Season in Review: 2020 Dallas Renegades

The Dallas Renegades huddle in preparation for their final game against the New York Guardians (Credit XFL.com)

A season filled with high expectations, the Dallas Renegades were hoping for big things from their team. They were the first team to hire their head coach and general manager in former University of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. During his time in the first offseason, Stoops was able to bring top assistant coaches like offensive coordinator Hal Humme. He was able to convince quarterback Landry Jones to join the XFL and the two were paired together in Dallas.

The team was able to draft some key players including Derron Smith, Jeff Badet, Donald Parham, and Frank Alexander. All the talent was displayed during training camp and made fans and experts believe they were the team to beat. While things didn’t go as according to plan, the team did have themselves within contention for the playoffs before the season ended after five games. Here are the top storylines for the team.

Bob Stoops Returns to the Sidelines

It was a great moment for the XFL as they hired their first head coach in the new league as they hired former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. He was the biggest name to be brought in the league and added a lot of attention to the XFL. Stoops was able to build a formable team starting with Landry Jones at quarterback. Adding in the talent on offense with Cameron Artis-Payne, Lance Dunbar, Jeff Badet, and Donald Parham. His coaching staff was built well with legendary offensive coordinator Hal Mumme and defensive coordinator Chris Woods leading the team.

The 2020 season didn’t start out as well as the team was 2-3 before the season ended. The offense didn’t perform as well as expected with all the speed at receiver. Mumme’s offensive play calling was also put into question as the running game wasn’t used as well as fans would have liked. The Renegades’ defense turned out to be the strength for the team as they were able to keep the team in most of their games. Stoops had a good start to the coaching staff and the players on the team, but key pieces to receiver and play calling could put the team over the top next season.

Quarterback Play Was Inconsistent

Landry Jones and Philip Nelson both started at least two games this season for the team. Both quarterback played the position differently throughout the season. Nelson was safer with the ball and wasn’t as likely to throw it down the field. Jones was more aggressive with his passing which resulted in multiple turnovers. He was also better at moving the ball down the field and scoring touchdowns. Nelson struggled to get the offense in the end zone. It might have been a result in play calling, but the quarterbacks played inconsistently. They were accurate with the ball, but mistakes were made by both players.

Donald Parham Led Receiving Attack

The receivers on the Renegades did not leave an imprint on the offense as much as experts expected. It was their star tight end who stole the show in the passing game. Donald Parham impressed at training camp with his size and reliable hands. He showed those off this season as he caught 24 passes for 307 yards and four touchdowns. He led the team in yards and touchdowns and made it clear he was the top target on the team. As he heads to Los Angeles to play for the Chargers in the NFL, Parham proved to be a reliable target and will have a chance to make it in the final roster.

Defense Kept Renegades in Games

Statistically, the defense of the Renegades wouldn’t blow you away with the numbers. They ranked no higher than fourth in a specific defensive team stat. Fans can make the argument that the defense was able to keep them in most of their games. The problems came with the offense turning the ball over too much and putting the defense in bad spots. In three of the five games, the defense allowed six or less points in the first half. Every game this season the team was within six points of their opponents heading into the second half.

Derron Smith and Josh Hawkins provided strong play in the secondary with shutdown coverage and big turnovers. Their linebacking core was one of the best in the league with speed and sure tackling helped the defense perform well. Asantay Brown and Greer Martini led the team in tackles and were both exceptional in coverage. The pass rush of the defensive line was inconsistent at times as the team was second to last in sacks with six.

Road Warriors, Home Sick

It was an odd sight to see as the Dallas Renegades went 2-0 on the road and 0-3 at home. The Renegades thrived on the road as they came from behind in both games at one point to beat LA and Seattle. Dallas’ offense struggled in two of their three home games not being able to produce more that 12 points in those games. Landry Jones threw three interceptions in the first quarter of the other home game against Houston that resulted in a 27-20 loss. It’s a rare sight in sports to see a team struggle at home, but performing well on the road might have helped the team out late in the season if the league was still going.

Dallas Renegades 2020 Schedule

Week One: St. Louis BattleHawks 15, Dallas Renegades 9, Record: 0-1

Week Two: Dallas Renegades 25, LA Wildcats 18, Record: 1-1

Week Three: Dallas Renegades 24, Seattle Dragons 12, Record: 2-1

Week Four: Houston Roughnecks 27, Dallas Renegades 20, Record: 2-2

Week Five: New York Guardians 30, Dallas Renegades 12, Record: 2-3

Dallas Renegades Stats

Passing: Landry Jones: 83-119, 70% completion percentage, 784 yards, five touchdowns, seven interceptions, 77.2 QB rating

Philip Nelson: 62-94, 66% completion percentage, 439 yards, three interceptions, 63.2 QB rating

Rushing: Cameron Artis-Payne: 47 carries, 241 yards, 5.1 avg, two touchdowns

Lance Dunbar: 30 carries, 146 yards, 4.9 avg, one touchdown

Philip Nelson: six carries, 25 yards, 4.2 avg

Austin Walter: four carries, 19 yards, 4.8 avg

Landry Jones: five carries, 15 yards, 3.0 avg

Marquis Young: three carries, 12 yards, 4.0 avg

Receiving: Donald Parham: 24 catches, 307 yards, four touchdowns

Flynn Nagel: 26 catches, 217 yards, one touchdown

Lance Dunbar: 26 catches, 154 yards

Jeff Badet: 16 catches, 108 yards

Cameron Artis-Payne: 23 catches, 101 yards

Josh Crockett: five catches, 86 yards

Sean Price: six catches, 78 yards

Freddie Martino: four catches, 58 yards

Jazz Ferguson: nine catches, 54 yards

Austin Walter: two catches, 31 yards

Marquis Young: four catches, 20 yards

Jerrod Heard: one catch, ten yards

Top Five Tacklers: Asantay Brown 28, Greer Martini 28, Tegray Scales 24, Tenny Adewusi 22, Ray Ray Davison 17

