#TexasThrowdown lives up to the hype

Dallas cornerback Donatello Brown. (Credit: XFL.com)

Dallas, TX– Football in Texas is just different. From Friday high school football, collegiate football, semi pro, indoor football, people in Texas take their football seriously with a nice side of entertainment.

The first ever #TexasThrowdown didn’t disappoint.

The cities of Dallas and Houston rivalries run deep. So deep, the Renegades Hellraisers fan group hyped the hometown crowd up by banging on trash cans throughout the game. (See Houston Astros 2017 cheating scandal)

Bob Stoops and June Jones know very well how intense football rivalries in Texas can become.

June Jones spent 7 seasons as the head coach of the SMU Mustangs football program. While there he recorded 4 winning seasons and won the program their first conference title since and secured their first bowl game victory since 1984.

Bob Stoops ran the state of Texas a different way. As the head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, Stoops won 11 out of 16 Red River Showdowns against the Texas Longhorns winning those games in the historic Cotton Bowl.

Both coaches have a storied history in Texas, so it’s only right the two met in the biggest rivalry to date for the XFL.

When asked about what an in state rivalry could do for the XFL Stoops believes it is good for the league in general.

“You’ve got to have a rivalry if it’s us (Renegades) and Houston with the proximity.”

June Jones believed the same and he feels that this will make a great rivalry while speaking about the way his defense performed on the road.

“I think it’s going to be the start of a very good rivalry between Houston and Dallas, and we’ll be ready when they come back Thursday night, late.”

During the game, things got somewhat chippy between Houston and Dallas, and the fans saw that the teams bought into the hype emotionally.

Possible MVP candidate Roughneck quarterback PJ Walker loved the environment and mentioned how rowdy the crowd was during the game.

“I thought this game was exciting and it was fun. The crowd noise was amazing. You could see the way we battled it out that both teams played as hard they can when they were on the field.”

18,323 people attended the game Sunday which is a bigger crowd than the Renegades home opener against the St.Louis BattleHawks.

Renegades running back Lance Dunbar understands the magnitude of playing football in Texas.

Dunbar was a stand out running back for Haltom City being named all district his junior and senior season, played at the University of North Texas, and began his professional career with the Dallas Cowboys, and remained on the team for 5 seasons.

“This rivalry can do a lot for this league, Texas loves football,” said Dunbar. “Two teams battling it out for bragging rights. It was good for TV and good for the XFL, and everyone enjoyed explosive great football.”

The XFL went all in marketing wise for their first ever rivalry match up. The Renegades and Roughnecks put on a show for the ages on Sunday, with the Roughnecks winning in a nail biter 27-20 picking off a Philip Nelson pass with less than a minute to go to improve to 4-0.

The Renegades will face off against the Roughnecks next time week 9 in Houston in a prime time game slot. The lights will be brighter, the implications will be higher and this one could possiblye for all the marbles in #TexasThrowdown 2.0.

There are many rivalries out there, but none of those rivalries come as natural as the “H” against the “Triple D”.

Fast Start: How Dallas Beats Houston

Dallas Renegades Tight End Donald Parham (Credit: XFL.com)

The last time Dallas Renegade fans saw their team at Globe Life Park, the offense didn’t have Landry Jones at quarterback, the team struggled to put a touchdown drive, and the defense allowed almost 200 yards rushing. Things hopefully will go differently as they take on the only undefeated team in the XFL, the Houston Roughnecks.

Dallas’ defense will have the unfortunate task to containing Houston’s star quarterback PJ Walker. Walker’s playmaking ability is similar to the skill sets that St. Louis BattleHawks quarterback Jordan Ta’amu displayed against Dallas’ defense in week one. Houston receiver Cam Phillips provides matchup nightmares for the Dallas secondary. The Dallas defense will have to focus on running back James Butler who can make an impact running the ball and catching it out of the backfield. With the high powered offense coming into Arlington on Sunday, how can Dallas defend their turf? Simple, get off to a fast start.

Dallas’ biggest flaw is their lack of fast starts to games. They have not scored more than six points in the first half in any of their first three games. Landry Jones has played a role in their slow starts as he has thrown two interceptions in his first two starts. Their running game led by Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar have not typically found their stride until about the fourth quarter. Defensively, the unit has always kept their offense in the game, but the offense hasn’t always been there to finish the job. Why is a slow start a problem? Because Houston is the complete opposite.

The Roughnecks are well known in the first three weeks to come out firing in the first half. A lot of that has to do with the big play ability that Walker and company can deliver. They’ve had all their three games produce multiple 20 plus yard touchdowns. Most of the damage has been done by Walker and Phillips. Walker’s ability to use his legs to get out of trouble and throw on the run makes him the best quarterbacks in the XFL.

Dallas will need to respond to that by getting off to a fast start and utilize their Air Raid offense to create explosive plays. The team has receivers that are fast enough to burn any corner in the league. Tight end Donald Parham has already proven to be a deep threat for Jones as he caught a pass last week against Seattle that went for over 60 yards for a touchdown. Those are the type of plays Dallas needs. The issue has come up with Jones not being as accurate with his deep ball passes through the last two weeks. Offensive coordinator Hal Mumme has to come out of the gates with his play calling. He must call deep passes early to get Jones going and even if it ends with no catch, at least try to force the pass interference penalty to gain a chunk of yards.

