Season in Review: 2020 Dallas Renegades

The Dallas Renegades huddle in preparation for their final game against the New York Guardians (Credit XFL.com)

A season filled with high expectations, the Dallas Renegades were hoping for big things from their team. They were the first team to hire their head coach and general manager in former University of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. During his time in the first offseason, Stoops was able to bring top assistant coaches like offensive coordinator Hal Humme. He was able to convince quarterback Landry Jones to join the XFL and the two were paired together in Dallas.

The team was able to draft some key players including Derron Smith, Jeff Badet, Donald Parham, and Frank Alexander. All the talent was displayed during training camp and made fans and experts believe they were the team to beat. While things didn’t go as according to plan, the team did have themselves within contention for the playoffs before the season ended after five games. Here are the top storylines for the team.

Bob Stoops Returns to the Sidelines

It was a great moment for the XFL as they hired their first head coach in the new league as they hired former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. He was the biggest name to be brought in the league and added a lot of attention to the XFL. Stoops was able to build a formable team starting with Landry Jones at quarterback. Adding in the talent on offense with Cameron Artis-Payne, Lance Dunbar, Jeff Badet, and Donald Parham. His coaching staff was built well with legendary offensive coordinator Hal Mumme and defensive coordinator Chris Woods leading the team.

The 2020 season didn’t start out as well as the team was 2-3 before the season ended. The offense didn’t perform as well as expected with all the speed at receiver. Mumme’s offensive play calling was also put into question as the running game wasn’t used as well as fans would have liked. The Renegades’ defense turned out to be the strength for the team as they were able to keep the team in most of their games. Stoops had a good start to the coaching staff and the players on the team, but key pieces to receiver and play calling could put the team over the top next season.

Quarterback Play Was Inconsistent

Landry Jones and Philip Nelson both started at least two games this season for the team. Both quarterback played the position differently throughout the season. Nelson was safer with the ball and wasn’t as likely to throw it down the field. Jones was more aggressive with his passing which resulted in multiple turnovers. He was also better at moving the ball down the field and scoring touchdowns. Nelson struggled to get the offense in the end zone. It might have been a result in play calling, but the quarterbacks played inconsistently. They were accurate with the ball, but mistakes were made by both players.

Donald Parham Led Receiving Attack

The receivers on the Renegades did not leave an imprint on the offense as much as experts expected. It was their star tight end who stole the show in the passing game. Donald Parham impressed at training camp with his size and reliable hands. He showed those off this season as he caught 24 passes for 307 yards and four touchdowns. He led the team in yards and touchdowns and made it clear he was the top target on the team. As he heads to Los Angeles to play for the Chargers in the NFL, Parham proved to be a reliable target and will have a chance to make it in the final roster.

Defense Kept Renegades in Games

Statistically, the defense of the Renegades wouldn’t blow you away with the numbers. They ranked no higher than fourth in a specific defensive team stat. Fans can make the argument that the defense was able to keep them in most of their games. The problems came with the offense turning the ball over too much and putting the defense in bad spots. In three of the five games, the defense allowed six or less points in the first half. Every game this season the team was within six points of their opponents heading into the second half.

Derron Smith and Josh Hawkins provided strong play in the secondary with shutdown coverage and big turnovers. Their linebacking core was one of the best in the league with speed and sure tackling helped the defense perform well. Asantay Brown and Greer Martini led the team in tackles and were both exceptional in coverage. The pass rush of the defensive line was inconsistent at times as the team was second to last in sacks with six.

Road Warriors, Home Sick

It was an odd sight to see as the Dallas Renegades went 2-0 on the road and 0-3 at home. The Renegades thrived on the road as they came from behind in both games at one point to beat LA and Seattle. Dallas’ offense struggled in two of their three home games not being able to produce more that 12 points in those games. Landry Jones threw three interceptions in the first quarter of the other home game against Houston that resulted in a 27-20 loss. It’s a rare sight in sports to see a team struggle at home, but performing well on the road might have helped the team out late in the season if the league was still going.