Top Sacks: Tegray Scales 1, Ray Ray Davison 1, Micah Abernathy 1, Frank Alexander 1, Hau’oli Kikaha 1, Gerald Rivers 1

Top Interceptions: Josh Hawkins 2, Derron Smith 1

Kicking: Austin MacGinnis: 10-10, 46 long

Punting: Drew Galitz: 18 punts, 775 yards, 43.1 avg, nine In20

Kick Return Leader: Austin Walter: 17 returns, 431 yards, 25.4 avg, one touchdown

Punt Return Leader: Flynn Nagel: six returns, 97 yards, 16.2 avg

TE Donald Parham, head coach Bob Stoops, and OT Pace Murphy pay respect to the national anthem prior to the Renegades final game against the New York Guardians. (Credit XFL.com)

XFL Players signed to NFL Squads

With COVID-19 paralyzing the majority of the sports world, NFL Free Agency has been the main focus of sports fanatics across the country for the last week. Included in that are twelve XFL players who have agreed to NFL contracts at the time of this article.

After the NFL and XFL finally allowed XFL players to make the jump officially on Monday, the best of the XFL have been leaping at the chance to make their mark on the National Football League.

Here are the players from each team that have signed to NFL contracts:

  1. Houston: QB PJ Walker to the Carolina Panthers
  2. Houston:LB DeMarquis Gates to the Minnesota
  3. Houston: CB Deatrick Nichols to the New Orleans Saints
  4. St. Louis: QB Jordan Ta’amu to the Kansas City Chiefs
  5. NY: S Dravon Askew-Henry to the New York Giants
  6. NY: DE Cavon Walker to the Pittsburgh Steelers
  7. NY: OT Jarron Jones to the Pittsburgh Steelers
  8. Dallas: TE Donald Parham to the LA Chargers
  9. Dallas: LS Christian Kuntz to the Pittsburgh Steelers
  10. DC: TE Khari Lee to the Atlanta Falcons
  11. DC: S Tyree Kinnel to the Pittsburgh Steelers
  12. TB: LS Nick Moore to the Baltimare Ravens

PJ Walker signed the most lucrative contract we know of so far, agreeing to a two year $1,565,000 contract with a $150,000 signing bonus.

Jordan Ta’amu will back up NFL superstar and Super Bowl Champion Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City, giving the Chiefs a viable backup option who can slide right into the offense if Mahomes is out. This was an emphasis for the Chiefs in the offseason after Mahomes missed two games during the 2019 regular season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed the most XFL players to NFL contracts, bringing 4 XFL athletes to the Steel City. These players are Cavon Walker, Jarron Jones, Christian Kuntz and Tyree Kinnel. Pittsburgh brings the XFL sack leader, a versatile DB in Kinnel and two players in Kuntz and Jones who have played on both sides of the ball in their pro football careers.

While twelve players have made the jump, stars such as Cam Phillips, Josh Johnson, Cardale Jones, and many more XFL standouts have yet to agree to XFL contracts. Look for these players and others to sign NFL deals after the draft, which was recently confirmed by Roger Goodell to be held April 23-25.

In the meantime, with a move that impressed the sports world, the XFL will pay all players their full contracts, even though the 2020 season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 viral pandemic. Even those twelve players who have agreed to NFL contracts will likely not sign officially until after the NFL draft in order to receive their full financial compensation from the XFL.

So, while you are in quarantine or self-isolation, check out some NFL free agency news or maybe re-watch an old XFL game. In a time where the news is not always good, take solace in the people who after months and years of hard work, will now get a shot at their dream: playing in the National Football League.

Despite sitting at 2-3 the Renegades are still in a good spot to make the playoffs

The Dallas Renegades feature a dynamic running game that includes #25 Lance Dunbar. (Credit: XFL.com)

Austin, TX– Mid point of the season is here, and good teams are beginning to rise to the top and solid but not good teams are beginning to level out.

Entering week 6 the Renegades are still winless at home after losing to the Guardians on Saturday.

A week prior the Renegades were close to winning the first ever #TexasThrowdown against the other Texas team, the Houston Roughnecks, but faced troubling times losing their franchise quarterback Landry Jones to a knee injury, and a costly pass by Philip Nelson that was bobbled by Flynn Nagel at the three yard line which was ultimately intercepted by a Roughneck defender which sealed the game.

Despite being 2-3, the Renegades are still in second place in the West division and hold both tie breakers over the Wildcats and the Dragons which they will face in the upcoming weeks.

Dallas will hit the road again this week to face the DC Defenders which in their own right have struggled offensively due to inconsistent play from early MVP candidate Cardale Jones. In the following week they will head to Tampa.

Dallas is currently ranked 3rd in total passing yards, 6th in total rushing yards, and 3rd in total receiving yards which is solid when you look at the stat sheet, but the stats have not translated into wins, and the Renegade faithful is beginning to show impatience with the air raid offense.

In my opinion, the best time to make changes is at the mid-season point, which we see from time to time in the NFL. Every game from this point forward has much higher implications but realistically each team is starting over with the record wiped clean.

Everybody is 0-0, and mathematically no one is eliminated from playoff contention.

