Dallas Renegades 2020 Season Preview

Photo: XFL.com

It’s hard to believe that the XFL season kicking off is less than a few days away. Two years in the making. Eight teams created and crafted together for February 8th and 9th. One of those teams put together might have a chance of winning the XFL Title: the Dallas Renegades.

The journey began with XFL commissioner Oliver Luck appointing Bob Stoops to coach and manager the Dallas franchise. Stoops was able to build a strong coaching staff that includes Hal Mumme at offensive coordinator and Chris Woods as defensive coordinator. Then comes Landry Jones. The first player in XFL history. Also the first player in Dallas Renegades history. He comes in as the alpha of the league and the leader of Dallas.

Bob Stoops built a strong team through the draft that includes Jeff Badet, Jazz Ferguson, Derron Smith, Lance Dunbar, Cameron Artis-Payne, and Frank Alexander. We saw a lot of players step up during camp and some under the radar players becoming potential stars. We take a look at the team as a whole and see how they may look this season.

Offense

Landry Jones has been the starter since day one. There was no question about that. Questions started to pop up when he went down with a knee injury week one of training camp. A scary moment for Jones, the Renegades, and fans. It seems to not be too serious of an injury, but serious enough that he could be out for the season opener against the St. Louis BattleHawks. If he can’t go, then comes in Philip Nelson as the most likely starter. Nelson throws a great deep ball and should be comfortable in the offense since he’s been with the team since mini-camp. Eric Dungey will provide the team as an effective backup who could be plugged in should another injury happen.

The running backs could have a committee of players that is headlined by Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar. A potentially dangerous one-two punch. Artis-Payne will grind it out for tough yards using his strength and Dunbar provides an added weapon to the offense. Dunbar can catch and run out of the backfield. Expect him to be their speed back. Don’t sleep on Austin Walter and Marquis Young. Both guys ran the ball well with Walter showing flashes of greatness in the passing game and Young was dominate running the ball during training camp. Those two could see playing time should Dunbar’s injury issues continue to pop up.

Jeff Badet was the big name in the receiving core with his blazing speed and reliable hands. One receiver that popped out of nowhere was Jazz Ferguson. Small school fans will know his name and know what he can do. He one of the few receivers on the roster that is over 6 foot, 1 inches tall. He made spectacular catch after spectacular catch in mini and training camp. Having strong hands and being a threat in the red zone should make him one of the top targets. Flynn Nagel is a perfect slot receiver who has great hands. Should make a good compliment to Badet and Ferguson. Freddie Martino impressed in camp in his short time with the team which should earn him playing time.

Donald Parham showed great ability during camp as his size will make him a threat in the red zone. He got strong hands and is tough to bring down. Sean Price also showed how well he plays the game with his receiving ability. He played well during his time in the AAF so it should seem the same will apply in the XFL. Julian Allen adds good depth to the position.

The offensive line has great versatility and have great pass blocking ability. Willie Beavers will be responsible for cover the quarterback’s blind side. Alex Balducci can play either center or guard as he’s used to being the anchor and leader of the line in professional football despite being a defensive linemen in college. Pace Murphy has plenty of experience to help solidify the right side of the offensive line.

Offensive Depth Chart Week 1

QB – Landry Jones, Philip Nelson, Eric Dungey

RB – Cameron Artis-Payne, Marquis Young

WR – Jeff Badet

WR – Freddie Martino, Jazz Ferguson

WR – Flynn Nagel, Jerrod Heard

TE – Sean Price, Donald Parham, Julian Allen

LT – Willie Beavers, Justin Evans

LG – Salesi Uhatafe, Josh Allen

C – Maurquice Shakir, Josh Allen

RG – Alex Balducci, John Keenoy

RT – Pace Murphy, Darius James

Defense

The defense this season will be running a 3-4 defense which will consist of the front seven being fast off the line. Frank Alexander and Winston Craig shouldn’t have any trouble doing that. Alexander’s NFL experience with the Carolina Panthers should help. Craig is quick off the line and should have opportunities to sack the quarterback since Alexander will be getting plenty of attention. Gelen Robinson looks to be the starting nod at defensive tackle as the main run stopper in the middle of the line.

The linebackers are the strongest position on the defense. Ray Ray Davison is solid in coverage and will be asked to blitz from the outside often. Johnathan Calvin also is a perfect fit in the defense as he will help in pass rushing. Greer Martini also showed good coverage skills and rarely misses a tackle in the open field.

