Defenders stymie Guardians, climb up East rankings

DC Defenders Quarterback Cardale Jones (Credit: XFL.com)

The clock flashed :02 as the Guardians’ Marquise Williams reached for the snap from the shotgun. D.C. defensive end Tavaris Barnes screamed off of the left edge and gave chase to the rolling quarterback. Williams pivoted, suddenly switching direction and evading the Defender. Affording himself some distance from Barnes, he set his sights downfield, pointed and cocked his right arm. By the time Barnes lunged to tackle him, the ball was floating high in the air.

Safeties Rahim Moore Sr. and Carlos Merritt batted the ball from Mekale McKay’s clutches, but, in all actuality, the game had been over for much longer.

Kevin Gilbride’s New York Guardians (1-1) entered the nation’s capital Saturday expecting better against Pep Hamilton’s D.C. Defenders (2-0.) From the outset, quarterback Matt McGloin and company had trouble advancing the football, receiving the opening kickoff only to promptly give the ball to the Defenders three plays later.

D.C. wasted no time, embarking on an 11-play, 85-yard scoring march. The drive started with a 25-yard strike from Cardale Jones to Eli Rogers, who played in the contest despite his mother’s funeral being held the same day. Facing fourth-and-two from New York’s 47-yard-line later in the series, Jones galloped for 14. Six plays later, wideout DeAndre Thompkins pulled in his first XFL grab, a 13-yard touchdown.

The next Guardian possession looked to be another three-and-out as Justin Vogel lined up to punt on fourth-and-one. Or so it seemed. Playing personal protector, backup quarterback Marquise Williams, who held off Chicago Bears passer Mitchell Trubisky in their time at Chapel Hill, took a direct snap and wheeled for 16 yards.

The Defenders put an end to any momentum less than a minute later. Guardian tailback Darius Victor hauled in a McGloin checkdown and charged forward, colliding with former Bronko Nagurski awardee Scooby Wright. In came five-season NFL vet Rahim Moore Sr., who extracted the football from Victor’s grasp before a scuffle broke out post-whistle.

Again, the Defenders slowly worked their way down the field for a score, this time a 27-yard Ty Rausa field goal to make a nine-point D.C. lead.

In the following Guardian possessions, McGloin got in his own way, missing the mark on a deep pass and gifting the ball to D.C.’s Matt Elam, bobbling a snap, and intentionally grounding a ball on third down.

A 40-yard hook-up from Jones to Rashad Ross within the last two minutes of the first half afforded Ty Rausa another three points, this time from 36 yards out.

Combined with his criticism of offensive playcaller G.A. Mangus’s gameplan before heading into the tunnel at halftime, a pick-six thrown by McGloin early in the second half led to his benching in the fourth quarter. For the day, the Penn State product threw 8-for-19 for 42 yards and two interceptions.

On their first series of the third quarter, D.C. called seven straight rush plays, attempting to crush the soul of the Guardians. An interception thrown by Jones in the redzone kept the window slightly cracked for New York.

During the Defenders’ first possession of the final quarter, Jones assured his appearance on highlight tapes with a magical play on third down. The 6’5” signal-caller was twisted down by defensive end Bunmi Rotimi Jr., mishandling the football. Jones dropped to his knees to retrieve it, then escaped the pocket to find Thompkins for 25 yards. The drive ended with a Rausa field goal.

“It kind of just slipped out of my hand as I was trying to catch my balance on the ground,” said Jones of the zany play. “I didn’t hear a whistle, so I got back up and continued the scramble drill. DeAndre made a great play staying in-bounds and catching it and getting the first down.

With a touchdown catch by tight end Derrick Hayward late in the frame to make it 27-0, Hamilton opted to attempt the league’s first three-point conversion, however unsuccessfully.

Like last week, the Guardians were dreadful come third down, converting on a single one of their 11 tries. The team’s net yards (137) and net passing yards (66) were the least of any team within the XFL’s first two weekends.