The Renegades began making changes to their coaching staff. It was reported earlier this week by the Dallas Renegades effective immediately offensive coordinator Hal Mumme will no longer call plays and has been reassigned as an offensive advisor due to the injury he suffered on the sideline week 4. The Renegades have promoted offensive line coach Jeff Jagodzinski to offensive coordinator and also promoted running backs coach Bobby Blizzard to assistant offensive coordinator and he will hold the responsibility of calling plays from this point forward.

Bob Stoops spoke about the changes on Monday. “We appreciate Hal’s hard work and efforts with our squad, particularly after his injury last weekend. Unfortunately, it prevented him from performing in the way we needed for the Renegades.”

Both Blizzard and Jagodzinski have experience being successful play callers. Jagodzinski has had stints in the NFL as the offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers in 2006 which his offense was top ten in the NFL for total offense and Tampa in 2009. He also spent some time collegiately as the offensive coordinator for Georgia State (2013-2015) where his offense was ranked top 25 nationally in passing.

Blizzard, led the the offense at Belhaven University from 2014-2016 where his teams ranked in the top two nationally for passing yards on two occasions.

It will be interesting to see how shaking up the coaching staff will bring forth change in the Renegades offense as they have the talent to be one of the best offenses in the league.

An area we will definitely see change will be an increase in the running game after only running the ball a total of ten times on Saturday. Cameron Artis- Payne and Lance Dunbar are averaging 5 yards per carry, and both have been utilized heavily in the passing game.

I also think they will emphasize challenging the defense vertically. Currently the teams leading receiver is tight end Donald Parham who has 24 receptions, 307 yards, and 4 touchdowns, but the only receiver to record a touchdown catch is Flynn Nagel. With the talent this receiver group possesses I think speedy receiver Jeff Badet and lengthy receiver Jazz Ferguson will see more targets this week against a team whose secondary that has given up 221 passing yards per game since week 3.

If the Renegades are able to win the next two games away, they will have the best record on the road in the XFL and it would give them a ton of momentum before heading back home to host the Seattle Dragons March 29th at Globe Life Field.

The playoffs and potentially a championship run is still very possible for this team. Even though the first 5 weeks has been full of ups and downs, this time of the season is typically when teams begin to hit their stride and put together a string of wins to build on to close out the season.

I think this team will respond and we will see a much better performance offensively and as whole from this point forward.

Jeff Jagodzinski Promoted to OC for Dallas Renegades

Due to a leg injury incurred during a game, Dallas Renegades offensive coordinator Hal Mumme had to step down. (Credit: XFL.com)

After suffering a broken leg in the week four loss to the Houston Roughnecks, Dallas Renegades offensive coordinator Hal Mumme is unable to continue his role. The Renegades have promoted Jeff Jagodzinski to offensive coordinator for the remainder of the season.

“We appreciate Hal’s hard work and efforts with our squad, particularly after his injury last weekend,” noted head coach Bob Stoops. “Unfortunately, it prevented him from performing in the way we needed for the Renegades.”

Mumme was in the coaching booth Saturday in the loss to the New York Guardians as he was calling the plays there. He made headlines when he decided to stay on the sidelines the whole game after a Renegades player collided with Mumme during the Houston game that broke his leg.

Jagodzinski is no stranger to running offenses as he was previously an offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Georgia State. He’s well known for his stint as head coach for Boston College where he want 20-8 as the head coach in two seasons.

Renegades running back coach Bobby Blizzard added the position of assistant offensive coordinator and will be the main play caller for the team. Blizzard has experience as well at offensive coordinator as he led the Memphis Express of the AAF as their offensive coordinator for most of the season before the league folded.

A lot of the focus on this season has been the inconsistency of the offense and how they have gotten off to slow starts throughout the season. Jagodzinski and Blizzard will have their work cut out for them as they travel on the road this weekend to take on the 3-2 DC Defenders. A game that could be seen as a season-defining moment for a team that has lost three straight at home, but undefeated on the road this season.

What We Learned After Dallas’ Third Loss

Dallas Renegades quarterback Philip Nelson (Credit: XFL.com)

Saturday was suppose to be a pivotal moment in Dallas’ season as quarterback Philip Nelson was suppose to jump into the starting lineup and lead them to a win in front of 15,950 fans at Globe Life Park. The defense was suppose to shut down the running game and pressure Luis Perez. Coach Bob Stoops was suppose to get his first home win of the season with the Renegades. None of that happened.

Dallas lost a third straight home game to the New York Guardians 30-12 to drop their season record to 2-3 on the year. The team will be spending the next two weeks on the road going to DC and Tampa Bay. Landry Jones is expected to miss at least one more game before possibly returning in week seven against the Vipers. Even though the final score looked to be a complete blowout for Dallas, they surprisingly were in the game for the most part. Fans did get to learn a little bit more about this team that will need to be addressed as they head into the back half of their schedule.

Should the Quarterback Situation be Evaluated?

It’s natural and normal after a loss like Dallas suffered that fans would want to see a change at the quarterback position. Arguably, Philip Nelson did not fair well in his second start of the year. He finished the game 28 of 49 for 210 yards and two interceptions. The offense with Nelson was not able to produce much in the second half. Dallas looked good in the first half as they were able to move the ball down the field, but ultimately could not get in the end zone similar to week one against St. Louis. That is a combination of play calling being conservative and the offense just not being able to establish the passing or running game.

From the fans’ perspective, changing a quarterback would not make a difference in how the team looks. Eric Dungey can jump in the game and make some plays with his arm strength and feet. Dungey brings a different dynamic into the offense that could give them the spark they need. Plus, it would only be for one week before Jones returns in week seven. What’s the harm in giving Dungey a shot at quarterback? The team could also trade for someone like Connor Cook or Quinton Flowers, but it might be too late to bring someone in from the outside to learn the offense in one week.