The Renegades shouldn’t forget their running backs though. Both Artis-Payne and Dunbar have been used a lot in the passing game on short passes and screen passes for the most part. Opening up the running game with them though could go a long way. Their running game usually doesn’t pick up steam until late in the third quarter or fourth quarter. They need it to open up early and often. It’s tough since the identity of this offense is usually passing the ball, but they have the running backs to have one of the best rushing attacks in the league. Mumme needs to take advantage of the talented running backs and run the ball.

Field goals are nice for the team to have, but if the Renegades are unable to score touchdowns in the first two quarters against Houston, it could end up being a long day for the team.

XFL Week 4 Power Rankings

We are now 3 weeks in, and man oh man, is football crazy. One week you think you know exactly how the season is going to turn out, and the very next week, something happens that throws everything out of whack. That is what Week 3 in the XFL was, and let’s not waste any time. Let’s get to it.

8. New York Guardians (1-2) Last Week (7)
The New York Guardians are an absolute dumpster fire. Matt McGloin is becoming more and more Jay Cutler-esque as the weeks go by. Marquise Williams certainly hasn’t been any better. Luis Perez might be the answer, but even then, not great. G.A. Magnus has been atrocious. Kevin Gilbride can’t seem to control his team. It’s an absolute mess. The only bright spot has still been their defense, which by the numbers, has been pretty good. But it won’t matter if their offense can’t stay on the field and score points. This season is quickly spiraling out of control, and I don’t see it turning around. The Guardians will probably guard the no. 8 spot til season’s end.

7. Tampa Bay Vipers (0-3) Last Week (8)
BREAKING NEWS! The Vipers can actually play competitive football! Man, they gave the Roughnecks all they could handle, and had a legitimate shot at winning that game in the closing minutes of the 4th quarter. Now, this week, Marc Trestman addressed the media and noted that quarterback Quinton Flowers, who was starting to excel a little bit in this offense, would be taking an extended leave of absence. That definitely hurts some of the momentum that they built this weekend. But, I think this team still has a slight chance to make a Playoff run. They definitely have the talent, and the fight is still there. It’s just going to come down to quarterback play and coaching. I’m not sure how much I trust Marc Trestman, but if this weekend is any indication, he might be able to rally the troops and make a push. They play DC at home this weekend, and we will get to them later, but that is a winnable game. So we shall see if they can continue to keep that momentum they had. For now though, they sit at no. 7.

6. Seattle Dragons (1-2) Last Week (6)
The Dragons are who we thought they were. Solid defense. Offense has its moments. Good coaching. But they just aren’t quite good enough to compete in the loaded West. Keenan Reynolds and Austin Proehl are very productive. Kenneth Farrow is dynamic. Their defense makes stops, and causes turnovers. The problem is, they can’t always capitalize on those turnovers, because Brandon Silvers just isn’t that dude. He’s a good quarterback. He makes some good throws. He makes some timely throws. But when the moment is calling him, he just can’t seem to deliver. They had a shot, late in the game against Dallas, to get back in it, and Silvers just could not come through. I don’t know if BJ Daniels is the answer, but I don’t think it would hurt to try. For now, Seattle sits at no. 6.

5. Los Angeles Wildcats (1-2) Last Week (5)
Wow! The Wildcats showed up Sunday night. They were unstoppable! They looked like the best team in the league. I want everybody to take caution a little bit. First, I called this. I said, once Josh Johnson gets acclimated to this offense, they will be right there in the hunt for the top of the West. Well, I told you so. Josh Johnson was incredible. Martez Carter was sensational. But it was the coming out party of Tre McBride that really put this team in the hunt. We already knew about Nelson Spruce, who is reportedly injured, but hopefully not anything too serious. But it was the emergence of a second deep threat that now makes this team scary. And let’s not forget about the most impressive part of LA that night, their defense. Which caused the Defenders to turn the ball over 4 times in the game. They really dominated in all phases. BUT, the reason I said be cautious, is because this game was somewhat, I think, of an anomaly. They had a lot of short fields, and the DC Defenders just looked completely out of sorts. I want to see a more consistent performance from these guys before I totally buy in. So until then, I will still sit them at no. 5. But I do think this team has the capability to potentially win the West this season, because they can be that good.

4. DC Defenders (2-1) Last Week (2)
Sunday night is one to forget about if you’re the DC Defenders. They looked AWFUL against the Wildcats this weekend. Cardale Jones was just bad, no other way to slice it. Pep Hamilton didn’t have any answers for Winston Moss’ defense. The running game continues to struggle. And their defense was exposed. Now, I do think this game was somewhat of an anomaly. I don’t believe Cardale Jones is going to be this bad every single week. I think Pep Hamilton is a great coach who will make adjustments. But, I do have to say, I think the Defenders clear weaknesses were really masked the first two weeks getting to play Seattle and New York at home. Look, the Defenders are still a Top 4 team I believe. But, they are not as elite as we thought they were. And I think there is a strong possibility, that if they make it to the Playoffs, which I still believe they will, it will be on the road against a St. Louis team that might be better than them. DC sits at no. 4 for now.

