Excitement Is In The Air!!!

I had a chance to attend the Houston Roughnecks Kick-Off event last night at Pitch25, and man was I shocked for numerous reasons. Look, I report on the XFL, I’m a member of the XFL community, I myself am a fan of the XFL. But it’s one thing being on twitter and seeing all the excitement from fans all over social media. It’s a totally different experience being with XFL fans live. Pitch25 was legitimately rocking last night, and I was shocked to see it.

We have known the XFL was coming for 2 years already, and excitement had been hitting an all-time high as the season neared. But last night, being among the Houston Roughnecks fans, I got a feeling that I have never felt since the Houston Astros won the World Series. You know, before we knew about the trash cans. It was electric! These weren’t just people that were there hanging out. No. These were FANS! I saw jerseys, t-shirts, hats, bottles, cups, signs, all the stuff in between, and they were hungry! Not hungry for food. No. They were hungry for some Roughnecks football! Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s Texas, or maybe it’s because Houston is a great sports town. But the excitement level I saw last night, it was different than all the other sports teams in town. I mean these fans, to which there were MANY, were there to cheer on their new team.

Joel Klatt and Curt Menefee, FOX’s XFL announce team, were in attendance, as well as the Houston Roughnecks players and coaches. Team President Brian Cooper, and 97.5 ESPN’s John Granato and Nate Griffin, who will be on the radio call for every Roughnecks game, were also there. You could tell they were feeding off of the energy from the crowd that was there, because all of their faces were lit up. They had a great time talking about the upcoming season and how the teams progressed all throughout training camp. Curt Menefee asked June Jones, “Why in the world you would you leave Hawaii to come coach in Houston?”. Coach Jones simply responded, “They would pay me a lot more, to coach a lot less games. That was easy.”. Another great thing that was said by Jones was that “apparently” they do indeed have a Tight End on the team, they just don’t like to make it known. I’ll be interested to see who that Tight End is come Saturday. But all in all, it was a great time, for both the fans and the team.

Now after all the festivities were done, I got a chance to catch up with PJ Walker a little bit, the Roughnecks starting quarterback. I told him congratulations on winning the starting job, and he told me that he is excited to see how this offense gels on the field. He believes that they will be competitive and will never be out of a game.

I then caught up with star receiver Sammy Coates, who many will remember for his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I asked him, “With all the stuff that the Houston sports world has gone through the past few months, (Astros cheating scandal, Texans blowing 24-0 lead in the playoffs), how does it feel to bring back hope to Houston?”. He replied with a simple answer. “We got great players, great coaches, and most of all, great fans. We’re bringing a Championship back to Houston!”. Simple and straight to the point. If Sammy Coates says they are bringing a title to Houston, I believe him.

The fans are ready! We are just a few hours away from kick-off. So, until then, see you guys Saturday. And remember, THIS IS THE X F L!!!

XFL Week 1 Power Rankings

XFL Power Rankings

Well, here it is. Week 1 of the inaugural XFL season is here. Starting on February 8, at Audi Field, the brand new league kicks off to a lot of anticipation and fanfare. Brand new players, brand new coaches, brand new teams, and brand new fans are ready to take off and experience an exciting time in American Professional Football! Let’s be honest, we haven’t seen a single snap from any of these teams, so we don’t really know what we are in for when it comes to any eight of these teams. So I’m going into these power rankings with as much knowledge about these teams as you. After week 1 is officially in the books, we will have a little better feel about where we are, but until then, let’s just have fun with these week 1 power rankings.

WEEK 1 POWER RANKINGS

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8. Seattle Dragons

Okay Seattle fans. Before you get your pitch forks and start yelling from the rooftops, let me just say this. I am totally ready to accept and admit the fact that I’m wrong about the Seattle Dragons. I hope I am. I like Jim Zorn as a coach. Brandon Silvers is a good quarterback. Kenneth Farrow is a good running back. They have some decent pieces. But quite honestly, there is just not enough for me at this time. I think Brandon Silvers will have some decent stats, but I believe that’s because they will be playing from behind… A LOT. Their receiving core leaves a lot to be desired with Kasen Williams and Austin Proehl. Evan Rodriguez, their starting TE, is decent, but their offense is going to struggle, and their defense is nothing to write home about. It doesn’t help that they play in the Western Conference, which I believe is the best conference, and they will have to deal with Dallas, Houston, and LA all season long. Look, it’s a new league, there are only eight teams, so somebody had to be no. eight, and I think the Seattle Dragons are that eighth team at this time.