Looking at the other side of things, Nelson is more comfortable in the offense than Dungey or Brogan Roback. Both guys have been in and out of the team. Dungey has been dealing with personal issues off the field during the season that has kept him from being with the team. Roback has bounced back and forth from Team Nine and the Renegades so he hasn’t been with the team for half of the season. Nelson is the only healthy quarterback who has been with them since the beginning so go with the one that has the most experience and give him an opportunity to redeem himself.

Hal Mumme Abandoned the Running Game

The Air Raid offense is designed to throw the ball often and use their running backs in the passing game. Offensive coordinator Hal Mumme has perfect it for decades as a coach, but something is missing in this offense. The lack of a running game is evident and it’s frustrating for the fans. Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar had establish themselves as one of the best duos in the league. They combined for eight carries for 31 yards. It seemed like once they had a bad run, the Renegades would throw it multiple times in a row. The two never had a chance to get it going.

Moving forward, play calling needs to adjust to the weapons that the backfield offers. Artis-Payne is a solid runner who has proven to be one of the best in the XFL when he is fed the ball. Dunbar is a great runner on the outside as he can use his speed off the edge to get past the front seven. Mumme has to know what he has and use them more often. Especially since the passing game is struggling to pick up so they need the running game to help open up the offense.

Receivers Need to be More Involved

It’s been the Donald Parham and Lance Dunbar show for the most part in the passing game. The only consistent receiver for the Renegades through five games is Flynn Nagel. All the other ones have been under used and somewhat not involved in the offense. Most of the plays being called are screen passes and short passes in the flat. Explosive plays was suppose to be the identity of this team since they have so much speed at receiver. That clearly hasn’t happened so far. Freddie Martino did have a big 32 yard catch in the first half that gave fans some hope for the best. That was it for the team though.

With play calling once again being questioned by fans, they can hope that bigger plays can be developed during the game and take more shots down the field. Jeff Badet was brought in to Dallas to create those long pass plays down the field and he has yet to explode onto the scene. Nelson and Jones aren’t afraid to bomb the ball so let them do it and create a play that can get Badet down the field.

Rush Defense Needs to Bounce Back

Dallas’ linebackers are athletic as they can cover with the best of them along with the secondary. The problem with them along with the defensive line is not being able to stop the running game. New York Guardians’ running backs Darius Victor and Justin Stockton was able to break out nice runs as Dallas didn’t have an answer for them in the second half. This is becoming a common problem for the team as they struggled to stop St. Louis, but since then was good until Saturday. While they may not allow as many yards on the ground as other teams, it’s a small thing that could become a big problem if it isn’t addressed right away.

Secondary Continues to be a Strength

Josh Hawkins and Derron Smith have been so important to the defense all season and have been playmakers for the secondary. They have made PJ Walker look human and have been able to shut down many passing games. Even though New York won, outside of the 80 yard touchdown pass play from Luis Perez to Colby Pearson, Perez was not able to get much going. Good pressure by the defense and shutdown coverage made Perez’s life miserable. Defense has been the strength of this team and has kept them in every game this season. If the offense can reduce the turnovers and hold on to the ball longer, the defense could be even better.

Special Teams Has Been Strong All Season

Austin MacGinnis has been the most consistent scorer for the team as he remained perfect on the season in field goals as he is now 10-10. He has been called upon early in games to get the offense some points on the board. Austin Walter broke out a huge 97 yard kickoff return for a touchdown against New York to get them back in the game. It was all for nothing, but big plays is what this team has been missing and he provided that.

Bob Stoops is Handling This Team the Right Way

This season has the potential to get out of hand for Dallas, but Bob Stoops has provided the leadership this team has needed to avoid that. Stoops has said all the right things in taking responsibility for this season and showing frustrating for not being able to bring home a win at Globe Life Park. If there was any coach in the XFL that can get their team back on track, it’s going to be Stoops. He knows how to win and what it takes to do it. They have an opportunity to get it done against DC in the nation’s capitol in week six.

What Philip Nelson Needs to Do to Win

Philip Nelson (9) will start at quarterback for Dallas against New York. (Credit: XFL.com)

The Dallas Renegades have a great opportunity to win one of the most important games of the season Saturday against the New York Guardians and put their record over .500. One challenge they face is they don’t have their starting quarterback Landry Jones for at least the next two games. Opening game starter Philip Nelson takes over for his second start of the XFL season.

In his first start, he showed the ability to protect the football. Something that fans are still waiting for with Jones. Nelson finished the game going 33-42, 218 yards and one interception on the final drive of the game. Deep ball accuracy was left to be desired for Nelson as he had trouble completing passes past ten yards. The exception was the last offensive drive of the first half when they went no huddle and Nelson was able to easily hit receivers on multiple mid range completions.

Nelson showed fans some good things and some bad things. There were time that he looked confident in the pocket, but with him being more of a pocket quarterback, he took a lot of hits by the defense. So what does Nelson have to do to win his first start in the XFL?

Continue to Protect the Ball

Nelson was safe with the ball, sometimes to a fault. Despite that, it was nice to see for fans to have a quarterback who wasn’t forcing passes into tight coverage. He only turned the ball over once in the loss to St. Louis and that was on the final drive of the game when they needed a score to win. Nelson will make sure to hit the open receiver which is what the offense needs for Dallas. Offensive coordinator Hal Mumme will most likely be conservative with his play calling and rely more on the running game. The running backs are in a better place now than they were in week one which is a benefit for Nelson.

