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.

XFL Defenders dominate as New York’s offense and McGloin suffer meltdown

New York Guardians QB Matt MCGloin

“At no point in time, did I feel like we were going to be successful today.” Worst game, I have ever been a part of.”
-New York Guardians Quarterback Matt McGloin after being benched in New York’s 27-0 loss to the DC Defenders on Saturday Afternoon.

” One of two things happen when you get your butt beat like we did. You either come together or you splinter.”
-New York Guardians Head Coach Kevin Gilbride addressing his team in the locker room after the Defenders loss.

Washington D.C–  The New York Guardians faced their first big test of the early season in DC on Saturday and failed to build off of last week’s 23-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Vipers. In front of over 15,000 fans at Audi Field, the D.C. Defenders (2-0) controlled the entire game from the outset, while the Guardians (1-1) fell apart at the seams, in a 27-0 loss. To state that it was a terrible day at the office for Guardians Quarterback Matt McGloin would be an understatement.

It was a tale of two entirely different offenses. Defenders Head Coach/play-caller Pep Hamilton and early MVP candidate Cardale Jones (23/37 276 yards 2 td’s 1 int) are in mid-season form, clicking on all cylinders. The Guardians defense was competitive and held DC out of their end zone for the majority of the game until faltering late.

The drama surrounding New York’s offense overshadowed DC’s crisp overall team win, with its dysfunction and ineptitude. A game that saw Quarterback Matt McGloin (8/19 44 yards 2ints) miss multiple open receivers. The 30-year old former NFL quarterback, McGloin looked frustrated from the outset.  At halftime with the Guardians trailing 12-0, ESPN’s Diana Russini interviewed Matt McGloin on the sidelines to get his take on the teams’ first-half struggles.  McGloin told Russini, “We need to change the whole entire gameplan.”  A shot inadvertently or not, taken towards New York’s offensive coordinator G.A. Mangus. Matt McGloin’s struggles would get worse in the second half, missing two receivers downfield for would be-scores, and then throwing an ill-advised pass in the flat, that was intercepted by the Defenders Jameer Thurman and returned for a score from 46-yards out, to give DC an 18-0 lead. At one point, Kevin Gilbride had to calmly get into McGloin’s ear to try and settle the veteran down on the sidelines. McGloin’s woes on the field and sidelines led to him being benched for Quarterback Marquise Williams late in the game.

The excitement behind the quality of the new league that is the XFL hasn’t worn off, but the business of football has begun. The league may be in good standing with its audience, but players or coaches who perform poorly will not be well received. The Quarterback position lends itself to scrutiny, sometimes unfairly, but it’s part of the job. McGloin has always been a stand-up veteran. It’s part of the reason why he was recommended by Andy Reid, and why the Guardians specifically targeted him to lead their offense back in the fall. McGloin certainly had the type of game as a pro, that he would like to forget as soon as possible. The feeling is that Matt McGloin will remain the starter moving forward for the time being.

One of the underlying elements of New York’s early-season offensive struggles is the change in offensive play-caller from Kevin Gilbride to GA Mangus.  Kevin Gilbride has decided to take on a CEO role with the entire team. He’s entrusted Mangus and his offensive staff with the play-calling/design. A significant concession for someone like Gilbride, who has been a play-caller his entire career. One of the aspects lost in last week’s opening win was New York’s struggles on offense (1-10 on 3rd down) the inefficiency was camouflaged by a strong performance from the Guardians defense and special teams. Part of McGloin’s frustration was the play-calling. If New York produces only 137 yards as they did against DC moving forward. Kevin Gilbride may have to retake ownership of the offense. To Kevin Gilbride’s credit, he told the media and his players after the game that the loss was on him. “This is nobody’s fault except mine.” Gilbride is trying to not lose the team, and keep everyone on the same page.

In a shorter ten-game season in the XFL, how the Guardians respond to today’s disappointing loss will tell the tale of their upcoming season.

After the game, Gilbride spoke to the media and expressed his displeasure, “I’m disappointed with how we played, and that’s on me… When you play as poorly as we did today, one of two things is going to happen. You will either recognize that this wasn’t good enough, and you’re going to dig down deeper, and you’re going to rally each other and inspire each other… Or you splinter apart.” Gilbride continued, “I thought they (Guardians defense) played inspired football, it’s not wasted. The effort that was put forth… it was quite an example of how to go about your business… Knowing the character that was demonstrated today, I would be very, very surprised if we don’t rally around each other and come back ready to play next week.”

The Guardians will visit St. Louis next week to take on the BattleHawks in the team’s home opener (Sunday, 3 pm ET on ESPN)  while D.C. will fly cross-country to take on the Los Angeles Wildcats on Sunday, February 23. (6 pm ET/3 pm Pac, FS1).

Week Two: New York Guardians-DC Defenders Preview

New York Guardians (1-0) at D.C. Defenders (1-0)

  • Saturday 2 pm ET (Fox) Audi Field, Washington, D.C
  • Point Spread: Defenders -6.5  Over/Under 47.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
  • Forecast: High 39, Winds 10mph
  • Injuries: (New York) G Garrett Brumfield (Head), C Ian Silberman (Thigh), DB Dravon Askew-Henry (Shoulder), DL Cavon Walker (Ankle) (DC) DT Kalani Vakameilalo (Ankle) WR Malachi Dupre (Thigh), CB Desmond Lawrence (Shoulder), TE Khari Lee (Foot), LB AJ Tarpley (Hand), S Shamarko Thomas (Thigh), WR DeAndre Thompkins (Foot), LB Scooby Wright (Knee)

Injury Notes:  While DC’s injury report is lengthier than that of New York, the Defenders are relatively healthy going into week two. The Guardians, on the other hand, have two key injuries worth monitoring. Staring interior linemen Ian Silberman(C) and Garrett Brumfield may miss this Saturday’s game. Damien Mama would be in line to replace Silberman at the pivot, while Avery Young could replace Brumfield at guard. The Guardians may also miss their starting nickel on defense in Dravon-Askew Henry. The team released DeJuan Neal this week and has brought back Jeremiah McKinnon.

New York and D.C. are coming off huge victories at home in the opening week. The Guardians were 23-3 winners over the Tampa Bay Vipers, while DC topped the Dragons 31-19. Both these teams are vying to stay unbeaten and atop the standings in the eastern division. New York has the opportunity to go 2-0 in their division, before traveling to St. Louis for the BattleHawks home opener in week three. The three-game divisional stretch for NY completes half of their eastern schedule, before ending the season with three straight divisional games in weeks eight through ten.

Matchup: Guardians offense versus Defenders defense 

Kevin Gilbride has taken on a CEO type role for the first time in his lengthy coaching career. Last week, Gilbride handed over his play-calling duties to former Steve Spurrier QB and disciple,  QB’s coach G.A. Mangus. The results were mixed. New York struggled to get a ground game going, and McGloin was steady, not spectacular at the controls.

The Defenders employ a 3-4 defense under newly appointed Defensive Coordinator Louie Cioffi. Pep Hamilton handed over the coordinator reins to Cioffi when Jeffrey Fitzgerald departed DC for family reasons. The early returns were pretty positive for DC, while they did give up some big plays to Seattle in the passing game, the defense held up pretty well overall. The defense gave up over 300 yards, but was able to force Brandon Silvers into mistakes. The emerging star of the DC defense is cornerback Elijah Campbell. He had a great showing in week one in coverage, tackling, and even on special teams.

Look for the Guardians to try and establish a more balanced attack on the ground this Saturday. Seattle’s three-headed dragon backfield averaged over 5 yards per carry against DC’s defensive front. The Defenders do not have a dynamic standout player in their front seven, particularly from the edge-rushing position. DC will be getting Scooby Wright back on the inside, and that will help. In the passing game, one of the areas that the Guardians may target, that proved to be vulnerable for DC’s pass defense in week one, is their inside/slot coverage. Seattle’s Austin Proehl had a field day against whomever DC lined up against him. The Dragons also tested the Defender corners deep, and were nearly successful on multiple occasions. Matt McGloin has to show the patience that Brandon Silvers did not, and can’t afford to miss wide-open receivers. Protecting the football on the road is always paramount. McGloin will be tasked with doing just that.

Matchup: Guardians defense versus Defenders offense

The DC Defenders have a valid MVP candidate in Cardale Jones, a proven play-caller in Pep Hamilton, and one of the deepest rosters on offense in the entire league.

Look for DC to try and run the football against NY, the same way Tampa did in week one, to the tune of 150 yards. Running Back Jhurell Pressley, despite having a modest week statistically in week one, forced the second-most missed tackles (5) in the league, a trait he displayed while leading the AAF in rushing. The Guardians are massive upfront on the defensive line. TJ Barnes (350), Joey Mbu (330), Toby Johnson (350), and Cavon Walker (290). The issue is lateral speed and wearing down late in games because of their size. The Guardian linebackers were fantastic last week, making plays from sideline to sideline, led by their captain Ben Heeney. The one area that is a weakness in New York’s linebacking corps is their lack of size. Look for DC to try and get their impressive young linemen like mauler Rishard Cook to the second level to force New York’s smaller backers to disengage and beat blocks.  The Guardians defense must also be prepared for dual-threat quarterback Tyree Jackson. The 6’7 monster from UB was used sparingly last week in the RPO game, but he could see his role increase, especially in red-zone packages. The Vipers had some success last week against NY  with a similar player in Quentin Flowers.

