected to make his season debut Saturday.

St. Louis: OT Matt McCants, UAB: The starting right tackle for a BattleHawks line that has given up seven sacks in the first three games. According to traditional draft strategy, this is pretty high to take a tackle to play the right side, considered a non-premium position compared to left tackle.

Tampa Bay: C Jordan McCray, UCF: Manning the pivot for the 0-3 Vipers, McCray has anchored what’s been a so-so offensive line in Tampa. Their run blocking has been superior to their pass blocking so far.

Dallas: OT Willie Beavers, Western Michigan: The left tackle tasked with protecting what some call the face of the XFL, Landry Jones. Beavers comes to the XFL having previously been a part of six NFL clubs.

New York: OT Jarron Jones, Notre Dame: New York’s starting left tackle. With the troubles the Guardians are having in all facets of the game, getting the offensive line to play better would solve a lot of woes on that side of the ball.

Houston: OT Cornelius Edison, Portland State: Edison did not report to minicamp for the Roughnecks, making this a wasted pick for now. They’ll have his rights should he decide to show up at some point.

DC: OT Kyle Murphy, Stanford: The day after Murphy was drafted by the Defenders, he signed with the practice squad of the Houston Texans. He stayed on their practice squad for the rest of the season and was signed to a reserve/futures contract in January.

Phase 3 Defensive Front Seven

Tampa Bay: DE Obum Gwachum, Oregon State: Gwacham was recently activated off short-term IR for the Vipers, looking to add a little venom to their pass rush. They haven’t generated much pressure with their front four, so the addition of Gwacham should help.

St. Louis: DT Casey Sayles, Ohio: Sayles is a starting defensive tackle in the 4-3 defense run by Jay Hayes in St. Louis. He has accumulated four tackles and a sack in three games for a stingy defense that has given up just 15 points per game.

Seattle: DE Stansly Maponga, TCU: The former NFL 5th round pick, Maponga leads the Dragons defense from his starting position at left defensive end. To date, he has seven tackles, one QB hurry, and one tackle for loss. He seems to be heating up as the season goes along.

LA: DT Anthony Johnson, LSU: The Wildcats reshuffled their defense after just one week, firing defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson and trading the heart and soul (and captain) of their defense, Anthony Johnson, to the Defenders. He didn’t get much of a chance for revenge on LA last week, as the Defenders were blown out and Johnson was kept off the stat sheet.

DC: LB James Vaughters, Stanford: The trade for Anthony Johnson netted DC a first-round pick in this phase, which does help ease the loss of Vaughters to the NFL. Vaughters bounced on-and-off the roster and practice squad of the Chicago Bears for the bulk of the 2019 season, then signed a reserve/futures contract at the end of the year.

Houston: DT Trenton Thompson, Georgia: This may go down as the worst first round pick of the 2020 XFL Draft. Thompson was waived by Houston at final cuts and was subsequently signed to Team Nine. The fact that we’re almost four weeks into the season and no other team has claimed him tells what kind of reach this was.

New York: LB Ben Heeney, Kansas: The oft-injured Heeney is looking to stay healthy for the XFL season to earn another NFL shot. He’s the starting MLB in New York’s 4-3 defense. He’s been a tackle machine, with 18 in three games, including three for loss and a QB hurry.

Dallas: DE Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington: Kikaha was a risky choice given his injury history; he made it through training camp and the first three games as one of Dallas’ starting outside linebackers. After six tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble during that span, Kikaha was placed on the reserve/retired list this week to attend to family issues, per his Instagram account.

Phase 4 Defensive Backs

Dallas: S Derron Smith, Fresno State: The former Cincinnati Bengals draft pick has found a home as the starting free safety in Dallas. His big-play impact hasn’t yet been felt, but he’s a steadying presence in the defensive backfield. He has ten tackles through three games.

New York: CB Jamar Summers, Connecticut: Summers has been arguably the top defensive back for New York, registering nine tackles, a fumble recovery, and a pass defensed. The 1-2 Guardians will lean on him as one of their defensive leaders to get them out of the funk they’re in.

Houston: CB Deji Olatoye, North Carolina A&T: One of the few first-round picks who is active but not in the starting lineup, Olatoye is the backup to Jeremiah Johnson at right cornerback. He has just one tackle in two games; in the third, he was a healthy inactive. Houston’s success on the season is more impressive given a couple of misses on first-round picks.