The D.C. offense picked up 16 first downs, also going 9-for-18 on third down. The unit netted 384 yards.

Jones finished the game a relatively impressive 23-of-37 for 276 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick. Both Rashad Ross (four receptions, 95 yards) and DeAndre Thompkins (6 grabs, 92 yards) almost eclipsed the 100-yard mark. Eli Rogers caught five balls for 49 yards. Running back Donnel Pumphery toiled for 52 yards on a dozen attempts, while Jhurell Pressley added 32 on 11 rushes.

Defensively, the newly-acquired Anthony Johnson registered one-and-a-half sacks late in the contest. Each Jameer Thurman, Rahim Moore Sr., and Matt Elam forced turnovers.

“We’re playing good team football and, ultimately, that’s what you have to do to win games,” Defenders head coach Pep Hamilton said. “We’re going to have a tough opponent next week in the L.A. Wildcats. But I do feel like, if we pack a good defense, which we will, to head across country, that we’re going to have a chance to continue to play Defenders football the way we play.”

Playing on Sunday for the first time this season against L.A., Hamilton made it known his team won’t be taking any breaks.

“We have an extra day to prepare,” Hamilton said. “And we’re going to do just that. I think, for a second, our guys thought that we’d have a ‘Victory Monday’ of sorts. That’s not happening. Our guys are excited to have the privilege to put in more work.”

The game against the winless Wildcats will kick off at 6 p.m. on FS1.

Episode 24 – XFL Week 2 – Dontez Byrd and Mike Mitchell

First, we go to the west coast and speak to Dontez Byrd, a wide receiver with the Seattle Dragons of the XFL. We talk with Dontez about the Dragons first win, and how exciting it is to play in a sports-minded city like Seattle. Then we speak to Mike Mitchell, our XFLBoard.com team reporter for the New York Guardians. Mike helps dissect XFL Week 2, and provides a look forward into Week 3…  which, according to Mike, includes the first “revenge game” of this XFL season.

Music: Are You Ready – Free music archive.

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Roughnecks Outlast BattleHawks Sunday Night

Houston Roughnecks Cam Phillips celebrates a touchdown by jumping into the stands. (Credit: XFL.com)

In what was definitely the “Game of the Week” and arguably the “Game of the Year” thus far, in the battle between the Houston Roughnecks and the St. Louis BattleHawks, the Roughnecks out dueled the BattleHawks to remain perfect on the season. Only the Roughnecks and the Defenders remain undefeated this season at 2-0. But while DC had an easy time handling the New York Guardians with a 27-0 victory, Sunday night was a back and forth battle for all four quarters. The Roughnecks and BattleHawks proved last night that they are both contenders for the Championship, and they will both be a force to be reckoned with as the season progresses. It was a game with crazy plays, some that withstood, some that didn’t, and there was excitement throughout the game. So let’s break it down and analyze what happened.

First off, we have to talk about the best QB to WR duo in the league. PJ Walker and Cam Phillips were outstanding once again with 3 touchdowns for the dynamic duo through the air. Their chemistry seems to get better by the week, and I don’t see a team that can slow them down anytime soon. PJ Walker finished with 170 yards, on 20/31 passing, and 3 touchdowns, all of which went to his favorite target, Cam Phillips, who finished with 8 receptions for 63 yards and 3 touchdowns. These two have their timing down perfectly, and that was extremely evident when PJ channeled his inner Patrick Mahomes and threw a beautiful side arm pass that lead Phillips perfectly. They were in sync all night and that is only going to grow stronger the longer they play together. The XFL better be on alert, if they aren’t already, because this connection is the most lethal in the league.