3. Dallas Renegades (2-1) Last Week (4)
Man does this team take a while to get going. But once they do, they dominate and demoralize you. And they use their running game to do it. Cameron Artis-Payne might be…..scratch that, IS the best running back in the XFL. Matt Jones is a close second, but what Artis-Payne is doing is phenomenal. He is wearing down defenses, and they just haven’t been able to slow him down. Landry Jones is getting more and more comfortable each week, and this offense has a nice balance to it. But we have to talk about the star that is emerging in Dallas in tight end, Donald Parham. This dude is massive, but he can run downfield with the best of them. This tight end was burning defensive backs down the field Saturday night, and he is a locomotive that is getting better each week. He is quickly becoming Landry Jones’ favorite target and for good reason. This team is just hitting its stride, and they will have a big test this week with Houston coming to their house. Landry Jones has got to cut down on the turnovers, but the Dallas Renegades are for real. They sit at no. 3.

2. St. Louis BattleHawks (2-1) Last Week (3)
I absolutely love this team. Their energy. Their heart. Their passion. It’s infectious! Jonathan Hayes has this team playing great football, and it all starts with breakout star Jordan Ta’amu. Nobody expected Ta’amu to be this good, but this dude is straight up ballin’. He’s doing it with his arm. He’s doing it with his legs. His football IQ has been excellent. He really is doing it all. Pair that with a very strong running game, in fact the best overall rushing team in the XFL, and you have a recipe for success. Matt Jones and Christine Michael are dominating on the ground, and Ta’amu forces defenses to stay on their toes. But it’s this defense that takes this team to the next level. They are, without a doubt, the BEST defense in the XFL. They make stops and force turnovers, which leads to their running game keeping the opposing defense on the field for longer than they would like to be. Could you imagine, a East Conference Championship game in the Dome…. I’m starting to think that is becoming more and more of a reality as the weeks go by. The BattleHawks are the second best team in the XFL.

1. Houston Roughnecks (3-0) Last Week (1)
But they still aren’t no. 1, because that still belongs to the only undefeated team left in the XFL, the Houston Roughnecks. PJ Walker. Cam Phillips. Those names should strike fear in every team they play this season. I’m to the point, that I feel the only chance you have at beating the Roughnecks, is you are going to have to outscore them. Because you are NOT stopping the Walker and Phillips connection, the most lethal duo in the XFL. James Butler, Nick Holley, Sam Mobley, Khalil Lewis, and Sammie Coates hasn’t even got going yet. This team is LOADED! They are without a doubt, the BEST OFFENSE IN THE LEAGUE. Hands down! And it all starts with June Jones. His play calling has been nothing short of extraordinary. This Roughnecks team makes it look so easy to get into the end zone. PJ Walker is the MVP three weeks in, and Cam Phillips should be second on that list. Now, their defense is a little concerning. But as long as they can do just enough, and be opportunistic in the turnover battle, this team has got to be the favorite for the XFL Championship. The Houston Roughnecks are the best team in the XFL.

XFL Dallas Renegades Load Up with Roster Moves

The Dallas Renegades were kept busy as they prepare for a week four showdown with lone star rivals Houston Roughnecks. Dallas announced on Twitter Tuesday multiple roster moves that could make an impact on the rest of the season.

Switching Out Versatile Receivers

Jerrod Heard was seen as a “jack of all trades” type player who can pass, run, catch, and return on special teams. After being active for just two games, Heard was waived from the team. He had been playing the first two games of the season as a wide receiver and punt return specialist. Heard recorded just one catch for ten yards in two games. He was listed as inactive in their 24-12 win against the Seattle Dragons this past weekend.

Replacing Heard will be former Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards. Edwards is most known for being the starting quarterback for the Mountaineer team that upsetted fifth-ranked Michigan in 2007 (now regarded as one of the biggest upsets in college football history). After a four year NFL career, Edwards found his footing in the CFL where he is known for his play with the Toronto Argonauts. Last season, Edwards recorded over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns. Edwards should be able to fit into the Heard role with ease and could make an impact as a returner and receiver sooner than fans think.

Changes Made at Quarterback

For the second time this season, Eric Dungey has left the team as he is going through personal family issues. Dungey did post on his Instagram this weekend that his father had passed away after losing his fight with cancer. On behalf of everyone at XFL Board, we send our thoughts and prayers to Dungey and his family.

Coming in to be the third string quarterback will be Brogan Roback. He was on the roster in week two when Dungey left the team for the week. Roback was previously on the St. Louis BattleHawks’ roster as he completed for the starting quarterback job. After being waived from the team, the XFL added him on their Team 9 roster where he has been back and forth on since. He’s well known for being one of the stars of the HBO show “Hard Knocks” when they covered the Cleveland Browns in 2018.

