Analyzing the Tampa Bay Vipers 2020 schedule

Today, the XFL released the schedules for each of its eight teams, as well as its television broadcast schedule. When the NFL releases its schedule each year, analysts and fans can debate strength of schedule, historical rivalries, and other quirks. Because each XFL team is basically an expansion team, we don’t have those kinds of discussion points at our disposal. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to analyze, however. Taking a look at how the Tampa Bay Vipers’ schedule shakes out:

Tampa Bay Viper's Schedule

Tampa opens week one on the road against a division foe in New York. It’s no surprise the New York market would get a home game to start the season. It’s a 2pm Sunday start on Fox, the early game of a doubleheader. This rating will be key; we saw how the original XFL dropped after the curiosity factor wore off following week one. After fans sample one or both Saturday games to open the season, how many will be back for more on Sunday? That could be another reason the New York market got that game – the biggest media market means a better chance for a higher retention of viewers.

In week two, the Vipers travel across the country to visit Seattle. If Seahawks fans are any indication, this will be a difficult road matchup. And they do it on less than a full week’s rest, taking the Saturday evening timeslot. The cross-country excursion could be a challenge, but it occurs early enough in the season that the team should still be fresh. This is another Fox ballgame.

Tampa gets its home opener in week three, hosting Houston Saturday afternoon on ABC. This is likely to draw well regardless, but could be dependent upon the momentum of the entire league at this point. If by week three quality of play or ratings are down, fans could start to jump ship (pun intended, considering Raymond James Stadium) before Tampa even plays a home game. Tampa and St. Louis are the last two teams to play at home, both in this third week.

After two straight out of division games, Tampa faces DC, again at home, in prime time on Sunday night on ESPN2. The atmosphere should be raucous for that one. DC may end up the geographical rival of Tampa, at least in the early years, with no other teams close by. St. Louis would be the other contender for that mantle.

At the midway point of the season, Tampa goes back out to the west coast to face Los Angeles. It’s another primetime Sunday night game, this one at 9pm EST. That’s as accommodating as you can expect for a game on the left coast: Sunday night the week before, and Sunday night that week. Routine is important.

The Vipers come all the way back across the country for week six, as they host the BattleHawks. It’s a Saturday, 5pm EST start on FS2. It’s the only time they’re not on one of the major network or cable properties. There’s a lot of shifting of times and stations throughout the season, so you hope ABC/ESPN and Fox do a great job with promotion.

Week seven is the final cross-divisional game of the season when Tampa Bay locks up with Dallas. They’re back in Tampa for this one after being on the road for two weeks. Home cooking will be a relief by then and hopefully for the Vipers, spur them on for the homestretch of the regular season.

It’s the Defenders again in week eight, in DC, Saturday afternoon at 2pm EST on ABC. It’s the first game of week seven, a game that many east division foes will be keeping an eye on. The final three weeks are all interdivisional games, adding importance as teams jockey for playoff spots. There will have been a reasonable four weeks in between DC vs. Tampa contests.

Three weeks after doing battle with St. Louis, Tampa ventures out to Missouri to face them again. Two key divisional games in a row are away. This could be a trouble spot, just as the first two games of the season being away could cause problems.

They wrap up at home against New York, the team they squared off against in the opening weekend. Sunrise, sunset. It’s also the final game of the XFL regular season, so a lot could be on the line in this one, Sunday night on either FS1 of ABC.

Half of Tampa’s games are slated for broadcast networks, ABC or Fox (one more than half if the final game is picked up by ABC). Two games are on ESPN, and one each on ESPN2 and FS2. If Tampa Bay is to become a playoff team, they’ll have to overcome two away games in a row to start the season, and two away games in a row to lead off the important final three weeks of interdivisional slugfests. Other factors will certainly come into play throughout the season, but that’s what I see in digging into the Tampa Bay Vipers 2020 regular season schedule.

Tampa Bay Vipers XFL Draft Recap

With the XFL Draft now in the rear-view mirror, let’s take a look at how the Tampa Bay Vipers fared in each phase of the draft.