Derron Smith has been talked about for his ballhawking skills all camp long and it hasn’t disappointed. He has a chance of being one of the best safeties in the league who will create plenty of turnovers. Josh Hawkins brings his NFL experience to the secondary as he will help as a starter as a corner. Treston Decoud was exceptional in man coverage during camp covering the fastest of receivers on the Renegades roster.

Defensive Depth Chart Week 1

DE – Frank Alexander

DT – Gelen Robinson, Tomasi Laulile

DE – Winston Craig, Tony Gueard

OLB – Johnathan Calvin, James Folston

ILB – Ray Ray Davison, Asantay Brown, Tegray Scales

ILB – Greer Martini, Reshard Cliett, Tre Watson

OLB – Hau’oil Kikaha, Tobenna Okeke

CB – Josh Hawkins, Josh Thornton

CB – Treston Decoud, Donatello Brown

FS – Derron Smith, Micah Abernathy

SS – Tenny Adewusi, Doyin Jibowu

Special Teams

Austin MacGinnis showed to be accurate with his kicking and has some range to make field goals from 50 or more yards. Drew Galitz also has good foot strength and will be asked to be smart with his punting since the new rules make punting more of a challenge. Jeff Badet and Marquis Young both have a ton of speed to them as they will be handling the return game on special teams.

Special Teams Depth Chart Week 1

K – Austin MacGinnis

P – Drew Galitz

H – Drew Galitz, Jerrod Heard

PR – Jeff Badet, Flynn Nagel

KR – Marquis Young, Austin Walter

LS – Christian Kuntz

Final Analysis

The Renegades are one of the early favorites to win the league title in the first year. It all comes down to their offensive weapons and their linebacking core that can make or break this team. They seem to be dealing with lots of injuries to key positions before the season starts. The depth of the team could be tested right away. It’ll be important for the team to get off on a fast start. Landry Jones’ performance could tell the story on how this team will fair this season.

Final Prediction: 7-3 record, 1st in the West, XFL Champions over DC Defenders

ESPN to deliver XFL to more than 100 Million Households

ESPN International to Deliver Comprehensive Global Coverage of the XFL to More than 100 Million Households in over 200 Countries

(ESPN Press Room) – 5 February 2020 – ESPN International will deliver comprehensive global coverage of the 2020 XFL season to sports fans around the world through ESPN-branded platforms and distribution partners. Coverage will include regular-season, playoff and the XFL Championship games produced by both ESPN/ABC and FOX.

XFL games will be distributed on six continents (all except Antarctica) totaling more than 100 million households in over 200 countries and territories.

Countries and regions include:

  • ESPN/Disney owned linear networks: Spanish-speaking Latin America, Brazil, Caribbean, Pac Rim, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Netherlands and South East Asia
  • ESPN Player (OTT): Pan-Europe, Middle East, Africa, and select territories in South East Asia
  • Brand license and syndication partners: Canada (via TSN); United Kingdom and Ireland (BT); Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Croatia, Israel, Russia and India (Sony)

“The XFL will debut an exciting brand of American football that we are thrilled to introduce to sports fans around the world by providing an expansive and robust global platform on ESPN networks, services and distribution partnerships,” said Tim Bunnell, ESPN Senior Vice President, International Programming, Production and Marketing.

“Our partnership with ESPN International allows us to reach a global audience from the start,” said Jeffrey Pollack, XFL President & COO. “We’re both on a mission to bring fans more of the game we all love, and we’re delighted that ESPN International will showcase our fast-paced, up-tempo style of American football across its extensive network of branded platforms and distribution partners.”

The XFL will distinguish itself with a series of rules designed to make games fast-paced and exciting. The official rulebook includes key gameplay innovations designed to reduce game stoppages and promote more action and meaningful plays.

The rules encourage more kickoff and punt returns, and, remove the option to kick for an extra point after a touchdown. Instead, teams will have three options – a 1-point play from the 2-yard line, a 2-point play from the 5-yard line or a 3-point play from the 10-yard line.

ESPN’s coverage will offer unprecedented levels of access, with reporters conducting live interviews on the sidelines. The production team will also be able to tap into the teams’ communications systems and listen to conversations between coaches and players.

Many players are also set to be fitted with microphones, bringing fans closer to the action than ever before.