7. St. Louis Battlehawks

Pro football is back in St. Louis baybay! I’m so excited to see that first home game in the Dome. The crowd will be electric. The stadium will be rocking. And the players will be motivated. Mainly because they are going to be playing a must win game in that 3rd week against the New York Guardians after going 0-2 against Dallas and Houston. Talk about a brutal start to the season. Well, I guess when there’s only eight teams, you kind of have no choice. But man, this St. Louis Battlehawks team is a team that I can honestly see in the Eastern Conference Championship, or I can see being right here, exactly where I have them, as the 7th best team in the league. Jordan Ta’amu is going to be fascinating to watch. Mainly because how good is he going to be? He has the athleticism, but I’m not quite sold on the rest of him yet. He did win the starting job, so there is that, but I think that was more due to the lack of depth in the St. Louis QB room. Now I do respect Christine Michael, and Matt Jones is no slouch, but I believe they will have to be relied on so much that the D-lines will hone in on them, forcing Ta’amu to beat them with his arm. Their defense is big. Big bodies, good size, strong, athletic. And I do think that their defense might actually be able to carry them to a few surprise wins. But all in all, I think they will go as far as Jordan Ta’amu takes them. Just like with Seattle, I am totally prepared to be proven wrong, and I hope that I am., because St. Louis deserves a good football team. But for right now, I have them as no. 7.

(DARK HORSES)

6. New York Guardians

This team. I can’t quite get my finger on them. Are they pretenders? Are they contenders? I guess time will tell. But for right now, I have them as a dark horse to win the East. Matt McGloin, we all know what he brings, but it’s the other pieces that intrigue me the most. First off, Mekale McKay. If you’re a fantasy player, snatch him up, because he is going to be raking in the numbers. Matt McGloin is going to find life a lot easier being able to pass to McKay, who can really do it all at receiver. Then you got Tim Cook, who will be looking out for him, especially on those after TD conversions. Strong back, who will keep the chains moving and especially at home in that cold weather. But let’s be real. What really makes New York dark horse contenders? The secondary. Jamar Summers, Wes Sutton, Demetrious Cox, and company are going to lead the league in takeaways, I’m calling it now. These guys are going to be a “no fly zone”, and if the offense can run out the clock and put points on the board, this is a scary team. It’s why the New York Guardians are my no. 6 team.

5. Tampa Bay Vipers

Out of all the teams on this list, this is the team that terrifies me the most. Look, whenever I play Dallas, or Houston, or DC, or LA, I know what I’m getting. I’m playing one of the XFL’s elite teams, so I’m going into that game expecting a hard fought match. But when I play the Tampa Bay Vipers, I may be getting a mediocre team, or I may be playing the favorite to win it all. I’m serious. This team scares me…A LOT. Marc Trestman is a winner. Just look at what he has done in the CFL. He brings a lot to this team, but that’s just the Head Coach. Nick Truesdell might be the best TE in the league. Quinton Flowers might be the most lethal weapon on any team this season. But where it becomes a question mark for me is the QB Aaron Murray. If he can be the precise passer that he is capable of being, there might be no stopping this team. He is talented, and he brings a lot to the table. But he is inconsistent. That’s where it’s troublesome for me. But here’s the thing. If they can just get into the Eastern Conference Championship, and Aaron Murray can be “good” Aaron Murray for 2 straight games, I would not be surprised in the slightest if they go on and win the XFL Championship. It’s disappointing that Antonio Callaway had an injury, because I might have them higher on this list. But look out for the Tampa Bay Vipers, because they might be your worst nightmare. I have them no. 5.