Quarterback Assignment: Aaron Murray, Georgia

A Tampa native, Murray was the first player with Florida ties, but certainly not the last, to become a Viper over the two-day draft period. While many assigned QBs had long been linked to the XFL, Murray was one that came out of left field. After a prolific college career in the SEC where he threw for 121 touchdowns and just 41 interceptions, Murray was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

A backup who bounced around practice squads, Murray found himself out of the league in 2017. He resurfaced with the Alliance of American Football earlier this year, playing for the Atlanta Legends. Murray’s strengths are his accuracy and his ability to move in the pocket, taking off as a runner when necessary. Head Coach Marc Trestman runs a version of the West Coast Offense, where Murray’s lack of arm strength can be hidden and his smarts can be utilized. Despite being a Tier 1 quarterback, I don’t believe he’ll be handed the job in camp and will have to fend off challenges from Taylor Cornelius and Vinny Testaverde Jr.

 

Phase One: Skill Players

If fortune favors the bold, the Vipers will be set up for a strong first season in the XFL. With the fifth overall pick in the round, Tampa made the first surprise of the day in picking TE Nick Truesdell. He was the first tight end selected, and the second one wasn’t chosen until pick 26. You could say Tampa pounced on the best tight end in the draft; you could also say that, because of the snake format, they had to wait until pick 12 to make their next choice, limiting their options of the top wideouts and backs.

Truesdell was on-and-off the New York Jets camp roster this summer after blowing up the AAF and leading all tight ends in receiving. He has taken a circuitous route to get to this point, with stops in the Indoor Football League and Arena Football League. He was one of two TEs taken by the Vipers in this phase, joined by Cole Wick out of Incarnate Word. Truesdell goes 6’5″ while Wick stands 6’6″.

Just ahead of Truesdell in AAF receiving was Seantavius Jones, who was Tampa’s second pick. Jones goes 6’4″, so whatever QB wins the training camp battle will have some big bodies to throw to. He was a part of a WR-rich New Orleans Saints team in 2014 and 2015. Four other receivers were taken during this phase, none under 6’0″. Given the picks here, it was clear this staff wasn’t going to be mesmerized by big names or big schools, as they took several under-the-radar players from small schools.

Rounding out the phase were two running backs and a quarterback. Not every team took a second QB in this phase, and while Cornelius was picked later (ninth round out of ten), he’s younger than Murray and could present a camp challenge in his first year as a pro. At 6’6″ and 232 pounds, the former walk-on from Oklahoma State won’t be overwhelmed by the competition. The running back selections were interesting. De’Veon Smith is a big back whose slow 40-yard dash time (4.85) at the 2017 NFL Combine likely led to his undrafted status. He’s almost exclusively an early-down runner.

He’ll be paired with Quinton Flowers, who played his college games at Raymond James Stadium, where the Vipers will call home. Flowers was a college QB who could be for the Vipers what Taysom Hill is for the Saints. If nothing else, he provides a contrast to what Smith brings to the table out of the backfield.

 

Phase Two: Offensive Linemen

Twelve of the first thirteen overall picks of this phase were offensive tackles. I’ll give you one guess as to what team bucked that trend. Yes, it was the Vipers, who selected UCF center Jordan McCray with the fourth overall pick. The same pros and cons of picking a TE over WR and RB also apply here. This was not a draft deep at the pivot, so McCray will anchor the line from the middle.

Tampa clearly scouted the AAF hard, as McCray participated there and has been in a number of NFL camps since 2014. That gives him experience in different types of offenses. The second pick may be their most intriguing, as the Vipers took OT Martez Ivey out of Florida (one of 15 players with Florida ties drafted by this franchise). Ivey was a heralded five-star recruit out of high-school who never developed into a top-tier tackle in college.

Offensive line coach Jonathan Himebauch will have a big piece of clay to mold during camp to get Ivey to where he needs to be for this team to be successful. Worth noting that Tampa took seven guards and just two tackles, so the expectation could be that those two tackles will bookend the line. If that’s the case, Ivey will be joined by Christian Morris from Mississippi. Some of the guards may be able to cross-train at tackle.

Andrew Tiller is a former sixth-round pick of the Saints and has 28 NFL games played to his name. Tre Jackson was a fourth-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2015. This doesn’t strike me as a strong group; there are players with substantial upside but who have underachieved or don’t have much experience. Then again, that may be symptomatic of the offensive line pool available.