Last week. the Guardians defense bent but didn’t break, and Tampa’s offensive line provided Aaron Murray plenty of time. But, because of stellar coverage, Murray had to eat five sacks. The same recipe won’t work for New York against Cardale Jones and the DC passing game. Cardale can shed defenders and make plays with his arm by using his feet. He escaped out of trouble several times last week. Jim Herrman will have to decide when to blitz Cardale, but his defenders will have to get Jones down immediately. Rashad Ross and DeAndre Thompkins are genuine home run threats on the outside. Eli Rogers is a great security blanket underneath for Cardale.  New York has excellent speed and athleticism on the back end of their defense but one area that is lacking in size. The Vipers exploited this with Daniel Williams and Nick Truesdell last week. The Defenders present a different set of receivers than the Vipers have. Will Herrmann decide to shadow Jamar Summers on Eli Rogers or Rashad Ross?  New York corner Bryce Jones is a former track star and has the speed to keep up, but he will be tested.

Special Teams Matchup: Guardians versus Defenders

The New York staff gave a good glimpse as to how the XFL kickoff will be schemed by most coaching staffs. Coaches Jeff McInerney and Ray Rychleski designed their returns and blocking schemes like running plays. Using movement and double team blocks to create running lanes. It paid off on Austin Duke’s 59-yard return at the start of last week’s opener. DC’s special teams’ coordinator Steve Wilson has probably spent the week preparing for New York’s return alignments. Both sides have dependable kicking specialists on their rosters. Ty Rausa redeemed himself after missing a short kick in week one, by nailing a 55-yard field goal at the end of the half. The elements have thus far played into these two northeast teams favor, despite it being February.

Final Summary

Both the New York and D.C. coaching staffs have something that they didn’t have going into last week. Game film to study their opponent. Before week one, XFL teams had to get creative in their game planning for their opponents. Most staffs resorted to going back to old footage of a teams’ coordinators or players in different leagues. Now, the game film to prepare is week one in the XFL.

This is a massive game for both teams. The winner of Saturday’s game will get a considerable boost in their season outlook. Especially New York, they play the Defenders later in the season at home. Stealing a division game on the road will feel like two wins.  The Guardians are going into this game as heavy road underdogs. Lost in the hysteria of last week’s New York win, is that the Guardians were outgained by the Vipers, and didn’t play particularly well on both sides of the ball. When you win in pro football, your flaws are camouflaged. When you lose, they are magnified. If the Guardians are going to win this game, they will have to play better than they did last week. This is an excellent test for them to see how they handle not playing at home against a powerful and formidable opponent.

New York Guardians Inaugural Game Recap: Gilbride returns home with a victory, New York’s defense stands on guard

East Rutherford N.J – In front of 17, 634 fans, the New York Guardians finally went on duty and delivered a 23-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Vipers in the Guardians’ inaugural game at MetLife Stadium.

On a day, where Kevin Gilbride returned to coaching at MetLife, the long-time offensive coordinator called for an audible and relinquished his play-call duties to quarterbacks coach G. A. Mangus. The Guardians did just enough on offense and capitalized on excellent field position provided by their special teams and defense.

Wide Receiver Austin Duke welcomed New York into the league with a 59-yard kick-off return on the game’s very first play. Matt McGloin (15-29 182 yards, one TD), led the Guardians on a 42-yard drive, spreading the ball around down to the one-yard line, before calling his own number on a 1-yard touchdown run. New York converted their one-point conversion on a Tim Cook run that extended the lead to 7-0. The Guardians took the lead immediately and never looked back.

The story of the game was the Guardians defense. New York’s defense did some bending throughout, but they never broke against the Viper’s offense, despite several Tampa drives deep into Guardians’ territory. Tampa controlled the time of possession and outgained New York 394-226.  Despite these numbers, Tampa struggled to finish drives. Aaron Murray had difficulty all day finding open receivers against New York’s stellar secondary. (16-34 222 yards, 0 TDS 2 ints). New York accumulated five sacks on the day, and kept Tampa out of the end zone.

New York (1-0), will now begin a two-game road trip before returning to MetLife Stadium in week four against the LA Wildcats. In week two,  New York will take on the 1-0 DC Defenders, at Audi Field, Saturday, 2 PM ET on ABC.

Tampa (0-1) will head to Seattle to face The Dragons (0-1) at CenturyLink field, next Saturday on Fox (5 pm ET 2 pm Pac)

GUARDIANS-VIPERS POST-GAME QUOTES

New York Guardians vs. Tampa Bay Vipers
February 9, 2020

Kevin Gilbride — Head Coach, New York Guardians

On the New York Guardians’ first win in franchise history:

“We’re very proud of our football team. It was a game that I think more than anything else showed the character and resilience that we had. We certainly struggled stopping them offensively, but to the tremendous credit of our defense, I thought they showed incredible courage and character to just keep battling all the way down and get all those turnovers and stop them. They controlled the ball, controlled the time, and got down close to the goal line. A lot of teams crumble under those circumstances. I thought our guys rose up and played their best football down there.”

On the Guardians offense:

“Offensively, I thought we started the game very well. We had a lot of big plays, and had some chances that we didn’t quite complete. Second half, we just slowed down. We had a few other opportunities that were not nearly as well played as we thought we could have played them. They were there to be had. Defensively, I thought they did a nice job – Tampa Bay – of changing up some things, and it made the recognition and reaction of some of our receivers a little bit slower than we would have liked, and I thought the timing as a result was affected in a negative type of way. But again, all things that are very correctable. In terms of effort, in terms of heart, in terms of character, I thought they were terrific. It’s always nice to coach from a W and get better from there, so that’s what we’re looking forward to doing this week.”

On the quality of play in the XFL:

“I think the quality of play has been surprising how good it is. We were hopeful that it was going to be good. I think everybody in the league was, but it has been outstanding. Now again, we would have liked to put a few more points up offensively, but in terms of the full gamut of the game – Jerry Glanville’s been around a long time defensively and did everything under the sun, and yet, we still responded well and still had even numerous other chances that we didn’t quite finish off the way we would have liked. But I think the quality of play – I think people, I’ll bet people are surprised at about how good the play is and how good the quality of coaching is, which has helped serve as a very important catalyst of bringing the ability level of these guys to where they are able to perform the way they did.”

Guardians QB Matt McGloin

Overall impressions on the game:

“Real quick, I just thought offensively there was a lot of flashes of how good we can be and some of the potential that some of the guys on that offense have but our offense as a whole, and obviously, there’s a lot that we need to work on still, but we’re close. We really are and briefly talking with some of the guys in the locker room that’s kind of what everybody’s feeling was is that we’re really close and taking that next step, but we’ve got the right guys to do so. We’ve got guys that are fully committed that are buying into what Coach [Kevin] Gilbride, G.A. [George Mangus], and the rest of that staff is trying to accomplish. But it’s always good to win, especially the first one of the year and especially when it’s at home.”

On the pace of the game:

“Yeah, it was definitely a faster pace of the game. We need to improve a little bit on getting in and out of the huddle. I thought we broke the huddle a lot today with not enough time to do what we wanted at the line of scrimmage. So that’s something we’re definitely going to look to improve on this week as we prep for DC now, but in terms of the atmosphere it was fantastic for week one, and I thought fans were loud, I thought they were excited, and you know we’re going to need that type of energy from them every week.”

On his rapport he has developed with his receivers:

“Anytime you get one-on-one, things like that and like I said some of the talent you have at the wide receiver position, you should be comfortable with giving those guys chances to go up and make plays, giving those guys opportunities and they’ve shown that throughout mini camp in December and throughout training camp in January. It’s a trust factor, and trust is earned. Every single one of those guys out there has earned my trust. I know their going to go out there and make plays, do what’s right and like I started off saying, there’s just a few things, a few miscommunication-wise we have to clean up.”

On the fourth-down play in the first drive:

“What better way to start off the New York Guardians 2020 season than go right down the field and score? But, it was exciting. It really was. I think a lot of guys were emotional, the energy was high and it was good to kind of get a drive like that to kind of let everyone settle and relax a little bit, but it was fun. It was as I’ve had playing the game of football in a long time.”

On Guardians Running Back Darius Victor:

“Always when you’re able to get your running backs involved in the pass game it’s something special, and I think we have that in all of our running backs, Matt [Colburn], Justin [Stockton], Darius, Time [Cook III]—all guys that can do all that. We’re very fortunate to have depth. Those guys are very skilled in the pass game, in the run game, and pass protection. A lot of talent on the offensive side and those guys really showed up and played well for us.”

On the broadcast’s access to player conversations:

“Conversations that I have on the sideline, communicating with players [or] coaches, anything like that. It doesn’t change the way I prepare for a game or the way I act on game day. Emotions are high; guys get hot on the sidelines. There [are] going to be tempers flaring. If anything, I think it’s awesome because fans have an inside look at what in-game situations are really like. I think that’s what the XFL is trying to accomplish: taking these fans, that haven’t had this opportunity to be part of a professional league, to take them to where they can’t go. I think it’s fantastic.”

