XFL Week 3 New York Guardians – St.Louis BattleHawks Recap: BattleHawks soar to victory over undisciplined Guardians

“I may need you to be a leader here because the guys that I thought were going to be better than we are at doing that are just not.” – New York Guardians Head Coach/GM Kevin Gilbride to his star receiver Mekale McKay on the sidelines in the 4th quarter of a 29-9 road loss to the St. Louis BattleHawks.

In front of 29,554 fans at the ‘Battledome,’ Pro Football returned to St.Louis in glorious fashion, as the BattleHawks dominated the New York Guardians in a 29-9 victory. St. Louis beat New York in all three phases. Riding the energy and emotion of their crowd, the BattleHawks controlled the contest from the outset with their ground game, rushing for 156 yards on the ground. St. Louis also made big plays on defense and special teams. The BattleHawks Joe Powell returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score on the XFL’s first-ever kick return for a touchdown. St. Louis also blocked a punt on special teams as well.

“You can’t beat the opponent and yourself at the same time.”
    – Guardians Head Coach/GM  Kevin Gilbride on his teams’ performance in the post-game press conference.

For New York, the story of last week’s loss in D.C. was the dysfunction of the Guardians offense and the frustration of veteran Quarterback Matt McGloin. This week, the entire team played undisciplined football. Missed tackles, blown assignments,  personal fouls, ill-advised turnovers, and miscommunication ruled the day for New York. Matt McGloin started off the game connecting on his first three passes, but a Casey Sayles sack on third down knocked him temporarily out of the game with a rib injury. Backup quarterback Marquise Williams replaced him for a couple of series before McGloin returned later in the first half.

The Guardians managed to muster a 53-yard field goal by Matthew McCrane to get on the scoreboard and cut the STL lead to 6-3. The BattleHawks would then go on to score 17 unanswered points to take a 23-3 lead late into the first half.

With a returning Matt McGloin and the Guardians driving late in the first half deep into BattleHawks territory. McGloin threw an errant pass into the leaping hands of rookie Kenny Robinson. The 21-year old All-Big 12 safety out of West Virginia is the first player with college eligibility to decide to play in the XFL, before being drafted in the NFL draft this coming April. McGloin’s momentum-killing interception led to an enraged G.A. Mangus slamming his call sheet down. The embattled offensive coordinator has seen his offense falter all season long.

One of the main culprits of the Guardians woes on Sunday in St. Louis was Guardians’ starting center Ian Silberman, who returned from missing last week’s game due to injury. Silberman, a former 6th round pick of the 49ers, was expected to be one of New York’s leaders upfront. In this game, Silberman played with no composure whatsoever, drawing multiple personal fouls, which helped kill his teams’ drives and momentum. Before the referees could eject Silberman, the Guardians staff decided to bench him.

New York’s offense and special teams weren’t the only culprits in this loss to St. Louis. The Guardians defense missed multiple tackles in this contest and had no answers schematically for the spread run attack of St. Louis. On a lone positive note, New York managed to salvage their day with a late TD drive by third-string Quarterback Luis Perez (4/5 39 yards, 1td). The position of Perez on the depth chart may be changing moving forward. There may be more changes on the horizon for the Guardians. Kevin Gilbride has a lot of difficult decisions to make moving forward, and not a lot of time, only six days before his team’s next game to work with. One of the changes that could come may very well be in who is calling the plays moving forward, and who is on the field when those plays are called.

New York (1-2) will travel back home to host the now (1-2) LA Wildcats, Saturday, 2 pm ET at Metlife Stadium (ABC). The St. Louis BattleHawks (2-1) will look for an encore victory at home as they host the (1-2) Seattle Dragons, Saturday 5 pm ET/4 pm CT  on Fox.

Donald Parham shines in Renegades win over Seattle

Dallas Renegades Donald Parham (Credit: XFL.com)

Seattle, WA– The prototype tight end is tall with solid length, not as heavy as a lineman, and not as light as a wide receiver, and can possess a several skills that can benefit an offense in several ways. Like Rob Gronkowski’s who had the ability to block and become a receiver, or like Shannon Sharpe, the big play prototype that you can use to stretch the middle of the field.