 

Phase Three: Defensive Front Seven

Of the ten picks in this phase, four were defensive ends, two were defensive tackles, and four were linebackers. With the first pick in the phase, Tampa Bay this time went with the conventional wisdom, taking Oregon State pass rusher Obum Gwacham. Gwacham may not make it to mini-camp in December, as he has been on the NFL workout loop since being released by the Indianapolis Colts in final cuts. He tried out as recently as October 8 with the Colts.

Gwacham is an explosive athlete and a former WR, so he’s still learning the nuances of the defensive end position. He can play end or linebacker depending on coordinator Jerry Glanville’s scheme. That flexibility will be an advantage. Deiontrez Mount, Tampa’s second pick in this phase, has similar positional flexibility. A former Tennessee Titans draft pick, Mount, also like Gwacham, has NFL game experience. He’s more of a strength player who can run defend, posing as a compliment to Gwacham’s pass-rushing prowess.

Ricky Walker was a strong undrafted free-agent out of Virginia Tech this past year. He’ll work in the defensive tackle rotation with Josh Banks, who’s a little more stout than Walker. The Vipers posted a neat video of LB Lucas Wacha revealing his destination to the high-school football team he’s coaching:

The one other name that stands out from this group is the final choice, DE Devin Taylor. He was a fourth-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 2013 and has 63 NFL games to his name. He also, you guessed it, played in the AAF in the spring.

 

Phase Four: Defensive Backfield

Seven corners and three safeties were the count for this phase of the draft. First-and-second-round picks Arrion Springs and Picasso Nelson are young and inexperienced at the pro level, which makes the selection of Demontre Hurst in the third round all the more valuable. He has seven years as a pro under his belt, most of those years with the Chicago Bears, though he recently was in the CFL.

Springs had been a starter since his sophomore year at Oregon and can play inside or outside. Nelson was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Mississippi by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but was never a real threat to crack their once-deep defensive backfield.

Micah Hannemann and Marcelis Branch are the top two safeties, but the final safety pick may be the most recognizable: Robenson Therezie out of Auburn, who made the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free-agent in 2015 and has played in 25 games.

This is another position where the Vipers chose youth over some of their more veteran counterparts.

 

Phase Five: Open

While some teams didn’t even draft specialists, Tampa Bay stocked up. They took two kickers, a punter, and a long-snapper. Andrew Franks was their first kicker taken. He spent two years with the Miami Dolphins where he connected on 78.4% of his field goals. At punter, the Vipers went with Jacob Schum who, like Franks, legged out two years in the NFL. Schum averaged 42.6 yards per punt with a 38.5 net with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015 and the Green Bay Packers in 2016. Long snapper Nick Moore was in camp with the Saints this year. He was rated by many as one of the top snappers to enter the NFL Draft this past spring.

A second kicker, Matthew Wright of UCF, was also chosen. Like at the QB spot, it doesn’t hurt to have a little competition, especially when you’re either picking your 10th linebacker who has little chance of making the team, or creating real competition at a position. Wright left UCF last season as their career leader in field goals and points. He camped with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After taking just two RBs in the skill position phase, Tampa Bay opted for three in the open phase, adding DJ May, Ralph Webb, and Jacques Patrick. Patrick may be the most intriguing: Heavily recruited out of high-school, he attended Florida State and is another size and power back. Webb is a speedster with a 4.48 40. May, a former linebacker who had injury and off-the-field issues at Wyoming, is worth a flier.

Tampa sacrificed a little size in the WR room when they took Auburn’s all-time leader in receptions, Ryan Davis, in the open phase. Davis is just 5’9″ and could end up in the slot. Freddie Martino is another player with both NFL and AAF field time. Same with LB Terrance Plummer, as the Vipers added some nice depth pieces in the final phase.

Vincent Testaverde Jr, whose father spent five years with the Bucs, will stay close to home. Vincent also attended Buccaneers training camp this summer. He’ll have to prove he was more than just a sentimental pick. DT Nikita Whitlock has crossed paths with members of this coaching staff in the CFL. He also doubles as a fullback.

 

Conclusion

While the XFL spurned the idea of allocating players by location, some teams sorted that out themselves, including the Vipers, whose draft has a distinct Florida flair. It’s great for marketing a team before the season begins, but ultimately wins and losses will determine fan support in South Florida. The scouts and coaching staff also seemed to value those who played in the AAF. It could make the transition to the XFL easier having already gone through a similar iteration recently.