As far as the rest of the offense goes, it was spectacular. Khalil Lewis and Nick Holley were excellent again in the passing game, and James Butler and PJ Walker contributed nicely on the ground. I thought June Jones called a nice balanced attack, while never forgetting what their identity is. They pretty much got what they wanted against a very good BattleHawks defense, and even when the plays broke down, they were able to make on the fly adjustments that were for positive yardage. Of course, it helps whenever you have PJ Walker under center. Much like Deshaun Watson, the play is never over when he has the ball in his hands. He avoided numerous sacks in this game, and still the most impressive thing is, he keeps his eyes down field to look to pass before he runs with the ball. De’Angelo Henderson was out this week, so expect when he gets back healthy to be utilized pretty heavily in both the running game and passing game.

But now, let’s talk about the most impressive thing for me for the second straight week, and that’s this Roughneck defense. Before the season started, I could have told you that this was going to be the best offense in the league. In fact, I think most people believed that. But the reason people were hesitant to buy into the Roughnecks as true title contenders, was because there were questions about their defense. Yes, they played well last week, but that was against Chad Kanoff, Los Angeles’ second string quarterback, and a Wildcat team that, well to put it nicely, has internal issues. So I wanted to see how this defense would do against one of the best offenses in the league, and they delivered. 2 takeaways, 3 sacks, and getting the open field tackles when they needed them most, helped seal a win against the BattleHawks. Now, in no way am I saying that this defense is elite by any means, but when you combine them with this offense, they play well enough to win you a Championship. They are very much a bend but don’t break opportunistic defense that hits hard and plays fast.

But, having said that, St. Louis was able to move the ball on them, and if it wasn’t for those takeaways, the BattleHawks might have won the game. So this team still has some work to do on the defensive side of the ball, and the middle of the field still seems to be their biggest weakness. If they can at least just limit teams in the red zone and hold them to field goals, this offense will score enough points to get the job done.

All in all, I loved what I saw from the Roughnecks in a gritty game against a good opponent, and I still believe, after this week, they are the favorites to win the West. But I think this team has bigger goals than just winning the West, and if they want to achieve those goals, the defense will still need to try and iron some things out. But the offense still looks as lethal as ever, and, at least for right now, nothing is stopping “The Firework Show”!

XFL Week 2 attendance saw growth due to good numbers in Seattle

Oliver Luck
XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck stands in front of over 29,000 fans in Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. (Credit: XFL.com)

In its second week of operation the XFL overall attendance numbers grew, mainly because of 29,172 fans who attended the Seattle Dragons first game at CenturyLink Field.

In week two, the league attracted 76,285 fans to its games, as opposed to 69,818 in week one. This equates to a 9.5-percent increase.

Although Seattle saw success in their inaugural game numbers, the two teams that already hosted their inaugural games saw slightly lower numbers. A slightly lower 15,031 came to see the DC Defenders 27-0 win over the New York Guardians, 12.4 percent down from the previous week’s game. The Houston Roughnecks had 17,103 in attendance for their 28-24 win over the St. Louis BattleHawks, four-percent down from their opening game.

In the Los Angeles home opener, the Wildcats had 14,979 fans in attendance at Dignity Health Sports Park for their 25-18 loss to Dallas. This was the smallest crowd to date, but still a respectable number.  Click-bait news sites attempted to downplay the LA attendance by using social media images taken during the pregame warm-up which showed the stands relatively empty. However, as is a norm in the LA market, the stands filled out nicely once the game was underway.

A packed CenturyLink Field also gave the Seattle Dragons a boost, since fan noise became a factor for the opposing Tampa Bay Vipers.

In week three, the XFL may see even stronger overall attendance numbers since there is another home game in Seattle, and the opening home game in St. Louis, where it is reported the game is very nearly sold out.