The talent pool of tight end is far and wide in variety depending on what the offense is calling for, and Donald Parham is the perfect fit for Hal Mumme’s air raid attack.

Donald Parham started his football journey differently from what you would expect. Parham lettered in basketball at Lake Gibson High School (FL), and played one year of high school football in which he recorded 13 receptions for 234 yards.

Instead of pursuing his hoop dreams he opted to further his interest in football, and made the decision to attend Stetson University. Parham did not see much action as a freshman while appearing in 4 games.

In his sophomore year, Parham’s role increased in the offense and he finished the year with 37 receptions 455 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. From his junior through his senior season Donald Parham recorded a total of 143 receptions 2,136 receiving yards and scored 14 of his 20 career receiving touchdowns. During his senior season he also averaged 146.6 yards and 9 receptions per game which led the entire FCS.

Parham went undrafted but later signed with the Detroit Lions was waived in May 2019. Then he signed with the Washington Redskins after a mini camp tryout and was later released before the beginning of the 2019 season, just in time for the XFL to come in and scoop him up and invite him to the draft.

The Dallas Renegades selected Parham in the ninth round of the first ever XFL Draft, and during training camp Parham and Sean Price were close in camp but Parham got the nod from the Renegades coaching staff before the season kicked off.

During the week 1 match up against the St.Louis Battlehawks, while Philip Nelson filled in for injured Landry Jones, and Parham was the #1 option which the Renegades finished the drive with a field goal to take the lead before halftime. Parham finished the game with the second most receptions (4) and second most receiving yards (40).

The 6’8 tight end capitalized on his performance in the first week. With Landry Jones returning to the lineup the Renegades turned up the heat against the LA Wildcats and the team was able to produce over 300 passing yards. Parham was a big part of the win and led receivers in yards and put the only touchdown on the board in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 5 receptions 76 yards 1 touchdown and averaged 15 yards per reception.

Parham put the XFL on notice in his performance against the Seattle Dragons. He was clearly one of the better players on the field and it was noticeable. With 8:58 left in the fourth quarter Parham helped the Renegades seal the deal in Seattle being on the back end of a 65 yard Landry Jones touchdown pass putting Dallas up 21-12 over the Dragons. Parham finished the game with 5 receptions 101 receiving yards and 1 touchdown.

Through 3 weeks of XFL play Parham and the Renegades are 2-1 and set to face the Houston Roughnecks next Sunday at Globe Life Park. There have been questions surrounding the Renegades and what type of offense it would become ultimately. They have a solid foundation having one of the better offensive lines in the XFL, a solid running back group, and talented wide receiver group, and the former basketball stud turned XFL star lining up outside of the tackles on Saturdays and Sundays.

Yes, we can talk about PJ Walker, Cam Phillips, Landry Jones, or Cardale Jones, but you have to think that after the string of performances Parham has put together so far , he is becoming a household name amongst Renegade fans and XFL fans everywhere.

YouTube video

Houston Roughnecks Survive in Tampa Bay

Houston QB PJ Walker led the Roughnecks to a win over the Vipers. (Credit XFL.com)

In a close game, the Houston Roughnecks escaped Tampa Bay with a 34-27 win over the Vipers in what was not only a competitive game, but an exciting one that came down to the wire. The Roughnecks came in with a perfect record of 2-0, and they left with a perfect record of 3-0, but it was not easy. They played a desperate Tampa Bay team that was looking for its first win of the season, and the Vipers showed a fight and heart that their hometown fans desperately wanted from them all season.

Once again this week, it was the PJ Walker/Cam Phillips show. The duo connected on three touchdowns for the second week in a row, and they further cemented the fact that they are without a doubt, the most unstoppable force in the XFL. PJ Walker was outstanding with 306 yards through the air, 34 yards on the ground, 3 touchdowns through the air, and one crazy touchdown run that came on a fumbled snap. His pocket presence remains excellent and he still does an excellent job of keeping his eyes down field. That was displayed beautifully on Walker and Phillips’ 84-yard touchdown connection, in which Walker escaped the pocket, got crushed by two defenders, and threw a perfect pass to Phillips, who then turned on the gas and did the rest. Their chemistry is what has separated the Roughnecks offense from the rest of the league, and I don’t see any defense in the XFL that can slow them down.

