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.

Defenders get back in win column at home

Pep Hamilton talks to his team in one of their offensive huddles. (Credit: XFL.com)

Home must be where the heart is for the D.C. Defenders (3-2, 2-1 in the East Division), who grounded the St. Louis BattleHawks (3-2, 1-1), 15-6, on Sunday afternoon, claiming for now the first spot in the East Division.

“It makes a huge difference to have what we consider to be the best home-field advantage in the XFL,” D.C. head coach Pep Hamilton said.

After an early interception, D.C. quarterback Cardale Jones was sat down in favor of 6’7” Tyree Jackson, a backup who, up until that point, had attempted four passes.

The switch behind center paid off almost promptly.

After a Taylor Russolino kickoff bounced short at the D.C. 22-yard-line, Jackson and the Defender offense began the drive in St. Louis territory. In three plays, Jhurell Pressley ran for 34 yards. Jackson finished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass, his first of his professional career, to tight end Khari Lee, to take a 6-3 lead.

Reigning XFL Star of the Week Jordan Ta’amu responded by driving the BattleHawks 63 yards for a tying field goal.

After allowing 32 points per game the previous two weeks, the Defender defense held the visitors to six points going into the intermission.

Jonathan Hayes’ offense went three-and-out to start the second half and an ensuing 28-yard DeAndre Thompkins end around was key in setting up D.C. kicker Ty Rausa for a field goal. He nailed it, washing the taste from a miss on his first try, in the second period, out of his mouth. Rausa would connect on another attempt later in the quarter.

From their own five-yard-line after stopping St. Louis on downs, the Defenders would embark on a 12-play, seven-yard drive, bleeding over five minutes off the clock.

Ta’amu and the BattleHawk offense was once again ineffective on the following series, and a Marquette King punt was blocked by linebacker Jameer Thurman and recovered by Jonathan Celestin, who rumbled 13 yards to the visitors’ four-yard-line.

The miscue would lead to Rausa’s third made field goal of the day. Down nine points, the BattleHawks would have one final chance on a fourth-and-one with two minutes left, but Siupeli Anau and Tracy Sprinkle would combine for the stuff, sealing the visitors’ fate.

Ta’amu and his unit couldn’t get it done in the red zone, stalling three times.

With 402 yards, the two teams combined for the most rushing yardage in an XFL game yet.

Leading D.C. was Pressley, who was granted 15 carries for 107 yards. Donnel Pumphery would add another 37 yards on just as many carries, and Jackson demonstrated his mobility with 32 yards of his own. For St. Louis, Matt Jones (13 rushes, 70 yards) and Christine Michael (12 rushes, 69 yards) had almost identical numbers.

With the ground game on track, Jackson, the Mid-American Conference’s 2018 MVP, passed for only 39 yards on 14 attempts. Having thrown for 876 yards and five touchdowns coming into the game, Ta’amu passed for 174 yards on 15 completions, a third of which were pulled in by L’Damian Washington (5 receptions, 114 yards.)

“Cardale is our starter,” Hamilton said, adding that the switch after the interception was purely a coincidence. “The reasoning for playing both quarterbacks is because they both offer specific skill sets that the defense will ultimately have to defend.”

There’s no disagreement or controversy in the quarterback room.

“I’m very comfortable with whatever Coach Pep does,” Jackson said. “He’s been around the game a long time and whatever he thinks we need to do to win, then I trust him.”

St. Louis safety Kenny Robinson, the only NFL Draft-eligible XFL player, pulled in his second interception of the season and, in the fourth quarter, added his first sack.

After jumping offside on a play previous in the second quarter, D.C. edge rusher Anthony Johnson buried Ta’amu for an eleven-yard loss, his first sack since Week Two against the New York Guardians. Safety Tyree Kinnel led the team with ten tackles.

The Dallas Renegades (2-3, 2-1 in the West Division) will visit Audi Field next Sunday for a 4 p.m. start.

XFL Week 5 – Players of the Week – “Fan’s Choice” by XFLBoard.com

Josh Johnson (LA Wildcats), Kenny Robinson (St. Louis BattleHawks), Boogie Roberts (LA Wildcats) and Jameer Thurman (DC Defenders)

Welcome to our Week 5 XFL “Players of the Week” results. Voting began immediately at the completion of the final game on Sunday. We gathered over 3,500 votes before the closing of polls at 6PM Eastern on Tuesday 10 March 2020. We thank all who voted!

Fans were asked to nominate any player they deemed worthy of the honor, in four categories: Offensive, defensive, lineman, and special teams.

Winners below are based on the number of votes received for each player.