Linebacker Retires, Another Steps In

The Twitter announcement did have a surprise in there as linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha announced his retirement from football. It comes as a surprise since Kikaha was making a big impact on the defense. Kikaha played in all three games this season as he recorded six tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, and one forced fumble. Prior to playing with the Renegades, he spent three seasons on the New Orleans Saints roster recording 62 tackles and eight sacks.

Jesse Anibonam joins the Renegades to be his replacement on the roster. Anibonam played college at Maryland where he recorded 15 sacks in four seasons with the school. He was playing with the Houston Texans during the preseason season where he got an interception against the Los Angeles Rams in the final week of the preseason. He should fill nicely as a great pass rusher off the edge.

Donald Parham shines in Renegades win over Seattle

Dallas Renegades Donald Parham (Credit: XFL.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How the Dallas Renegades can beat the Seattle Dragons

The Dallas Renegades will need to find several ways to win their upcoming game on Saturday against the Seattle Dragons.
The Dallas Renegades will need to find several ways to win their upcoming game on Saturday against the Seattle Dragons. (Credit: XFL.com)

The Dallas Renegades are back on the road, and this time they head to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Seattle Dragons this Saturday. They went to Carson, California to take down the LA Wildcats in a close 25-18 win. Their latest road trip challenge could put the team to the test. Seattle’s defense is considered to be one of the best in the league and the rushing attack has a deep running back core to deal with. Many challenges face the Renegades heading into their matchup on Saturday. So, the question is how do you defeat the Dragons in the best home field advantage in the league?

Get Landry Jones’ Confidence Up Early

Renegade fans saw early that Landry Jones was a bit rusty in his first play on the football field in over two years. He threw two interceptions in the game, but completed almost 70 percent of his passes and threw for over 300 yards (the first XFL player to do so). There are signs that Jones has the ability to be one of the best passers in the XFL. Patience will be key for not only fans, but the Jones as well. During the broadcast, many noticed Jones was taking responsibility for his mistakes and looked confident as the leader of the team. That earned the respect of many in the media and fans alike.

The Dragons defense had a great showing last week as they forced three turnovers and sacked the Tampa Bay Vipers’ quarterbacks four times in the win. They will provide plenty of pressure on Jones. He had similar experience against LA as Jones faced a lot of pressure from the defensive line. Offensive coordinator Hal Mumme will have to call a lot of quick, short passes to add spacing to the passing game and avoid Jones getting hit. Jones knows the offense and knows he needs to protect the ball to win the turnover battle. Expect him to learn from his mistakes and go into week three with a lot more confidence.

Run the Ball

The coaching staff knew from the beginning of the season that the running back position would be tough to decide who to run the ball since the depth of the backs are so deep. Week one was a major disappointment as the team ran for 58 rushing yards against the St. Louis BattleHawks. Week two was a whole different story as they drastically improved with 154 yards rushing in the win against the LA Wildcats. It may be early, but having a successful running game might be the key to the offense being successful. Giving the ball to Cameron Artis-Payne would be a good start.

Artis-Payne only gained six yards on two carries in the season opener. In week two, he recorded 99 yards rushing on 14 carries. His play, as well as Lance Dunbar’s play, made the difference in the fourth quarter against LA. The running game was needed in the game since Landry Jones was easing back into the offense. Artis-Payne and Dunbar were the keys to the team winning their game against the Wildcats. They will be called upon to do it again.

Frank Alexander Needs a Big Game

Winston Craig was ruled out of the game Saturday against the Seattle Dragons which is a big loss for a defensive line that doesn’t have a lot of depth in the first place. Gelen Robinson stepped in nicely last week with two quarterback hurries and one tackle for loss. Being listed as the backup on the roster, Robinson should be taking over as the starter on the opposite end of the best defensive lineman on the team in Frank Alexander.

Alexander recorded the first sack in Dallas Renegades’ history in week one against the St. Louis BattleHawks. He has proven to be a dominant pass rusher with great ability off the edge. He will be called upon to step up and make plays in Craig’s absence. A key could be Alexander might demand double teams which could open up for the other lineman to get sacks and quarterback pressures. With Craig being injured and out, watch out for more blitzes being called from the linebacker position.

Shutdown the Seattle Running Game

The Dragons have three strong running backs who could start for any team in the XFL. With Kenneth Farrow, Ja’Quan Gardner, and Trey Williams splitting carries between the three, Dallas could have their hands full. Dallas fans saw it first hand at Globe Life Park when St. Louis ran for 191 yards with Matt Jones and Jordan Ta’amu gashed the defense. Last week was a better performance from the Dallas defense against the run, but they played a winless LA team who hasn’t had the strongest running game this season. If Dallas’ front seven can’t stop the running game, it could spell for a long day for the defense.

XFL Week 3 Power Rankings

Well, that’s 2 weeks now officially in the history books. We saw all different kinds of games this weekend. We saw defensive battles, slow building dramas, back and forth thrillers, and total domination, in what was another exciting week of XFL Football. This week’s Power Rankings are the most confident I have felt thus far, but of course, with the nature of football, that can all change week to week. So let’s see where we stand heading into week 3.