The XFL 2020 schedule, a 79-day sprint from kick-off to the Championship game, starts on Saturday, February 8, when the DC Defenders host the Seattle Dragons at 2 p.m. ET. The debut is followed by the Los Angeles Wildcats at the Houston Roughnecks at 5 p.m. ET.

The eight-team league is divided into two four-team divisions (East and West). The XFL East features the DC Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks, and Tampa Bay Vipers. The Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, and Seattle Dragons comprise the XFL West.

Each XFL team will host five home games and will play a schedule that features home and away games against division rivals and one game against each team in the other division.

The opening weekend of the 10-week regular season continues on Sunday, February 9, when the New York Guardians host the Tampa Bay Vipers at 2 p.m. ET and concludes later that day when the St. Louis BattleHawks travel to face the Dallas Renegades at 5 p.m. ET.

Additional regular-season highlights include home openers for Seattle (February 15), Los Angeles (February 16), Tampa Bay (February 22) and St. Louis (February 23). The country’s two biggest markets – New York and Los Angeles – meet only one time on February 29, when the Wildcats take on the Guardians at MetLife Stadium. The first of two intrastate Texas matchups between the Roughnecks and Renegades follows on March 1 in Dallas.

Following the regular season, the top two teams in each division will square off for the right to play for the league championship on Sunday, April 26, at 3 p.m. ET. The East Final is scheduled for Saturday, April 18, and the West Final will be held on Sunday, April 19. The first-place team in each division will host its respective division final.

PJ Walker OFFICIALLY named the starting QB for the Houston Roughnecks

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Guardians 2020 Season Preview

New York Guardians helmet and ball
Photo credit: XFL

The 2020 XFL Season has arrived. The New York Guardians kickoff their season at MetLife Stadium this Sunday, 2 pm ET on Fox. The Guardians will start and end their regular season with the Tampa Bay Vipers.

Guardians home games 2020

Here’s everything you need to know about the New York Guardians heading into the 2020 XFL season:

CHAMPIONSHIP ADVANTAGE

Guardians Head Coach/General Manager Kevin Gilbride, Running Backs Coach Jerald Ingram, and Defensive Coordinator Jim Herrmann all won a SuperBowl championship on the same staff. Gilbride and Ingram won two side by side with the New York Giants.  In an entirely brand new league in the XFL, with eight brand new teams, having prominent members of the staff, who have already won together at the highest level, is an added advantage.

The XFL is essentially a league of eight pro football expansion teams. Kevin Gilbride and Jerald Ingram have a strong history in that area as well. They were both key members of the 1995 Expansion Jacksonville Jaguars staff. The Jaguars were one of two expansion teams at the time. Jacksonville’s roster featured mostly fringe NFL players and castoffs. Players like Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith became stars, once they finally got an opportunity to showcase their talents. Within two years, with Ingram coaching the running backs, and Gilbride calling the offense, Jacksonville made it to the AFC Championship.

Despite this being over two decades ago, it still holds relevance to the present day XFL. The league’s rosters are very similar to the expansion teams of the NFL back then. A collection of players that just missed out in the NFL, or players that have been overlooked. The Guardians have two prominent coaches that have experience in finding and developing those types of players on a brand new team in Kevin Gilbride and Jerald Ingram.

ANDY REID RECOMMENDATION

Back in mid-December, the New York Guardians held a fan event at MetLife Stadium. Guardians Team President Janet Duch, ESPN’s Diana Russini, and members of the Guardians’ front office played host and held an open forum. It was during this event that it was revealed that current Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid played a big part in bringing Quarterback Matt McGloin to New York.

Guardians’ Director of Player Personnel Alan ‘Trip’ MacCracken, spent time with Andy Reid in Kansas City from 2013-2017. MacCracken was the Chiefs Director of Football Administration during that period. Andy Reid contacted the Guardians front office and highly recommended Matt McGloin after spending time coaching him in 2018. Matt McGloin was already on the Guardians radar as a potential target, but getting a stamp of approval from one of the game’s very best quarterback gurus in Andy Reid helped cement that decision.

THE WAY UNDER 30 CLUB

Of the 52 players currently on the Guardians roster. Only one player is thirty years old, and it’s starting Quarterback Matt McGloin. The second-oldest player on the Guardians is NFL veteran defensive tackle TJ Barnes, at 29 years old. Forty-five players on the New York roster are 26 years old or younger. The majority of the young players on the Guardians’ roster all have NFL experience, in one form or another.