DC: CB Elijah Campbell, Northern Iowa: The starting left corner in the nation’s capital, Campbell has been active on defense and special teams so far this season. On D, he has six tackles and two passes defensed. On special teams, he has a blocked kick and another tackle.

LA: CB Jack Tocho, NC State: The second of three first-round safeties selected, Tocho may just be the best of the triumvirate. He has filled the stat sheet to the tune of eight tackles, one for loss, an interception, a pass defensed, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. He played a big role in LA’s first victory, against DC on Sunday.

Seattle: CB Jhavonte Dean, Miami (FL): Dean was on the team’s minicamp roster and even had a write-up on his journey posted on XFL.com. However, it appears he never made it to training camp nor into the regular season.

St. Louis: S Herb Miller, FAU: Like Dean, Miller was on the St. Louis mini-camp roster, but apparently was not at training camp. The Battlehawks’ safeties haven’t missed much of a beat without Miller, as they’ve started NFL veteran Will Hill and potential future NFL draft pick Kenny Robinson to much success.

Tampa Bay: CB Arrion Springs, Oregon: The Vipers have been active in the trade market both before and during the season. Springs was traded to LA straight-up for fellow corner Jalen Collins on December 17. Springs is listed as a backup to Harlan Miller at one of the Wildcats’ corner spots. Even as a backup, he has nine tackles, an interception, and two passes defensed for Winston Moss’s defense.

XFL Week 4 Preview: Los Angeles Wildcats at New York Guardians

Los Angeles Wildcats (1-2) at New York Guardians (1-2)

  • Saturday, February 29th, 2 pm ET/11 am PT (ABC) MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
  • LA-7.5  Over/Under 39.5
  • Game Time Temperature: 37, Winds 10-20 mph

Game Overview

The Los Angeles Wildcats (1-2) travel to the east coast to face the (1-2) New York Guardians. Both teams share the same record after three weeks of play, but appear to be headed in opposite directions. Los Angeles is coming off a dominant 39-9 home victory over the DC Defenders. Quarterback Josh Johnson has stabilized the LA season after missing week one due to injury.

New York is coming off two straight demoralizing road losses within their division. The Guardians were outscored 56-9 in those two defeats. The most recent, a 29-9 loss to the BattleHawks in front of nearly 30,000 rabid St. Louis football fans.

The Guardians’ offense has been one of the league’s worst after three games. Unlike LA, New York has uncertainty headed into this game at the Quarterback position. Opening day starter Matt McGloin (thorax) is listed as out. New York will turn to backup Quarterbacks Marquise Williams and Luis Perez. Both have split reps all week in the lead up to this game. Williams and Perez could both see action on Saturday.

Injuries

New York and LA are coming into this game off a short week of preparation. The Wildcats will be missing some vital pieces of their offense on Saturday. A good portion of LA’s main contributors from last Sunday’s win showed up on this week’s injury report. A few of them won’t be playing.

(New York) QB Matt McGloin (Out-Thorax), OL Avery Young (Probable-Shoulder), LB Garrett Dooley (Probable-Ankle), LB Jawaun Johnson (Probable-Head), John Kling (Probable-Shoulder), RB Darius Victor (Probable-Ankle).

Guardians Wide Receiver Tanner Gentry has been activated off of short term injured reserve. It remains to be seen if he will be active for Saturday’s game.

(Los Angeles) WR Nelson Spruce (Out-Knee), RB Martez Carter (Doubtful-Hip), DB Mike Stevens (Questionable-Thigh), DL Latarius Brady (Questionable-Knee), DB Harlan Miller (Questionable-Thigh), QB Josh Johnson (Questionable- Thigh), QB Chad Kanoff (Questionable-Shoulder), CB Jaylen Dunlap (Probable-Ankle), RB Larry Rose (Probable-Foot), WR Tre McBride (Probable-Thigh), TE Brandon Barnes (Probable-Knee).

Wildcats Fullback Winston Dimel has been activated off of short term injured reserve. LA’s ground game could get a boost with his presence.

Matchup: The Guardians offense versus the Wildcats defense

LA plays a 3-4 defense but has been disguising their alignments and coverages well in the last couple of weeks. Winston Moss, with help from his defensive staff, has taken over the play-calling duties since letting go of former Defensive Coordinator Pepper Johnson. The Wildcats frustrated Defenders QB Cardale Jones last week by mixing coverages and disrupting the timing of DC’s pass routes. The change in play-calling was swift, and seemed like an abrupt move by Winston Moss to outsiders, but it has paid off thus far. Winston took ownership immediately of a failing unit.