(CONTENDERS)

4. Los Angeles Wildcats

Now we get into who I believe are the real contenders for the XFL Championship this year. First, we start off with the Los Angeles Wildcats. I think a lot of people would start with starting QB Josh Johnson, but I want to start with who might be my favorite Head Coach of the entire league, Winston Moss. This guy brings the energy, and in my opinion, that fits this team perfectly. Coach Moss has a winning attitude, and he is all over the Xs and Os and player personnel. I think the LA Wildcats set a record with how many moves they made this off-season. Trade after trade after trade, and some left you scratching your head. Rashad Ross??? But man, Moss’s attitude makes you truly believe that they have got this exactly how they want it. Now, who knows, maybe after a couple of games, some of those trades are going to look foolish. But as of right now, they have made a believer out of me. There defense has size and agility. Norm Chow, their OC, is a proven commodity. Elijah Hood is nothing to sneeze at. But their fire power lies in two areas. The passing game and the line backing core. Will Smith, Shawn Oakman, Taiwan Jones, Tre Williams, the list goes on. These guys are massive, and they aren’t going to be pushed around. Good luck running on these guys. And of course, Josh Johnson. What more can I say? The most proven quarterback in the league, and the fact that he is going to be throwing to guys like Tre McBride and Nelson Spruce, good luck. The Wildcats are legit, and that is why they are my no. 4 team.

3. Houston Roughnecks

Do you like offense? Do you like big plays? Do you like scoring? If you answered yes to all of these questions, let me introduce you to the Houston Roughnecks. The team, who I believe, will be the highest scoring offense in the league. Be prepared to AT LEAST score 30 points in order to be competitive in a game with the Roughnecks. June Jones, master of the “Run and Shoot” offense has weapons galore at his disposal. Let’s start with their quarterback, PJ Walker. Walker can sling it west coast, he can sling it downfield, he can run all over the field, and even if the pocket collapses, he can extend plays like it’s nobody’s business. His accuracy can sometimes be a problem, but so far in Training Camp and in the Scrimmages, he has looked as precise as ever. That should scare people, because if he can protect the football, his playmakers will do the rest. Sammy Coates, Kahlil Lewis, Sam Mobley and company will be running all over the place, and it is going to be difficult to cover them. Coach Jones’ offense is hard to prepare for, because it is predicated on makeshift plays and routes. And if you think the receivers are all you have to worry about, think again. De’Angelo Henderson and Andre Williams will be coming out of the backfield to balance out this offense, but not just to run the ball, to run and catch as well. These guys are scary. SCARY! If you aren’t catching up quick, you might be down 3 TDs before you know it. But the defense is where I’m still not so sure. Now, what I am sure about, is they will be getting to the quarterback. I know that. Kony Ealy is the truth. He will lead the league in sacks this year, mark it down. Especially, since I think a lot of teams will be having to play from behind against Houston, he is just going to be able to pin his ears back and get after it. But I’m just not sure yet on the rest of the defense. Time will tell, because if they have a good defense, just cancel the season, the Houston Roughnecks are XFL Champions. But until I see that defense, I will have them at no. 3.

2. Dallas Renegades

Bob Stoops. Hal Mumme. The best coaching staff in the league in my opinion. Coaching goes a long way, and that is why I have the Dallas Renegades winning the West this season. It sucks, because as a Roughnecks fan, I hope, I pray that I’m proven wrong. But I gotta be unbiased on these Power Rankings, and they have the goods. Landry Jones is a accurate quarterback with a strong arm, and he’s a proven winner at the highest level. Put along with that Jazz Ferguson and Jeff Badet, and you have one of the league’s most potent passing games. But it ain’t just passing. Their running back core is solid. Cameron Artis-Payne is the real deal, and every Cowboys fan remembers Lance Dunbar, he is legit. Dunbar can also be lethal in the passing game, which just gives Landry Jones another weapon to use. But what separates them from the Roughnecks for me right now, is I have a little more faith in their defense. So much so, I think they might be the most balanced team in the league. They don’t have names that are going to pop out at you, but they are solid and sound football players who will make the plays that are needed to be made in that moment. The moment isn’t too big for this team. That’s what Bob Stoops and Landry Jones brings to you. You will be seeing them in the XFL Championship later this spring. But against who?…

