With the XFL season opening next week, most teams have settled on their final rosters and announced their starting quarterbacks for the opening week games. This isn’t the case in Houston, where head coach June Jones hasn’t announced who the starting quarterback will be next week in the inaugural opener against the Los Angeles Wildcats. This strategy may be nothing more than a tactic to force the Wildcats defensive staff to prepare for either P.J. Walker or Connor Cook and not know who will step up to lead the Roughnecks offense until the very last moment. Another version could be the fact that Coach Jones likes both QB’s and hasn’t made a final decision, but this theory is not very likely; any football coach quickly knows who the proper “fit” is player-wise and move forward with developing a game scheme around personnel decisions.
The Houston Roughnecks are lucky to have two outstanding players at the QB position, both of whom are proven leaders and have plenty of talent to bring to the Roughnecks offense. P.J. Walker came out of the Matt Rhule-led Temple program in college and was probably the greatest QB that school has ever seen, including American Athletic Conference championships and bowl game appearances. Walker was a prolific passer and has the reputation of being a highly mobile style of quarterback — a key ingredient in the “Run N Shoot” offense favored by June Jones. Connor Cook, on the other hand, was equally successful in college at Michigan State and led the Spartans to Big Ten championships and bowl game appearances in the Rose Bowl and a CFP semi final in the Cotton Bowl against Alabama. Cook is a strong QB who has the ability to be a big-time playmaker and is best remembered for making his NFL starting debut in the playoffs with the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders.
June Jones obviously has to make a decision on which QB best fits into his offensive scheme. Furthermore, every head coach has to pick a QB based on their leadership ability and their game management style. Both Walker and Cook have proven that they are tested leaders in the college ranks and both have strong passing arms.
Who gets the final nod? When all else is equal it will probably be P.J. Walker who gets the starting nod next Saturday.
Does this mean that Connor Cook is a lesser choice? Cook is a proven QB who stepped up like a true leader to intense pressure with his first NFL start in the postseason. The reality is both players are talented QB’s and either of them will be successful in the XFL. It’s now up to the head coach to decide who will start and who will be the backup QB in Houston. Time and time again the NFL regular season has shown that every team must stock themselves with multiple, high quality QB’s who can step in and lead a team in an instant and the Houston Roughnecks have two great players to lead the offense next week
Mike Gambill has joined XFLBoard.com as a reporter for the Houston Roughnecks.