As a complete contrast, despite the Guardians’ immense struggles offensively, Offensive Coordinator G.A. Mangus remains in control of  New York’s attack. Kevin Gilbride has opted not to take the reins of the offense. Gilbride is an accomplished long-time offensive coordinator with years of success and experience, but he has decided to retain a CEO role as Head Coach/GM, rather than go back to what he does best.

Last week, the Guardians eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the first time all season with Tim Cook and Darius Victor both rushing for over a hundred yards combined. Both running backs averaged at least five yards a carry, and the team will lean on this committee to move the ball down the field with a banged-up Matt McGloin and an inexperienced duo at QB in Perez and Williams.

Despite playing in mostly a spread attack with ‘Fun N Gun’ elements from his days as a Steve Spurrier disciple, G.A. Mangus used some more base sets last week with multiple tight ends, and it worked to some degree. Look for New York to try and establish the run more. The Wildcats rank seventh in the league in rush defense. They have talent in their front seven, but players who have very little experience playing in an odd defensive front. One player who could factor into this week’s gameplan for New York is Justin Stockton. The former Texas Tech back, had some good contributions in the passing game last week and provides big-play potential.

New York has had instability upfront, and discipline issues. Center Ian Silberman is coming off of a horrible performance last week, which saw him lose his cool on multiple occasions before ultimately getting benched. Starting Guard Garrett Brumfield was placed on injured reserve. Veterans Damien Mama and Avery Young, who have seen extensive time in the first few weeks, could be utilized more in the interior. The Guardians added reinforcements upfront this week, with the additions of former CFL All-Star Derek Dennis, and former New England Patriots, and 4-year NC State starter Tony Adams. Keeping the pocket clean against LA’s active front will be crucial towards New York’s success. The Guardians have struggled in this respect mightily.

Quarterback Marquise Williams has a big arm and is very mobile. His skill-set could aid a struggling Guardians offense in moving the chains and extending drives.

New York’s passing attack has been erratic. Big play receiver Mekale McKay continues to be underutilized. Austin Duke had arguably the best showing for a Guardians wide receiver last Sunday with 43 yards on four catches and a touchdown. The former all-time leading receiver at Charlotte has earned himself more playing time. The return of Tanner Gentry can help the Guardians passing attack, but it remains to be seen how ready he is to contribute on a short work week and a long layoff.

One of the hidden storylines in this game is Luis Perez, potentially facing off against the team that traded him in LA. Perez was initially assigned to the Wildcats back in October and was positioned as the leader of the team early on. Perez, along with Norm Chow, worked extensively together with the Wildcat receivers before minicamps and training camp had commenced.

The addition of Josh Johnson changed Perez’s role with Los Angeles. Luis was traded to New York late in camp for backup quarterback Chad Kanoff. Perez was a prolific college player who showed flashes of his ability with Birmingham last year in the AAF. If Perez is up to speed on New York’s offense, only a month after being traded for, he could provide the spark the Guardians need, and he already has added motivation going into this contest.

Matchup: The Guardians defense versus the Wildcats offense

The Wildcats offense under Norm Chow has started to hit its stride in recent weeks. A big part of the early season turnaround has been the leadership of Quarterback Josh Johnson. One of the league’s most experienced signal-callers, Johnson has taken control of the offense rather quickly and has brought stability to the entire franchise.  Johnson has always had the ability to make big plays on the fly with his arm and legs, but it’s his vast experience as a pro that has helped his Wildcats teammates on offense get on the same page.

The Guardians have struggled mightily to stop the run. They rank last in the XFL in rush yards allowed per game (138). New York has really struggled to find the right mix in their front seven. The Guardians boast a large defensive line, with experienced pro defensive tackles, TJ Barnes and Joey Mbu manning the middle, but the Guardians undersized linebacking corps has not held up well taking-on and shedding blocks.

LA comes into this game potentially without emerging runner Martez Carter. The original starter at tailback Elijah Hood was benched last week for fumbling issues. The talented runner may be leaned upon again, in combination with Larry Rose. LA is big upfront on their offensive line, but has struggled early on to establish a consistent ground attack (last in the league in rushing). Look for the Wildcats to try and emulate what opposing teams have done to the Guardians defense in the first three weeks.