Take Some Shots Down the Field

Seems odd since Nelson’s deep ball accuracy was in question in week one, but more shots could mean more confidence. Dallas’ receivers have not been as involved in the offense as tight end Donald Parham and running back Lance Dunbar have been getting all the targets. Look for Flynn Nagel to get more targets on third down which is where he succeeds the most at. Jeff Badet gained some momentum with a couple of big catches in the second half of the Houston loss last week. Getting him more involved with other receivers like Jazz Ferguson and Freddie Martino could open up the offense.

Push for More Power in Play Calling

Dallas has found their identity in running the ball effectively. Nelson will be in a more established offense that should help the team get into the end zone. He should ask for more input in the offense with Mumme and have control of the play calling. Trust is something the quarterback and coach should have together. A potential issues is Mumme broke his leg in last week’s game so he will be calling the plays from the booth for the reminder of the season. If Nelson gets off to a fast start to the offense in the game, Mumme might let him control the calls in the second half.

XFL Week 5 Preview: New York Guardians at Dallas Renegades

New York Guardians (2-2) at Dallas Renegades (2-2)

  • Saturday, March 7th, 4 PM CT/5 PM ET (FOX) Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas
  •  Renegades -8 Over/Under 37.5
  •  Game Time Temperature: 65, Winds 7-11mph

Game Overview

The New York Guardians and Dallas Renegades have had a unique path to this upcoming game.

Both teams share 2-2 records, but the road in which they got there is entirely different. The Guardians have two home victories in as many games and were blown out on the road by D.C. and St. Louis, by a total of 56-9.

The Renegades have yet to win at home, despite two tightly contested games with the undefeated 4-0 Houston Roughnecks and the 3-1 St.Louis BattleHawks. Both of the Renegades victories have come on the road against divisional opponents, L.A. and Seattle.

0-2 on the road (NY) verses 0-2 at home (Dallas). Something has to give. Besides their records, Dallas and New York also share in the fact that they have turned to a backup quarterback to keep themselves in playoff contention.

For New York, Luis Perez, came out of the bullpen to get the Guardians a much-needed victory against his former team, the L.A. Wildcats last weekend. Original starter, Matt McGloin, is set to return from injury and is looking to reclaim his spot. New York may want to keep their opponent guessing, but the logical play is to keep Perez at the controls until he gives you a reason to not be in that position.

For the Renegades, Phillip Nelson is being called upon again to keep Bob Stoops’ team in contention until Landry Jones can return. Nelson started in Jones’s place in week one and spelled Landry in relief last week when Jones reaggravated a previous knee injury.

Injuries

(New York) : S Andrew Soroh (Questionable-Head/Knee), QB Matt McGloin-(Probable-Thorax), TE EJ Bibbs (Probable-Knee), OT John Kling (Probable-Shoulder), C Ian Silberman (Probable-Neck), WR Austin Duke (Probable-Ankle), OL Avery Young (Probable-Shoulder)

* The Guardians activated WR Tanner Gentry off of their short term injured reserve but he wasn’t active last week. WR DeAngelo Yancey is working his way back from injury and could follow Gentry’s lead.

(Dallas): QB Landry Jones (Out-Knee), G Salesi Uhatafe (Out-Undisclosed), WR Armanti Edwards (Questionable-Hip), DL Frank Alexander (Probable-Ankle), TE Donald Parham (Probable-Hand), DT Winston Craig (Probable-Knee), DT Tony Guerad (Probable-Shoulder)

Matchup: The Guardians offense versus the Renegades defense

New York is last in the XFL in scoring per game. (12.2) Last in yards per game (230). Last in pass yards per game (142.8) and finally, last in yards gained per play (3.2). Yet despite all of this, there is a sense of optimism that the Guardians’ offense is starting to trend in the right direction.

Since being thrown in the fire, Quarterback Luis Perez has completed 70 percent of his passes. The Guardians are getting healthier at receiver with the return of Tanner Gentry, and the eventual return of DeAngelo Yancey, two of New York’s top drafted receivers. The offense is close to finally being whole.

However, the area that has seen the most improvement in recent weeks is the Guardians’ ground attack. Two weeks ago, New York rushed for over a hundred yards with the duo of Darius Victor and Tim Cook. Last week against L.A., they combined for 114 yards at over 4 yards per carry with Victor having his best game of the season (18-82). The Guardians are not quite there yet offensively, but the emergence of their rushing attack is a proper setting off point. New York would love to try and control the line of scrimmage against a banged-up Dallas front seven.

The Dallas defense led by Chris Woods has been a huge reason why Dallas is 2-2 and has been in every game this season. They rank at or near the top in almost every defensive category. The one area where Dallas has struggled is in generating a consistent pass rush. (6 sacks in 4 games).

The extra time in the pocket for opposing passers has given them time to go through progressions and find the third and even fourth read—an overlooked aspect when outlets attempt to grade the Renegades secondary. Two standouts for Dallas have been Cornerback Josh Hawkins and Safety Derron Smith. Hawkins was tasked last week with covering Roughnecks star receiver Cam Phillips and held him to 1 catch for nine yards. Safety Derron Smith was the #1 graded player in the entire AAF last season. Smith has lived up to his billing thus far with Dallas. In coverage and with his tackling.