 

Offensive Player of the Week: Josh Johnson, QB, LA Wildcats

Quarterback Josh Johnson engineered a Wildcat comeback over the surging Tampa Bay Vipers. Johnson went 24 for 36 passes, for 288 yards, four touchdowns and only one interception.

Fan comments:

  • Josh Johnson was a man possessed. Player of the week! (Anonymous)
  • Johnson engineered the comeback of the XFL season. (XFL Wildcats)
  • Threw four touchdowns to break the Viper’s back. (Mark Jackson)

Honorable Mentions

  • Cam Phillips, WR, Houston Roughnecks
  • Jhurrell Pressley, RB, DC Defenders
  • James Butler, RB, Houston Roughnecks
  • Taylor Cornelius, QB, Tampa Bay Vipers

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Kenny Robinson, Safety, St. Louis BattleHawks

St. Louis BattleHawk Kenny Robinson had a beautiful fingertip interception, showcasing his athletic ability. Combined with one sack and five combined tackles, Robinson was a bright spot in the BattleHawks loss.

Fan comments:

  • Made a beautiful pick that had to be reviewed… and it was good! (Gerald)
  • He is making plenty of plays for such a young player. (XFL #1)
  • If Robinson keeps playing like this he is sure to picked up in the NFL draft. (Anonymous)

Honorable Mention

  • Ryan Mueller, DE, New York Guardians
  • Jack Tocho, CB, LA Wildcats
  • Jordan Martin, SAF, Seattle Dragons

 

Lineman of the Week: Boogie Roberts, Tampa Bay Vipers

After his teammate Cedric Reed sacked Vipers quarterback Taylor Cornelius, Boogie Roberts scooped the ball and rumbled into the end zone, thus extending the Wildcats score over the Vipers.

Fan comments:

  • Scoop and score, the Wildcats way (Anonymous)
  • Put the score beyond reach at a time the Vipers were mounting a comeback. (XFL Fan Forever)
  • Scooped the ball and “Boogied” into the end zone. (Anonymous)

Honorable Mention

  • Cedric Reed, DE, LA Wildcats
  • Beniquez Brown, LB, Houston Roughnecks
  • Greer Martini, LB, Dallas Renegades

 

Special Teams Player of the Week: Jameer Thurman, LB, DC Defenders

Jameer Thurman’s amazing blocked punt led to a  field goal, and gave the DC Defenders an edge against the St. Louis BattleHawks.

Fan comments:

  • Blocked a punt at the right time in the game.  (Anonymous)
  • A gentleman and scholar. He blocked the punt and let his teammate recover the ball. (Sammy J.)
  • Big player on DC Defenders special teams. Jameer is making things happen out there. (Anonymous)

Honorable mention:

  • Austin Walter, RB, Dallas Renegades
  • Jonathan Celestin, LB, DC Defenders
  • Tyler Rausa, K, DC Defenders
  • Mattt McCrane, K, New York Guardians

Episode 29 – XFL Week 5 – Jameer Thurman and Brendan Howe

First, we speak to DC Defenders linebacker Jameer Thurman. We talk to Jameer the standout season he is having with the Defenders of the XFL, and hear how Jameer feels the Defenders are destined to go all the way to the XFL championship. Then we  speak to Brendan Howe, our XFLBoard.com team reporter for the DC Defenders. Brendan helps dissect a very interesting XFL week five, and provides a look forward into week six.

Music: Are You Ready – Free music archive.

Where can you subscribe to this podcast?

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.

XFL Defenders were dominated on the road again

DC Defenders CB Doran Grant looks on as Tampa Bay celebrates its third touchdown of the game. (Credit: XFL.com)

In a way, it was the perfect scenario. A team attempting to rebound from an ugly loss the week previous and prove to its critics that it was stout. Another team, fielding its understudy quarterback, who entered as the only club without a win to its name.

But at a point, underneath the lights at Raymond James Stadium Sunday night, it became predictable. Obvious, even. The Tampa Bay Vipers (1-3, 1-1 in East Division) were going to grant the ball to DeVeon Smith or Jacques Patrick and dare the weary D.C. Defenders (2-2, 1-1) to stuff them. The hosts’ daunting ground offense, paired with the inability of Pep Hamilton’s offense to drive the ball, contributed to the Snakes’ 25-0 victory.

The stats for the Defender offense looked as if someone had popped a certain football video game into their game console and set the game’s quarters to their shortest length. The attack gained 107 net yards on a total of 39 snaps, both being the least of any club in a single game through four weeks. The Vipers, however, scored on each of their first three drives.

Again, Cardale Jones had a difficult go of it. The quarterback, who led the league in passing through its first two weeks, threw for only 72 yards on nine completions. At home, Jones had thrown for 499 yards, nearly three times what the he passed for against L.A. and Tampa.