Tre McBride officially arrived on the scene last week for LA with five receptions for 109 yards and two scores. He should be LA’s main target with star receiver, Nelson Spruce, out with a knee injury. New York has had problems containing mobile quarterbacks and getting them down on the ground. Josh Johnson presents a similar issue for New York that they had with Cardale Jones and Jordan Ta’amu.

Defensive End Bunmi Rotini has emerged as one of the Guardians better defensive players, but the Guardians pass rush has been largely inconsistent since week one. Taking McBride out of the game, and pressuring Johnson will be key for New York, especially with safety valve Nelson Spruce not playing.

Final Summary/Prediction

New York is heavy underdogs at home against LA, and with good reason. The Guardians have yet to establish their team identity on either side of the ball. New York has looked like a team that is still playing preseason games, while Los Angeles is finally starting to establish its identity offensively and defensively.

This is a crucial part of the XFL season, where teams start to get into midseason form before they make a push towards playoff contention. LA looks like they are ready for that challenge. New York does not.  A bye week would have benefited the Guardians in potentially resetting the franchise, but the short week keeps NY in status quo mode.

Normally, having a team from the west coast fly out to play on the east coast on a short week, would play into the home teams favor. The Wildcats are banged up and playing what is a morning game for them. (11 am PT). This should favor the Guardians but with their uncertainty at Quarterback. It’s hard to bet against Josh Johnson and what LA has shown so far with Norm Chow and Winston Moss.

This game takes place on leap day. Based on the Guardians’ performance in recent weeks, I am not ready to take a leap of faith yet in them turning things around.

Wildcats 23 Guardians 15

The BattleHawks Home Opener was Special and Very Emotional

Credit: XFL.com

Editorial by Alistair E. Fannell @the_mls

It’s been a couple of days to gather my thoughts after driving over two hundred miles from Springfield MO. to St. Louis visit my mother over the weekend to take the both of us to watch St. Louis’s newest football team the BattleHawks play at the Dome In America. I’m 45 years old, I was born in St. Louis and was fortunate to attend the St. Louis Football Cardinal games during the time of some the great individual players that played on the team such as Dan Dierdoft, Jim Hart, Roy Green, O.J. Anderson, Pat Tilley, and Roger Wehrli. I saw with great sadness to see the team move to Arizona after the 1987 season. I was fortunate to cheer with joy when the Rams won the Super Bowl in 1999 for the city of St. Louis which were led by Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Orlando Pace, and Torry Holt. Only to be angry at owner Stan Kroenke and the NFL by allowing the Rams to move back to L.A after the 2015 season. I’ve seen it all from the highs and lows of Professional football in St. Louis which has taken a beating and abuse from sports naysayers who don’t live in St. Louis.

Sunday home opener was special and very emotional from the standpoint that while I was driving downtown with my mother to find a parking spot around 11 am, I was amazed to see tailgaters across the Dome wearing their BattleHawks T-shirts, sweaters, posing as a hawk mascots  and watching the newly fanbase have their traditional pre-game meal.  I didn’t get to watch the pre-game concerts festivity or get the free give away T-shirts, where the events were taking place on North 6th St & Convention Plaza across the Dome but to see a day later on YouTube videos that were posted, brought back memories of the Rams or the Football Cardinals pre-game event that I use to attend. As I sat next to my mother inside the Dome and hearing the roar of 29,000 fans, it gave me chills to my spine as the St. Louis BattleHawks players were introduced by the P.A. announcer. Then when Christine Michael scored the first touchdown in 5 years at Dome of America, tears started to stream from my eyes. I don’t know why, maybe it was the emotion of seeing Football Back in St. Louis but seeing the fans cheer for their new team shows that they love Professional Football as long as the organization of the team likes them back.

I’ve been through this painful cycle for 45 years with the former city that I still call home. The sports naysayers will say that the Rams moved out of St. Louis because the fans gave up on the team; no not true, it was owner Stan Kroenke who gave up on the fans and even his right-hand man Kevin Demoff actually lied on behave of Kroenke when he said on ESPN 101radio show back in 2014, hosted by  Randy Kakarraker that the team didn’t have plans to move back to L.A.  It was no wonder why fans before and during the game were chanting ” Kroenke Sucks” and some even whore t-shirts of Roger Godell the commissioner of the NFL as a clown who helped orchestrate the Rams move to L.A. And even though they’ve been gone for almost 30 years the Cardinals gave me reason why I lost faith of the team. Think about it, we had 2 NFL teams and they combine for only 16 winning season and 8 appearances in the playoffs.