Marc Trestman – Head Coach – Tampa Bay Vipers

On the Vipers’ loss:

“Our play today was unacceptable. We turned the ball over three or four times. We didn’t tackle as well as we needed to tackle in the first half. When you have over 400 yard of offense and come up with three points… your play is just not acceptable.”

“The score was as it was, and the Guardians deserved to win. I’ll leave it at that.”

Aaron Murray – Vipers QB

On getting back into the ‘game groove’:

“It takes some time. We’ve had enough practice through December and through January, all the camps and scrimmages so: I thought we executed pretty good today. We ran the ball effectively- we saw that at times. I thought the pass game was pretty good. It was just those mistakes. If you’re going to turn the ball over three times, and the other team doesn’t turn it over, they’re going to win. Plain and simple. We drive down there, get to about the 5-yard line, and a bad play by me in throwing that up. I should have just thrown it away. We had 4 or 5 tries in the red zone and came away with no points. I think, moving the ball, it was pretty good, it’s just a matter of finishing those drives, being a little more efficient and understanding that windows get tighter in the red zone, players move faster, and there’s less room for the defense to have to cover. We just have to be better going forward. I think we can. Like I said, I thought we saw some good stuff today from this team: from players that really stepped up. I thought the offensive line was tremendous: the way they dominated during the game, especially when running the football. Like I said: we just can’t turn it over. Myself: two picks, the fumble that turned into a touchdown- those are the things that really shoot you in the foot. That really cost us today.”

On finally ‘getting out there’ after months of anticipation of the XFL:

“It was fun. Obviously, not the outcome we wanted, but I think everyone fought. That’s the one good thing about this football team: We’re a close team. There wasn’t any arguing. The defense wasn’t saying: “hey offense, you stink”. The offense wasn’t yelling at the defense. It was all: “hey boys, we got you, we got you, we got you”. That camaraderie, even in the locker room afterwards, guys were going up to each other and saying ‘heads-up, we’re good. Move on, short week: we’ve got Seattle next week, and that’s somewhat of a blessing to be on a short week. We’ve got to play on Saturday. We’ve got to forget this, we’ve got to make the corrections, and we’ve got to get going. We can sulk on this at all. It’s a long season. It’s only week one for goodness sakes. Like I said: I saw some promising stuff out there, and we just have to work on making those corrections and understand that we have 9 more games. We just have to keep fighting to get better.

On the offensive strategy in the second half:

“We knew, heading into the season, that a big part of our offense was going to be the offensive line. I think we have probably one of the best, if not the best offensive line, in this league. Those guys are big, they’re physical, and they’re smart. Like I said, we did a great job of running the football in this game. We have some big, powerful running backs, and I thought the big guys did a great job in pass protection, as well. I think the core of our offense right there; the offensive line is going to be where we make our bread throughout the season. I think they had a great start today. Like I said: it was just some mistakes on my part and some other mistakes that we clean up, and I think it’s a different ballgame, but: ‘what if, what if, what if?’ we’ve just got to get to work, come tomorrow, and get ready to go.”

Impressions of the talent level of Guardians and atmosphere in MetLife:

“I thought it was great. It’s been good to see: yesterday’s games and today’s: it seems like there’s a lot of energy in all the stadiums. I think that’s a good sign for this league. It’s a good football team. They’re fast. They’re big up-front (very, very big up-front), and they’re going to make you pay if you make a mistake. You have to understand that when you play a good defense, you have to play perfect football. You have to take care of it, you have to tuck it, you can’t force balls into tight windows because good defenses are going to make plays and you can get away with some of that stuff vs. lesser defenses. As we saw today, it’s a good defense. They can make plays if you give them opportunity, and they definitely did that.”

On red zone struggles:

“Not taking care of the football: plan and simple. Like I said, I go back to that first one. If I don’t force a ball in the back of the end zone and throw it away [instead], it’s second down and five. You just have to understand: points are a premium, and every possession needs to end with a kick. So, even if we go three downs and don’t get anything, we at least, put a field goal on the board. We just have to be a little bit smarter; I have to be a little bit smarter in the red zone. I think our plan was fine, we have a ton of great plays that we didn’t get to today because of some of those turnovers. So, if we just clean that up, we’ll really get to see this offense flourish.”

On immediate media attention on the sidelines after a play:

“It’s different. But, it’s been fun to see, if you step back as a fan. I could see the intrigue- to be ‘part of it’. I thought it was fine, as long as they’re pretty quick and easy: 1 question, 2 questions, and then you get your mind focused back on the game. I don’t think anyone was too distracted. I think it was good that we saw it happen yesterday, so we understood what could happen

during the game, so everyone was well prepared and understood that you may be called upon to do a quick interview.”

Week One: New York Guardians-Tampa Bay Vipers Preview

Vipers at the Guardians
Credit: XFL.com

Tampa Bay Vipers at New York Guardians

  • Sunday 2 pm ET (Fox) MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
  • Point Spread: Vipers -2 (Fan Duel)
  • Forecast: Mostly Cloudy, High 43, Wind Five MPH
  • Injuries:
    • (Guardians): WR Joe Horn (Ankle), TE Keenan Brown (Illness), CB DeJuan Neal (Thigh)
    • (Vipers): TE DeAndre Goolsby (Neck), DL Jason Neill (Groin)

The Guardians and Vipers will be taking the field Sunday without some of their best-projected targets in the passing game. New York Wide Receivers DeAngelo Yancey and Tanner Gentry are on short term IR and have yet to practice, although they have done some light work on the side. Barring any change in their status, it appears at press time, that New York will be without two of their projected starters on offense. For Tampa, Antonio Callaway, unfortunately, suffered an injury in practice leading into this game and was placed on injured reserve.

New York and Tampa released their depth charts for week one on Thursday: (starters in bold print)

GUARDIANS OFFENSE

QB-14 Matt McGloin
12 Marquise Williams
7 Luis Perez

RB-20 Tim Cook
27 Darius Victor
23 Justin Stockton
34 Matt Colburn

XWR-1 Mekale McKay
9 Teo Redding

ZWR-10 Austin Duke
2 Joe Horn

LT-74 Jarron Jones
71 Brant Weiss

LG-78 Anthony Coyle

C-69 Ian Silberman
77 Damien Mama

RG-68 Garrett Brumfield
73 Avery Young

RT-70 John Kling

TE-87 Jake Powell
83 Jake Sutherland
88 EJ Bibbs
85 Keenen Brown

WWR-3 Colby Pearson
17 Justice Liggins

GUARDIANS DEFENSE

RE-58 Bunmi Rotimi
55 Charles Wright
44 Ryan Mueller

3T-93 TJ Barnes

NT-94 Joey Mbu
95 Toby Johnson

LE-99 Cavon Walker
91 Jarrell Owens

WLB-45 D’Juan Hines
48 Jawuan Johnson

MLB-56 Ben Heeney
47 Frank Ginda

SLB-59 Garret Dooley
49 Nick DeLuca

RCB-29 Bryce Jones
31 Terrence Alexander

NCB-22 Dravon Askew-Henry
24 Ranthony Texada

LCB-21 Jamar Summers
26 DeJuan Neal

FS-30 Andrew Soroh
28 Wes Sutton

SS=33 AJ Hendy
36 Demetrious Cox

SPECIALISTS

LS-42 Scott Daly

PK-16 Matt McCrane

PT-8 Justin Vogel

H-8 Justin Vogel

VIPERS OFFENSE

QB-11 Aaron Murray
4 Taylor Cornelius
9 Quinton Flowers
8 Chase Litton

RB-24 De’ Veon Smith
29 Jacques Patrick
34 Mack Brown

WR-17 Jalen Tolliver
19 Tanner McEvoy
13 Donteea Dye

WR-81 Dan Williams
15 Seantavius Jones

WR-18 Reece Horn
12 Ryan Davis
14 Stacy Coley

TE-85 Nick Truesdell
80 DeAndre Goolsby
86 Colin Thompson

LT-73 Martez Ivey
78 Marquis Lucas

LG-67 Jerald Foster

C-63 Jordan McCray
50 John Yarbrough

RG-76 Daronte Bouldin

RT-71 Isaiah Williams
69 Na’Ty Rodgers

VIPERS DEFENSE

DE-96 Jason Neill
95 CeCe Jefferson

DT-92 Josh Banks
97 Ricky Walker

DT-49 Nikita Whitlock

DE-53 Deiontrez Mount
91 Bobby Richardson

MLB-45 Lucas Wacha
43 Emmanuel Beal
54 Anthony Stubbs

WLB-41 Terrance Plummer
52 Reggie Northrup

CB-33 Shelton Lewis
32 Jalen Collins
22 Rannell Hall

CB-23 Anthoula Kelly
20 Tarvarus McFadden

NCB-27 Micah Hannemann
31 Corey Moore

SS-21 Robert Priester
30 Demontre Hurst

FS-35 Marcelis Branch
28 Bryce Canady

SPECIALISTS

P-10 Jake Schum

PK-3 Andrew Franks

KO-3 Andrew Franks
10 Jake Schum

H-10 Jake Schum
18 Reece Horn

LS-42 Nick Moore
86 Colin Thompson

PR-22 Rannell Hall
18 Reece Horn
12 Ryan Davis

KR-22 Rannell Hall
12 Ryan Davis

Matchup: Guardians offense versus Vipers defense

Tampa will be employing a 4-2-5 defense under Defensive Coordinator Jerry Glanville. The legendary Glanville has a long history of using an aggressive man coverage style of defense. Look for Kevin Gilbride to take some shots down the field against Tampa’s secondary. The Guardians have receivers who can beat man coverage and make contested catches down the field in the likes of Mekale McKay and Teo Redding.