Tampa Bay took the first tight end and center of the draft, and built their receiving corps around size to fit Trestman’s West Coast offensive philosophy. Offensive line and defensive back positions are largely untested based on the group they’ll bring to camp, but it’s possible those areas will be improved through the supplemental draft(s) the league will hold, and through usual training camp roster churn.

Introducing the Tampa Bay Vipers

YouTube video

 

The XFL has named their Tampa Bay franchise, the Tampa Bay Vipers.

“In the shadows they wait. Demons, born in darkness. Hunters by instinct. Cold-blooded by nature. Their bite, unavoidable. Their grip, inescapable. They slither and stalk their competition. Luring all who challenge them… into the jaws of defeat. The Tampa Bay Vipers. Ready to strike. February 2020.”

Under head coach Marc Trestman, the team will begin play in Raymond James Stadium in February 2020.

Connecting the dots: Finding the commonalities among Tampa Bay’s coaching staff, and with Summer Showcase players

XFL Tampa Bay Head Coach Marc Trestman has hired a bevy of coaches familiar to him. How is this cadre of coaches connected to players that tried out in the Tampa Summer Showcase?

In the football coaching profession, networking is critically important. Taking time out to introduce yourself to a colleague at a high-school coaching clinic could, years down the line, lead to a job in the college or professional ranks.

This fraternity of coaches was at play when each XFL Head Coach and General Manager was assembling his staff. It was likely difficult enough attracting experienced leaders of men to a start-up football league after the Alliance of American Football had flamed out in such spectacular fashion; then take into account trying to put together a staff of assistants after most college and NFL teams had already set theirs for the upcoming year.

In Tampa Bay, Head Coach and GM Marc Trestman drew from many of his stops to hire assistants. He took advantage of his knowledge of the Canadian Football League and shopped there, the next-best place to find assistants after Division I college and the NFL.

Below I’ve taken a deep dive into Trestman and his assistants hired thus far, to see where their paths have crossed. I’ve also attempted to cross-reference their coaching stops with names listed from the XFL Summers Showcases.

While not always the case, familiarity can be helpful when building a team from scratch. Some of the player names that appear across multiple coaching stops would be something to file away for when XFL contracts are handed out and the XFL Draft commences in October.

Head Coach: Marc Trestman: The offensive mad scientist will attempt to outwit fellow outside-the-box offensive minds like June Jones and Kevin Gilbride in the XFL. Trestman’s travels have taken him from the college ranks (University of Miami and North Carolina State) to the NFL (five offensive coordinator jobs and head coach of the Chicago Bears) to the CFL (head coach of Montreal and Toronto).

Much of his staff in Tampa Bay comes from the Great White North. His quarterbacks coach, Josh Neiswander, was a player for him when Trestman was head coach in Montreal. Running backs coach Josh Moore served that same position with Trestman in Toronto and was his assistant head coach with the Bears in 2014.

Offensive line coach Jonathan Himebauch worked under Trestman in both Montreal and Toronto. Offensive assistant Justin Poindexter and linebackers coach Mike Archer both coached with Trestman in Toronto. And offensive coordinator Jamie Elizondo was an assistant for Trestman in Montreal in 2008.

Interestingly, all of Trestman’s offensive assistants in Tampa have a connection to him, while only one defensive assistant does. Clearly, he knows offense will be key in the XFL and hired those already familiar with his concepts.
One player connection that has already been made is QB Ryan Mallett, who was in Baltimore when Trestman was offensive coordinator there in 2015 and 2016. While Mallett was a backup, he had the best completion percentage of his career and best passer rating (in a year with more than 16 pass attempts) in 2015.

Trestman also crossed paths with XFL tryout players S Will Hill, S Matt Elam and WR Chuck Jacobs while in Baltimore. As head coach in Chicago, Trestman coached RB Mike Ford, FB Tony Fiammetta, LB Khaseem Greene, DT Will Sutton and WR Rashad Lawrence.

Will Trestman feature a fullback in his XFL offense? While in the NFL, he had access to Fiammetta, more of a blocker, in Chicago. In Baltimore, he had do-it-all Kyle Juszczyk. While NFL offenses are making that position extinct, Trestman has a history of utilizing it in different ways.