But it wasn’t just the passing game this week. Oh no. The Roughnecks ran the ball very effectively. James Butler was excellent, with 72 yards on just 7 attempts, and he pulled off some big time runs, especially late in the game. PJ Walker also added to the running game with some timely runs, for a very balanced offense this week. Look, we all know, the Roughnecks bread and butter is the “Run and Shoot” high flying passing game. But, if June Jones can find success with the running game as well, this offense will be impossible to stop.

But, we have to talk about the most worrying part of the team. The defense. As I have said every week, this defense is good enough to win a Championship, because the offense is going to score a lot of points. However, good enough does not mean great. Because a great defense, they are not. They are opportunistic, which once again helped with Gates sealing the win with a interception in the closing minute. But just like the Wildcats and Battlehawks before them, the Vipers were able to move the ball regularly against this defense, and it might become a problem as the season progresses. Again, because this offense is so great, it’s not that big of a problem, but once you get into the playoffs, and play the elite of the elite, it might be the thing that breaks this Roughnecks team. They can get to the quarterback, that’s for sure, but if they don’t, they can be exposed. Hopefully, they can clean that up as they continue the season, because it’s the only thing that is potentially holding them back.

All in all, the Roughnecks are likely the best team in the XFL, and until somebody shows that they can slow down PJ Walker and Cam Phillips, fans should take the Roughnecks against anybody. Houston, you are still undefeated.

Guardians Frustrations Boil Over in Loss Versus BattleHawks

The New York Guardians showed a lack of discipline as the game went on. (Credit: XFL.com)

Down 23-3, an undisciplined New York Guardians team found their season falling apart, all with a half of play to go.

With the game starting slow, the BattleHawks held a lead of 6-0 in the first quarter. While the game was becoming chippy, it was nothing more than good football. The conflict between players was held within the snap of the ball to the whistle. But as the second quarter closed the BattleHawks took a commanding lead behind quarterback young Jordan Ta’amu. Down by twenty points, an interesting exchange between Guardians quarterback Matt McGloin and coach G.A. Mangus over national television. Coach Mangus gave McGloin a play to call, and he did. But there was a miscommunication where McGloin did not relay the call in full. St. Louis had over 29,000 to blame for the mishap.

While an interaction such as the one previously stated should not be too alarming, McGloin’s halftime interview last week was an insult to any claiming allegiance to the New York Guardians. Similar to this week, McGloin, who went into the second half of the game down a lot to a little to the D.C. Defenders. In a fit of rage McGloin told reporters they need to quote “change the whole gameplan” and had a hot mic where he blamed teammates. He was benched.

Benched again versus the BattleHawks, the Guardians lost all control, with no leader to be seen, seemingly, even in a coach.

With time winding down in the second quarter the Guardians were driving, a rare sight to say the least. That was until all hell broke loose. McGloin finally made a downfield completion. On the tackle, a BattleHawks defensive back dragged the leg of the receiver. Guardians offensive lineman Avery Young took exception to the hit and retaliated. Shoves, checks, and awkward slaps were thrown around. You could argue number 69, Ian Silberman threw punches. The next play McGloin threw an interception and there was yet again a scrap, this time on the sideline. While moments like these are normally put behind a team at halftime, center Ian Silberman had other ideas, sadly enough.

After the first play of the second half, Silberman threw a punch at an unsuspecting BattleHawk defensive lineman. The defensive lineman was seen pleading to the referee to throw Silberman out of the game after the assault. Instead, Silberman was warned and given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Referees were showed talking to the coaches. They told them, the situation was being treated seriously and that they had there on the rouge offensive lineman. ESPN’s broadcast booth and on-field reporting was fantastic and portrayed a storyline during the events.

It’s honestly impressive that the bush league center created a whole story behind his immature actions, as a lineman. But it seems Silberman will be facing the consequences to his actions, after being benched, coach Gilbride seemed to be at a loss of words. Gilbride has seen plenty of football in his day but never anything like the XFL Guardians. Antagonizing fights and celebrating after minor success is the Guardians’ game. Gilbride has to virtually babysit.