Anyway, when the referee blew the whistle for the final time which the BattleHawks won 29-9 against the New York Guardians, it really felt that for the first time that St. Louis got the respect that it needed as a football town. Sure, it’s not the NFL and sadly we may never get an NFL team but it’s a Professional football team that is born and originated in St. Louis. I want to thank XFL founder Vince McMahon and Commissioner Oliver Luck for awarding city a franchise, I thank Team President Kurt Hunzeker reaching out to fans across St. Louis to my current city I live Springfield MO. and putting on one of the best Pre-game tailgate party that I’ve seen in years.  I thank the BattleHawks team for putting a good product on the field and getting their first home win. But most importantly I thank my former residents in St. Louis for showing America that we are a great sports town, making the BattleHawks Home opener special and emotional.

Episode 27 – XFL Fantasy Football – Adam Pelletier

Are you ready for some XFL Fantasy? This episode is a special episode where we talk about XFL fantasy football with Adam Pelletier (@adampelletier). Adam is an XFL and Fantasy Football Writer, and we have him here today to talk to us about XFL Fantasy Football. Sit back and relax while Adam explains the XFL fantasy options, and then goes into his thoughts on the best picks for XFL week 4.

Join FanDuel through XFLBoard. You will also receive a $5 bonus:
https://www.fanduel.com/XFLBoard

Music: Are You Ready – Free music archive.

XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck fully expects a “Year 2”

Oliver Luck
XFL Commissioned Oliver Luck (Credit: XFL.com)

Oliver Luck spoke at the NFL agent’s seminar at the NFL Combine. Aside from revealing he fully expects the XFL to continue on to “Year 2,” something that comes as no surprise to most people, he also revealed details of what to expect leading up to the next XFL season:

  • Luck is fully expecting the XFL to continue in year 2.
  • The league will use invite only camps and a draft similar o Year 1.
  • 200 current XFL players were on an NFL roster in 2019.
  • Teams will retain rights to players. This implies that if a player goes to another league after the XFL season, and then returns to the XFL, their rights will still be tied to the team they were with before.
  • One of the benefits of using a “Team 9” was to save money by not flying in players for workouts.
  • Luck emphasized that the XFL is a standalone league, and not a developmental league or competitor to the NFL.
  • Luck also emphasized no year removed eligibility as with the NFL, and that players can use XFL as a way to “bet on themselves.”

Original Tweet is below.

dddd

XFL Week 4 Power Rankings

We are now 3 weeks in, and man oh man, is football crazy. One week you think you know exactly how the season is going to turn out, and the very next week, something happens that throws everything out of whack. That is what Week 3 in the XFL was, and let’s not waste any time. Let’s get to it.

8. New York Guardians (1-2) Last Week (7)
The New York Guardians are an absolute dumpster fire. Matt McGloin is becoming more and more Jay Cutler-esque as the weeks go by. Marquise Williams certainly hasn’t been any better. Luis Perez might be the answer, but even then, not great. G.A. Magnus has been atrocious. Kevin Gilbride can’t seem to control his team. It’s an absolute mess. The only bright spot has still been their defense, which by the numbers, has been pretty good. But it won’t matter if their offense can’t stay on the field and score points. This season is quickly spiraling out of control, and I don’t see it turning around. The Guardians will probably guard the no. 8 spot til season’s end.

7. Tampa Bay Vipers (0-3) Last Week (8)
BREAKING NEWS! The Vipers can actually play competitive football! Man, they gave the Roughnecks all they could handle, and had a legitimate shot at winning that game in the closing minutes of the 4th quarter. Now, this week, Marc Trestman addressed the media and noted that quarterback Quinton Flowers, who was starting to excel a little bit in this offense, would be taking an extended leave of absence. That definitely hurts some of the momentum that they built this weekend. But, I think this team still has a slight chance to make a Playoff run. They definitely have the talent, and the fight is still there. It’s just going to come down to quarterback play and coaching. I’m not sure how much I trust Marc Trestman, but if this weekend is any indication, he might be able to rally the troops and make a push. They play DC at home this weekend, and we will get to them later, but that is a winnable game. So we shall see if they can continue to keep that momentum they had. For now though, they sit at no. 7.

