It’s hard to believe that the XFL season kicking off is less than a few days away. Two years in the making. Eight teams created and crafted together for February 8th and 9th. One of those teams put together might have a chance of winning the XFL Title: the Dallas Renegades.
The journey began with XFL commissioner Oliver Luck appointing Bob Stoops to coach and manager the Dallas franchise. Stoops was able to build a strong coaching staff that includes Hal Mumme at offensive coordinator and Chris Woods as defensive coordinator. Then comes Landry Jones. The first player in XFL history. Also the first player in Dallas Renegades history. He comes in as the alpha of the league and the leader of Dallas.
Bob Stoops built a strong team through the draft that includes Jeff Badet, Jazz Ferguson, Derron Smith, Lance Dunbar, Cameron Artis-Payne, and Frank Alexander. We saw a lot of players step up during camp and some under the radar players becoming potential stars. We take a look at the team as a whole and see how they may look this season.
Landry Jones has been the starter since day one. There was no question about that. Questions started to pop up when he went down with a knee injury week one of training camp. A scary moment for Jones, the Renegades, and fans. It seems to not be too serious of an injury, but serious enough that he could be out for the season opener against the St. Louis BattleHawks. If he can’t go, then comes in Philip Nelson as the most likely starter. Nelson throws a great deep ball and should be comfortable in the offense since he’s been with the team since mini-camp. Eric Dungey will provide the team as an effective backup who could be plugged in should another injury happen.
The running backs could have a committee of players that is headlined by Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar. A potentially dangerous one-two punch. Artis-Payne will grind it out for tough yards using his strength and Dunbar provides an added weapon to the offense. Dunbar can catch and run out of the backfield. Expect him to be their speed back. Don’t sleep on Austin Walter and Marquis Young. Both guys ran the ball well with Walter showing flashes of greatness in the passing game and Young was dominate running the ball during training camp. Those two could see playing time should Dunbar’s injury issues continue to pop up.
Jeff Badet was the big name in the receiving core with his blazing speed and reliable hands. One receiver that popped out of nowhere was Jazz Ferguson. Small school fans will know his name and know what he can do. He one of the few receivers on the roster that is over 6 foot, 1 inches tall. He made spectacular catch after spectacular catch in mini and training camp. Having strong hands and being a threat in the red zone should make him one of the top targets. Flynn Nagel is a perfect slot receiver who has great hands. Should make a good compliment to Badet and Ferguson. Freddie Martino impressed in camp in his short time with the team which should earn him playing time.
Donald Parham showed great ability during camp as his size will make him a threat in the red zone. He got strong hands and is tough to bring down. Sean Price also showed how well he plays the game with his receiving ability. He played well during his time in the AAF so it should seem the same will apply in the XFL. Julian Allen adds good depth to the position.
The offensive line has great versatility and have great pass blocking ability. Willie Beavers will be responsible for cover the quarterback’s blind side. Alex Balducci can play either center or guard as he’s used to being the anchor and leader of the line in professional football despite being a defensive linemen in college. Pace Murphy has plenty of experience to help solidify the right side of the offensive line.
Offensive Depth Chart Week 1
QB – Landry Jones, Philip Nelson, Eric Dungey
RB – Cameron Artis-Payne, Marquis Young
WR – Jeff Badet
WR – Freddie Martino, Jazz Ferguson
WR – Flynn Nagel, Jerrod Heard
TE – Sean Price, Donald Parham, Julian Allen
LT – Willie Beavers, Justin Evans
LG – Salesi Uhatafe, Josh Allen
C – Maurquice Shakir, Josh Allen
RG – Alex Balducci, John Keenoy
RT – Pace Murphy, Darius James
The defense this season will be running a 3-4 defense which will consist of the front seven being fast off the line. Frank Alexander and Winston Craig shouldn’t have any trouble doing that. Alexander’s NFL experience with the Carolina Panthers should help. Craig is quick off the line and should have opportunities to sack the quarterback since Alexander will be getting plenty of attention. Gelen Robinson looks to be the starting nod at defensive tackle as the main run stopper in the middle of the line.
The linebackers are the strongest position on the defense. Ray Ray Davison is solid in coverage and will be asked to blitz from the outside often. Johnathan Calvin also is a perfect fit in the defense as he will help in pass rushing. Greer Martini also showed good coverage skills and rarely misses a tackle in the open field.
Derron Smith has been talked about for his ballhawking skills all camp long and it hasn’t disappointed. He has a chance of being one of the best safeties in the league who will create plenty of turnovers. Josh Hawkins brings his NFL experience to the secondary as he will help as a starter as a corner. Treston Decoud was exceptional in man coverage during camp covering the fastest of receivers on the Renegades roster.
Defensive Depth Chart Week 1
DE – Frank Alexander
DT – Gelen Robinson, Tomasi Laulile
DE – Winston Craig, Tony Gueard
OLB – Johnathan Calvin, James Folston
ILB – Ray Ray Davison, Asantay Brown, Tegray Scales
ILB – Greer Martini, Reshard Cliett, Tre Watson
OLB – Hau’oil Kikaha, Tobenna Okeke
CB – Josh Hawkins, Josh Thornton
CB – Treston Decoud, Donatello Brown
FS – Derron Smith, Micah Abernathy
SS – Tenny Adewusi, Doyin Jibowu
Austin MacGinnis showed to be accurate with his kicking and has some range to make field goals from 50 or more yards. Drew Galitz also has good foot strength and will be asked to be smart with his punting since the new rules make punting more of a challenge. Jeff Badet and Marquis Young both have a ton of speed to them as they will be handling the return game on special teams.
Special Teams Depth Chart Week 1
K – Austin MacGinnis
P – Drew Galitz
H – Drew Galitz, Jerrod Heard
PR – Jeff Badet, Flynn Nagel
KR – Marquis Young, Austin Walter
LS – Christian Kuntz
The Renegades are one of the early favorites to win the league title in the first year. It all comes down to their offensive weapons and their linebacking core that can make or break this team. They seem to be dealing with lots of injuries to key positions before the season starts. The depth of the team could be tested right away. It’ll be important for the team to get off on a fast start. Landry Jones’ performance could tell the story on how this team will fair this season.
Final Prediction: 7-3 record, 1st in the West, XFL Champions over DC Defenders
As a former morning sports anchor at KGNC 710 AM in Amarillo, TX and a former TV news reporter at KFDX in Wichita Falls, TX and KXII in Sherman, TX, I have a passion for all things sports (specifically football and basketball). The new look XFL got my attention as a spring football league that can work. I look forward to writing about all things XFL Dallas and covering it for the upcoming 2020 season.