In the Guardians’ live scrimmage against the Vipers.  New York showed hints of their attack against Tampa by repeatedly challenging the Vipers corners deep and connecting on big plays. One player who could be targeted by New York on the Tampa defense is recently converted corner Rannell Hall. The former wide receiver has blazing speed and great athleticism, but he’s still a novice at the position. Also, look for New York to run against Tampa’s nickel set.

Matchup: Guardians defense versus Vipers offense

If there is one coach who is adept at having successful offenses operate with a shorter play clock (25 seconds). It’s Marc Trestman, and he did it with success winning multiple championships in Canada. The Guardians are huge upfront on the defensive line, but a sped up offense can wear down those types of players quickly. Being able to rotate in and out the likes of TJ Barnes, Joey Mbu, and Toby Johnson will be a key for New York Defensive Coordinator Jim Herrmann. Trestman will look to wear down New York’s defensive line by the fourth quarter. The Vipers have arguably the best offensive line in the league. Center Jordan McCray was the highest-rated offensive lineman by Pro Football Focus in the AAF last year for the Orlando Apollos.

New York’s defense has the advantage over Tampa’s offense from a speed standpoint. The Guardians secondary is very fast but not long in stature at the corner spot. Tampa may counter that with their big-bodied targets and its star tight end in Nick Truesdell. New York will need to get pressure on Aaron Murray and not allow him time in the pocket. New York has to force Murray into mistakes and not let him get in a rhythm.

Final Summary

These two teams played a full live scrimmage against each other at the end of training camp. New York “won” that game. The Guardians and Vipers meet again on Sunday, only this time the stake of the outcome is significant. There are only six divisional games throughout the season, and whether or not New York holds serve at home could end up setting the tone for the rest of their entire season. The Vipers and Guardians will meet again in the final week of the regular season in Tampa.

New York Guardians 2020 Season Preview

New York Guardians helmet and ball
Photo credit: XFL

The 2020 XFL Season has arrived. The New York Guardians kickoff their season at MetLife Stadium this Sunday, 2 pm ET on Fox. The Guardians will start and end their regular season with the Tampa Bay Vipers.

Guardians home games 2020

Here’s everything you need to know about the New York Guardians heading into the 2020 XFL season:

CHAMPIONSHIP ADVANTAGE

Guardians Head Coach/General Manager Kevin Gilbride, Running Backs Coach Jerald Ingram, and Defensive Coordinator Jim Herrmann all won a SuperBowl championship on the same staff. Gilbride and Ingram won two side by side with the New York Giants.  In an entirely brand new league in the XFL, with eight brand new teams, having prominent members of the staff, who have already won together at the highest level, is an added advantage.

The XFL is essentially a league of eight pro football expansion teams. Kevin Gilbride and Jerald Ingram have a strong history in that area as well. They were both key members of the 1995 Expansion Jacksonville Jaguars staff. The Jaguars were one of two expansion teams at the time. Jacksonville’s roster featured mostly fringe NFL players and castoffs. Players like Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith became stars, once they finally got an opportunity to showcase their talents. Within two years, with Ingram coaching the running backs, and Gilbride calling the offense, Jacksonville made it to the AFC Championship.

Despite this being over two decades ago, it still holds relevance to the present day XFL. The league’s rosters are very similar to the expansion teams of the NFL back then. A collection of players that just missed out in the NFL, or players that have been overlooked. The Guardians have two prominent coaches that have experience in finding and developing those types of players on a brand new team in Kevin Gilbride and Jerald Ingram.

ANDY REID RECOMMENDATION

Back in mid-December, the New York Guardians held a fan event at MetLife Stadium. Guardians Team President Janet Duch, ESPN’s Diana Russini, and members of the Guardians’ front office played host and held an open forum. It was during this event that it was revealed that current Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid played a big part in bringing Quarterback Matt McGloin to New York.

Guardians’ Director of Player Personnel Alan ‘Trip’ MacCracken, spent time with Andy Reid in Kansas City from 2013-2017. MacCracken was the Chiefs Director of Football Administration during that period. Andy Reid contacted the Guardians front office and highly recommended Matt McGloin after spending time coaching him in 2018. Matt McGloin was already on the Guardians radar as a potential target, but getting a stamp of approval from one of the game’s very best quarterback gurus in Andy Reid helped cement that decision.

THE WAY UNDER 30 CLUB

Of the 52 players currently on the Guardians roster. Only one player is thirty years old, and it’s starting Quarterback Matt McGloin. The second-oldest player on the Guardians is NFL veteran defensive tackle TJ Barnes, at 29 years old. Forty-five players on the New York roster are 26 years old or younger. The majority of the young players on the Guardians’ roster all have NFL experience, in one form or another.

Matt McGloin’s experience in the NFL is of most importance, especially when it comes to leading the charge on offense and in the locker room. Despite being the senior member of the roster, at what is not an old age for quarterbacks, McGloin has a lot of similarities with his teammates, and he embodies the type of player that is in the XFL.

McGloin has had to earn his keep the hard way. He was a walk-on at Penn State, who, through hard work and determination, eventually became a star for the Nittany Lions. McGloin then went undrafted and had to work his way onto a roster in the NFL with the Raiders. McGloin made it as a third-stringer, a role he would hold for the majority of his career. When called into action as a rookie, McGloin held his own and earned the respect of his teammates and fans. He did that throughout his NFL career as a third-stringer, a role that most teams in the NFL do not have anymore. Matt McGloin was never called on or expected to be the leading man, that is until now. His performance in the classroom, locker room and on the field will ultimately determine how far the Guardians go this season.

THE ODD GROUP OF ODDS

Vegas and many different odds-makers online have set the projected win totals and championship probability numbers for all eight XFL teams. When it comes to the Guardians futures, the odds-makers are all over the map. It’s not surprising considering that this is a new league.

BetMGM has the New York Guardians odds set at (+350). New York has the second-best odds to win the XFL Championship. The Guardians are only behind Dallas (+250)

Caesars Casino and Sportsbook have the Guardians in the middle of the pack. New York is at +900. The Vipers, Renegades, and Defenders are ahead of them, respectively, as projected XFL Champs.

BetOnline has the New York Guardians at a projected win total of four games, and second to last to win an XFL Championship at +750. Ahead of only the Seattle Dragons at +900

CBS SPORTSLINE has the New York Guardians as the favorite with Dallas to win it all in late April, giving them 4-1 odds to do so.

The Action Network via Draft Kings Sportsbook has the Guardians in their top three teams at +450

Bovada has the Guardians as their second-best bet behind only Dallas at +320

THE GUARDIANS OFFENSE

Kevin Gilbride will be calling the plays but with assistance from his staff in Quarterback Coach G.A. Mangus and Wide Receivers Coach Mike Miller. Mangus is a former Quarterback and coaching disciple of Steve Spurrier. He brings many of the same principles from Spurrier’s “Fun ‘n’ Gun” attack. Miller is a longtime assistant and former offensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals. In 2008, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston each gained over 1000 receiving yards; a feat only accomplished five times in NFL history.

The passing game will be led by Matt McGloin, but Luis Perez and Marquise Williams are two capable young quarterbacks with upside.

Although Kevin Gildbride is mostly known for his work in the early days of the ‘Run N Shoot,’ over his four decades as a coach Gilbride’s offenses have been more multiple. An often overlooked aspect in his tenure as a play-caller is the success of his rushing attacks over the years. A significant credit to that goes to RB coach Jerald Ingram.

Back in 2008, The New York Giants became only the fifth team in NFL history with two players to rush for more than 1,000 yards: Brandon Jacobs (1,089) and Derrick Ward (1,025). Throughout the years, Gilbride’s offenses have favored using multiple runners in multiple formations.

The Guardians’ have a very versatile and talented young backfield in Tim Cook, Justin Stockton, Darius Victor, and Matthew Colburn. Cook and Victor are two power runners who break tackles and run through you. Stockton has blazing speed and can run away from the defense. Colburn is a jack of all trades type back who can run around you and make defenders miss in space. Expect all four to factor in New York’s ground game.

The breakout fantasy star for New York is Mekale ‘Big Play’ McKay. Throughout his coaching career, Kevin Gilbride has had big receivers who can make plays down the field and in the red zone. Players like Plaxico Burress and Hakeem Nicks. The 6’4 McKay is cut from the same cloth. The Guardians’ are not lacking for skill or size at the position. DeAngelo Yancey (6’2), Teo Redding (6’1), and Tanner Gentry (6’2), all can win when the ball is in the air. Getting Yancey and Gentry healthy in the early season will be crucial. BYU’s WR Colby Pearson has spent time in the NFL with the Packers and Falcons. He has good speed and quickness to play in the slot. Wide Receivers, Joe Horn Jr., and Austin Duke were late arrivals to the Guardians but made enough of an impact to stick. Speedy Justice Liggins rounds out the receiving unit.