1. DC Defenders

Now we get to my favorite to not only win the East, but win the whole thing. The DC Defenders. Cardale Jones! Cardale Jones! A lot of people’s pick to win MVP this season. And rightfully so. He’s got a CANNON! He’s got the size to bulldoze you over. And he’s got the athleticism to extend plays. But if you think that’s it, think again. He’s got freakin’ Rashad Ross! Rashad Ross! LA gifted Cardale Jones and Pep Hamilton Rashad Ross! Why!? Who knows? Eli Rogers! Simmie Cobbs! I was talking about the Roughnecks scoring. Holy cow! How do you stop this offense!? And it doesn’t stop there. They might have the best running back group in the entire league. Jhurell Pressley, Donnel Pumphrey, Khalid Abdullah, are you kidding me? Now, just like with Houston, their defense does worry me a little bit. But that’s how much I trust Head Coach Pep Hamilton. I know he is going to make the proper adjustments necessary to win football games. He has proven time and time again, that he can succeed at a high level, and I think this time is no different. My pick to win the XFL Championship this season, my no. 1 team, the DC Defenders. Audi Field is going to be buzzing come late April.

PJ Walker OFFICIALLY named the starting QB for the Houston Roughnecks

Houston Roughnecks QB P.J. Walker (11) takes a snap during XFL Minicamp.
Houston Roughnecks QB P.J. Walker (11) takes a snap during XFL Minicamp. (Source: XFL.com)

As XFL Insider Rachael Van Oranje and I reported last week, PJ (Phillip) Walker, out of Temple, is going to be your week 1 starter for the Houston Roughnecks. As I stated in that earlier article from last week, this does not come as a surprise. PJ Walker and Connor Cook share similar arm strength, and while Cook’s accuracy may be a little better, it was Walker’s not only athleticism, but his willingness to run that got him the starting job in Houston.

Now, how do I feel about this fit? To be honest… I’m elated! Thank you June Jones for making this decision. Look, Connor Cook is a very accurate quarterback, and fully capable of leading an offense to great success. But, I got to be real with you. He would have been the more “boring” option out of the two. Now look, if PJ stinks it up, which I don’t expect him to, but if that were to happen, I feel very confident in Connor Cook leading this team. But man, I’m excited! PJ Walker is such a fun player to watch. He can sling it downfield, he can create plays with his legs, and he is not afraid to take chances. Now, that last part can sometimes be to his detriment, but he succeeds more often than he fails, and I am willing to live with that.

During his time at Temple, he broke multiple school records, including TD passes (74), passing yards (10,668), passing completions (830), total TDs (83), and total yards (11,478), under Matt Rhule, who is currently the Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers. He also lead them to their first conference title in 49 years, and their first ever back to back bowl appearances in school history. He was signed by the Indianapolis Colts in 2017 as an undrafted free agent, and while it didn’t work out, his talent is still a hidden gem in my opinion.

Now Walker does have his detractors, and many among the XFL community believed that Connor Cook was going to be named the starter. But I am a believer in PJ Walker, and I think he has the potential to not only be the best quarterback in the league, but perhaps be the league MVP. Yes, I’m all in on PJ Walker. Sammy Coates, Jalen Saunders, D’Angelo Henderson, Andre Williams, ect., you add PJ Walker to that, along with June Jones “Run and Shoot” offense, and good luck stopping the Roughnecks potent offense this season. The Houston Roughnecks are LEGIT contenders this year, and don’t be surprised if they are playing in the inaugural XFL Championship.

P.S. Yes, I know, the LA Xtreme won the 2001 Championship.

XFL Wildcats QB Josh Johnson status “UNCERTAIN” for Week 1

Los Angeles Wildcats starting quarterback Josh Johnson is reportedly battling an injury according to Ryan Dyrud of LAFB Network. His availability for this weekend’s game against the Houston ROughnecks is said to be a “game time” decision, but as of this moment it is uncertain if he is leaning one way or another.