6. Seattle Dragons (1-2) Last Week (6)
The Dragons are who we thought they were. Solid defense. Offense has its moments. Good coaching. But they just aren’t quite good enough to compete in the loaded West. Keenan Reynolds and Austin Proehl are very productive. Kenneth Farrow is dynamic. Their defense makes stops, and causes turnovers. The problem is, they can’t always capitalize on those turnovers, because Brandon Silvers just isn’t that dude. He’s a good quarterback. He makes some good throws. He makes some timely throws. But when the moment is calling him, he just can’t seem to deliver. They had a shot, late in the game against Dallas, to get back in it, and Silvers just could not come through. I don’t know if BJ Daniels is the answer, but I don’t think it would hurt to try. For now, Seattle sits at no. 6.

5. Los Angeles Wildcats (1-2) Last Week (5)
Wow! The Wildcats showed up Sunday night. They were unstoppable! They looked like the best team in the league. I want everybody to take caution a little bit. First, I called this. I said, once Josh Johnson gets acclimated to this offense, they will be right there in the hunt for the top of the West. Well, I told you so. Josh Johnson was incredible. Martez Carter was sensational. But it was the coming out party of Tre McBride that really put this team in the hunt. We already knew about Nelson Spruce, who is reportedly injured, but hopefully not anything too serious. But it was the emergence of a second deep threat that now makes this team scary. And let’s not forget about the most impressive part of LA that night, their defense. Which caused the Defenders to turn the ball over 4 times in the game. They really dominated in all phases. BUT, the reason I said be cautious, is because this game was somewhat, I think, of an anomaly. They had a lot of short fields, and the DC Defenders just looked completely out of sorts. I want to see a more consistent performance from these guys before I totally buy in. So until then, I will still sit them at no. 5. But I do think this team has the capability to potentially win the West this season, because they can be that good.

4. DC Defenders (2-1) Last Week (2)
Sunday night is one to forget about if you’re the DC Defenders. They looked AWFUL against the Wildcats this weekend. Cardale Jones was just bad, no other way to slice it. Pep Hamilton didn’t have any answers for Winston Moss’ defense. The running game continues to struggle. And their defense was exposed. Now, I do think this game was somewhat of an anomaly. I don’t believe Cardale Jones is going to be this bad every single week. I think Pep Hamilton is a great coach who will make adjustments. But, I do have to say, I think the Defenders clear weaknesses were really masked the first two weeks getting to play Seattle and New York at home. Look, the Defenders are still a Top 4 team I believe. But, they are not as elite as we thought they were. And I think there is a strong possibility, that if they make it to the Playoffs, which I still believe they will, it will be on the road against a St. Louis team that might be better than them. DC sits at no. 4 for now.

3. Dallas Renegades (2-1) Last Week (4)
Man does this team take a while to get going. But once they do, they dominate and demoralize you. And they use their running game to do it. Cameron Artis-Payne might be…..scratch that, IS the best running back in the XFL. Matt Jones is a close second, but what Artis-Payne is doing is phenomenal. He is wearing down defenses, and they just haven’t been able to slow him down. Landry Jones is getting more and more comfortable each week, and this offense has a nice balance to it. But we have to talk about the star that is emerging in Dallas in tight end, Donald Parham. This dude is massive, but he can run downfield with the best of them. This tight end was burning defensive backs down the field Saturday night, and he is a locomotive that is getting better each week. He is quickly becoming Landry Jones’ favorite target and for good reason. This team is just hitting its stride, and they will have a big test this week with Houston coming to their house. Landry Jones has got to cut down on the turnovers, but the Dallas Renegades are for real. They sit at no. 3.

2. St. Louis BattleHawks (2-1) Last Week (3)
I absolutely love this team. Their energy. Their heart. Their passion. It’s infectious! Jonathan Hayes has this team playing great football, and it all starts with breakout star Jordan Ta’amu. Nobody expected Ta’amu to be this good, but this dude is straight up ballin’. He’s doing it with his arm. He’s doing it with his legs. His football IQ has been excellent. He really is doing it all. Pair that with a very strong running game, in fact the best overall rushing team in the XFL, and you have a recipe for success. Matt Jones and Christine Michael are dominating on the ground, and Ta’amu forces defenses to stay on their toes. But it’s this defense that takes this team to the next level. They are, without a doubt, the BEST defense in the XFL. They make stops and force turnovers, which leads to their running game keeping the opposing defense on the field for longer than they would like to be. Could you imagine, a East Conference Championship game in the Dome…. I’m starting to think that is becoming more and more of a reality as the weeks go by. The BattleHawks are the second best team in the XFL.