Matt McGloin’s experience in the NFL is of most importance, especially when it comes to leading the charge on offense and in the locker room. Despite being the senior member of the roster, at what is not an old age for quarterbacks, McGloin has a lot of similarities with his teammates, and he embodies the type of player that is in the XFL.

McGloin has had to earn his keep the hard way. He was a walk-on at Penn State, who, through hard work and determination, eventually became a star for the Nittany Lions. McGloin then went undrafted and had to work his way onto a roster in the NFL with the Raiders. McGloin made it as a third-stringer, a role he would hold for the majority of his career. When called into action as a rookie, McGloin held his own and earned the respect of his teammates and fans. He did that throughout his NFL career as a third-stringer, a role that most teams in the NFL do not have anymore. Matt McGloin was never called on or expected to be the leading man, that is until now. His performance in the classroom, locker room and on the field will ultimately determine how far the Guardians go this season.

THE ODD GROUP OF ODDS

Vegas and many different odds-makers online have set the projected win totals and championship probability numbers for all eight XFL teams. When it comes to the Guardians futures, the odds-makers are all over the map. It’s not surprising considering that this is a new league.

BetMGM has the New York Guardians odds set at (+350). New York has the second-best odds to win the XFL Championship. The Guardians are only behind Dallas (+250)

Caesars Casino and Sportsbook have the Guardians in the middle of the pack. New York is at +900. The Vipers, Renegades, and Defenders are ahead of them, respectively, as projected XFL Champs.

BetOnline has the New York Guardians at a projected win total of four games, and second to last to win an XFL Championship at +750. Ahead of only the Seattle Dragons at +900

CBS SPORTSLINE has the New York Guardians as the favorite with Dallas to win it all in late April, giving them 4-1 odds to do so.

The Action Network via Draft Kings Sportsbook has the Guardians in their top three teams at +450

Bovada has the Guardians as their second-best bet behind only Dallas at +320

THE GUARDIANS OFFENSE

Kevin Gilbride will be calling the plays but with assistance from his staff in Quarterback Coach G.A. Mangus and Wide Receivers Coach Mike Miller. Mangus is a former Quarterback and coaching disciple of Steve Spurrier. He brings many of the same principles from Spurrier’s “Fun ‘n’ Gun” attack. Miller is a longtime assistant and former offensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals. In 2008, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston each gained over 1000 receiving yards; a feat only accomplished five times in NFL history.

The passing game will be led by Matt McGloin, but Luis Perez and Marquise Williams are two capable young quarterbacks with upside.

Although Kevin Gildbride is mostly known for his work in the early days of the ‘Run N Shoot,’ over his four decades as a coach Gilbride’s offenses have been more multiple. An often overlooked aspect in his tenure as a play-caller is the success of his rushing attacks over the years. A significant credit to that goes to RB coach Jerald Ingram.

Back in 2008, The New York Giants became only the fifth team in NFL history with two players to rush for more than 1,000 yards: Brandon Jacobs (1,089) and Derrick Ward (1,025). Throughout the years, Gilbride’s offenses have favored using multiple runners in multiple formations.

The Guardians’ have a very versatile and talented young backfield in Tim Cook, Justin Stockton, Darius Victor, and Matthew Colburn. Cook and Victor are two power runners who break tackles and run through you. Stockton has blazing speed and can run away from the defense. Colburn is a jack of all trades type back who can run around you and make defenders miss in space. Expect all four to factor in New York’s ground game.

The breakout fantasy star for New York is Mekale ‘Big Play’ McKay. Throughout his coaching career, Kevin Gilbride has had big receivers who can make plays down the field and in the red zone. Players like Plaxico Burress and Hakeem Nicks. The 6’4 McKay is cut from the same cloth. The Guardians’ are not lacking for skill or size at the position. DeAngelo Yancey (6’2), Teo Redding (6’1), and Tanner Gentry (6’2), all can win when the ball is in the air. Getting Yancey and Gentry healthy in the early season will be crucial. BYU’s WR Colby Pearson has spent time in the NFL with the Packers and Falcons. He has good speed and quickness to play in the slot. Wide Receivers, Joe Horn Jr., and Austin Duke were late arrivals to the Guardians but made enough of an impact to stick. Speedy Justice Liggins rounds out the receiving unit.