The lack of a Renegades pass rush should, in theory, give Luis Perez time to go through his reads. The Guardians have struggled to make great use of their star receiver Mekale McKay. Josh Hawkins will undoubtedly be tasked with covering McKay one on one. Mekale presents a different challenge for Hawkins than Phillips did. Hawkins (5’10) used press coverage heavily against Phillips (6’0), but against the 6’5 McKay, the same type of strategy may not pay off. New York started incorporating their tight ends in the offense last week with EJ Bibbs and Jake Powell (5-58). Until Gentry and Yancey get back to full speed, New York will have to continue to lean on their complimentary pass targets. Wide Receivers Colby Pearson and Austin Duke need to win their one on one matchups for New York to have a chance on offense.

Matchup: The Guardians defense versus the Renegades offense

Hal Mumme’s Air-Raid offenses have had a history of breaking records. Nowhere in the legends playbook does it consist of coordinating an entire attack with a broken leg. That’s what Hal Mumme did last week, after star running back Cameron Artis-Payne barrelled into him on the sidelines.  Not only did Mumme continue to call offensive plays on the sideline after breaking his leg, but he also had to deal with losing his starting Quarterback to injury in Landry Jones. Despite all this adversity, Hal Mumme will never throw in his trusty towel.

The Renegades rank third in the XFL in yards per game offensively (344), but there is a sense that Dallas has underachieved on that side of the ball. Dallas appeared to be heading in the right direction with Landry Jones returning and winning his first two games, but turnovers and a lack of explosive plays have held the Renegades back from achieving their expectations.

With Landry Jones out, Phillip Nelson is back in the saddle. In week one, Nelson was highly efficient on paper (33/42), but he only produced 199 yards and no touchdown drives. Avoiding turnovers will be important but making big plays down the field will be as well for Nelson.

The Renegades offense is designed for short and quick throws underneath. Mumme has a history of exploiting defenses and creating mismatches in space. The shallow crossing routes have been a staple of his system for decades, but despite the talent that Dallas has at receiver in 4.2 speedster Jeff Badet, Jazz Ferguson, Flynn Nagel, and Freddie Martino. The WR’s in Dallas has yet to be the focal point of the Renegades attack. The Wildcats last week, attacked the Guardians down the field with success. This might be the time for Dallas to attempt the same strategy.

The Guardians’ defense has been at its best when it can create pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Bunmi Rotini, Cavon Walker, and Jarrell Owens have played well in recent weeks. If they can pressure Nelson and take away his first read, New York might make be able to slow down Dallas and keep them out of the end zone.

One player who is a matchup problem for every XFL defense is Tight End, Donald Parham. The 6’8 monster has incredible speed for his size and an ungodly wingspan (87 inches). The Guardians have maybe the league’s fastest linebacking corps but are lacking in size. New York does not match up favorably against Parham.

The Renegades boast one of the XFL’s best one-two tandems at Running Back in Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar. Both have been terrific in the run and pass game. Dallas has been at their best this season when they have leaned on both players. Look for Dallas to try and run on New York’s 6th ranked rush defense (113.5 per game). It might be the Renegade’s best road to victory.

Final Summary/Prediction

The winner of this game will position themselves nicely for the second half of the season.

For New York, a 3-2 record could put them realistically in the playoff hunt, regardless of what happens in the DC-St. Louis game. A loss by DC and a NY win puts them ahead of the Defenders for the final playoff spot in the east. A win by the Defenders, coupled with a NY victory, puts the Guardians in a three-way tie for first, with five games to go, and with two of those games being at home against D.C and St. Louis.

Dallas has yet to hit its peak as a team, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. They appeared to be headed towards it before another roadblock came with yet another injury to their starting quarterback.

This is a real crossroads game for New York and Dallas. The road will be a lot easier to navigate for the team who wins. The Renegades have been the better overall team in the first four weeks of the season, they haven’t upheld their home field yet, but I think they finally will.

Renegades 20 Guardians 12

XFL Week 5 Power Rankings

Four weeks are in the books, and just when you thought you had it all figured out, we have another week where the league shakes up again. The XFL has parity and that is a wonderful thing. At this point, I can honestly say, no team is truly out of it, and while we may have a pretty good idea at who the #1 seed for each conference will be, that race for the #2 seed is going to be interesting and exciting as the season progresses. But for now, let’s look at where we stand heading into Week 5.

8. DC Defenders (2-2) Last Week (4)

Yes, they are 2-2. Yes, I still believe in this team. Yes, I would still pick them over New York and Tampa Bay to grab that #2 seed. But, nobody has looked worse these past two weeks than the DC Defenders. I mean they have looked BAD. At least when Tampa Bay was looking rough those first two weeks, they were at least moving the ball downfield. Their issue was they just couldn’t get into the endzone. DC however, they can’t even move the ball downfield. Every time their offense took the field Sunday night, I had absolutely no confidence in them whatsoever. The real problem though is, neither did they. Their body language was one of defeat, and Pep Hamilton has got a huge test in front of him. We shall see if he can rally his troops, because if he can’t, DC has a shot to end up last in the East. They head back home this weekend, so that should help things, but they face a major test in the St. Louis Battlehawks. And if they play like they have the past two weeks, it is going to get ugly fast. They sit at no. 8.

7. Seattle Dragons (1-3) Last Week (6)

Welcome to the league BJ Daniels. Unfortunately, it took Jim Zorn all the way up until halftime of Week 4 to realize that BJ Daniels was his best option at quarterback. I was tempted to put Seattle a little higher, because they almost upset a really good team in the Battlehawks, but ultimately, I have to see more. And they face a big test this weekend in the undefeated Roughnecks, so we will see what this Dragons team with Daniels at the helm really looks like. From what I saw from the 2nd half on Saturday night though, I am really intrigued to see what this team can do. Now that Daniels will be getting starting reps, and they can form a game plan around his strengths, we will see how serious this team can be in making a run. Their defense is still as solid as ever, and they kept Seattle in that game against St. Louis. But it’s going to come down to the Dragons offense scoring points and not turning the football over. If they can start to do that, they will have a shot. For now, they sit at no. 7.