XFL Dallas Renegades Take Down LA Wildcats 25-18

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

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

Key Observations

Landry Jones’ Debut Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josh Johnson’s Impressive XFL Debut

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

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

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

Turnovers Plagued Both Teams

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

Cameron Artis-Payne Bounced Back Nicely

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

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

Top Performers

Dallas Renegades

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

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

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

LA Wildcats

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

Rushing: Elijah Hood – 10 carries, 31 yards

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

BattleHawks Fall Short Against the Roughnecks in Week 2 Thriller

Houston QB PJ Walker evades the BattleHawks Jake Payne. (Credit: XFL.com)

HOUSTON – In the most exciting game of the weekend, the Houston Roughnecks and St. Louis BattleHawks traded jabs for four quarters of hardnose football. In the end, Houston (2-0) held on to top St. Louis (1-1) with a final score of 28-24. 

Two of the best quarterbacks in the league squared up and showed their stuff. Houston is led by the shifty PJ Walker. Walker was with the Colts alongside former NFL QB Andrew Luck. Andrew gave Walker high praise encouraging his dad, and XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck, to let Walker try out for the league. Andrew and Oliver both made good decisions as Walker has been one of the most fun players to watch over the first 2 weeks.  

And St. Louis’s own Jordan Ta’amu, the fleet-footed strong-armed 22-year old who is the youngest starting QB in the league.  

Week 2 saw St. Louis stick to their game 1 identity being a run-first team, carrying the ball 43 times for 126 yards. Rush attempts accounted for 54% of their plays this week, down from close to 60% week 1. The BattleHawks likely would’ve kept that 60% run/pass ratio had they not been down the entire second half. 

Matt Jones battled a knee injury during the week which impacted his carry total on the day. He also looked to have reaggravated his knee early in the second half. He ended the day with 16 carries for 44 yards. Christine Michael picked up carries this week with Jones nursing an injury and Keith Ford out for the game. Michael put up a similar line with 15 rushes for 38 yards. 

BattleHawks quarterback Jordan Ta’amu impressed most of the day. He went 30/37 for 284 yards, 3 TDs, and 32 more yards on the ground. The blemish on his stat line is the two interceptions.

Houston’s Cody Brown and Jeremiah Johnson brought in the two picks for the Roughnecks. Interceptions are bad enough, but both guys added big returns after the inceptions to the St. Louis 1 and 6-yard lines, respectively. The Roughnecks didn’t miss a beat on offense following the interceptions adding two touchdowns with only a short field to work with. 

Trading First Half Punches

The opening drive for the Roughnecks started with a 37-yard kick return by Houston’s Ajene Harris. Houston moved the ball this series but the BattleHawk defense held them to a 44-yard field goal. 

The BattleHawks answered the Roughnecks opener with an opening drive touchdown for themselves. Both Matt Jones and Christine Michael started in the backfield with Jones getting the first carry of the day. 

The drive was highlighted by a 27-yard connection between Keith Mumphrey and Ta’amu and finished off with a short pass to Jones for a nice 25-yard catch and run touchdown to give St. Louis a 6-3 lead. 

Not stopping there, Houston responded with a 6 play 66-yard drive ending in the end zone on a PJ Walker pass to Cam Phillips putting the Roughnecks up 12-6; this duo went on to connect for 3 TDs together on the night.

St. Louis struggled to move the ball for the remainder of the first half. There next four drives went punt, punt, interception, turn over on downs. They went into halftime down 21-6.

Opening drives to start a game are usually scripted/ predetermined as part of a team’s gameplan. St. Louis opened their first drive by utilizing four straight plays with a man in motion, and 6 of 9 plays on the touchdown scoring drive. The remainder of the half saw very little motion. For something to be planned and executed well on the first drive and then thrown out for almost the remainder of the game wasn’t something you like to see. 

Second Half Sparks

Coming out to start the second half, the BattleHawks strung together a 13 play drive. Ta’amu and Pierson-El connected for a 23 yard gain, the pair finished off the drive connecting on a 1-yard reception to make the score 21-12. 

After the BattleHawks defense forced a 3 and out, the offense marched back down the field for another 13 play drive capped off by a 4 yard run by Ta’amu. This closed Houston’s lead to 3, 21-18. 