1. Houston Roughnecks (3-0) Last Week (1)
But they still aren’t no. 1, because that still belongs to the only undefeated team left in the XFL, the Houston Roughnecks. PJ Walker. Cam Phillips. Those names should strike fear in every team they play this season. I’m to the point, that I feel the only chance you have at beating the Roughnecks, is you are going to have to outscore them. Because you are NOT stopping the Walker and Phillips connection, the most lethal duo in the XFL. James Butler, Nick Holley, Sam Mobley, Khalil Lewis, and Sammie Coates hasn’t even got going yet. This team is LOADED! They are without a doubt, the BEST OFFENSE IN THE LEAGUE. Hands down! And it all starts with June Jones. His play calling has been nothing short of extraordinary. This Roughnecks team makes it look so easy to get into the end zone. PJ Walker is the MVP three weeks in, and Cam Phillips should be second on that list. Now, their defense is a little concerning. But as long as they can do just enough, and be opportunistic in the turnover battle, this team has got to be the favorite for the XFL Championship. The Houston Roughnecks are the best team in the XFL.

Tampa Bay Vipers positional grades vs. Houston Roughnecks (week three)

Tampa Bay Vipers quarterback Taylor Cornelius

QB: C+: Taylor Cornelius looked a bit more comfortable running the offense than the previous week filling in again for Aaron Murray. There were still too many miscommunications with receivers, including his interception late in the fourth, that stalled drives. After starting the game and playing the first two drives, Quinton Flowers came in for the rest of the half, save for the last drive of the first half. Cornelius marched the team down the field for a score at that point, then played the rest of the second half. He showed good rapport with Reece Horn throughout the game. Cornelius found some rhythm in the 2nd half but again the Vipers came up empty on the goal line at the end of the game. The decision to not go with Flowers at that point is questionable at best. It was announced today that Flowers has taken personal leave from the team and Cornelius will get the start again this weekend.

RB: C: De’Veon Smith’s best play may have been a downfield catch in which he held onto the ball despite taking a big hit. He made two catches but had a 3rd down drop as well. In the run game, Smith averaged just 3.3 yards per carry; he has a way of falling forward and twisting for extra yardage after contact. After out-touching Smith last week, Jacques Patrick had just 10 carries for 18 yards and two catches for 11 yards. They are currently the only two backs on the roster with the release of Mack Brown earlier in the week. Colin Thompson only played one snap at fullback this week.

WR/TE: C: The receivers had at least four drops on the afternoon; that has to be remedied if Tampa is going to be able to perform consistently on offense. Jalen Tolliver was targeted 13 times and had eight catches for 104 yards, but dropped two balls as well. He converted a 3rd-and-6 from Flowers and then a 4th-and-4 in the third quarter. Dan Williams used his physicality to break tackles and score the first receiving touchdown in team history. Getting more playing time in place of the injured Nick Truesdell, DeAndre Goolsby had a catch over the middle for 24 yards just before the half. He also had a drop and a holding penalty on a run that gained a first down.

OL: B-: The starting five performed better than the previous week, allowing just two sacks and four tackles for loss. It’s especially impressive when you consider the Roughnecks were sending at least five rushers on nearly every play. The weak link seemed to be right tackle Isaiah Williams. Williams gave up a sack and a pressure that led to a 3rd down incompletion on the first drive. He also committed a holding penalty on the second drive. The run game was not as effective as previous weeks, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. Sixty-two of the 129 yards gained on the ground were via quarterback scrambles.

DL: C+: Despite Houston missing two starting offensive linemen, the Vipers once again struggled to get regular pressure on the quarterback. With P.J. Walker’s ability outside the pocket, it may have been part of the game plan this week, however, to keep him in the pocket, limiting the rush from the line. DT Josh Banks and DT Nikita Whitlock both registered pressures from the interior. DE Deiontrez Mount knocked down a pass intended for the middle of the field. Banks missed a tackle at the line of scrimmage that led to a 30-yard second quarter scamper by James Butler. He later sniffed out a screen for a tackle for loss. DE Jason Neill was injured late; he’ll cede his starting end spot to the returning Obum Gwacham this week. The group missed DT Ricky Walker, who was out with an injury.