Former All-Big 12 and John Mackey Award Finalist veteran tight end EJ Biggs should also help provide a reliable target for Matt McGloin, in what looks like will be a very balanced offensive attack. Backing up Biggs are do-it-all type tight ends, Jake Sutherland and Jake Powell. Two small school tight ends from Morehead State and Monmouth,  can both be effective in-line blockers and in space. Texas State’s Keenen Brown has significant upside as a pass-catcher.  The Graduate transfer from Oklahoma State was named a First-Team All-American tight end by Pro Football Focus after having the top overall grade among tight ends with 86.6 and catching 76.1 percent of targeted passes.

The key to the Guardians attack will be their offensive line, coached by veteran Ronnie Vinklarek. The team’s top draft pick upfront is Notre Dame’s, Jarron Jones. A former DT now Left Tackle, who has excellent athleticism and a defensive player mentality when it comes to battling in the trenches. New York has recently acquired Auburn Tackle Avery Young and former USC Guard Damien Mama, both of whom have had experience in the NFL with several teams. Center Ian Silberman, a former sixth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, will play a pivotal role upfront. Local product Guard Anthony Coyle from Fordham was a two-time First Team All-Patriot League player. 6’7 349 pound John Kling, known as ‘Kling Klong,’ the former UB product is a mauler upfront. LSU’s Garrett Brumfield was a two-year starter in the bayou. He can play center and guard. Toledo’s OT Brant Weiss is an excellent pass blocker who can play LT and RT.  Finding the right combination up front and creating continuity will be no simple task, but there’s certainly a lot of talent and versatility in this unit.

THE GUARDIANS DEFENSE

Size upfront won’t be an issue in Jim Herrmann’s 4-3 defense. The team boasts three former NFL veteran space-eating tackles in TJ Barnes (362), Toby Johnson Jr. (350), and Joey Mbu (336). Maryland’s Cavon Walker is the polar opposite of these three at 288 pounds. Walker can play inside and outside and can provide some interior pass rush. The teams pass rush at defensive end will come from former All-SEC pass rusher Charles Wright out of Vanderbilt, Bunmi Rotini (Old Dominion), and former Second Team All-Big 12’s Jarrell Owens(Oklahoma State). Former NFL Defensive Lineman C.J. Ah You is this unit’s position coach.

New York has a versatile group of sideline to sideline linebackers coached by longtime college coach Kevin Kelly. The captain of the defense is former Kansas standout, Ben Heeney. He’s expected to be the teams’ primary signal-caller. Heeney is a former 2015 fifth-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders. The issue with Heeney during his pro career has been durability. He just hasn’t been able to stay healthy. On the field, he’s flashed smarts, sound tackling, and excellent cover skills. Heeney is joined in this group by a very similar group of players in D’Juan Hines, Nick DeLuca, Jawuan Johnson, and Frank Ginda. The Guardians’ boast perhaps the league’s most athletic linebacking corps. Johnson and Hines are former college safeties. DeLuca is a four-time FCS national champion from North Dakota State. He can play inside or outside. Frank Ginda is a player to watch from San Jose State. Only 22 years old, As a junior in 2017, Ginda was the NCAA leading tackler with 173 total tackles, with 94 being solo. Ginda’s 173 total tackles were the most in Mountain West Conference history. After the season, he declared for the 2018 NFL Draft, preceding his senior season. In hindsight, it was a mistake. He landed on the Cardinals and Dolphins but was unable to stick. Ginda got a real opportunity with the San Diego Fleet last year and showed flashes of brilliance. He is a potential break out star. Garrett Dooley (Wisconsin) and Ryan Mueller (Kansas State), are very similar players with tweener ability as pass rushers.

Former NFL All-Pro Chris Dishman is coaching a very talented young group of defensive backs. The Guardians’ boast arguably the league’s best corner tandem in TCU’s Ranthony Texada and AAF Standout Jamar Summers. Texada is a top man corner coming from playing on an island in Gary Patterson’s defense. Stanford Defensive Back Terrence Alexander transferred to LSU because he wanted to get a football education at playing in the SEC. National Champion Coach Ed Orgeron called Alexander, one of the smartest players he has ever coached. Alexander turned down a six-figure paying salary in cybersecurity to continue playing football.  Alexander has experience playing in the slot, and his superb tackling has seen him play safety as well. Former Michigan State safety Demetrious Cox is a jack of all trades himself. He has NFL experience and can play in the slot. Cornerback Bryce Jones also has NFL experience, the former Akron/Boston College track star, has excellent speed and length. Shepherd University’s CB Dejuan Neal is a raw but physically gifted player who has received a lot of accolades from his coaching staff. Northern Arizona standout safety Wes Sutton was a superstar All-Big Sky player. Maryland’s AJ Hendy has been a practice squad player in the NFL. He is a physical in the box safety who can also cover. The Guardians’ secondary is rounded out by hard-hitting safety Andrew Soroh, and West Virginia’s ball-hawking safety Dravon Askew-Henry.