Not to be overlooked in the game is the BattleHawks defense. Week 1 they didn’t give up a touchdown against the Dallas Renegades. Many people brushed this off since the Renegades were without starting QB Landry Jones. 

Don’t let the 28 points-against be the nail in the coffin for this unit. 13 of those points only required the Roughnecks to move the ball a combined 7 yards. Houston was moving the ball well in the first half picking up big chunk plays of 33 and 20 yards. 

As good as the offense was in the second half, the defense was a half-step ahead of them to close out the night. The biggest play they gave up in the second half was a 15-yard scramble by Walker, the drive ended in Houston punting. 

Sacks were elusive on the night largely due to PJ Walker’s awareness in the pocket. Andrew Ankrah was the only one able to record a sack on the day, also bringing home a team-high two tackles for a loss. Cornerback Darius Hillary also played a great game on defense. Hillary was tracking the ball well barely missing two picks, he was jumping the routes like crazy. 

Controversial No-Call

The controversial point in the game came with less than 11 minutes left in the 4th quarter. A perfect punt by Houston’s Austin Rehkow and a pair of offsides by the offense had the BattleHawks back up to their own one-yard line. After clawing their way into Roughneck territory, Ta’amu and the offensive line saw Roughneck MLB Frank Ginda jump offsides. Assuming the refs saw the play and called it, Ta’amu had a free play and threw the ball up to the receiver with the deepest route. Not a single ref threw their flag and Ta’amu’s lob was picked off. 

Ta’amu throws the ball in this situation thinking the play has only upside and any negative play will be taken off the board due to the defensive penalty. The no-call reversed the course of the game with 7 point swing in favor of the Roughnecks.

This season, XFL refs have called games very well. The use of the replay official in the booth has added transparency and is appreciated league-wide. It will be interesting to see how the XFL responds to this potentially game-changing call, arguably the biggest on the year so far.

The BattleHawks would drive and score one more TD with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game to make it 28-24. But the damage was done and Houston hung on to win a thriller, 28-24. 

In the end, Houston won the turnover battle 2-0 and that was the difference-maker this week. The teams competed for all four quarters and we all got to see a great game a football. 

The BattleHawks come home next Sunday, February 23rd for their home opener against the New York Guardians. 

Expect The Dome to be full and the stadium to be popping because football will be back in St. Louis!

Fight and fly on, BattleHawk Nation.

Collective Wisdom – Week 2 Results

Collective Wisdom by XFLBoard.com

We had over 500 XFL fans add their wisdom to our system.  We thank all those who entered. In Week 2 the collective was very accurate.

Collective Wisdom – Week 1 Results

In picking the Week 2 winners, the collective went 4-0. Very wise!

Game

Collective Wisdom

Actual Score

Picked Winner? Point Differential

 New York Guardians at DC Defenders

18-24

0-27

Accurate

21

Tampa Bay Vipers at Seattle Dragons

18-24

9-17

Accurate

16

Dallas Renegades  at LA Wildcats

26-18

25-18

Accurate

1
St. Louis BattleHawks at Houston Roughnecks 19-29 24-28

Accurate

6

Season record for picking winners 7-1

Weekly Winner

The entrant who came the closest to predicting the actual scores was K. Wilson.

Compared to the actual scores, K. Wilson’s entry had a total point differential of 17. Very wise!

Here is the winning entry:

  •  New York Guardians 12 at DC Defenders 26
  • Tampa Bay Vipers 10 at Seattle Dragons 16
  • Dallas Renegades 24 at LA Wildcats 18
  • St. Louis BattleHawks 24 at Houston Roughnecks 29

K. Wilson has won the Genius of the Week tee-shirt. Congratulations!

Stay tuned for Collective Wisdom Week 3!