Former All-Big 12 and John Mackey Award Finalist veteran tight end EJ Biggs should also help provide a reliable target for Matt McGloin, in what looks like will be a very balanced offensive attack. Backing up Biggs are do-it-all type tight ends, Jake Sutherland and Jake Powell. Two small school tight ends from Morehead State and Monmouth,  can both be effective in-line blockers and in space. Texas State’s Keenen Brown has significant upside as a pass-catcher.  The Graduate transfer from Oklahoma State was named a First-Team All-American tight end by Pro Football Focus after having the top overall grade among tight ends with 86.6 and catching 76.1 percent of targeted passes.

The key to the Guardians attack will be their offensive line, coached by veteran Ronnie Vinklarek. The team’s top draft pick upfront is Notre Dame’s, Jarron Jones. A former DT now Left Tackle, who has excellent athleticism and a defensive player mentality when it comes to battling in the trenches. New York has recently acquired Auburn Tackle Avery Young and former USC Guard Damien Mama, both of whom have had experience in the NFL with several teams. Center Ian Silberman, a former sixth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, will play a pivotal role upfront. Local product Guard Anthony Coyle from Fordham was a two-time First Team All-Patriot League player. 6’7 349 pound John Kling, known as ‘Kling Klong,’ the former UB product is a mauler upfront. LSU’s Garrett Brumfield was a two-year starter in the bayou. He can play center and guard. Toledo’s OT Brant Weiss is an excellent pass blocker who can play LT and RT.  Finding the right combination up front and creating continuity will be no simple task, but there’s certainly a lot of talent and versatility in this unit.

THE GUARDIANS DEFENSE

Size upfront won’t be an issue in Jim Herrmann’s 4-3 defense. The team boasts three former NFL veteran space-eating tackles in TJ Barnes (362), Toby Johnson Jr. (350), and Joey Mbu (336). Maryland’s Cavon Walker is the polar opposite of these three at 288 pounds. Walker can play inside and outside and can provide some interior pass rush. The teams pass rush at defensive end will come from former All-SEC pass rusher Charles Wright out of Vanderbilt, Bunmi Rotini (Old Dominion), and former Second Team All-Big 12’s Jarrell Owens(Oklahoma State). Former NFL Defensive Lineman C.J. Ah You is this unit’s position coach.

New York has a versatile group of sideline to sideline linebackers coached by longtime college coach Kevin Kelly. The captain of the defense is former Kansas standout, Ben Heeney. He’s expected to be the teams’ primary signal-caller. Heeney is a former 2015 fifth-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders. The issue with Heeney during his pro career has been durability. He just hasn’t been able to stay healthy. On the field, he’s flashed smarts, sound tackling, and excellent cover skills. Heeney is joined in this group by a very similar group of players in D’Juan Hines, Nick DeLuca, Jawuan Johnson, and Frank Ginda. The Guardians’ boast perhaps the league’s most athletic linebacking corps. Johnson and Hines are former college safeties. DeLuca is a four-time FCS national champion from North Dakota State. He can play inside or outside. Frank Ginda is a player to watch from San Jose State. Only 22 years old, As a junior in 2017, Ginda was the NCAA leading tackler with 173 total tackles, with 94 being solo. Ginda’s 173 total tackles were the most in Mountain West Conference history. After the season, he declared for the 2018 NFL Draft, preceding his senior season. In hindsight, it was a mistake. He landed on the Cardinals and Dolphins but was unable to stick. Ginda got a real opportunity with the San Diego Fleet last year and showed flashes of brilliance. He is a potential break out star. Garrett Dooley (Wisconsin) and Ryan Mueller (Kansas State), are very similar players with tweener ability as pass rushers.

Former NFL All-Pro Chris Dishman is coaching a very talented young group of defensive backs. The Guardians’ boast arguably the league’s best corner tandem in TCU’s Ranthony Texada and AAF Standout Jamar Summers. Texada is a top man corner coming from playing on an island in Gary Patterson’s defense. Stanford Defensive Back Terrence Alexander transferred to LSU because he wanted to get a football education at playing in the SEC. National Champion Coach Ed Orgeron called Alexander, one of the smartest players he has ever coached. Alexander turned down a six-figure paying salary in cybersecurity to continue playing football.  Alexander has experience playing in the slot, and his superb tackling has seen him play safety as well. Former Michigan State safety Demetrious Cox is a jack of all trades himself. He has NFL experience and can play in the slot. Cornerback Bryce Jones also has NFL experience, the former Akron/Boston College track star, has excellent speed and length. Shepherd University’s CB Dejuan Neal is a raw but physically gifted player who has received a lot of accolades from his coaching staff. Northern Arizona standout safety Wes Sutton was a superstar All-Big Sky player. Maryland’s AJ Hendy has been a practice squad player in the NFL. He is a physical in the box safety who can also cover. The Guardians’ secondary is rounded out by hard-hitting safety Andrew Soroh, and West Virginia’s ball-hawking safety Dravon Askew-Henry.

THE GUARDIANS SPECIAL TEAMS

New York has a steady group of specialists with NFL experience in Kicker Matthew McCrane, Long Snapper Scott Daly, and Punter Justin Vogel. The XFL’s new kickoff and punt rules, however, could require an adjustment period for all three of them. Particularly Vogel, who won’t be able to coffin corner kick. The one area that is up in the air is who will be returning kicks. Running backs Justin Stockton and Matthew Colburn are both capable of doing so.

INSIDE THE GUARDIANS SCHEDULE

Most important game: Week 1 at home Sunday against the Tampa Bay Vipers on Fox. The Guardians start the season with three straight divisional games. The Guardians don’t play at home again until week four against Los Angeles on Saturday, February 29th. The first half of the teams’ schedule ends with a road trip to face the Dallas Renegades. In a ten-game season, it can become late real early. The oddsmakers have the Vipers as a three to four-point favorite coming into MetLife. New York can ill afford to lose their opener before heading to DC and then playing St.Louis in their home opener. Beating the Vipers in week one would send a statement and get the team off on the right foot.

 

 

 

New York Guardians Official 52 Player Roster Breakdown

New York Guardians Banner

Just 12 days before the XFL kicks off their regular-season on ABC, and 13 days before the New York Guardians host the Tampa Bay Vipers at MetLife Stadium, Sunday, February 9th, 2 pm ET on Fox.

The XFL released the official 52 player rosters for all eight of their teams.

Let’s take a deep dive into the 52 players that have made the New York Guardians roster.

NEW YORK GUARDIANS ROSTER

Offense: (25)

Quarterbacks: Matt McGloin (#14), Marquise Williams (#12), and Luis Perez (#7)
(3)

Released: Garrett Fugate

– A week before the Guardians completed training camp. The team traded for Luis Perez from the Los Angeles Wildcats. New York has three capable starters in their quarterback room. McGloin will be leading the charge when the season starts. Garrett Fugate made a good impression with his physical tools during camp. He could cycle back to the roster at a later date.

Running Backs: Tim Cook III (#20), Darius Victor (#27), Justin Stockton (#23), and Matthew Colburn (#34)
(4)

– The Guardians’ retained all four of their running backs.  Kevin Gilbride and RB’s coach Jerald Ingram has a long history of utilizing committee backfields. Back in 2008, The New York Giants were only the fifth team in NFL history to have two 1,000 yard rushers on their roster in Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. Cook and Victor are power runners who can break open-field tackles. Matthew Colburn is a jack of all trades. Justin Stockton is a speedy big-play third-down type back. The latter two could also factor into the return game.

Wide Receivers: Mekale McKay (#1), Teo Redding (#9), Colby Pearson (#3), Joe Horn Jr. (#2), Austin Duke (#10), and Justice Liggins (#17)
(6)

Injured Reserve: DeAngelo Yancey (#11) & Tanner Gentry (#19)

Released: Dalton Ponchilla, Bernard Reedy, Darius Prince, Andrew Verboys

  • Both DeAngelo Yancey and Tanner Gentry are on short term IR. The teams’ opener is in less than two weeks. So they could both be available for the early part of the season. If Yancey and Gentry were to return, that would mean that two spots on the active roster would need to open up. Teo Redding emerged late in camp. He’s a jump ball type receiver who can make a difference in the red zone. Mekale McKay is a dynamic receiver; he is more than capable of shouldering the load in the passing game.

Tight Ends: EJ Bibbs (#88), Jake Powell (#87), Keenen Brown (#85), and Jake Sutherland (#83)
(4)

Injured Reserve: Garrett Hudson (#81)

– New York is playing without a traditional fullback. Jake Sutherland and Jake Powell are two impressive young players who can fill that role. Keenen Brown has upside as a pass-catcher. EJ Bibbs is the veteran of the bunch, and also has the versatility to play multiple positions. Bibbs has spent time in his NFL career playing H-Back.