But all of this is good for the XFL. While some fans and even writers may see this as annoying and embarrassing, a newly established league is built off of word to mouth. Fans will be buzzing about the crazy moments on social media such as Twitter and Instagram. All publicity may be good publicity, as long as it is used in a effective manner.

Offense finds endzone but defense falters in Vipers loss to Roughnecks

Quinton Flowers was one of two quarterbacks the Vipers used in their bid to beat the Roughnecks. (Credit: XFL.com)

It took the Tampa Bay Vipers 140 minutes and 49 seconds of the new XFL season to finally score their first offensive touchdown. It took just nine minutes and 11 seconds for them to score their second. Yet, it wasn’t enough to stave off the red-hot Houston Roughnecks in Tampa’s home opener.

The Vipers were downed 34-27 in front of 18,117 at Raymond James Stadium, a number that bested many analysts’ expectations. It was Quinton Flowers who scored that first offensive TD, on a seven-yard keeper. Combined with Jalen Tolliver’s one-point conversion, it put the Vipers on top 10-9 in the second quarter.

Just prior to halftime, the home offense found the end zone a second time, this time on another QB run, this time with Taylor Cornelius at the helm. Cornelius started again over the injured Aaron Murray, who is expected to return next week. Cornelius was 16-31 passing for 193 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. “I felt really good today,” said Cornelius, when asked about the added reps he took at practice this week. “Moving forward, we’re in a better spot offensively and we feel good about the game plan.”

In preparation for this game, head coach Marc Trestman ceded play calling duties to offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo. “I thought if I could get out of the weeds a little bit and step back with the team, I thought that could help the team in a number of different ways,” said Trestman about the change. Through the first two games, the Vipers had largely been able to move the ball down the field, but had struggled in the red zone. The offense was more successful there on Saturday (2 for 3), but stalled on the one yard-line in the fourth quarter with a chance to come within a one-point conversion of tying the game.

A major storyline, for the second week in a row, was the QB rotation. Cornelius started and played on the first two drives. Flowers took over for drives three, four, and five. It was Cornelius who took the final drive before half, as Trestman noted on the broadcast that he liked the way Cornelius performed during the 2:00 drill before the end of the game last week.

In the second half, it was all Cornelius, despite the protestations of the home crowd. They wanted the hometown hero, Flowers, who played his college home games at Raymond James Stadium. Trestman’s decision to go with Cornelius the entirety of the final half will be debated, notably when the Vipers had it 1st-and-goal inside the five and were unable to cash in late in the game. Flowers’ versatility could’ve put the Roughnecks on their heels. “I think it’s a valid question,” said Trestman when asked about not going to Flowers in that situation. “We decided to stick with the plan and keep Taylor in there.”

Houston put the game away for good with 10:24 left in the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay had two drives after that in the fourth, the one that stalled at the one yard-line, and another, their last, resulting in a Cornelius interception in Houston territory.

The game was a seesaw affair and was one of the best games in the XFL this season. The lead changed hands or the score was tied six times. Houston’s P.J. Walker, an early MVP candidate, appeared as advertised. He was 24-36 passing for 306 yards and three touchdowns. Last week’s XFL Star of the Week, WR Cam Phillips, torched Tampa’s secondary to the tune of eight receptions for 194 yards and three touchdowns.

“…(W)e’ve got a sick locker room in there, a lot of guys worked their tails off today,” said Trestman. “I know we got better this week, but it wasn’t good enough.”

The Vipers host the 2-0 (pending Sunday’s result) D.C. Defenders next Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff will be at 7pm EST and will air on ESPN2.

Game Notes: Tampa’s inactive list this week was filled with injured players. QB Aaron Murray, CB Jalen Collins, DT Ricky Walker, and TE Nick Truesdell all appeared on the injury report leading up to Saturday’s game. The only two healthy inactives were LB Anthony Stubbs and WR S.J. Green, a recent acquisition from the Seattle Dragons…Tampa Bay has exceeded the 100-yard rushing mark as a team in all three games this season…A couple more firsts in team history were achieved, including first rushing touchdown (Flowers) and first passing/receiving touchdown (Cornelius to WR Dan Williams).