Crowded Stadium and Crowded Backfields – Vipers at Dragons Recap

Coach Jim Zorn and the Dragons celebrate their first win of the XFL season. (Credit: XFL.com)

This was the XFL game of the year so far and I feel like that is fairly undebatable. It was the closest game of the year and the environment was top notch. The Dragons attracted the largest attendance by far, 29,172, and the environment at CenturyLink was crazy. The play on the field was a little sloppy but it got exciting towards the end of the game and the fans were into it. The Dragons offense left a lot to be desired but the defensive effort was spectacular. There were positives and negatives for every position group so lets dig in.

QB Play: Sloppy

Brandon Silvers would be the first to tell you that he did not play well at all. Silvers completed 7 of 19 balls for 91 yards a TD and an INT. 68 of those 91 yards also came on a single TD pass to Keenan Reynolds. I made some excuses for Silvers last week but there really was not any to be made this week. Silvers missed a ton of open receivers and left a lot of yards on the field. That one interception could also have easily been multiple. The fans were not happy with Silvers performance either as “BJ” chants filled the stadium. Zorn stuck with his young QB though, saying that he did not ever consider switching QBs. Silvers made no excuses for his performance and was not bothered by the chants. “They were right I wasn’t playing good enough”, said Silvers, “Play good and that won’t happen.” It is good that Silvers acknowledges his performance but it will be tough to win games with that type of offense so hopefully it improves tremendously. Silvers does get a full week of practice this week as opposed to only one day this past week so that should help a little bit

Run Game: Fine

The run game was a big part of this offense but I don’t think that was a huge testament to their success because the offense was so lackluster. There was a lot of volume but the efficiency was not anything special. Williams had 11 carries for 45 yards, Farrow had 10 for 45 and Gardner had 10 for 27 for a total of 117 yards on 31 carries. The run game did start to get going more as Williams and Farrow both had some big first down runs in the second half but I think where we were really missing them was in the passing game. A big part of the week one offense was passing to the RBs and we only saw one target between the three of them this week. That is something I would like to see early and often next week.

Receiving Corps: Blameless

I do not think this receiving corps played a bad game at all. In fact, I think they played better than last week. There was not a lot of opportunities for them to shine and when they did pass, Silvers did not hit them. The possible addition of Kasen Williams should help, though. The week one star, Austin Proehl was quiet and took a backseat to Keenan Reynolds who paced the team in targets (8) and got wide open on the 68 yard game-changing TD. I think these guys were fairly blameless and their production should improve as this passing game matures

Offensive Line: Alright

I do not think this offensive line was to blame for this performance. They kept Silvers clean for the most part and were alright in run-blocking. They did not dominate or even perform as well as last week in my opinion, but they went out and had a respectable effort. I think in the XFL, where we have seen some bad O-Lines, the Dragons have one of the better O-Lines. Top OT Isaiah Battle and OG Cyril Richardson are also both injured right now and should provide a tremendous boost when they return.

Defensive Front: Swarming 

I called these guys swarming last week because they were fast and around the football but once again there was some missed tackles. However, missed tackles or not, I was pleased with this performance. The pass rush was happy that they did not have to tackle the monstrous Cardale Jones and actually hit home with 4 sacks (even though 2 came from the secondary). Vipers RBs Jacques Patrick and De’Veon Smith both had some big runs as the Vipers but did not take over the game. The big success was containing the electric Quinton Flowers who only had 15 yards on 5 carries. Steven Johnson was once again the tackles leader with 10 and had 2 TFL as well. You also can’t forget about Marcell Frazier’s Pick 6 which was the best play of the year for the Dragons. This unit is a definite strength of the team and I can’t wait to watch it continue to develop.