THE GUARDIANS SPECIAL TEAMS

New York has a steady group of specialists with NFL experience in Kicker Matthew McCrane, Long Snapper Scott Daly, and Punter Justin Vogel. The XFL’s new kickoff and punt rules, however, could require an adjustment period for all three of them. Particularly Vogel, who won’t be able to coffin corner kick. The one area that is up in the air is who will be returning kicks. Running backs Justin Stockton and Matthew Colburn are both capable of doing so.

INSIDE THE GUARDIANS SCHEDULE

Most important game: Week 1 at home Sunday against the Tampa Bay Vipers on Fox. The Guardians start the season with three straight divisional games. The Guardians don’t play at home again until week four against Los Angeles on Saturday, February 29th. The first half of the teams’ schedule ends with a road trip to face the Dallas Renegades. In a ten-game season, it can become late real early. The oddsmakers have the Vipers as a three to four-point favorite coming into MetLife. New York can ill afford to lose their opener before heading to DC and then playing St.Louis in their home opener. Beating the Vipers in week one would send a statement and get the team off on the right foot.

 

 

 

Collective Wisdom – XFL Week 1

It’s been 19 years, but we are now back with XFLBoard.com collective wisdom! The place where the collective provides the wisdom.

Here is how it works

  1. Entrants predict the week’s games by filling out the form below.
  2. Please note that multiple entries by the same entrant will be considered invalid.
  3. After entries close on Saturday, we will crunch the data and broadcast the “Collective Wisdom,” i.e., which teams the collective predicts will win the week’s games.
  4. We watch the games and see how wise the collective really was.
  5. After all games have ended, we will reveal which entrant was closest to the real scores, and proclaim that person the “Genius of the Week.” In case of a tie, the first entrant will be deemed the winner.
  6. Prize? Of course! The “Genius of the Week” receives a tee-shirt proclaiming them the XFLBoard.com Collective Wisdom “Genius of the Week.” The perfect item for impressing your friends, family, and your high-school gym teacher.

Here are this week’s games

Entries close at 9AM Eastern on Saturday 8 February, 2020.

Enter once, not multiple times. Please note that extra entries from the same email, or IP address will be deleted.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editorial: Houston, this one’s for YOU

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ladies and gentlemen, the Houston Roughnecks are officially here.

Seattle Dragon’s Center Kirk Barron is ready for XFL football

Kirk Barron (right) is shown during a joint practice with the Dallas Renegades.
Seattle Dragon’s Kirk Barron (right) is shown during a joint practice with the Dallas Renegades. (Credit Twitter @XFLDragons)

In October, Kirk Barron was with family when he heard his name called at the XFL draft.

“I was living in Denver at the time and I went home for it, back to Mishawaka, Indiana and I was with my mom, my girlfriend, and my grandma,” he said. “I just heard my name called, and it was just instant relief knowing that I was still playing the game.”

“I’ve always wanted to be drafted and, you know, that was pretty cool to hear your name called.”

Like many college football players, Kirk graduated with a burning desire to play pro football.  Of course, fulfilling that dream became one of the great challenges of his young life.

After a successful career with the Purdue Boilermakers, under head coach Jeff Brohm, Barron set his sights on the NFL. He was signed as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins in May 2019, but was waived later that month.

Over the summer, the XFL came calling in the way of an invitation to attend the June 14th XFL Summer Showcase in New York. Barron attended the showcase, and XFL coaches took a good look at the offensive line specialist.

Later in the summer, less than two weeks before their season opener, the Cincinnati Bengals signed Barron to add depth to their offensive line. However, in a move that must have frustrated the young football player, they waived him a few days later.

Patience brought positive news, as Barron received an invitation to the XFL draft. Soon afterward, he was chosen by the Seattle Dragons on day one of the draft, during the Offensive Lineman phase.