A Tale of Two Halves – Dallas Renegades at Seattle Dragons

Dragons quarterback Brandon Silvers went 21 for 34, for 204 yards and one interception. (Credit: XFL.com

48 degrees, cloudy and a 100% chance of football at Century Link.

This past Saturday, the 1-1 Dallas Renegades traveled to Century Link to play the 1-1 Seattle Dragons in a battle for second place in the West. The Renegades and the Dragons were both coming off games where the offense started off extremely slow but came to life in the second half and led them to week 2 victories.

From the first drive, this stadium was humming. As Landry Jones entered the shotgun about to take the first snap of the game, this crowd got loud. Screaming and waving their orange towels, Dragon fans made their presence felt forcing two pre-snap penalties and aiding the Dragons defense in forcing an early three and out.

Renegade players admitted that the crowd noise did affect them. “At first it impacted us greatly,” said running back Cameron Artis-Payne. “But around the third drive we kind of got it together.”

Artis-Payne said that around the end zones, the Renegades had to switch to a silent snap count.

The Dragons immediately responded with one of their best offensive drives of the season. Brandon Silvers completed 3/4 passes for 43 yards and had an impressive 1st down scramble. On 3rd & 10, Silvers hung in the pocket and took a hit as he delivered a 21-yard touchdown strike to Austin Proehl. The quick 6-0 lead built by the Dragons would not last, though.

The Renegades responded by storming back down the field and scored on a 12-yard catch and run by wide receiver Flynn Nagel. Landry Jones started out slow, peppering the running backs with targets for minimal gains, but eventually got going after two straight 3rd down pass interference calls kept the Renegades offense on the field. Jones found big targets, Donald Parham and Jazz Ferguson, for first downs before hitting Nagel for the score.

After two quick scores, the offenses for both teams would hit a wall. A little punting and some ill-advised throws later, it was still a 6-6 game and the Dragons had the chance to take the lead going into halftime. Coming off an interception, Silvers responded well making some huge throws; a 29-yard completion to Austin Proehl and the 19 yard TD pass to running back Kenneth Farrow. Farrow, one of the three dynamic running backs for the Dragons, ran a great route, beating the linebacker, and Silvers dropped in a perfect throw.

Coach Jim Zorn was impressed by the play of Brandon Silvers this week. “He definitely improved (from week 2 to week 3),” said Zorn. “We were a lot better on third down and he managed the game very well.”

Silvers also said that he was more comfortable and felt that he played a lot better in the first half.

Going into the locker room, the Dragons had played one of their most complete halves of the season. They had, for the most part, shut down the Renegades offense and had put together some impressive drives on offense. Up 12-6 and getting the ball to start the half, the Dragons were in a good position

Then the second half happened. The Dragons offense sputtered, having three 3-and-outs and the defense was on the field 24/7, eventually allowing some big plays to the Renegades offense. Among the second half stars on offense for the Renegades were running back Cameron Artis-Payne and tight end Donald Parham. Artis-Payne had 110 total yards and Parham had 101 yards and 2 touchdowns. Parham’s 65 yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter really put the game out of the Dragon’s reach.

When asked about Artis-Payne running wild in the second half, Zorn said that [Artis-Payne] did a great job hitting the holes but the Dragon’s defense lost contain on some of the plays.

Despite the big turnaround, Renegades Coach Bob Stoops said that the team did not make any huge adjustments at halftime.

“It was mostly the coordinators communicating with people in the box on what our issues were in the first half. There was just some talk like ‘If we get in this set and run this or that we have a better chance rather than a certain other set’,” said Stoops. “We don’t all of the sudden find new plays but we may call some other things and different sets more often. That is what we did in the second half with the two-back sets which helped set up the run game and the play action.”

“They brought a little bit more pressure and they were coming off the edge,” said Silvers in regards to the halftime adjustments made by the Renegades. “We just did not make enough plays. They are a good team but us not scoring anything in the second half cannot happen.”

The Renegades went on to win 24-12 and the Dragons fell to 1-2 on the season, putting them in 3rd place in the West.

This game had shades of the week 1 loss when the offense just sputtered late in the game after going toe-to-toe with the opposition for most of the game. Zorn said it was encouraging because he knows the mistakes are very fixable but it still stings because they were so close.