8. Tampa Bay Vipers (0-2) Last Week (8)

XFL fans, allow me to introduce to you your “Homecoming” team of the XFL 2020, the Tampa Bay Vipers. They are such a mess. Marc Trestman can’t decide on a quarterback. Whoever he decides will be playing quarterback that day, absolutely stinks. The defense gives up too many big plays. I have lost all confidence in this team, and it’s a shame, because they are talented in their skill positions. But in the sport of football, the quarterback position is the most important. And when you don’t have good quarterback play, you will struggle mightily. The Vipers will be playing their first home game this Saturday, but unfortunately for them, it will be against the Houston Roughnecks, and it will probably be a long day in Tampa for the Vipers. They are still at no. 8, and I expect them to remain there. Houston, congratulations, it’s “Homecoming Week”.

7. New York Guardians (1-1) Last Week (4)

Matt McGloin is leading this team. And after Saturday afternoon, that’s all you need to know to know why they are ranked no. 7. If Tampa had a decent quarterback, they would be ranked 8th. Once again, it’s a real shame. Because just like with Tampa Bay, they are talented. They got some good receivers. They got some decent running backs. They have an elite defense. They have a great Head Coach. But their “leader” is Matt McGloin. And if Saturday is any indication, he is not the right guy to be leading a locker room. If you can’t take ownership for your own mistakes, and you just throw your teammates and coaches under the bus, you don’t DESERVE to lead a team. Yes, he has some talent, but working together, as a team, goes far more than talent ever will. Until McGloin can buy into the concept of “TEAM”, they will sit at no. 7, and possibly fall to no. 8.

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

Seattle, you have impressed me. By no means am I picking you to win the Championship, but you guys will be competitive in every game, and that is “For the Love of Football”. Brandon Silvers is not an elite XFL quarterback, but he has had his moments, and his play makers have made plays when they needed to. But the strength of this team is the defense, which is no unfamiliar territory for Seattle. Their defense has impressed me the past few weeks against DC and Tampa Bay, and if they can keep that up, I think they have the potential to pull off some real upsets. Especially when they play at home, with that raucous crowd. The key for their offense is to get the running game going, and take that pressure off of Brandon Silvers. If he can just limit the turnovers and make the key throws, this team should be fine, and at least be in most of their games til the end. They are my no. 6 team.

5. Los Angeles Wildcats (0-2) Last Week (6)

Some people are probably going to be surprised that I have LA ranked 5, especially since they haven’t gotten a win yet. But honestly, in their 25-18 loss to Dallas, they looked pretty good. Especially in the 4th quarter once Josh Johnson started getting that chemistry with Nelson Spruce. You have to remember, Johnson hasn’t even been able to really practice with his team much, due to him signing late, then getting injured. I believe that this team has enough talent to start racking up some wins. And don’t be surprised if that starts this Sunday against DC at home. I believe people are looking at that 0-2 record and really underestimating what this Wildcats team is capable of. If Johnson and Spruce can build that connection, this can become a scary team in the West. I have not counted the Wildcats out yet, and I think they might surprise the league here the next few weeks. For now, they sit at no. 5.

4. Dallas Renegades (1-1) Last Week (5)

This team is good. Yes, it took them a while to get going, but once they did, I don’t think they’re looking back. This might be the most well balanced offense in the league. They can run it with Artis-Payne and Dunbar. They can sure throw it with Landry Jones. And I believe they have play makers at the wide receiver position that can make plays in the open field. All of this was on display Sunday afternoon, once Landry Jones settled in the offense. Much like Johnson, he has not had a lot of reps with his team, so that chemistry will only build and get better. Their defense is good, not great, but if they can keep their running game strong, long drives will keep their defense on the sideline. The Renegades are threat in the West, and Houston better be looking over its shoulder. Dallas sits at no. 4.

3. St. Louis Battlehawks (1-1) Last Week (3)

St. Louis showed Sunday night, they are for real. They can compete with the big dogs, and they have a legitimate shot at winning the East and taking home the XFL Championship. Jordan Ta’amu is the real deal, and man is he fun to watch. He can do it with his arm, he can do it with his legs, and he has a strong running game backing him up. Matt Jones is a beast, and Christine Michael finally came alive in this game. Keith Ford will be back, and their receivers are really underrated. Pierson-El is a stud, and Washington can ball as well. But man, the defense is LEGIT. I’m confident in saying, this is the best defense in the XFL. All around, they can stop the run, protect against the pass, and they can cause turnovers. I think this team has a fight that can carry them a long way, and their Head Coach brings an energy that can motivate this team to a title. It’s why they are my 3rd ranked team.