Moving north, in Toronto, Trestman was a part of Argonauts teams that featured LB Khalil Bass, S Marcus Ball, LB Terrance Plummer, G Brandon Washington, DE Rakim Cox, WR Dexter McCluster, and QB Greg McGhee.

Offensive Coordinator: Jamie Elizondo: Elizondo started his career as an assistant with Montreal of the CFL in 2008, soon after his playing career ended. He had a couple of short stints in college with Syracuse (WR coach) and Columbia (OC/QB coach). He was last offensive coordinator for the Ottawa Redblacks.

Tampa Bay has yet to announce a wide receivers or tight ends coach. Those positions could be filled internally, with Elizondo a candidate to coach WRs in addition to his coordinator duties. Despite coaching for three different CFL teams, Elizondo’s path has not crossed anyone else on the Tampa Bay staff besides Trestman.

His connection with Summer Showcase players is nearly as sparse: He was a coach in Ottawa when LB Khalil Bass was on the roster in 2017, and when LB Quentin Gause played for them in 2018.

Defensive Coordinator: Jerry Glanville: The man in black returns to pro football in the states for the first time since he was head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 1993 (not counting a stint for the Hartford Colonials in the UFL in 2011, where the team folded before he could coach a game).

Glanville began his coaching sojourn at Western Kentucky in 1967. Most recently, he had returned to the game after nine years away, becoming the defensive coordinator of the CFL Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2018.  Glanville was able to pluck DBs coach William Fields from that same Hamilton staff, bringing him along to Tampa. Special teams coach Frank Gansz Jr. was also in Hamilton and is now a part of Trestman’s Tampa staff.

LB Khalil Bass is a name that pops up quite a bit throughout these coaching stops, and while he never played for Glanville, he interestingly attended Portland State after Glanville was head coach there from 2007-2009. Small school…small world.

WR Rashad Lawrence, LB Lucas Wacha, and FB Nikita Whitlock were on Hamilton’s roster in 2018 while Glanville coached there. Because Glanville is on the defensive side, his connection to Wacha, a linebacker, may matter a little more for this exercise than the offensive players. But I thought it was worth noting.

Special Teams Coordinator: Frank Gansz Jr.: Junior followed his father into coaching special teams, as Frank Gansz Sr. worked in the NFL for almost 25 years. Gansz Jr. attended The Citadel and coached at the US Military Academy beginning in 1990. He was special teams coach for the NY/NJ Knights of the World League in 1992-1993, which was the precursor to NFL Europe.

He coached special teams in the NFL for the Oakland Raiders (1998-2000), Kansas City Chiefs (2001-2006), and Baltimore Ravens (2006-2008). He’s also coached elsewhere at the college level with the University of Houston, UCLA, and SMU. Gansz Jr. coached tight ends for five years in Houston, which makes it possible that he could coach tight ends in Tampa in addition to his special teams duties.

Like most others on the staff, Gansz Jr. also coached in the CFL, but only one year, with Hamilton in 2018, where he coached with Fields and Glanville. In addition to those players listed with Glanville in Hamilton, Gansz Jr. coached at SMU while DE Taylor Reed was there, and at UCLA while S Rahim Moore was a player. Perhaps the most useful connection is that he was special teams coach at UCLA while Jeff Locke played. His work with Locke got the punter drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Quarterbacks Coach: Josh Neiswander: Neiswander has the thinnest coaching CV of anyone on Marc Trestman’s first XFL staff. He played quarterback at Angelo State college, then later with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL from 2011-2013. I couldn’t find any record of collegiate or professional coaching experience for Neiswander after his playing career ended.

Neiswander played for Trestman when Trestman was head coach of Montreal in 2011 and while Jonathan Himebauch was the offensive line coach there.

Running Backs Coach: Josh Moore: Another veteran of the CFL coaching ranks, Moore comes to Tampa having last been Toronto’s RBs coach for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He has worn many hats in the coaching game, from college recruiting coordinator, running backs coach, and tight ends coach, to high-school offensive coordinator, to pro assistant to the head coach and RBs coach.

Moore crossed paths with offensive assistant Justin Poindexter and linebackers coach Mike Archer while in Toronto. He was RBs coach for Trestman there, following him from the Chicago Bears, where Moore was the assistant to the head coach in 2014. Moore has many of the players in common with those listed under Trestman from their time together.