The Dragons will fly away from Century Link next week and begin a little road trip with the St. Louis Battlehawks first on the docket. The Dome in St. Louis could be a tough place to play as they are projected to match the Dragons has the highest attended games. The Dragons could be in for a loud, hostile environment like the one the Renegades had to play in today.

In regards to injured wide receiver Kasen Williams’ status, Zorn was non-committal. “His quad was not responding so we had a procedure last week where they ejected blood pooled up in his quad,” said Zorn. “I am hoping for improvement and to see some progress this week now that we got some stuff to heal his quad.”

“It is a nuisance to him,” said Zorn. “He wanted to be out on the field last week and I can’t put him on yet.”

At least there is some improvement in the status of Williams but it does not sound like there is a huge chance he plays this coming week.

Going into next week, the Dragons are in an almost make or break spot already. Falling to 1-3 and having to play Houston right afterwards is not a good spot to be in. It is crucial to win one of the next two games at least and in St. Louis is their best chance.

Until next week, Go Dragons!

Tampa Bay Vipers go 0-3 as they lose to Houston Roughnecks at Home

No win bonus money for Viper players as of yet, and the Vipers may have cause for concern. Today, they lost at home 34-27 in front of 18,117 at Ray Jay.

The Vipers finally got the offense on the board as they scored the first offensive touchdown in team history as QB Quinton Flowers scored a 7-yard keeper with 9:17 left in the second quarter. QB Taylor Cornelius recorded the first Vipers passing TD in team history when he threw a 20-yard pass to WR Dan Williams with 2:13 left in the third.

Vipers Head Coach Marc Trestman continued with his 2 QB rotation, and this week he stepped back from play calling duties allowing offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo to call the plays. No one has really spoken of why Coach Trestman gave up the play calling to Jaime except to say they both worked on the call sheet and they both put the plan together.

You would think the team has been in Tampa for years. Fans do not seem to like the two QB system and they made it known during the game. The Tampa crowd chanted for their hometown QB Quinton Flowers anytime he was not in the game. It seemed like he would be in and get some momentum going but was then swapped out for Taylor Cornelius who started the game. It would seem like the two QBs dislike the rotation as well. In the post-game presser both said the rotation is not ideal, but they will be ready when their number is called. It seems to slow any momentum the team starts to gain.

Penalties again cost the Vipers as they had 6 for 99 yards. Penalties seem to be a problem as the team is averaging 79 penalty yards a game.

The Vipers again led in total offense with 365 total yards but they were 50% on 3rd down going just 9 of 18. Starting QB Taylor Cornelius went 16 of 31 for 193 total yards with one interception and one touchdown. Jalen Tolliver was the leading receiver with 8 receptions for 104 yards and De’Veon Smith was the leading rusher going for 49 yards on 15 attempts.

Vipers fans were out in force,. There were tons of stuffed snakes and team gear throughout the crowd with many fans saying they loved the experience of coming to the game.

Next week the Vipers look to get in the win column when the DC Defenders come to town. The Defenders currently sit atop the Eastern Division at 2-0.

Vipers versus Roughnecks Photo Gallery

Photos by Mark Zelakowski

Collective Wisdom – Week 3 Predictions

Collective Wisdom by XFLBoard.com

We are happy to say that just over 530 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 4-0, to increase our season record to 7-1.

Collective Wisdom – Week 3 Predictions

Visitor

Home

Houston Roughnecks

26

Tampa Bay Vipers

15

Dallas Renegades

23

Seattle Dragons

19

New York Guardians

13

St. Louis BattleHawks

25

DC Defenders

29

Los Angeles Wildcats

19

 

(Updated) Johnny Manziel begs Oliver Luck to take him into the XFL… and then his Twitter account is removed

Late Friday evening, Johnny Manziel tweeted out “Oliver Luck. If ya wanna boost your ratings to another level just send me the contract tomorrow and we’re in there. Like I said YEARS ago… XFL2020 give the people what they want.”

A few hours after tweeting this plea, Manziel’s Twitter account appears to have been removed.

Either Manziel was having a rough night, or his account was hacked.