If Johnson is unable to go, Coach Winston Moss will have a decision to make as to who will get the start for their Week 1 opener. It would either have to be Chad Kanoff or Jalan McClendon. Either one would be a significant downgrade, from who many think can be a top 3 quarterback in the league in Josh Johnson. Luckily, for the Wildcats, if he is a “game time” decision for Week 1, he will most certainly be back for Week 2 and onward. But that also depends on what exactly the injury is, which is still unknown at this time.

But unfortunately, this is really going to highlight the trade that LA made with New York, when they traded former Tier 1 allocated quarterback Luis Perez for quarterback Chad Kanoff, in a surprise move that no one saw coming. When Josh Johnson signed with the LA Wildcats, many expected him to be announced the starter, but many also thought that Luis Perez would learn from under Johnson and eventually take that starting spot, if not this season, then perhaps next year or in a couple of years. But Coach Moss decided to trade away Perez for Kanoff, and perhaps that trade may now come back to haunt them.

For all we know, this may be nothing come Saturday evening if Josh Johnson is able to go, but we shall see as the Wildcats are going to have to keep up with a high powered Houston offense that isn’t going to let up.

We will keep you posted as we get more information on this situation.

Editorial: Houston, this one’s for YOU

Man, what a past couple of months for Houston sports. To say that it has been rough would be an understatement. I don’t think I can remember a darker time collectively in Houston sports, and we have had some dark times. But nothing compares to the absolute magnitude of these trialing times. Let’s reflect for a little bit shall we?

First, you have the Texans, who just completely blew a commanding 24 point lead to the eventual Super Bowl winning Kansas City Chiefs, because your head coach doesn’t have a play on 4th and 1. To make matters worse, to “reward” him, the front office makes him the GM to go along with him already being the Head Coach. So he will be calling the plays, managing the team, drafting players, negotiating contracts, and trying to bring in new guys all at the same time. He couldn’t come up with a single play on 4th and 1, and he expects us to believe he can manage all of this? This franchise has hamstrung itself by giving “King” O’Brien more power than the actual President of the United States. I am fully convinced, that Bill O’Brien feels like he can walk into Cal McNair’s office and fire him right now. Look, I’m sure that Bill O’Brien is a super nice guy, “as long as you don’t say he sucks lol”, a great husband, and a loving father. I respect all of that, I do, trust me, that’s more important anyway. But, if you just can’t cut it, you just can’t cut it. Bill O’Brien had ONE Head Coaching job before coming to Houston, and he did great up at Penn State. But one has to wonder, if maybe he just needed a little more time to develop as a Head Coach, or perhaps he is just best suited to be an Offensive Coordinator. And to be fair, it’s not all his fault. The defense is so bad, we might as well not even have them out there. Deshaun still holds on to the ball too long, but that’s mainly because our receivers can’t seem to get open. The offensive line, well you know how that is. But in the end, it comes back to the Head Coach. When they showed Bill O’Brien’s face on that 4th and 1, he looked scared. Terrified. Nervous. Not prepared. That’s unacceptable! He didn’t have a play on that 4th and 1, because he didn’t believe that his team was good enough to be in the position that they were in at the point in the game. Look, it’s one thing for the media not to believe in your team, but as the Head Coach, you should be the main one that believes in your team. If you don’t believe in them, how do you expect the players to believe in themselves. As a former Head Coach myself, that really got to me. Look, I get it, the Chiefs are clearly the better team. But that expression on his face, on the sideline, up 24-0, was telling his team, “I’m shocked you guys are winning”, when it should have been, “I’m proud of you guys, I knew you could do it.” I guess time will tell, but I don’t blame any Houston Texans fans if they don’t feel hopeful about the future of the franchise, because they have not given us a reason to.

What about the Rockets? They are doing great right? Well, out of the three major teams, they are certainly doing the best, but I would not say great. James Harden is still phenomenal, and Russell Westbrook has been sensational up to this point. But as a team, they still have these defensive lapses, and the thing that is so frustrating, is that defense is pure heart and will. That’s completely on the players. But Mike D’antoni, who is a good coach, still needs to learn how to adjust in game when the other team takes stuff away. Look, I’m all for 3s, layups, and free throws, but if the defense takes that away, you have to be able to adjust on the fly. That’s what separates a good coach from a great coach. Too many turnovers, too many plays off, missing that killer instinct when it’s needed. These are all issues the Rockets have to fix if they want to be successful. Because they certainly have the talent, but it takes much more than talent to win a championship.