LB: B: Terrance Plummer led the group with four tackles; he was tasked with spying Walker at times during the game. It worked, as Walker had just 34 yards rushing with 28 coming on one play. Plummer also had the only sack, two hurries and a tackle for loss. Backup Reggie Northrup played well. Lucas Wacha had three tackles and two hurries; the linebackers applied more pressure than the line. Houston called just 12 run plays, so the linebackers were either in pass coverage or mostly off the field when Tampa went to their dime defense against Houston’s five-wide attack.

DB: C: Playing against perhaps the best QB-WR tandem in the league, it was only natural that this group would struggle at times. The Vipers were attacked all over the field, and when Houston head coach June Jones sensed a player getting tired, he’d go after them even more. There were still more than a handful of quality plays made. Tarvarus McFadden played a screen well for no gain. Cam Phillips toasted Anthoula Kelly on an 84-yard TD; Kelly was then victimized on a long pass interference call on third down. Micah Hannemann led the team with seven tackles, but missed one that led to a third quarter TD. He did have a 3rd down pass break-up and almost picked a ball on the next play. The DBs also had to do a lot of tackling in the run game. DB blitzes were dialed up on Walker before the half.

ST: A-: A much better effort than last week. Rannell Hall had a good opening kickoff return, but only averaged 19.5 yards on four returns. He was hurt and subsequently placed on injured reserve. The Vipers do have others with experience returning kicks and punts who can fill in. Donteea Dye replaced him on kickoff returns after the injury. Dye also returned punts. Andrew Franks kicked two field goals, including one from 48. Jake Schum had a 67-yard punt and landed three of four kicks inside the 20, including one at the four yard-line. If Tampa can get consistency in their kicking game, it will be a huge plus. Kick coverage is still an issue. Lucas Wacha led the team with three special teams stops.

Pre-Game: The Vipers matchup against the Defenders

As the Vipers welcome in the DC Defenders in week four at Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium; the Defenders look to pick up win number three after they lost in the previous week against the now 1-2 LA Wildcats. 

The Defenders look for quarterback Cardale Jones to have a better game this week as he suffered his first loss of the season against LA  where he threw four interceptions and had a completion rate of fifty percent. Jones, a former Ohio State Buckeyes and 4th round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft is not shy to success and looks to brush off last week’s 9-39 loss. 

The Defenders have used rushing the ball to their advantage, giving 10 different players the opportunity to execute the run play for a total of 91 rushing attempts and 376 total rushing yards this season. The Vipers will need to have a strong defense of line this week if they want to stop the run.

Going into week four of the XFL, the DC Defenders defense has been strong for the first two games as CB Elijah Campbell blocked a punt and was then recovered by LB Jonathan Celestin for DC’s first-ever touchdown. The Defenders defense also intercepted two of QB Brandon Silvers passes, giving DC the win over the Seattle Dragons 31-19 in week one. In the following week against the New York Guardians, the defense had two interceptions, one touchdown and had a forced recovered fumble in week two while not allowing New York to score. Things fell apart as the undefeated DC defense traveled to the 0-2 LA Wildcat’s Dignity Health Sports Park. The Defenders couldn’t figure things out defensively as they couldn’t stop the Wildcats QB, Josh Johnson. DC allowed 39 points in week three, coming up short in their first loss. The Defenders look to bounce back on top as they look to give the Vipers their fourth straight loss.

The Tampa Bay Vipers will need to figure out there QB situation going into week four as Aaron Murray looks to possibly play this week after being sidelined with a foot injury. The past three weeks the Vipers have failed to get there first win this season and a lot has to do with a quarterback controversy that head coach Marc Trestman seems to struggle with.

The Vipers have a strong running game with fan-favorite backup QB Quinton Flowers who is quick on his feet when he gets the opportunity to play and with running back duo Deveon Smith and Jaques Patrick, who are both top 5 in the league in total yards rushing. 

Tampa Bay is going to need to look towards their defense in order to come up on top in this week four matchup against DC. The Vipers as a team have allowed a total of 74 points against them this season. The Vipers man to man coverage has looked weak, especially after last week’s loss against the Houston Roughnecks. The Vipers failed to stop QB PJ Walker and his sidekick two time XFL Star of the Week WR Cam Phillips. The Vipers defense allowed Phillips to catch three-TD passes and have a total of 194 yards receiving.

Both teams look to bounce back after a disappointing week three loss.