Secondary: Sterling

This secondary played an amazing game. The Vipers only had 172 passing yards and a lot of those came on the last drive in prevent defense. CB Jeremy Clark played a fantastic game with his interception and 2 pass breakups as well CB Steve Williams who had 1.5 sacks and 2 TFLs. Dan Williams, the XFL’s leading receiver in week 1, was held to only 22 yards, which was a huge testament to this secondary. While the Viper’s offense is not a powerhouse, a strong showing like this is still a great sign. This defense is hot and when they play like this, the Dragons always have a shot

Special Teams: Improved

By no means did the Dragons dominate on special teams but compared to their week 1 performance, it was a huge upgrade. John Santiago and Austin Proehl both had some solid returns and the Dragon’s coverage team held the Vipers in the return game. Punter Brock Miller had some punts downed inside the five and had a very underrated performance. Ernesto Lacayo badly missed an early field goal but responded to hit a huge field goal in the final minutes to put the Dragons up 8. Of course, the big positive was no punts blocked for a TD, which was the killer in week 1. Overall, this unit put together a much better performance and coach Chip Garber should be happy with his unit.

Coaching: Solid

Zorn did not go out there and dominate Trestman but he coached a solid game and led our guys to a win. The big question mark was the QB situation but Zorn sticking with Silvers did lead to big TD. Their was not too many 4th down decisions but one positive was that Seattle started going for 2 after TDs instead of 1, which is the better call. Zorn did what he could and won this hard fought game and I believe he should get credit for it.

Fans: Loud

This was the largest crowd by far at an XFL game and the fans were loud, especially late in the game. Both HC Trestman and QB Cornelius both said that the crowd did not affect their performance but there was some false starts and miscommunications. This stadium was packed and I really hope we see this at the next four home games.

Overall Performance: Resilient

This performance wasn’t amazing by any stretch of the imagination but the guys hung in there, fought it out and came out with the win. There are a lot of things this team needs to work on but I think this team will get better (as will all the XFL teams) and start putting everything together.

Until next week, Go Dragons!

Tampa Bay Vipers Quarterbacking Woes

Vipers head coach Mark Trestman has some decisions to make. (Credit: XFL.com)

As the Tampa Bay Vipers’ buses pulled out of CenturyLink Field in Seattle, after the Vipers dropped to 0-2 courtesy of a 17-9 loss to the Seattle Dragons, many questions lingered about the team. Many of those questions revolved around the quarterback position.

Over the past two weeks, Marc Trestman and the offensive staff of the Vipers have been unable to get any type of meaningful offense generated in its last two games. After their original starter Aaron Murray struggled in game 1, and then was declared unable to play in game 2 due to a foot injury, they looked to Taylor Cornelius to provide a spark and take over.

Taylor Cornelius, an Oklahoma State product who was with the Green Bay Packers for rookie mini-camp this past summer, proved ineffective as well. Cornelius got a majority of the snaps in yesterday`s game and posted a 59% completion percentage, going 16 for 27, and throwing for 154 yards. He also threw 2 interceptions and was unable to put together a drive that ended in a touchdown.

The Vipers other option at quarterback, former USF signal caller, Quinton Flowers posted a 43% completion percentage, going 3 for 7, throwing for 18 yards. He threw an interception as well, and was also unable to put together a touchdown ending series.

Coach Marc Trestman addressed the quarterback issues after yesterday’s loss saying, “We haven’t had the play at quarterback that we need, and we’re still working through that.”

Is the fourth quarterback on the Vipers’ depth chart Chase Litton the next option? The former Marshall quarterback spent two seasons in the NFL, one with the Kansas City Chiefs and other with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He began his XFL career with the Seattle Dragons, and then made his way to Tampa Bay shortly afte.

Another option for the Vipers is XFL Team 9. Team 9 is a team located in Dallas and serves as a practice squad for the entire league. According to XFL rules, after week 2, teams are required to fill an open roster spot with a Team 9 player. Could the Vipers release a player to make room for a Team 9 Quarterback? There are currently 4 on the Team 9 roster.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who Marc Trestman and the Vipers coaching staff decide on as their QB, they just need to find one fast before the season truly gets out of hand.