Offensive Line: OT Jarron Jones (#74), C Ian Silberman (#69), OT John Kling IV (#70), T/G Avery Young (#73), OG Damien Mama (#79), OG Anthony Coyle (#78), OT Brant Weiss (#71), and C Garrett Brumfield (#68)
(8)

Released: Dejon Allen, Brian Fineanganofo, Bunchy Stallings, Maea Teuhema, Jordan Agavisa

– The Guardians made several changes to this unit since October. The Kouandjio brothers didn’t make it out of minicamp. Six of the linemen that New York drafted are no longer with the team. Avery Young and Damien Mama are two late additions who could both be starting on opening day. The key to this group will be forming continuity in such a short period. O-Line coach Ronnie Vinklarek will be tasked with getting this unit off on the right foot. Two key players will be Offensive Tackle Jarron Jones, the teams’ first pick, and Center Ian Silberman.

Defense: (24)

Defensive Line: DT TJ Barnes (#93), DT Joey Mbu (#94), DE Bunmi Rotini Jr. (#58), DE Jarrell Owens (#91), DE Charles Wright (#55) DT Toby Johnson Jr. (#96), and DT Cavon Walker (#99)
7)

Released: Victor Ochi, Andrew Stelter, Rykeem Yates

– The Guardians may play multiple defensive fronts. A couple of these players can stand up as edge rushers in a 3-4, in Bunmi Rotini, and Charles Wright. Both are promising young pass rushers. The Guardians’ strength upfront is in their three space-eating run stoppers in NFL veterans TJ Barnes (362), Joey Mbu (336), and Toby Johnson Jr (350).

Linebackers: Ben Heeney (#56), D’Juan Hines (#45), Nick DeLuca (#49), Frank Ginda (#47), Ryan Mueller (#44), Garrett Dooley (#59), and Jawaun Johnson (#48)
(7)

Released: Darnell Leslie

– One of the most underrated groups on the roster. Heeney, Ginda, De Luca, and Hines can all be three-down linebackers. A trait that will be very important in a fast up-tempo league that utilizes the 25-second play-clock. Players like Ben Heeney, have the earmarks of being the top signal-caller and will have to get the defense lined up correctly in a swift fashion. Ginda is a difference-maker and can make plays all over the field.

Defensive Backs: CB Jamar Summers (#21), CB Terrence Alexander (#31) S Dravon Askew-Henry (#22), S Demetrious Cox (#36), CB DeJuan Neal (#26), CB Bryce Jones (#29), S Andrew Soroh (#30), S Wes Sutton (#28), S AJ Hendy (#33), and CB Ranthony Texada II (#24),
(10)

Released: Tre Mathis, Aaron Taylor

– The teams’ most reliable unit. Jamar Summers might be the league’s best cover corner. TCU’s Ranthony Texada is someone to watch closely. He has excellent man skills, from his experience playing in Gary Patterson’s defense. Versatility is the name of the game in this secondary. Former Stanford/LSU defensive back Terrence Alexander can play multiple positions. As can, Demetrious Cox. Wes Sutton has a lot of range at safety. Dravon Askew-Henry is also a very similar talent.  Soroh and Hendy are physical players. Neal and Jones will factor into the defense at the corner position as well.

Special Teams: (3)
Kicker: Matthew McCrane (#16)
Punter: Justin Vogel (#8)
Long Snapper: Scott Daly (#42)

– An aspect that is unknown at the moment is the players who will be assuming kick/punt return duties. Daly, McCrane, and Vogel all have NFL experience. Kicking and punting in the northeast is no simple task. The XFL rules on special teams are vastly different than the NFL game. Especially when it comes to punting, Vogel’s ability to pin the opposition deep without kicking it of bounds will be significant because of the 35-yard line touchback rule.

 

FINAL SUMMARY

As is usually the case in football, everything is subject to change when it comes to injury and performance. The XFL rosters will change and be altered every week during the season.

Congratulations to the 52 players that have made the New York Guardians roster. For those who didn’t, hopefully, another opportunity presents itself before the season is out.

One of the reasons that I have always been a proponent of a second pro league is the numbers game in the NFL, that cuts off hundreds of promising pro careers every year before they can continue or even get started. Ironically, the numbers game played a factor in today’s roster reveals.

I am very happy for the 416 players that have made active XFL rosters. The league is loaded with strong coaching staffs and excellent young talent. Many of whom will have an opportunity to be household names by seasons-end. For those of us who have followed the NFL draft process and college football closely over the years, we are very familiar with a significant number of the players that are in the league. There’s excitement for the players and also for the fans who support them. Football season returns on ABC, Fox, and ESPN, during the weekend of February 8th and 9th. Welcome to a new league.

Guardians Schedule

New York Guardians Training Camp Recap: Standing on guard for the upcoming season

The New York Guardians have completed training camp in Houston. The team will be heading back home today.

Training camp officially ended on Tuesday for the Guardians’, with a live scrimmage against their week one opponent, the Tampa Bay Vipers. New York will host this rematch at MetLife Stadium in each team’s 2020 season opener on Sunday, Feb. 9 (2 p.m. ET, FOX).

Guardians Vipers Test Game
Credit: XFL.com

GUARDIANS-VIPERS SCRIMMAGE

New York and Tampa ended training camp together. They will also be starting and ending the regular season against each other, in weeks one and ten. To quote T.S. Eliot, “In my end is my beginning.”

It’s not standard practice in football for week one opponents to practice against each other before their first game. Both team staffs were put in a unique position, having to get their teams ready for the opener without putting all their cards on the table. Tuesday’s scrimmage was a dry run for both sides, and a dress rehearsal for Fox and the referees.

The final score of the Guardians’ scrimmage was New York 27 Tampa 15. The outcome itself wasn’t that important. For New York, training camp has been a mixed bag. The Guardians’ defense has been ahead of the game thus far. New York’s offense has had its struggles, and there have been quite a few changes to the roster since mini-camp ended back in late December. (More on that later).

The performance of New York’s QB1 in the scrimmage, Matt McGloin, was reflective of training-camp for the Guardians offense. McGloin threw for three touchdowns but also turned the ball over twice with two interceptions. After the game, McGloin admitted that the Guardians are still working through issues of consistency on offense. The clock is ticking with the season fast approaching.

There are three New York receivers, that figure to be key cogs in the passing game. DeAngelo Yancey, Mekale McKay, and Tanner Gentry. The competition behind those three has been wide-open.

Two wideouts who have emerged in recent weeks, shined in Tuesday’s scrimmage. Teo Redding and Colby Pearson. Both players made a strong case for significant roles come Sunday, Feb. 9. Redding, the former Bowling Green standout, had several big catches against Tampa. A 36-yard touchdown and a one-point conversion in the first half. BYU’s Colby Pearson had an unconventional 76-yard touchdown grab. Pearson made a big catch down the field, landed inside the 30, then realizing that he wasn’t touched, rose to his feet and raced to the end-zone. Another receiver that is making his case for a spot is Justice Liggins. He made a great 30-yard contested-catch during the scrimmage. Another late transplant on the Guardians roster, Austin Duke scored on a Marquise Williams touchdown pass. The New York staff has some tough roster decisions to make at receiver.

The Guardians’ defense stood out again in Houston. LSU’s Terrence Alexander has been one of the stars of New York’s camp. The player that LSU’s Ed Orgeron called one of the smartest players, he has ever been around, completed camp in Houston, with another stellar performance during this scrimmage. Alexander has been all over the field making plays all January, from the safety, nickel and outside corner position.

Guardians Dragons Test Game
Credit: Justin Kelm

TRANSACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
(VOLUME THREE)

Two weeks ago, New York jettisoned three receivers off their roster and brought three new ones in to replace them. Last week, New York traded for two offensive linemen from St. Louis in Avery Young and Dejon Allen.

On Sunday, the Guardians traded Charles ‘Chad’ Kanoff to Los Angeles for Luis Perez. The trade raised a lot of eyebrows in XFL circles. Kanoff was running fourth at Quarterback for New York in camp. Luis Perez was LA’s assigned QB back in October. The situation for Perez in LA changed a month later when Josh Johnson made his way from the NFL to the Wildcats.

The trade has people questioning the motivations of both parties involved. On the New York side of things, Is the team hedging their bets on their projected starter McGloin, or their projected backup Marquise Williams?  Perez is coming on board with New York, late in the process of season preparation. Head Coach Kevin Gilbride has a history of crowded quarterback rooms. How he and the New York staff handle the position in the coming weeks should be fascinating to watch.

The New York Guardians pulled off another trade on Monday night. This time, they were partaking in a unique three-team trade. The DC Defenders added Guard Kahlil McKenzie to their active list and then shipped him to Los Angeles. The Wildcats sent Guard Damien Mama to New York. To complete the trade, Safety Shamarko Thomas, who the Guardians had the rights to, was sent to DC.

Damien Mama is the third offensive lineman that New York has added in less than a week. Seven offensive linemen that the Guardians drafted in October are no longer on the teams’ active roster. Three of the team’s top five selections in Phase 2 of the O-Line draft are out. (Cyrus Koandjio, Parker Collins and Zac Kerin). Offensive Tackle Jarron Jones seems locked into a starting job. He was New York’s top pick. Center Ian Silberman has returned from injury to solidify the pivot. The other three starting spots are all up for grabs.