And speaking of championships, finally, we get to the Astros. Oh the Astros! First off, do I think other teams are doing what the Astros were caught doing? Absolutely! 1000%! We’ve had multiple coaches and players, past and present, even admit it publicly. But, that still doesn’t make it right. And the fact is, the Astros were caught CHEATING. Point blank. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Look, that feeling that I had, back in November of 2017, when Yuli Gurriel caught that ball from Jose Altuve to win their first World Series championship in franchise history, no one will ever take that away from me. I still remember where I was, I still remember how I felt, and I will always remember that moment. I hold that dear to my heart, especially since it came at a time when Houston needed it the most, after going through the travesties of Hurricane Harvey. But, here, now, in 2020, it definitely feels a little different. It feels weird calling them champions, because it doesn’t really feel like they earned it. As a former player, and then later coach, I do admire and respect the rules and integrity that go into the beautiful game of baseball. Yes, I understand, gambling like Pete Rose and the Black Sox, the whole steroid era with Bonds, McGuire, Sosa, etc., and electronic sign stealing, and many more, the game of baseball has been tainted with cheating for years. I hate it. But, the game itself, I still love and will always love no matter what. But man, the Astros are at rock bottom right now, as is the entire Houston sports world. If only there was something to lift us up.

Well, it just so happens that this league called the XFL is starting up here in a couple of days, and your beautiful city of Houston, Texas, has a team to represent. The Houston Roughnecks couldn’t have asked for a better time to launch than right now. June Jones, PJ Walker, Connor Cook, Sammy Coates, D’Angelo Henderson, Andre Williams, Charles James, and many, many more are ready to give Houston hope again. The Roughnecks have an opportunity to bring H-Town back to life. You want exciting? Watch play after play when this Roughnecks offense is lighting up the scoreboard and stat sheet with bombs galore. You want tough? Watch as this scrappy Roughnecks defense goes out and will scratch and claw it’s way to victories. You want smart? Watch as June Jones and this coaching staff draw up schemes that you haven’t even dreamed of, especially with these new rules. But my favorite part, my absolute favorite part, is US, the FANS. I love sports, because it is one of the few things that can bind us all together.

On February 8, 2020, at 4:00pm central, at TDECU Stadium, there is going to be a stadium full of people, who I guarantee you, don’t agree on almost anything. They disagree on politics, religion, parenting, taxes, finances, relationships, marriage, divorce… you name it. And when they see each other on the street, or at the mall, or on Facebook or Twitter, they will debate, argue, go at each other like it’s nobody’s business. But when that whistle blows, when those lights come on, when that clock begins, this sport, football, this team, the Roughnecks, this city, Houston, comes together, as one. United, as fans. Sports brings us together. It binds us, connects us. And this spring, this city, will bind together, to cheer on our team.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Houston Roughnecks are officially here.

PJ Walker “EXPECTED” to be the Man in Houston

There is no official word yet, but XFL ESPN Insider Rachael Van Oranje is reporting, “A source tells me that PJ Walker is currently the starting Quarterback for the Houston Roughnecks… but that “Connor Cook is right there.” No official word yet, however.”

Well, it certainly is starting to feel like June Jones has his guy. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise. PJ Walker was the assigned Tier 1 Quarterback to Houston, and from what I have heard, unless Connor Cook far exceeded him during practices and training camp, Walker was always going to be the guy. In my opinion, what really set Walker apart from Cook was his mobility and willingness to run. Don’t get me wrong, PJ can sling it with the best of them, but in a brand new league, with guys that have never played together before, the Offensive Line is going to be a question mark. Because of this, I believe that Coach Jones wants to go with Walker, because he has a better chance at extending plays, especially if he is chased outside of the pocket.