Despite the challenges, Barron remains positive about his road to pro football, and credits his girlfriend and family for motivating him to keep going.

“It’s really hard to explain it. You got the guys like the Russell Wilson’s of the world, or the Tom Brady’s who worked their butts off. They’re also extremely lucky because they needed an opportunity or a shot. And the thing with playing professional football is that you got to keep to it. Just because someone says no at the time, does not mean that that’s the end of your career,” Barron remarked. “I know I wouldn’t be in the XFL right now and still playing football. If it wasn’t for my family or my girlfriend. I mean they definitely pushed me. They know how much the game of football means to me and they pushed me to keep with it. I’m very grateful that they did.”

Barron has now been through a mini camp and a training camp with the Dragons and he is ready to travel to the team’s inaugural game in Washington, DC this Saturday.

As for the Dragons, Barron believes they are a winning squad.

“Our defense is pretty tenacious, the get after the ball. The offense like to run the ball, I feel like, but we’re not afraid to air it out. We’re pretty balanced… I just think we’re a really complete team.”

As for Barron, one of his jobs is to protect the quarterback.

“You protect him like he’s the President,” he said.

We look forward to seeing Kirk Barron on the field for the Seattle Dragons this Saturday in the XFL opening game.

To hear the entire interview with Kirk Barron, check out the XFL Xtra Podcast – Episode 22
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Kicker Ernesto Lacayo goes from arena football to the XFL Seattle Dragons

Ernesto Lacayo

For veteran kicker Ernesto Lacayo the opportunity to play in the XFL came through hard work and determination.

Lacayo played collegiately at Hastings College where he holds all kicking records in the history of the program. Ernesto went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft and signed with the Nebraska Danger of the Indoor Football League (IFL) after the draft.

After one year with the Danger, Ernesto then signed with the Louisiana Swashbucklers (PIFL) in 2013. This is where I met Ernesto. I was heavily involved with the Swashbucklers and I got to know my team very well. I would travel in from Houston to Lake Charles to see them play. Lacayo contributed in many ways to the team. After the Swashbucklers folded in 2013, Ernesto then signed with the Wichita Wild (CPIFL) in 2014. Ernesto set an All-Arena/Indoor record of 30 field goals made in a season, and set a CPIFL record with a 55-yard field goal against the Salina Bombers. Ernesto also kicked a 51-yard game-winning field goal against the Dodge City Law to put the Wild in the CPIFL Championship.

In 2014, Ernesto then signed with the Wichita Force (CIF) for the 2015 season, where he played only 10 games before being called up to play for the Las Vegas Outlaws (AFL) in 2015. In 11 games with the Outlaws, Ernesto led the league point after touchdown percentage connecting on 54-of-59 (91.5%).

In 2016, Ernesto signed with the Portland Steel (AFL). After the Steel folded, Ernesto still kept in shape and worked on his craft.

In 2019 Ernesto signed with the newly formed San Diego Strike Force who are members of the Indoor Football League. During the 2019 season Ernesto and Long Snapper Jackson Dallas shattered the old consecutive PAT record of 28 in the Indoor Football League. For the season, Ernesto led the league in field goals made (10) and was named Special Teams Player of The Week in Week 8.

When asked about how it felt, Ernesto told me that he “Put in countless hours in my arena career and living in my van these years and training is what got me here.”

Ernesto is thankful and looks to contribute with the Seattle Dragons immediately.

The Dragons will be on the road and travel to Washington D.C. to battle the Defenders on Saturday, February 8, 2020. Kick-off is set for 2 p.m. ET on ABC.

Episode 22 – “We are Ready” – Kirk Barron, Garrett Hartley, Mike Gambill

First, we go to Seattle and speak to Kirk Barron, a Center with the Seattle Dragons. Kirk tells us about his journey to the Dragons and how he is looking forward to getting on the field with the DC Defenders in the XFL opening matchup next weekend. Then we go to New Orleans, where we catch up with Kicker Garrett Hartley. We talk about how Garret was signed by the Seattle Dragons, but released a few days later because the league would not clear him medically. Finally, we head of to Tulsa Oklahoma, and speak to XFLBoard.com Houston Roughnecks team reporter Mike Gambill. Mike is a school teacher, a football coach, and a huge fan of football. We hear Mike’s take on Team 9, the Roughnecks, and on the impending success of the league.

Music: Are You Ready – Free music archive.

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