Manziel was a standout quarterback for Texas A&M, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2012. He was drafted 22nd overall in the 2014 draft by the Cleveland Brows where he played two seasons Manziel struggled both on and off the field. Later he played for the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes, and most recently for the Memphis Express of the Alliance of American Football. He is currency a free agent.

At this point we do not have clarification of this tweet from Manziel or his agent.

Update: about twenty hours after he initially tweeted the request for Oliver Luck to send him an XFL contract, Manziel’s Twitter account was restored. However, the tweet to Oliver Luck was no longer present. Instead, Manziel tweeted two new messages saying he, “loves trollin,” and “have zero desire to play any football these days. Just love stirring up controversy.”

XFL Week Three: New York Guardians – St. Louis BattleHawks Preview

NEW YORK GUARDIANS (1-1) AT ST. LOUIS BATTLEHAWKS (1-1)

  • Sunday, February 23, 3 pm ET/2 pm CT (ESPN) The Dome, St. Louis, MO

INJURIES

(New York) G Garrett Brumfield (Head), C Ian Silberman (Groin), WR Joe Horn (Shoulder), S Andrew Soroh (Thigh), DE Ryan Mueller (Wrist), LB Garrett Dooley (Ankle), RB Darius Victor (Head)

(St. Louis) WR L’Damian Washington (Ankle), DL Will Clarke (Calf), RB Matt Jones (Knee), CB David Rivers (Head), RB Keith Ford (Knee), WR Brandon Reilly (Knee)

Injury notes: The Guardians played without two of their starting offensive linemen last week in Center Ian Silberman and Guard Garrett Brumfield. Silberman has been limited in practice all week, and maybe close to returning to this Sunday. Brumfield has yet to practice. Both Avery Young and Damien Mama will be in line to start if either or both miss the game. Running back Darius Victor was cleared for practice and appears to be on track to play. Head injuries can be tricky, however.

The BattleHawks leading rusher Matt Jones has been battling a knee injury. He played through it last week. WR L’Damian Washington, who has shown good chemistry with rookie Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, is questionable heading into this game. A critical injury not noted here is the loss of St. Louis starting offensive linemen Jake Campos. He was lost for the season and placed on injured reserve. Campos had been starting at left tackle. Andrew McDonald and Brian Wallace would be in line to replace him.

GAME OVERVIEW

Both New York and St. Louis come into this game sporting 1-1 records, but the overall outlook for each franchise couldn’t be any more different. St. Louis is coming off an impressive two-game road stretch at Dallas and Houston. The BattleHawks, led by rookie sensation quarterback Jordan Ta’amu has been one of the league’s most impressive teams thus far. The BattleHawks will be on an emotional high in front of a sold-out home crowd in the Dome. Pro football has returned to St.Louis, and the city has embraced the team with open arms, hearts, and wings.

The Guardians, despite sharing the same record as the BattleHawks, are coming into this electric atmosphere, with a different vibe and feel. New York suffered a demoralizing loss in DC last weekend. The Guardians have struggled out the gate offensively, under signal-caller Matt McGloin and Offensive Coordinator G.A. Mangus. New York’s offense has only converted two first downs in their first two games. Last week’s drama attached to the offense, and Matt McGloin, has dimmed the outlook for the team moving forward. This has been a crucial week of preparation for the Guardians, in getting on the same page.

MATCHUP: The Guardians offense versus the BattleHawks defense

Under G.A. Magnus, New York has employed a ‘Fun N Gun’ style offense. Magnus, a former quarterback and coaching disciple of Steve Spurrier, hasn’t had much fun thus far. New York has taken multiple shots down the field in the passing game in the first two weeks but with little to no success.

The BattleHawks employ a 4-2-5 defense, similar to the Guardians week one opponent, the Tampa Bay Vipers. Under Co-Defensive Coordinators Jay Hayes and Tim Lewis. St. Louis has an athletic front seven that can play sideline to sideline. Andrew Ankrah is a defensive end/linebacker tweener type, who can line up on the line of scrimmage, to stand up and rush. Linebacker Terrance Garvin is an excellent football player, terrific in space. Linebacker/safety Dexter McCoil displays the hybrid nature of the BattleHawks defense. He’s held up well at linebacker and gives their defensive unit scheme versatility. The Guardians will look to run the football against the speed lineup that St.Louis utilizes on defense. New York has two power runners in Tim Cook and Darius Victor, who are fully capable of breaking tackles and winning battles with smaller defensive backs/linebackers. New York has been running the football a lot from the shotgun formation. It may serve them better to utilize the talented group of blocking tight ends; they have on their roster.