6. Los Angeles Wildcats (1-3) Last Week (5)

Consistency. Consistency! C’mon guys! This team has the talent. This team has the star power. This team has the weapons. But they can’t seem to string together consecutive strong performances. Even within the same game. They look good one drive. They look lost the next. Their defense makes a huge stop. Their defense allows a big play. What is this team? I know what they can be. They can be the team that absolutely destroyed the Defenders last week. But for some reason, some weeks, they would rather be the team that played Saturday afternoon. I get that it was cold. I also understand that Nelson Spruce, their leading receiver, was out. But they had their chances, and they just couldn’t capitalize. They play a much improved Vipers team at home this weekend, so we will see if they can get back on track. For now, they sit at no. 6.

5. New York Guardians (2-2) Last Week (8)

Turns out, they didn’t need to “change the entire game plan”, they just needed to change the quarterback. Now, Matt McGloin was out with a injury, but they would be crazy not to go back to Luis Perez. Perez had that offense moving the best it had all season, and the most important thing is, they didn’t turn the football over. Perez isn’t going to light it up on the stat sheet, but honestly, with this team, their offense just needs to be serviceable and turnover free. Their defense is good enough to get the job done, and if their offense can now play clean football and score enough, this team could make a serious run at that #2 seed. Their defense can create takeaways, as they did Saturday, and they will give this offense chances to capitalize. They play Dallas this weekend, who won’t have Landry Jones, so we shall see what they can do. They sit at no. 5.

4. Tampa Bay Vipers (1-3) Last Week (7)

Here come the Vipers! This is the Vipers team we thought we were going to get at the beginning of the season. Well, better late than never I guess. This team has found its identity on offense, and that is pounding the rock. They not only provided the XFL with their first 100 yard rusher, they also provided them with their second. Both Smith and Patrick were phenomenal Sunday night against the Defenders, and the Vipers brought the fight to DC on all levels. Defense, offense, and special teams were all clicking, and the East should be terrified, because this team has all the potential. Cornelius looked good, and as long as he isn’t turning the football over, he should improve week by week. I do wish that they would use Quinton Flowers, but with Flowers requesting for a trade, it seems that that ship has sailed. But nevertheless, this team can hang with the best of them as we have seen the past two weeks. Hopefully they can continue this momentum, because if they can, that #2 seed is ripe for the taking. For now, they sit at no. 4.

3. Dallas Renegades (2-2) Last Week (3)

Thank God Landry Jones’ injury was not as serious as first thought to be. He should be back Week 7 it seems like, so if Phillip Nelson can just hold down the ship until then, the Renegades should be okay. This team is for real. Landry Jones turned the football over three, THREE times…..in the 1st quarter. Yet, they still only lost by one possession, with a real chance to tie or take the lead at the end. Yes, they need to limit the turnovers, but this team is good, and it all starts with their running game. Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar have done an excellent job moving the chains and making plays when nothing else seems to be open. Donald Parham continues to be a beast, and this defense doesn’t get enough credit for how good they are. They held that high powered Houston offense to just 21 points, which is excellent when you consider that they went into that game averaging 33 points a game. Hopefully Jones can make a quick recovery, because this team to me is the clear favorite right now to take that #2 seed in the West. They sit at no. 3.

2. St. Louis BattleHawks (3-1) Last Week (2)

Nothing has changed at the top of the East. That still belongs to the BattleHawks, whose only blemish this season comes against the undefeated Roughnecks, on the road, in a game they could have won. This team is so good, and it all starts with their fantastic head coach Jonathan Hayes. He has this team in a great position to succeed, and his belief and confidence in his players has really shown through. Jordan Ta’amu continues to be a star every single week, making plays with his arm and legs, and the most impressive thing about him is his quick decision making. He protects the football, and he trust his receivers to make plays in the open field. Pierson-El has done just that, and he is quickly becoming a breakout star as well. Of course, you still have Matt Jones, Keith Ford, and Christine Michael holding down that running game, and this defense is the best in the league. I don’t see anyone slowing down this team, and they might roll into DC and crush their season this Sunday. This team is awesome, but they are still no. 2.

1. Houston Roughnecks (4-0) Last Week (1)

Because the Houston Roughnecks have still not tasted defeat. This team is impressive on so many levels. Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The Houston offense is unstoppable. You can maybe slow them down a bit, but as long as PJ Walker is under center, you are not shutting them down. Four weeks now, and it’s pretty clear, PJ Walker is the BEST quarterback in the XFL. He is phenomenal! Whether it’s throwing passes like the one he finessed to Nick Holley on the sideline, that was just BEAUTIFUL. Or if he’s running over defenders and knocking them down like he did Sunday afternoon. He has been magical, and there is no stopping him. Now, Dallas’ defense was able to shut down Cam Phillips, but other guys stepped up. Like I mentioned before, Nick Holley was one of those guys, but you also had Khalil Lewis, Sam Mobley, Sammie Coates, and James Butler and Andre Williams all made contributions Sunday afternoon. But again, we already know how good their offense is. But their defense has been suspect this season. They give up a lot of yards, they give up a lot of points, but give them credit, because they somehow ALWAYS come up with a big play. And Sunday afternoon, they came up with a bunch of them. Four interceptions total, five total takeaways, and none greater than the one that sealed the game by Gates at the goal line. Dallas was fixing to punch it in to possibly tie or take the lead, and De Marquise Gates made an excellent interception to seal the game, by never letting that ball off of Nagel’s hands touch the ground. It was spectacular. The defense has sealed the past three wins with game saving interceptions. At some point, that might not be the case, but the point has not come. So they are still the best team in the XFL.