Now, is this the right decision? Well, from a talent standpoint, both Walker and Cook have the capability of captaining this offense to a lot of points on the field. But I do believe that going with PJ Walker is the right decision, because I feel he gives you more of a dynamic from the quarterback position than Cook would. My only concern, is sometimes Walker can be a little careless with the football. His best year at Temple, where he finished with 3295 yards and 22 touchdowns, he also threw 13 interceptions. He finished with a 140.1 rating that year, which is excellent, but those 13 interceptions do stick out.

However, I still believe that PJ Walker can be a dynamic playmaker from the QB spot, especially in this offense, with these weapons. And if he can limit the turnovers, the sky is the limit for what should be one of the top 3, at least, offenses in the XFL.

Ten days out, and the XFL Houston Roughnecks starting QB is still a mystery

Quarterbacks P.J. Walker and Conner Cook
Quarterbacks P.J. Walker and Conner Cook

What’s up Roughnecks fans! Can you believe it? We are just 10 days away from kick-off at TDECU Stadium near Downtown Houston. Two years we have waited for this day to come, and now it is finally upon us. The Texans miserable loss is long forgotten, because a new face has come to town, and they are ready to hit the ground running. The XFL’s Houston Roughnecks are here, and they are ready to make a stand.

When you listen to podcasts, read predictions, or just simply look at the roster, you will realize that a lot of people are considering the Roughnecks among the top four teams in the league. Some consider them the best, others are very high on them, but almost no one thinks they will be the bottom of the barrel. And for good reason! Just look at their roster.

Let’s start with who I believe will be the BEST receiver in the league in Sammy Coates. The former Pittsburgh Steeler, and yes Houston Texan for a brief moment, is one of the most talented players in the league. His second year with the Steelers, he caught 21 passes for 435 yards and 2 TDs. You have to remember, he was playing with Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith Schuster, and a very talented receiving core. If you could stand out in that field, that’s saying something.

Andre Williams, running back out of Boston College and 2013 Heisman Finalist, finished his college career ranked 5th All-Time in NCAA history for rushing yards in a single season with 2,177 yards, can move the sticks and even be versatile in the passing game. Speaking of…

Let’s stick on the passing game. Head Coach June Jones, who if you remember, is a old Houston face, most notably for his time with the Houston Gamblers as their Wide Receivers coach in 1984, is one of the most pass happy coaches out there. His brand of offense revolves around passing the football all over the field. But in order to do that, you need a competent quarterback. It just so happens the Roughnecks have two. Now don’t get me wrong, that is a good problem to have. I’m a Houston Texans fan. For the longest time, I hoped we would at least get one. Before Deshaun Watson, we had guys like Tom Savage, Brock Osweiler, the list goes on. It wasn’t pretty to say the least. But now with the Roughnecks, Coach Jones has a dilemma. Before the Official Draft began, the XFL assigned a Tier 1 quarterback to each of the 8 teams. Houston was gifted PJ Walker, former Temple standout, who set all kinds of records during his time there. I was excited! I love Walker’s game. He is a good thrower of the football, he can scramble when need be, and he is just very athletic in every way. So I was totally on board with PJ as our starting QB.

Well, now the Draft has begun, and it’s the Roughnecks with the #2 overall pick. Who do they get? Connor Cook, who you will remember played at Michigan State, set records, won big games, and led the Spartans to a Big 10 Championship and the victory at the 2014 Rose Bowl. However, if you live in Houston, you most notably remember Connor Cook, as the starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders against the Texans in the 2017 NFL Wild Card Playoff game. BUT, I want to caution people who think back to that game, and I want you to look at it from this perspective. Cook had NEVER started an NFL game up to that point. He wasn’t even expecting to start. But when Matt McGloin, now of the New York Guardians, got injured, he had to step in and take his place. So his very first NFL start came against, a Houston Texans defense, who that year ranked #2 overall in the league, led by Jadeveon Clowney, who was having a monster year. Not to mention, your first start coming the Playoffs, that can certainly be nerve wrecking. So I have always felt that Connor Cook never really got a fair shot at really being able to prove himself in the NFL.