Offensive Line Coach: Jonathan Himebauch: This has to be a little strange for Himebauch, who played in the only season of the original XFL back in 2001 for the champion Los Angeles Xtreme. Since then, coach Himebauch has bounced from college to the CFL and earlier this year, to the AAF.

The one constant has been his job as offensive line coach, aside from a high-school stop-over in 2005 as head coach. He coached under Trestman in both Montreal and Toronto, assisting him along with the others previously mentioned.

Himebauch saw a lot of familiar faces at the Summer Showcases. He coached at Wake Forest when FB Nikita Whitlock played there in 2012-2013. While in Edmonton in 2014, he was joined by RB Kendial Lawrence, S Dexter McCoil, and S Robert Sands. Add in the players who also played for Trestman, et. al. in Toronto in ’17-18.

Then you have the AAF alum, many of whom were invited to the Showcases. It’s a long list of San Antonio Commanders, the team for which Himebauch coached. In the interest of brevity, I’ll note specifically the offensive linemen, since those would be whom Himebauch would be most familiar: C Dillon DeBoer, C Brian Folkerts, OT Fred Lauina, OT Andrew McDonald, G Cyril Richardson, and OT Maea Teuhema.

Offensive Assistant: Justin Poindexter: A graduate of Howard University, Poindexter began coaching in 2010 at Gonzaga High-School. He moved on to become a tight ends coach and assistant offensive line coach, a recruiting assistant, a game charter for the Cleveland Browns, and a defensive quality control coach. He too could have a hand in coaching the tight ends. Poindexter was set to become Toronto’s running backs coach this year before being hired by Trestman for the XFL.

While at Howard, QB Greg McGhee played there. They’d meet up again when Poindexter was in Toronto with the Argonauts. He coached at Southern University where DE Aaron Tiller, DT Trae Tiller, WR Willie Quinn, RB Lenard Tillery, and TE Dillon Beard played. Poindexter was a recruiting assistant at Northwestern while DT Jordan Thompson and WR Flynn Nagle plied their craft.

In Cleveland with the Browns, he was familiar with CB Trey Caldwell, WR Rannell Hall, RB Raijon Neal, S Rahim Moore, LB Scooby Wright, TE Connor Hamlett, WR Matt Hazel, CB Najee Murray, and WR Kasen Williams over the course of two seasons.

Defensive Line Coach: Lawrence Hill: Not much is known about Hill. He was a high-school head coach at one time, as well as West Texas A&M defensive line coach. We may have to wait for the Tampa Bay media guide to come out to learn more.

Linebackers Coach: Michael Archer: Archer has spent a lot of his coaching career in the college game. He was a linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers for seven years from 1996-2002, when the Steelers had some phenomenal talent at that position like Levon Kirkland, Chad Brown, Joey Porter, Mike Vrabel, and Jason Gildon.
Archer was brought to the CFL in 2017 to be a part of Marc Trestman’s staff in Toronto. He was promoted to defensive coordinator from linebackers coach for the 2018 season. He has spent a number of years as a defensive coordinator in college, as well as assistant head coach and safeties coach.

In addition to the usual suspects he coached, along with others aforementioned in Toronto, he crossed paths with WR Tobias Palmer while at North Carolina State in 2011 and 2012. He was at Virginia when DT David Dean was there in 2014 and 2015.

Defensive Backs Coach: William Fields: Fields not only coached in the CFL, but he played there as well. He started as a pro scout for the B.C. Lions, then moved into the high-school and college ranks. He came back to B.C. in 2014, then jumped to Montreal, Hamilton, and finally Edmonton. At most of those stops, he was an assistant DBs coach, whereas in Tampa he’ll be leading the room.

In 2015, he was coaching DBs as well as defensive quality control in B.C. when RB Timothy Flanders and QB Greg McGhee were on the roster. When he moved to Montreal in 2016, he worked with CB Khalid Wooten. In Hamilton in 2017, Fields encountered S Will Hill, DE Ryan Mueller, DT Jason Neill, FB Nikita Whitlock, and Wooten again. Whitlock, Wooten, WR Rashad Lawrence, and LB Lucas Wacha were part of the Hamilton roster in 2018 with Fields as assistant DBs/special teams coach.