ROSTER CUTS/PROJECTIONS

The Guardians will be paring down their roster from 70 to 52 over the course of the next few days. The official 52 player list will not be made public until Monday.

There will be so many moving parts, between now and the start of the season. At this point, you can’t rule out more trades or even new acquisitions. All eight XFL teams are fine-tuning their teams even with the regular-season looming on the horizon.

At the risk of looking foolish, I am going to project the Guardians 52 player roster. Similar to NFL cutdown day, there will be surprise cuts. The waiver process could produce new players that are not currently on the New York roster.

Offense: (25)

Quarterbacks: Matt McGloin, Marquise Williams, and Luis Perez (3)

  • I wouldn’t rule out a trade. The Guardians have three capable starters in house. Garrett Fugate has had some excellent moments during camp and has a live arm. He’s a candidate for Team-Nine if he doesn’t sneak on the roster.

Running Backs: Tim Cook, Darius Victor, Justin Stockton, and Matthew Colburn (4)

  • Cook and Victor are two bowling ball type bruisers. Colburn can do a little bit of everything. Stockton is fast and provides an excellent contrast to the power runners on the team.

Wide Receivers: DeAngelo Yancey, Mekale McKay, Tanner Gentry,
Teo Redding, Colby Pearson, Bernard Reedy, and Justice Liggins (7)

  • The Guardians could keep eight receivers. They recently added Austin Duke and Darius Prince. New York also traded for Joe Horn Jr. Reedy is the most accomplished returner at the receiver position, but if New York’s staff feels that one of their younger receivers can handle the role. Reedy could be out.

Tight Ends: EJ Bibbs, Jake Powell, and Jake Sutherland. (3)

  • The lack of a traditional fullback could see New York retain four at this position. It would come at the expense of another area.

Offensive Line: Jarron Jones, Ian Silberman, John Kling, Avery Young, Damien Mama, Dejon Allen, Anthony Coyle, and Garrett Brumfield (8)

  • The ability to play multiple positions could aid a few players in sticking to the roster and help the coaching staff in activating players on game day.

Defense: (24)

Defensive Line: TJ Barnes, Joey Mbu, Bunmi Rotini, Jarrell Owens, Victor Ochi, Rykeem Yates, and Cavon Walker (7)

  • There will be some good players left off this roster. Rotini and Owens have star potential as edge rushers. Yates and Walker are tweener DE/DT’s. Barnes and Mbu are big-time space eaters inside.

Linebackers: Ben Heeney, D’Juan Hines, Nick DeLuca, Frank Ginda, Ryan Mueller, Darnell Leslie, and Jawaun Johnson (7)

  • The XFL rules may dictate that defenses play more nickel and dime sets in the XFL. As a result, the Guardians may decide to keep fewer linebackers on their roster.

Defensive Backs: Jamar Summers, Terrence Alexander, Dravon Askew-Henry, Demetrious Cox, DeJuan Neal, Bryce Jones, Andrew Soroh,
AJ Hendy, Ranthony Texada, and Tre Mathis (10)

  • You could make the argument for all twelve Guardians defensive backs making the roster. The numbers game is a factor. Traditionally, a team will keep six corners and four safeties. New York’s front office knocked this position out of the park. Many of these players may not be household names, but they will be by seasons end.

Special Teams: (3)

Kicker: Matthew McCrane
Punter: Justin Vogel
Long Snapper: Scott Daly

FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s been a long road to get to this point. The regular season is almost upon us. Sometimes, the most exciting things in life are the unknown. In a first-year league, you don’t have the luxury of years past, to define what a team is like. All eight XFL franchises are trying to forge brand new identities. The games themselves will determine each team’s personality. Two weeks from this Sunday, the New York Guardians’ football team is called on duty.

Guardians Training Camp
Credit: XFL.com

News and Notes from Week 2 of New York Guardians Training Camp

New York Guardians joint scrimmage with the St. Louis BattleHawks.
New York Guardians joint scrimmage with the St. Louis BattleHawks. Credit: XFL.com

JOINT SCRIMMAGES

The Guardians are completing their second week of training camp in Houston. Last Saturday, saw New York practice with the St. Louis BattleHawks in their first-ever scrimmage against another team. The two sides had a spirited workout. The scrimmage had its fair share of trash talking and fighting. — a common occurrence for stir-crazy teams when they finally get the chance to practice against someone else.

The joint practices continued with the DC Defenders on Wednesday. The Guardians completed the week on Saturday by having a joint practice with the Tampa Bay Vipers. A team that NY will be facing in the season opener on Sunday, February 9th, at MetLife Stadium. Still, before that, the Guardians have a full game scheduled with Tampa on the 21st. It will be the Guardians’ final test before training camp ends.

There were some positives and negatives that came from New York’s workweek against three of their divisional foes. The secondary shined, notably lockdown corner Jamar Summers, who picked off Cardale Jones on the first play from scrimmage and took it to the house. The defensive secondary for the Guardians has received rave reviews all January in camp.

New York Guardians joint scrimmage with the DC Defenders. Credit: XFL.com

GILBRIDE’S GRUMBLINGS

The one constant thus far for the Guardians in Houston has been the steady and sometimes harsh critique of the team delivered by its head coach Kevin Gilbride. Camp started with Gilbride talking about how he wasn’t pleased with where the team was, and how he is worried about week one. You could chalk this up as normal coachspeak, but the theme continued on this week with Gilbride voicing his displeasure.

With quotes like these:

” It was great that we did the scrimmage. We needed to see it and see the consequences when you don’t do things exactly right.”
    – Guardians’ Head Coach Kevin Gilbride after the Guardians scrimmage with the St. Louis BattleHawks.

“There is a need to tighten things down a bit. We are not as disciplined as we need to be. We are not far from where we have to be, but unless we make the progress that needs to be made in terms of errors, it will be difficult to maintain the type of cohesion that you need to move the ball consistently.”|
    – Guardians head coach Kevin Gilbride after New York’s joint scrimmage with the DC Defenders.

Kevin Gilbride has been a part of winning programs in the past. Gilbride knows how a team and offense should be operating at this stage of the process. He has gone through decades of training camps. It’s part of a coach’s DNA never to be satisfied or content. That’s why he is voicing concerns with certain aspects of his team. The next few weeks will be crucial for Gilbride and the Guardians staff in getting the team in the best possible position when the regular season arrives.

TRANSACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS (VOLUME TWO)

Last week, the Guardians jettisoned three wide receivers from their roster and replaced them with three new ones. Out were Demarcus Ayers, Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, and Octayvious Miles. In came Bernard Reedy, Darius Prince, and Austin Duke.

This week, the Guardians made two trades on consecutive days. In the first trade ever for the franchise, the New York Guardians shipped wide receiver, Taivon Jacobs, to the Houston Roughnecks for wide receiver Joe Horn Jr.

The Guardians have been playing some musical chairs at the receiver position since camp started. Jacobs signed on before camp started. The 4.3 speedy wideout from Maryland spent a New York minute with the Guardians.

Joe Horn Jr played college football at Division II Missouri Western State. He is the son of Joe Horn, a former 4-time Pro Bowl NFL wide receiver with the New Orleans Saints. Horn Sr. is famous for pulling out a cell phone during a touchdown celebration against the New York Giants in 2003.

Back in August, Joe Horn Jr was a member of the Baltimore Ravens and was trying to make it onto the 53 man roster. Joe Horn Sr. had this to say about his son to USA Today:

“I do know that he can play in that league.” “I taught him. I know he can run routes better than most of the receivers that start in the NFL. You can quote me on that. That’s a fact.”

The team announced the Guardians’ second significant trade on Friday. New York sent CB David Rivers and OT Brian Wallace to St. Louis for Offensive Linemen, Avery Young, and DeJon Allen.

The fact that St. Louis and New York practiced against one another probably helped facilitate this trade. NY has a deep secondary and is dealing from a position of strength.

The one area that has seen the most change with New York since October has been the offensive line. Six Guardians offensive linemen selected in October’s XFL draft are no longer active with the team. (Cyrus Kouandjio, Parker Collins, Zac Kerin, Nate Theaker, Thomas Doles, and Arie Kouandjio).

Avery Young is a well-traveled NFL veteran, who can play tackle or guard. He was a 3-year starter at right tackle for Auburn. Dejon Allen was an All-Mount West player and team MVP at Hawaii as a left tackle. His lack of height at 6’3 has seen him play guard on the pro level. The Guardians are looking to upgrade their offensive line, and these two have a real shot, despite coming on board late in camp.

CUT DOWN DAY

The XFL season is fast approaching, but before teams can get there. They will have to pare down their rosters from 70 to 52 at the end of training camp on Wednesday, January 22nd.

The New York Guardians’ front office and coaching staff will have some difficult decisions to make before they head back home to prepare for the regular season. The Guardians will be returning to the Superdome Sports Complex in Waldwick, N.J., as the Superdome will be their practice facility during the regular season.

The rosters are fluid, and a lot can change between the end of camp and February 9th. One thing to keep in mind is waivers and potential late roster additions through trade or free agency.

Here are the numbers by position currently on the Guardians roster:

Quarterback (4)- Matt McGloin, Marquise Williams, Garret Fugate, Charles Kanoff

– It’s hard to envision New York carrying more than three quarterbacks. There may be a scenario where the Guardians decide to keep only two.