2. DC Defenders (2-0) Last Week (2)

Total domination is what this team did to the New York Guardians Saturday afternoon. Cardale Jones is just that good. Rashad Ross is just that good. Eli Rogers is just that good. And oh yeah, DeAndre Thompkins made his return, and yep, he is just that good. Add that with a running game that seemed to be finding life in the 4th quarter, and a defense that has a pick six in each game so far, and you have the best team in the East. The DC Defenders are great, and Pep Hamilton is the main reason why. His play calling has been outstanding, and his willingness to take risk has paid off tremendously. This team has an identity, and it sticks to that. Have Cardale Jones make plays on the move, give the ball to their play makers, and let their defense have its opportunities. Drop in their some trick plays, and you have a recipe for success. But, they are still no. 2.

1. Houston Roughnecks (2-0) Last Week (1)

Because the Houston Roughnecks are still the best team in the XFL. PJ Walker is hands down, right now, at this moment, not just the best quarterback in the league, he is the best player in the league. He has looked unstoppable through the first 2 weeks, and I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon. But he ain’t by himself. Cam Phillips, who was named the Star of the Week this week, is an absolute beast. He can route run, he can turn on the gas, and he can catch with the best of them. Khalil Lewis, Nick Holley, Sammie Coates, James Butler, who do you try and stop? Good luck to any defense that has to play this Houston offense this season. But what’s scary for the league, is this defense is coming alive week by week. They get to the quarterback, and I mean they GET TO THE QUARTERBACK. Not to mention, they capitalize on every opportunity they get with takeaways, and they do not break easily. This is the clear favorite right now to win the West, and my current favorite to win it all. The Houston Roughnecks are the XFL’s best team until somebody proves otherwise.

Jones knocks “rust”off in 4th; Renegades separate in the second half

Landry Jones
The Renegades put together a solid win on the road, locked up their first win, and did it all when Landry Jones was in the lineup. 

Los Angeles, CA– The Renegades left Carson with a “W” beating the Wildcats 25-18, though they had a slow start.

Through the first half of play the game had a similar feel to last week’s matchup at home against the St.Louis BattleHawks. The game had a slow start with both teams being forced into 3 & outs and turnovers.

The Renegades offensive drives during the first half resulted in two punts, a interception, a fumble, and field goal.

Landry Jones was 17 for 26 and tallied 177 passing yards and 1 interception in the first half, and were 0/2 on third downs.

With 2:58 left on the clock, the Wildcats capped off a 9 play 38 yard drive with a Nick Novak field goal that split the uprights putting the first points on the board.

The following drive the Renegades returned the favor and scored on a 12 play 50 yard drive leaving with seconds remaining by way of a Austin MacGinnis 41 yard field goal to tie the game.

The Renegades through 6 quarters of football only scored (15) points, which at the time was league worst.

Landry Jones spoke several times during the game stating he needed to be the one to step up and lead his team to victory.

Going into the second half it was very noticeable that the Renegades emphasized at half time to get the ball to open receivers in space to move the ball.

The third quarter had its share of three and outs and turnovers just like the first half, but ultimately resulted in a 45-yard field goal from Austin MacGinnis to take the lead increasing the Renegades lead 6-3.

We all know in the sport of football how quickly things can change.

LA, after working the ball down field with seconds remaining in the third, started the fourth quarter with the ball on the Renegades 30-yard line, which placed them in a perfect position to take over the game.

Josh Johnson connected with Nelson Spruce on a 6 yard strike for a touchdown early, taking the lead 9-6 in a game that was clouded by uncertainty of either team scoring the football.

The Renegades began the ensuing drive at their own 32 yard line, and the drive started with a sack that placed Dallas in a second and long.

That hit had to have knocked the “rust” off Landry Jones.

Jones threw three consecutive passes and completed all of them. Tight end Donald Parham who was getting a ton of looks in the first half caught a 16-yard pass for a first down, then wide receiver Josh Crockett was on the receiving end of a pass that put the Renegades into plus territory.

The Renegades rushing attack which didn’t gain much traction in the first three quarters, came alive and Cameron Artis Payne capped the drive off with a 21 yard touchdown and converted the 1 point conversion giving them the lead 13-9.

The Wildcats got the ball back and quickly went three and out. A neutral zone infraction by LA, and a huge punt return by Flynn Nagel put the Renegades at the Wildcats 30 yard line.

On the next drive Jones was able to find Donald Parham on a quick out route in the flat for a 3 yard touchdown to cap off a short 5 play 25-yard drive. The Renegades took a commanding 19-9 lead with just a little over 5 minutes remaining.

As I said before, things change quickly in the sport of football, Josh Johnson connected with Nelson Spruce on a 44-yard touchdown making it a one possession game after a successful three point conversion.

To start the final drive, Cameron Artis-Payne enforced his will rushing the ball twice for 20 yards, and then Landry Jones threw his final pass attempt of the game and made it count, finding Jeff Badet on a 16-yard completion setting up another Artis-Payne run which went for a touchdown.

Bob Stoops and Landry Jones locked up their first win in the XFL and extended their combined record as player and coach to 40-12.

Landry Jones finished the game 28/40 305 yards 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions, but completed 70% of his passes, which is a very encouraging stat for this team going forward.

If this offense can be efficient, it could cause opposing defenses headaches.