Landry Jones Injury Update – Two Week Recovery

It appears that Dallas Renegades quarterback Landry Jones could be out for a short period of time once again. The Dallas Renegades announced Monday night that Jones did get an MRI and the results showed a reaggravation of the knee he hurt early in training camp. He is expected to recover from the injury in two weeks.

The team also announced that they will be adding another quarterback to the roster in the next few days. League rules state that if a short-term injury occurs for a quarterback, then a roster exemption can be granted to the team so another quarterback can be added to the active list. There has been no word as to who the team will be adding to the team.

Jones’ injury occurred during the first week of training camp as his knee injury kept him out for about five weeks that resulted in him being listed as the third string quarterback in week one’s loss to the St. Louis BattleHawks. This second occurrence of the injury came during the fourth quarter against the Houston Roughnecks. On a fourth and one during the last offensive drive of the game, Jones performed a quarterback sneak and was holding his knee after the play. He was shown with a wrap around his knee and was on crutches leaving the field after the game.

Philip Nelson is expected to be the next man in line once against as he was the starter in week one against St. Louis. Nelson went 33-42 for 218 yards and an interception. Fans were critical of his play due to the offense keeping their play calling to short passes. It could be a different look as the running game has picked up for the team and will look at Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar to step up. Donald Parham has been looked at as their top pass catcher since that first game and could be Nelson’s security blanket.

Brogan Roback is the team’s current third string quarterback after Eric Dungey left the team due to his father’s passing. Dallas has an advantage of having Team Nine being located in Dallas with them and will pick a quarterback from there to join the team. One option for the team could be former NFL quarterback Joe Callahan who was on the Seattle Dragons’ roster before being cut prior to week one. The team should make a decision soon as to who they will add to be the new third string for the time being.

Dallas Loses the Texas Throwdown: What’s Next?

Dallas Renegades QB Landry Jones left Week 4 with a knee injury. (Credit: XFL.com)

The scene at Globe Life Park was unlike anything XFL fans has seen this season. It was an electric feel where you can sense the rivalry between the Dallas Renegades and the Houston Roughnecks growing. Dallas became the first XFL team to have an increase in attendance from game one to game two. Fans were ready to see the new Texas rivalry born and it did not disappoint.

The contest saw Landry Jones throw three interceptions in each of the first three drives of the game. Somehow though, the Dallas defense held Houston to 6-0 after the first quarter. Jones would bounce back and keep Dallas in the game as they came from a 15-0 second deficit to only being down 15-11 at halftime.

The most impressive part of the game was how the Dallas defense was able to make Houston quarterback PJ Walker look human. They held him to a season low 61 percent completion percentage and picked him off once. Star receiver Cam Phillips also felt the wreath of the Dallas defense as he was held to a season low one catch and nine yards. Defense was never the issue for the team during the game. That defaults to the offense.

Turnovers continue to be the thorn on the Renegades’ back. Five turnovers throughout the game was a combination of bad throws by Landry Jones and drops by Jazz Ferguson and Flynn Nagel. The running game got off to a great start in the first half, but lacked in the second half due to the amount of passing they turned to. On the last drive for Dallas’ offense, the season-altering event occurred for the team.

Landry Jones took an awkward hit on a quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter as he injured his knee. Jones left the game and didn’t return as he was seen hugging coach Bob Stoops on the sidelines and at the end of the game was on crutches. Philip Nelson stepped in and got the team down to the Houston three where Nagel dropped a pass that was picked off by Houston to end the game with a 27-20 loss.

Where does the team go from there?

Dallas enters week five at 2-2, but still in second place in the West Division. That’s the good news for the team. The bad news is Dallas might be without their starting quarterback most of the season if not the rest of the season. The rumor is he injured his MCL which could mean he’s out for four to six weeks. That means the keys to the offense most likely goes to Philip Nelson for the rest of the season. He looked more efficient on the final drive of the game versus Houston than he did in the first game against St. Louis. Nelson has earned the right to lead the offense and could be the solution to their turnover problems.

Hal Humme also suffered a broken leg in the game and will be forced to call plays from the booth for the foreseeable future. His play calling might change where we see more running by Lance Dunbar and Cameron Artis-Payne. The offensive line has proven to be able to run block effective even with both left guards getting hurt. Pass blocking was great as well protecting the quarterbacks by only allowing one sack in the game.

The team will need more production from their receivers though. Outside of Flynn Negal and Jeff Badet, the receivers have been inconsistent. Tight end Donald Parham has been their best pass catcher all season long as he had made multiple great plays in the passing game. Players like Jazz Ferguson and Freddie Martino will need to step up to make plays for Nelson.

Defense has been the strength of the team as they have been stellar all season. A unit that can contain quarterbacks like Jordan Ta’amu and PJ Walker to their lowest stat lines of the season. Josh Hawkins and Derron Smith have made the secondary one of the best in the league. Linebackers like Greer Martini, Asantay Brown, and Tegray Scales have played a huge role in stopping the run and back in pass coverage. Gerald Rivers came in and made some nice plays as well. Not to mention veteran defensive lineman Frank Alexander was able to create some tipped passes to shutdown Walker on Sunday.

This is a Dallas team that still has plenty of talent on offense and defense. Their success and failure will depend on the performance of Philip Nelson and how well he can protect the ball. If the team continues to grow their running game and be effective with their short pass/screen plays, this is a team that could have no problem making a run for the playoffs.