All night, Tampa Bay hurried the Defenders’ off their field. D.C. went three-and-out four times. Another drive ended on an interception on its third play. Only one time did Jones and company venture into Viper territory, a blocked field goal ultimately keeping them off the scoreboard. That particular drive happened to be to the only one of the Defenders’ which lasted greater than six plays.

Meanwhile, the Vipers, quarterbacked by former Oklahoma State Cowboy Taylor Cornelius, picked up more first downs (11) in its initial two possessions than did D.C. (8) the entire contest. All said, Tampa Bay enjoyed 29 first downs, the most of any team in a game this year.

The Defenders’ defense was on the field for 80 plays, more than all but the St. Louis BattleHawks against the Houston Roughnecks in Week One.

Cornelius completed 24 of 31 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown. He added a touchdown on the ground, sprinting right 17 yards on a third-and-four before being crunched by the Defenders’ Desmond Lawrence at the goal-line.

Jacques Patrick and DeVeon Smith became the first duo to each surpass the century mark on the ground. Patrick, a former Florida State Seminole, scored his first professional touchdown in the first quarter and ended the contest with 21 carries and 108 yards. Smith took 24 gives for 122 yards.

D.C. ran for a season-low 46 yards, most of which were credited to Donnel Pumphery (34 yards, 7 attempts.)

Punter Hunter Niswander averaged 46 yards on his seven punts.

“We have to get back to D.C. and fix this together,” D.C. head coach Pep Hamilton said after the game. “I have to evaluate what we’re doing when we play outside of D.C. There’s no excuse for it. We’ve got to play better football on the road.”

After a two-week span in which the Defenders were about as successful on the road as a deer on crutches, the team will return to Audi Field Sunday for a matchup with the East-leading St. Louis BattleHawks.

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.

Pre-Game: The Vipers matchup against the Defenders

As the Vipers welcome in the DC Defenders in week four at Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium; the Defenders look to pick up win number three after they lost in the previous week against the now 1-2 LA Wildcats. 

The Defenders look for quarterback Cardale Jones to have a better game this week as he suffered his first loss of the season against LA  where he threw four interceptions and had a completion rate of fifty percent. Jones, a former Ohio State Buckeyes and 4th round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft is not shy to success and looks to brush off last week’s 9-39 loss. 

The Defenders have used rushing the ball to their advantage, giving 10 different players the opportunity to execute the run play for a total of 91 rushing attempts and 376 total rushing yards this season. The Vipers will need to have a strong defense of line this week if they want to stop the run.

Going into week four of the XFL, the DC Defenders defense has been strong for the first two games as CB Elijah Campbell blocked a punt and was then recovered by LB Jonathan Celestin for DC’s first-ever touchdown. The Defenders defense also intercepted two of QB Brandon Silvers passes, giving DC the win over the Seattle Dragons 31-19 in week one. In the following week against the New York Guardians, the defense had two interceptions, one touchdown and had a forced recovered fumble in week two while not allowing New York to score. Things fell apart as the undefeated DC defense traveled to the 0-2 LA Wildcat’s Dignity Health Sports Park. The Defenders couldn’t figure things out defensively as they couldn’t stop the Wildcats QB, Josh Johnson. DC allowed 39 points in week three, coming up short in their first loss. The Defenders look to bounce back on top as they look to give the Vipers their fourth straight loss.

The Tampa Bay Vipers will need to figure out there QB situation going into week four as Aaron Murray looks to possibly play this week after being sidelined with a foot injury. The past three weeks the Vipers have failed to get there first win this season and a lot has to do with a quarterback controversy that head coach Marc Trestman seems to struggle with.

The Vipers have a strong running game with fan-favorite backup QB Quinton Flowers who is quick on his feet when he gets the opportunity to play and with running back duo Deveon Smith and Jaques Patrick, who are both top 5 in the league in total yards rushing. 

Tampa Bay is going to need to look towards their defense in order to come up on top in this week four matchup against DC. The Vipers as a team have allowed a total of 74 points against them this season. The Vipers man to man coverage has looked weak, especially after last week’s loss against the Houston Roughnecks. The Vipers failed to stop QB PJ Walker and his sidekick two time XFL Star of the Week WR Cam Phillips. The Vipers defense allowed Phillips to catch three-TD passes and have a total of 194 yards receiving.

Both teams look to bounce back after a disappointing week three loss. 

D.C. put in check in decisive 39-9 loss to Wildcats

DC Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones attempts to avoid the pass rush. (Credit: XFL.com)

The D.C. Defenders (2-1, 1-0 in the East) traveled across the country Sunday to Carson, California for a meeting with the Los Angeles Wildcats (1-2, 0-2 in the West.) D.C. was outclassed in all three phases and was bested by 30 points at the Dignity Health Sports Park.