For the Renegades, this is just the beginning, and some people may think it was a so-so debut performance for Jones, but I believe as before when he and Bob Stoops were at the University of Oklahoma, he found a way to get it done and be one of the reasons why Renegades won the game.

The Renegades put together a solid win on the road, locked up their first win, and did it all when Landry Jones was in the lineup.

In my opinion, that’s not a bad day at the office.

XFL Dallas Renegades Take Down LA Wildcats 25-18

Renegades QB Landry Jones runs with the ball. (Credit XFL.com)

It was the much anticipated debut of the XFL’s first signing Landry Jones as he and head coach Bob Stoops were together for the first time since 2012. After over 770 days removed from being on the football field, Landry Jones led the Dallas Renegades to their first win of the season as they defeated the LA Wildcats 25-18.

Key Observations

Landry Jones’ Debut Performance

Everyone was excited to see what Landry Jones would look like being the poster boy of the league back in August. There can be some arguments that his performance on the field was up and down. The offense for Dallas looked much better passing the ball as Jones was more willing to throw it deep and make some plays down the field. Unfortunately for Jones and the Renegades, that meant turnovers. He threw two interceptions in the game that both looked ugly.

Despite some inconsistencies, Jones still made some nice throws down the field as he was able to hit Joshua Crockett on a nice 39 yard pass down the field and hit Donald Parham on some nice routes past ten yards as well. His throws looked and felt better than Philip Nelson’s throws in week one. He was confident in the pocket even if he had a lot of pressure put on him all game long. He showed audiences that he had full control of the offense, but even Jones would admit that he wasn’t all that impressed with his performance.

“Let’s call a spade a spade. You know what I mean? Let’s not sugarcoat things. That’s the only way you’re going to play better,” Jones said. “We play in a public arena for all the world to watch so it’s not a secret I didn’t play very good today.”

Jones finished the game 28-40, 305 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The 305 yards makes Jones the first quarterback in the XFL season to throw for over 300 yards in a game.

The most impressive part of Jones’ performance was more about how he handled the off the field interviews. Numerous times during the broadcast on ESPN, he was interviewed about his interceptions and missed opportunities. Instead of taking it the Matt McGloin route and talk down on his teammates and coaches’ game plan, Jones kept taking the blame. He continued to talk about how he needs to improve and no one else.

“It’s the same story over, and over again,” Jones said after he threw his second interception of the game. “I need to make throws.”

His composure and leadership showed XFL fans why he was the first player signed to the league and why he’s a starting quarterback. While fans hope his play gets better (which it should), his words spoke louder and impressed many. It should be a sign of good things to come for Dallas this season.

Josh Johnson’s Impressive XFL Debut

Landry Jones overshadowed the XFL debut of another former NFL quarterback in Josh Johnson. After being out for week one due to an injury, Johnson seemed to have recovered nicely from his injury as many would say he outperformed Jones in some aspects of the game. He seemed calm, cool and collected in the pocket as pressure didn’t seem to rattle him very much.

Johnson’s ability to hit receivers in stride was impressive to watch. While he’s known for being a mobile quarterback, viewers saw more of a pocket quarterback in the game. Credit needs to be given to the offensive line for giving Johnson plenty of time in the pocket. It’s pretty clear that Johnson and Nelson Spruce will be a dynamic QB-WR combo as they connected twice for scores. They should cause a lot of trouble for defenses all season long.

The lack of a consistent running game might have effected Johnson’s performance a bit. Elijah Hood broke off a couple of nice runs, but nothing that would make the Renegades’ defense scared of stopping the run. Johnson never really showed off his scrambling abilities as much either as that might be something the Wildcats and offensive coordinator Norm Chow can think about utilizing this season.

Turnovers Plagued Both Teams

Both teams through three quarters had trouble protecting the football. It became a big problem as Dallas was lucky it didn’t cost them the game. Typically, whoever wins the turnover battle comes out on top in the game. Not this time around. Landry Jones threw two critical interceptions while his tight end Sean Price fumbled that gave LA the ball back. The Wildcats had their chances in the red zone, but two of the times they were within the ten yard line they fumbled the ball and lost it to Dallas. Those were points taken off the board. The argument can be made that it cost them the game.

Cameron Artis-Payne Bounced Back Nicely

Week one’s performance against the St. Louis BattleHawks is one that Cameron Artis-Payne would like to forget about. He wasn’t able to produce a single rushing yard in the game and eventually was replaced mostly by Lance Dunbar. Artis-Payne came back stronger and had the best single game rushing performances of the young XFL season. He came one yard shy of hitting the 100 yard mark and ran in two touchdowns.

The running game for Dallas was stalled out for the first three quarters of the game. The fourth quarter was a whole different story as Dunbar and Artis-Payne had their way with the Wildcats defense. The Renegades seemed to have moved away from the passing game and relied on their running game to bring them home. It could be a strategy that the team uses more often throughout the year. The plan was to pass the ball 60 percent of the time in a game, but with the running game picking up steam, a whole new game plan might be in place heading into week three.