Strength & Conditioning Coach: Darren Krein: No member of Marc Trestman’s Tampa coaching staff has more NFL coaching experience than Krein. He has been an assistant or head strength and conditioning coach in the league since 1997, save for the year 2000. During that time, he coached RB Marcus Thigpen, LB Josh Kaddu, OT Andrew McDonald and RB Jonas Gray in Miami in 2012, then Thigpen and Kaddu there again in 2013.

Sticking with Miami, WR Matt Hazel and WR L’Damian Washington were roster members in 2014, with Hazel and LB Jeff Luc a part of the team in 2015. Krein moved to Indianapolis where he coached DE Kristjan Sokoli, LB Antonio Morrison, and LB Deiontrez Mount in 2016, then RB Matt Jones, Morrison, RB Christine Michael, and G Isaiah Williams in 2017.

Just because coaches are familiar with players doesn’t mean they’re an automatic fit. But we’ve seen that in building a staff, Marc Trestman prefers an air of familiarity, mixed with new faces. So if names like QB Greg McGhee, FB Nikita Whitlock, LB Khalil Bass, WR Rashad Lawrence or others who pop up frequently in this column end up in Tampa’s camp this fall, you’ll know why – I’ve connected the dots for you.

XFL bolsters its ranks with new staff hires including former AAF Director of Player Personnel

The XFL bolstered its ranks with new staff hires, including a league-wide director of player administration, heads of communications in their Los Angeles, Tampa Bay and Houston franchises, and a head of partnerships in LA.

Russ Giglio has joined as Director of Player Administration. Russ spent over eleven years at the NFL working in the Player Personnel and Football Operations departments, and most recently was the Director of Player Personnel at the former AAF. In his role at the XFL, he will be charged with overseeing Player Personnel policies and procedures, including the draft and waiver wire, and report to Doug Whaley, Senior Vice-President of Football Operations.

Lisa Milner Goldberg joins the league as head of communications for XFL Los Angeles, after eleven years working at Swanson Communications, a PR agency with a focus on boxing, individual athletes and live events. Allen Barrett will head up communications for XFL Tampa Bay after 11 years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he most recently served as Senior Communications Manager.  Charles Hampton comes to Houston as head of communications for XFL Houston, where he spent eight years with the Houston Texans before heading up the athletic communications team at Grand Canyon University for the past four years.

Jim Baral also joins XFL Los Angeles as the Senior Director of Partnerships, after consulting for the Los Angeles Chargers for the past year and a half. A native of Los Angeles, Jim led media sales and marketing for Univision Networks and Cox Communications on the west coast for over 20 years.

XFL Announces Marc Trestman as Head Coach of Tampa Bay Franchise

YouTube video

Today, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck announced Marc Trestman has been hired as the Head Coach and General Manager of the XFL Tampa Bay franchise.

Last Friday, in what seems to have become a regular occurrence for all the XFL Head Coach announcements, the Tampa Bay Times leaked that Trestman would be named as the Head Coach/General Manager of the Tampa Bay XFL franchise. This was confirmed at the press conference held today at Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium.

Trestman has had mixed success as a head coach in both the NFL and CFL, and most recently worked as the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Earlier in his career he also served as the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes (CFL), and Chicago Bears (NFL). His greatest glory came as a head coach in the Canadian Football League where he led the Alouettes to two consecutive Grey Cup championships and was named CFL Coach of the Year in 2009. Later in 2017, he also lead the Toronto Argonauts to a Grey Cup championship.

“Marc is a two-time coach of the year who also led his teams to three CFL Grey Cup championships,” XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said in his statement. “He’s just the kind of offensive-minded coach whose style will fit the uptempo, fast-paced game we will deliver to fans when the XFL launches next February.”

“I am very excited to be on the ground floor with Oliver, his team, and the other coaches across the XFL to help re-imagine football,” said Trestman. “I started my coaching career in Florida while I was in law school, and personally know the passion and love for the game that football fans have in the Tampa Bay area and across the state.  I can’t wait to begin putting a coaching staff together and building a team that will play disciplined, fundamentally sound and exciting football come February.”

A Minnesota native, in college Trestman played as a quarterback for three seasons with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, and one season with Minnesota State University Moorhead. He earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Minnesota and a J.D. from the University of Miami Law School and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.

Marc Trestman to Coach XFL Tampa Bay

Marc Trestman most recently served as Head Coach of the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.

Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times has reported that Marc Trestman will be named as the Head Coach/General Manager of the Tampa Bay XFL franchise.

Trestman’s appointment will be made at a press conference which takes place at Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium at 11:00 AM ET on Tuesday 5 March 2019.  The XFL will be streaming the press conference live via Twitter and YouTube.

Trestman has had mixed success as a head coach in both the NFL and CFL, and most recently worked as the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Earlier in his career he also served as the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes (CFL), and Chicago Bears (NFL).

His greatest glory came as a head coach in the Canadian Football League where he led the Alouettes to two consecutive Grey Cup championships and was named CFL Coach of the Year in 2009. Later in 2017, he also lead the Toronto Argonauts to a Grey Cup championship.

A Minnesota native, in college Trestman played as a quarterback for three seasons with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, and one season with Minnesota State University Moorhead.

XFL to announce Tampa Bay Head Coach and General Manager Tuesday

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, Florida. (Source)

The XFL will announce their first Head Coach and General Manager of the Tampa Bay Franchise:

  • When: Tuesday, March 5th at 11:00 AM ET
  • Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, Florida
  • Who:
    • Oliver Luck, XFL Commissioner and CEO,
    • Ken Hagan, Hillsboro County Commissioner,
    • Tony Muniz, Chairman, Board of Directors, Tampa Bay Sports Authority.

This will be the fourth Head Coach/General Manager announcement for the fledgling league. Previously, Head Coaches were announced for Dallas (Bob Stoops), Washington D.C. (Pep Hamilton), and Seattle (Jim Zorn).

Prior to the past Head Coach announcements, there were strong rumors indicating the candidate. In this case, there are no strong rumors as to who the candidate may be.

#XFL #SurpriseUs

XFL Announces Eight Inaugural Home Cities

XFL Announces Eight Inaugural Home Cities
XFL Announces Eight Inaugural Home Cities

The XFL today announced the eight cities and venues its teams will call home when the league launches the weekend of February 8-9, 2020.

  • Dallas – Globe Life Park
  • Houston – TDECU Stadium
  • Los Angeles – StubHub Center
  • New York – MetLife Stadium
  • St. Louis – The Dome at America’s Center
  • Seattle – CenturyLink Field
  • Tampa Bay – Raymond James Stadium
  • Washington, DC – Audi Field

The announcement was made today by XFL Commissioner & CEO Oliver Luck at a press conference held at MetLife Stadium, which included representatives from all eight markets.

“After months of research and consideration, we’re thrilled to announce the cities and venues of the XFL’s eight inaugural teams,” said Luck. “We are committed to being ingrained in the local community and extremely fortunate that our teams will have world-class facilities to call home.”

Beginning today, fans can go to XFL.com to reserve their season tickets, which will provide them with early access to select their seats and purchase season tickets before the general public.

The new XFL will deliver a fan-centric, innovative experience, including fast-paced games and a family-friendly environment, complemented by cross-platform viewing options and real-time fan engagement.

About the XFL

The new XFL will reimagine football for the 21st century when the league kicks off the weekend of February 8-9, 2020.

Football is America’s favorite sport boasting over 85 million fans but the traditional season is just too short. Seeing a tremendous opportunity to fill the void, Vince McMahon, XFL Founder and Chairman announced on January 25, 2018, the launch of a new league, which he is personally funding. McMahon is building the XFL with the same commitment and resolve that he has demonstrated building WWE into a global media and sports entertainment powerhouse.

Delivering authentic, high energy football for the whole family at an affordable price, the XFL will offer fast-paced games with fewer play stoppages and simpler rules. The league will launch with eight teams, 45-man active rosters, and a 10-week regular season schedule, with a postseason consisting of two semifinal playoff games and a championship game. The XFL will also establish a health, wellness and safety program that meets the needs of today’s athletes.

The XFL will embrace the latest on and off-field technology, providing live game coverage, content and real-time engagement across multiple platforms, giving fans greater access than ever before. We will build strong grassroots relationships with local organizations in our Host Cities through social responsibility partnerships, and the XFL will enjoy the support of WWE’s many extraordinary resources and promotional capabilities.

For more information, please log on to XFL.com and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Media Contact: Stephanie Rudnick – XFL Stephanie.rudnick@xfl.com