The Guardians passing game is still missing two of its top players in DeAngelo Yancey and Tanner Gentry. The uncertainty at the WR spot, outside of Mekale McKay, has held up the teams’ passing attack early in the season. The BattleHawks secondary has a very talented safety duo in future NFL draft pick Kenny Robinson and quality pro-veteran Will Hill. New York will look to attack St. Louis at cornerback. The BattleHawks have held up well there thus far, but may be missing former Guardian David Rivers. St. Louis struggled last week in coverage with XFL star of the week Cam Phillips. Look for Mekale McKay to be targeted often this Sunday, as well as Colby Pearson, who has been underutilized thus far.

Matchup: The Guardians defense versus the BattleHawks offense

The story of the St.Louis offense thus far has been the symmetry developed between BattleHawks Offensive Coordinator/QB’s coach Chuck Long and Jordan Ta’amu. Long, who took over the reins of the offense for Doug Meacham, who departed for TCU, has done a masterful job designing a game plan that plays to Ta’amu’s talents. Despite having an Air-Raid background, Long has developed a ball-control offense that focuses heavily on running the football out of spread sets, and the offense has gotten good mileage out of Ta’amu’s running ability. New York’s strength on their defensive front is their size. Cavon Walker (288), TJ Barnes (360), and Joey Mbu (330) will need to stand up to the challenge and help shut down the BattleHawks ground attack led by Matt Jones and Christine Michael.

St. Louis has the league’s biggest receivers and uses them to block on the edges. Hybrid TE/WR Marcus Lucas fills this role as well. The Guardians have a speedy and athletic back seven of the defense. Players like D’Juan Hines and Ben Heeney, who are linebackers in safeties bodies, may be expected to spy on Ta’amu on passing downs. The Guardians strength in their secondary is their coverage skills, but the size is an issue for New York. Talented cover players like Jamar Summers, Ranthony Texada, and Bryce Jones need to improve their tackling to matchup against the size STL has on the outside.

De’Mornay Pierson El is Jordan Ta’amu’s favorite target underneath. Taking away that easy option from the rookie QB will be vital to the Guardians’ success on third down. New York has struggled to generate a consistent pass rush in the first couple of weeks of the season.  St. Louis has employed a quick and simplified passing attack, with easy reads for its signal-caller. The Guardians will be looking for a way to disguise coverages and get Ta’amu out of his comfort zone.

FINAL SUMMARY

This is a turning point game for the New York Guardians. A win on the road against St.Louis would erase the debacle in DC last weekend. It would also put the Guardians in strong standing for a potential playoff spot in the eastern division. New York would be 2-1 in their division, with victories over both Tampa and St. Louis. The Guardians do not play another divisional opponent until week 8. So completing the first half of their divisional schedule with a 2-1 record would set them up nicely and change the makeup of their entire season.

Winning at St.Louis in their home-opener is a tall task for any XFL team, let alone a struggling Guardians team. The BattleHawks will be flying high on the emotional boost from their home crowd. This is one of those games where New York can afford to lose, but can’t afford to put forth their effort they did last week. A loss wouldn’t kill New York but a loss that resembles last weekend might. If New York continues to struggle offensively, Kevin Gilbride may need to reaccess his decision to relinquish play-calling duties. Gilbride has taken on a CEO role for the team, but he may have to take full ownership of the offense moving forward. How the entire New York Guardians team responds to last week is almost as important as the result of this game.

PREDICTION

BattleHawks 26 Guardians 10

I don’t see this as a good matchup overall for New York. The Guardians have to survive the early tidal wave of emotion that will guide the BattleHawks at the outset of this game. If New York can do that, their confidence can grow as the game moves forward. St. Louis is built to play ball control, and they will most likely do that well during this contest. The Guardians have an uphill battle ahead of them. This game will reveal the character of New York, and how they respond to adversity moving forward.