Running Back– (4)- Tim Cook, Justin Stockton, Darius Victor, Matthew Colburn

– The fact that the Guardians didn’t add to this position at any point in the last two months is a testament towards the teams’ faith in the players they already have.

Wide Receiver– (12)- DeAngelo Yancey, Mekale McKay, Colby Pearson, Tanner Gentry, Bernard Reedy, Teo Redding, Joe Horn Jr, Darius Prince, Andrew Verboys, Austin Duke, Justice Liggins, Dalton Ponchilla

– To stick on this roster, Special teams value on game day will be significant. The team could keep as many as 7 or 8 receivers.

Tight End– (5)- EJ Bibbs, Jake Sutherland, Garret Hudson, Jake Powell, Keenen Brown

– Playing into this group’s favor is the teams’ lack of a traditional fullback. The Guardians are receiver heavy. So the more they keep at that position could be a factor in whether or not. New York retains four TEs on their roster.

Offensive Line– (12)- Jarron Jones, John Kling, Avery Young, Dejon Allen, Bunchy Stallings, Garrett Brumfield, Ian Silberman, Brant Weiss, Maea Teuhema, Brian Fineanganofo, Anthony Coyle, Jordan Agavisa

– Most pro teams keep no more than nine offensive linemen on their roster. If a swing reserve lineman can play multiple positions, it eliminates the need for having that many players as backups.

Defensive Linemen– (11)- Ryan Mueller, Charles Wright, Bunmi Rotimi, Jarrell Owens, Rykeem Yates, TJ Barnes, Joey Mbu, Cavon Walker, Toby Johnson, Andrew Stelter, Victor Ochi

– If the Guardians plan on starting four down lineman. Then the likelihood is that the team carries no more than eight players in this group.

Linebackers– (7)- D’Juan Hines, Frank Ginda, Jawuan Johnson, Nick DeLuca, Darnell Leslie, Ben Heeney, Garret Dooley

– Barring some late acquisitions. The Guardians linebacking unit seems set for Sunday, February 9th.

Defensive Backs– (12)- Jamar Summers, Terrence Alexander, Dravon Askew-Henry, DeJuan Neal, Wes Sutton, Bryce Jones, Andrew Soroh, AJ Hendy, Tre Mathis, Demetrious Cox, Aaron Taylor, Ranthony Texada

– The Guardians are so loaded at this position that you can make the argument to keep all 12 defensive backs. DB Coach Chris Dishman has been cross-training players at corner and safety in camp. Most pro teams carry at least 10 DB’s on their active rosters.

Kicker– (1)- Matthew McCrane
Punter– (1)- Justin Vogel
Long Snapper– (1) Scott Daly

Pairing this group down from 70 to 52 will not be easy. It’s the dreaded numbers game. The coaching staff will have to decide which positions they need to stock up.

There’s excitement for fans in the season approaching, and rightfully so. There is also excitement for the teams and players themselves. The unfortunate part is that there will be players that do not make the league despite all their hard work and commitment.

There is a positive side to all of this. There will be players who cycle back into the league. Some players will end up on Team Nine. The XFL’s 40 to 45 player reserve roster. Some players may end up back on their original teams or on other franchises as the season progresses.

The Guardians and other XFL teams have shown in recent weeks, that the teams are continually looking to retool and upgrade their rosters. The process of doing that doesn’t stop at the end of training camp, cut down day, or even after week one has completed.

News and Notes from New York Guardians Training Camp

Credit: XFL.com

XFL Training camp is in full swing, and the New York Guardians are completing their first week of practice at Houston Baptist University. The Guardians are five Sundays away from the start of their season on February 9th at MetLife Stadium.

LOOMING WEEK ONE

The first week of Guardians’ practices in Houston saw the team’s offense struggle to get its footing early on. Coach Kevin Gilbride called his offensive practices sloppy and mistake-filled. One of the reasons for the rust may have been the teams’ break between minicamp and the start of training camp. The coaching staff made some changes to the offense before camp started, and it may have contributed to the slow start.

“Offensively, I think the players recognize that we need to get better.”
– New York Guardians Head Coach Kevin Gilbride

The Guardians’ offense has improved since its rocky start. Quarterback Matt McGloin and some of his star receivers like DeAngelo Yancey have stood out. Still, the early returns have Guardians Head Coach Kevin Gilbride expressing concerns to XFL.com about week one against the Tampa Bay Vipers.

“We’re doing some good things. As a coach, you’re never satisfied that it’s happening fast enough. That’s the problem. I just keep seeing this game looming in the fairly near future, and I know we gotta get a lot better than where we’re at.”
   – Guardians head coach Kevin Gilbride on Week 1 preparation.

FOUR QUARTERBACKS

“Right now, we’re thinking three because of the need for bodies at other spots. Trying to get four guys in the rotation, nobody gets enough work”.
– Guardians Head Coach Kevin Gilbride, back in December on the possibility of New York adding a fourth Quarterback.

Back in December at Minicamp, in Waldwick, I asked Coach Gilbride if the team would look to add a new QB to the roster for training camp. The Guardians were open to the idea, but it wasn’t a preference. That was until former Princeton, and NFL Quarterback Charles Kanoff became available. The former Ivy League Offensive Player of the year has had three different stops on NFL team rosters. He was most recently on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad at the end of the NFL season.

“Chad” Kanoff has the prototypical size at 6’4 – 220 and was highly efficient in college. His 73.2 percent completion percentage was an Ivy League season record. Kanoff joins a crowded quarterback room with projected starter Matt McGloin, Marquise Williams, and Garrett Fugate. With the regular season drawing closer, the Guardians might have to make some tough roster decisions at this position. The team could elect to carry only two quarterbacks come roster cutdown day in late January.

TRANSACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

There’s a familiar saying that goes, “actions speak louder than words.”

In football, transactions speak louder than words.

The New York Guardians released Demarcus Ayers, WR, Houston, Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, WR, Phoenix CC, and Octayvius Miles, WR, Alabama A&M. In one fell swoop, they were replaced by Bernard Reedy, WR, Toledo, Austin Duke, WR, Charlotte, and Darius Prince, WR, Penn State (Beaver).

The Guardians’ early offensive struggles played a part in these moves. Demarcus Ayers and Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi figured to play prominent roles in the teams’ return game. Early on, it appeared that Ayers would be the Guardians slot receiver. The emergence of BYU’s Colby Pearson during training camp made Ayers expendable. Bernard Reedy was an All Mac player at WR, Kick and Punt Returner at Toledo. Austin Duke is Charlotte’s all-time leading receiver, and could end up competing for a slot receiver role on the team. Darius Prince is a superstar arena league receiver and a former Arena Bowl MVP.

The Guardians have made several other roster moves since training camp started.

Additions:
Garrett Dooley, LB, Wisconsin (Waivers-BattleHawks), WR, Taivon Jacobs, Maryland, WR, Teo Redding, Bowling Green, Maea Teuhema, G, SE Louisiana (Waivers-Renegades), Jordan Agavisa, G, Utah, Charles Wright, DE, Vanderbilt,

Waived:
Nydair Rouse, CB, West Chester, Curtis Akins, LB, Memphis

XFL RULES/SEASON PREPARATION

During the tail end of minicamp, the Guardians practiced some of the league’s new rules. The team got a jump on them early by running point after touchdown drills and other league concepts.

New York will have the expanded opportunity of testing the league rules against other teams. The Guardians’ first joint practice will be with the St. Louis BattleHawks.

On the 21st, the Guardians will have a full game scrimmage with the Tampa Bay Vipers at the end of training camp. As Kevin Gilbride revealed in December, the game will act as a dress rehearsal for the season opener.

“Unfortunately, I don’t like it, but we are going against the team we’re going to open with against Tampa. Our broadcast partners want to see so that they can do their best job on opening day. So they want to see the two teams playing against each other and get a feel for the flow of the game and the players. I would rather play anybody but the team we are going to open with.”
– Kevin Gilbride on the Guardians-Vipers scrimmage on 1/21

New York Guardians Safety Demetrious Cox was a guest on ‘Schwartz on Sports‘.  Peter Schwartz asked Cox his feelings on the XFL rules. Cox told Schwartz that he liked the OT concept but joked that the defenses were getting the short end of the stick.

“They’re trying to have us play with one hand behind our back and one leg tied” “Fans don’t care about the defense” “They are making it harder on us than it already is.”
– Guardians Safety Demetrious Cox on how the XFL’s rules favor the offense.

On New York Sports Day, Cox also commented on the league’s 25-second play clock, and how getting the defensive plays right and in time will be a problem. One area that has not been a problem for the Guardians in training camp thus far has been it’s secondary. Cox boasted about how New York’s secondary recorded eight interceptions at it’s last practice. Two standouts in training camp thus far have been Lockdown Corner Jamar Summers, and versatile DB Terrence Alexander. LSU’s Ed Orgeron called Alexander, “one of the smartest players he has ever coached.” The Guardians’ defensive backs like Alexander are being cross-trained in camp by former NFL All-Pro Chris Dishman to play multiple positions. The XFL rules may favor offenses, but New York’s secondary looks like its ready for the challenge.