Top Performers

Dallas Renegades

Passing: Landry Jones – 28-40, 305 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions

Rushing: Cameron Artis-Payne – 14 carries, 99 yards, two touchdowns

Receiving: Donald Parham – five catches, 76 yards, one touchdown

LA Wildcats

Passing: Josh Johnson – 18-34, 196 yards, two touchdowns

Rushing: Elijah Hood – 10 carries, 31 yards

Receiving: Nelson Spruce – six catches, 89 yards, two touchdowns

XFL Week 2 Injury Report

Saturday, February 15:

New York Guardians (1-0) at DC Defenders (1-0), 2 pm ET (ABC).

New York Guardians: There is some reason for concern here for the Guardians, as two of their three starting interior offensive linemen C Ian Silberman and G Garrett Brumfield have already been ruled OUT for Saturday’s game. Fortunately, their replacements are center Damien Mama and guard Avery Young who both have NFL experience and are more than capable of stepping in for them. The only active player that was unable to play last week due to an illness was TE Keenan Brown, who will make his debut on Saturday. Brown is talented and will join former Monmouth University TE Jake Powell on the depth chart, who played very well as the starter last game, catching 4 passes on 6 targets for 28 yards. 

DC Defenders: WR DeAndre Thompkins and LB Scooby Wright were unable to play in last week’s opener but they will make their debut this week against the Guardians. Thompkins, a former Penn State receiver, is listed as a starter over Week 1 stars; Eli Rogers and Rashad Ross, so it will be interesting to see if his return affects their target share. The only player who is listed questionable is backup DT Kalani Vakameilalo.

Tampa Bay Vipers (0-1) at Seattle Dragons (0-1), 5 pm ET (FOX).

Tampa Bay Vipers: Vipers starting QB Aaron Murray has been officially ruled OUT for this week’s game due to a foot injury. The former Georgia Bulldog all-time passer struggled in last week’s loss against the Guardians, throwing 2 interceptions, 0 touchdowns, with a QB rating of 45.1. The replacement quarterback options are former Cincinnati Bengals RB and University of South Florida start QB Quinton Flowers, as well as Taylor Cornelius and Chase Litton, so we’ll have to keep an eye on that. Bobby Richardson and TE DeAndre Goolsby are listed as questionable.

Seattle Dragons: The injury bug has hit the Seattle Dragon real hard; as eight players have missed practice so far this week. The most notable name is starting QB Brandon Silvers, who suffered an ankle injury last week against DC. Former University of South Florida star B.J. Daniels would be called upon in relief of Silvers if he’s unable to go, but he is probable so Silvers should be good to start. Starting WR Kasen Williams, OT Isaiah Battle and TE Cam Clear each missed last week’s game and have once again been ruled OUT. Also, starting center Dillon Day is listed as doubtful, left guard Cyril Richardson, DT Anthony Moten, TE Ben Johnson, and CB Mohammed Seisay are questionable.

Sunday, February 16:

Dallas Renegades (0-1) at LA Wildcats (0-1), 3 pm ET (ABC).

Dallas Renegades: The Landry Jones-Bob Stoops era in Dallas will officially begin on Sunday afternoon, as Landry Jones has recovered from the knee injury he suffered last month and will start against the Wildcats. Phillip Nelson replaced Jones as the starter for the Renegades last week and will head back to the bench. Third string Eric Dungey is taking a brief leave of absence for personal reasons, so they’ve signed former HBO Hard Knocks fan favorite Brogan Roback for depth. Starting DE Winston Craig and LB Jon Calvin haven’t participated in practice so far this week and Hau’oli Kikaha is questionable with limited participation.

LA Wildcats: Last week, starting QB Chad Kanoff looked pretty impressive; despite the 20-point loss they suffered against Houston. Kanoff finished with a stat-line of 21-39, 214 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT, but unfortunately left the game after suffering a head/shoulder injury. Kanoff replaced Josh Johnson due to a thigh injury he suffered, but now Johnson has recovered and is expected to start. There are three contributing players that haven’t participated in practice so far this week to keep an eye on; WR Saeed Blacknall, RB/WR DuJuan Harris, CB Jaylen Dunlap. 

St. Louis BattleHawks (1-0) at Houston Roughnecks, 6 pm ET (FS1).

St. Louis BattleHawks: Much like the Seattle Dragons; the BattleHawks have been hit hard with injuries, as five players are questionable and have not practiced so far this week. DE Will Clarke, WR Brandon Reilly, CB David Rivers, RB Matt Jones and Keith Ford. For fantasy purposes, definitely look out for the status of Jones and Ford, because if they’re both unable to go; Christine Michael is for a ton of action. It’s definitely a bit concerning that Michael had 0 yards on 7 carries, but the majority of their run game when through Jones on 21 carries for 85 yards, so if he and Ford are out Michael will get another chance as the starter.

Houston Roughnecks: Former Denver Broncos RB De’Angelo Henderson suffered a shoulder injury early last game against the Wildcats forcing him to leave the game. Henderson’s status is in doubt for this week, as he’s yet to practice this week, which would potentially but James Butler in line for a quality workload. Their other notable injury to watch is DE Cashaud Lyons who hasn’t practiced this week.