But now that brings us to the Roughnecks. PJ Walker. Connor Cook. Not only both capable quarterbacks, but two guys, that if you ask me, have a shot to be the best quarterback in the XFL. Especially when you consider the system that they will be running with June Jones at the helm. And let’s not forget the weapons that will be at their disposal. However, the question remains, who do you go with? Well, as of right now, there is still no official word on who that week one starter will be. But I will tell you this. Whoever, Coach Jones decides to go with, we know they will thrive in this offense. I am excited to see what the Roughnecks bring to the field on February 8, because I can assure you, it will be a firework show.

Now, the question everyone wants answered. Who would I choose. Well… I would go with…

Hey Houston… There’s a New Kid in Town!

Houston Roughnecks

Did you hear Football fans? The XFL, that’s right, the X F L, is BACK! The league that gave you the sky cam, Tommy Maddox, and of course, He Hate Me, has been reborn. But trust me, this isn’t your dad’s XFL. Oh no. This is a new, revamped, reenergized, reimagined brand of football.

If you can remember, because it feels like it’s been years ago now, back in January of 2018, WWE CEO Vince McMahon announced that the XFL would make it’s grand return in 2020. Well, fast forward 2 years later, and we are now just 2 weeks away from kick-off. Time flies doesn’t it? But back when it was announced, McMahon kept stating that the XFL would be “Football reimagined”. However, at the time, he didn’t give us any details as to what he meant. So we were just left wondering at what he could possibly do to change the game of football.

Well, one way to begin this process was to bring in XFL Commissioner and former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck. Luck, who previously ran NFL Europe, as well as work with the NCAA, was unquestionably the right guy for the job. Everyone was ecstatic upon hearing this news and couldn’t wait to see what Luck would bring to the new league. Especially, since he was given 2 years to prepare for the launch date of the XFL. But with Luck now in the fold, fans were certainly optimistic.

We began to hear rumblings of some of the rule changes they were proposing, and they were intriguing to say the least. But it was the first coaching hire that really sent the message that they were for real. Legendary Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops was hired as the Head Coach/GM of the Dallas XFL franchise, and this sent shock waves throughout the sports world. No one thought the league could swoop up a coach of Stoops pedigree, but they did just that. That ladies and gentlemen, is the Oliver Luck effect. It didn’t stop there, Pep Hamilton, June Jones, Winston Moss, Marc Trestman, Jonathan Hayes, Kevin Gilbride, and even legendary Seahawks quarterback, Jim Zorn, have all been brought on as Head Coaches. Quality coaches, and quality players have filled the XFL camps, and ultimately rosters leading up to February 8, 2020. Players such as Cardale Jones, Sammy Coates, Kenny Robinson, Josh Johnson, just to name a few, have come in and set the league on fire before a ball has even been snapped.

But let’s really he honest here. What has us the most excited about the new XFL? It’s these freakin’ awesome rules baybay! Talk about reimagining the game! Don’t worry, they didn’t change the game of football. They didn’t gimmick up the sport. No no no. They just enhanced it, and made it FUN AGAIN. That’s the thing. The XFL has a chance to make football fun again. Let me be completely honest here. I didn’t watch a single snap of the Super Bowl last year. That’s right. I didn’t make a typo. Not a single snap, and I’m just going to be completely honest here, I don’t plan on watching this year either. No, I don’t hate football. But it would be completely fair to say that I have kind of grown tired of the NFL. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still watch a game here or there, but realistically, only if it’s my hometown Houston Texans. I only watch the NFL, because I have a home team to support, but the NFL as a product, not much of a fan anymore. The games are WAY to long, it takes an eternity in between plays, and don’t even get me started on replays and challenges. It’s just become, for lack of a better word, boring. If I didn’t have the Texans, I’m not so sure I even watch a single game. You see, that’s where the XFL is different. Of course, I’m going to root for my hometown Houston Roughnecks, but I want to watch every XFL game, because the product as a whole, lends itself to be exciting. 1, 2, 3 point after conversions. Making kick-offs and punts relevant again. Running play clocks. And who would have thought, you can actually fix overtime.

These new innovations have me excited for football again. Why not start fresh? We love new things, especially when they enhance something that was already great. I’m excited for the new XFL, and February 8 couldn’t get here fast enough!