The Defenders entered the game having handily beaten New York, 27-0, in Week Two. They boasted the XFL’s best point differential (+39) and premier passing offense, an air attack that experienced difficulty the entire evening.

“[The game] didn’t get away from us,” D.C. head coach Pep Hamilton said after the game. “We never had it. I felt like we had our backs against the wall the entire game. It’s our job to really settle our guys down and make the adjustments that we need to make to stay in the game, and we didn’t do that today.”

Wildcat signal-caller Josh Johnson, making his second start after being hobbled by a thigh injury that kept him out Week One, took full advantage of a pass interference penalty called on a third down, keeping alive his team’s opening drive.

On the awarded first down, the quarterback took the snap from under center at the D.C. 40, feigned a handoff to his running back, and rolled before floating a deep pass to Tre McBride. McBride, swapped by D.C. during training camp for former Washington Redskins wideout Rashad Ross, pulled the ball in with his back to the endzone then turned and lunged into the endzone for six.

McBride, the son of current Quartermaster General of the United States Army Douglas McBride would catch another touchdown later in the half.

After passing for 499 yards and throwing only one interception in his first two starts, Defender quarterback Cardale Jones began the game by tossing picks on two of D.C.’s first three drives.

The thieves, cornerbacks Arrion Springs and Mike Stevens, were understudies filling in for injured first-stringers Jaylen Dunlap and Harlan Miller.

After McBride’s second score, the Defenders displayed what could be argued as the unluckiest series of any in the young season. Jhurrel Pressley muffed the kickoff, giving his offense a go of it from its own 6. The headsets malfunctioned, disallowing communication between Hamilton and his players. Finally, with 5:25 left in the second period, punter Hunter Niswander didn’t even bother trying to punt the football, coughing it up and setting the Wildcats up four yards from the D.C. goal-line.

Two plays later, L.A. tailback Martez Carter would slip by the hip of his left guard for his first XFL touchdown, stretching his team’s lead to 27-0 after a successful one-point conversion.

The Defenders provided a glimmer of hope before going into the break, as kicker Ty Rausa split the uprights with 30 seconds remaining.

At halftime, Jones’ had gone 6-13 for two interceptions and 39 yards. As Jones had trouble, Josh Johnson showed why 13 NFL franchises found him useful enough to sit in their quarterback meetings. The 33-year-old cousin of Marshawn Lynch distributed the ball for 128 yards and two scores, hitting on 10 of 16 attempts.

D.C. received the football to begin the second half and drove as far as the Wildcats’ 27. The drive was killed by another interception, this time into the hands of safety Jack Tocho. The turnover again led to points on the other end, as a seven-play, 81-yard march was capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass to Carter.

A fourth pick—and yet another Wildcat touchdown, led to Cardale Jones being pulled in favor of former University of Buffalo quarterback Tyree Jackson. Jones closed his day 13-26 for only 103 yards for a rating of 20.7, the lowest of any quarterback with at least 20 attempts in a game this season.

“He is our starting quarterback,” Hamilton said of Cardale Jones after the game, eliminating any rumors of an in-season competition.

“I’m enjoying the process, even after a loss,” Jones said. “It’s not a real testament to our team. The real testament is to see how we bounce back Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday in practice getting ready for Tampa Bay.”

LSU product Nick Brosette would scamper 38 yards for a touchdown in the middle of the fourth quarter. The score would do little to raise the spirits of a team that will now enter Week Four unsure of itself.

Sharing time in the backfield, Brosette (75 yards), Khalid Abdullah (47 yards), and Donnel Pumphery (40 yards) were each granted eight carries. Tight end Khari Lee would lead the Defenders in receiving with 38 yards on three grabs, while Rashad Ross would catch one of six targets for 17 yards.

The Defenders defense, a strong suit that got off the plane in Southern California averaging three takeaways a game, failed to force a Wildcat turnover. Through the air, the Defenders allowed Johnson 278 yards, a 72% completion rate, and a 148.0 rating, the closest to perfect of any passer through three weeks. McBride would finish with five catches for 109 yards, two yards more than the entire D.C. receiving corps combined.

Conversely, L.A. took five balls, the most in any game this year.

He who holds the honor of scoring the first defensive touchdown in Defenders history, Bradley Sylve, finished the game with a tackle. Defenders tackle Anthony Johnson was absent from the stat lines.

“We have a good football team,” Hamilton reminded the press. “They were the better team today. We didn’t help ourselves with […] the untimely penalties, the turnovers, and all of the above.”

The Defenders will look to rebound Sunday at 7 p.m. in another away matchup against a team who has yet to secure a victory, the Tampa Bay Vipers.

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.