Dallas Renegades 2020 Schedule

Week One: St. Louis BattleHawks 15, Dallas Renegades 9, Record: 0-1

Week Two: Dallas Renegades 25, LA Wildcats 18, Record: 1-1

Week Three: Dallas Renegades 24, Seattle Dragons 12, Record: 2-1

Week Four: Houston Roughnecks 27, Dallas Renegades 20, Record: 2-2

Week Five: New York Guardians 30, Dallas Renegades 12, Record: 2-3

Dallas Renegades Stats

Passing: Landry Jones: 83-119, 70% completion percentage, 784 yards, five touchdowns, seven interceptions, 77.2 QB rating

Philip Nelson: 62-94, 66% completion percentage, 439 yards, three interceptions, 63.2 QB rating

Rushing: Cameron Artis-Payne: 47 carries, 241 yards, 5.1 avg, two touchdowns

Lance Dunbar: 30 carries, 146 yards, 4.9 avg, one touchdown

Philip Nelson: six carries, 25 yards, 4.2 avg

Austin Walter: four carries, 19 yards, 4.8 avg

Landry Jones: five carries, 15 yards, 3.0 avg

Marquis Young: three carries, 12 yards, 4.0 avg

Receiving: Donald Parham: 24 catches, 307 yards, four touchdowns

Flynn Nagel: 26 catches, 217 yards, one touchdown

Lance Dunbar: 26 catches, 154 yards

Jeff Badet: 16 catches, 108 yards

Cameron Artis-Payne: 23 catches, 101 yards

Josh Crockett: five catches, 86 yards

Sean Price: six catches, 78 yards

Freddie Martino: four catches, 58 yards

Jazz Ferguson: nine catches, 54 yards

Austin Walter: two catches, 31 yards

Marquis Young: four catches, 20 yards

Jerrod Heard: one catch, ten yards

Top Five Tacklers: Asantay Brown 28, Greer Martini 28, Tegray Scales 24, Tenny Adewusi 22, Ray Ray Davison 17

Top Sacks: Tegray Scales 1, Ray Ray Davison 1, Micah Abernathy 1, Frank Alexander 1, Hau’oli Kikaha 1, Gerald Rivers 1

Top Interceptions: Josh Hawkins 2, Derron Smith 1

Kicking: Austin MacGinnis: 10-10, 46 long

Punting: Drew Galitz: 18 punts, 775 yards, 43.1 avg, nine In20

Kick Return Leader: Austin Walter: 17 returns, 431 yards, 25.4 avg, one touchdown

Punt Return Leader: Flynn Nagel: six returns, 97 yards, 16.2 avg

TE Donald Parham, head coach Bob Stoops, and OT Pace Murphy pay respect to the national anthem prior to the Renegades final game against the New York Guardians. (Credit XFL.com)

Jeff Jagodzinski Promoted to OC for Dallas Renegades

Due to a leg injury incurred during a game, Dallas Renegades offensive coordinator Hal Mumme had to step down. (Credit: XFL.com)

After suffering a broken leg in the week four loss to the Houston Roughnecks, Dallas Renegades offensive coordinator Hal Mumme is unable to continue his role. The Renegades have promoted Jeff Jagodzinski to offensive coordinator for the remainder of the season.

“We appreciate Hal’s hard work and efforts with our squad, particularly after his injury last weekend,” noted head coach Bob Stoops. “Unfortunately, it prevented him from performing in the way we needed for the Renegades.”

Mumme was in the coaching booth Saturday in the loss to the New York Guardians as he was calling the plays there. He made headlines when he decided to stay on the sidelines the whole game after a Renegades player collided with Mumme during the Houston game that broke his leg.

Jagodzinski is no stranger to running offenses as he was previously an offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Georgia State. He’s well known for his stint as head coach for Boston College where he want 20-8 as the head coach in two seasons.

Renegades running back coach Bobby Blizzard added the position of assistant offensive coordinator and will be the main play caller for the team. Blizzard has experience as well at offensive coordinator as he led the Memphis Express of the AAF as their offensive coordinator for most of the season before the league folded.

A lot of the focus on this season has been the inconsistency of the offense and how they have gotten off to slow starts throughout the season. Jagodzinski and Blizzard will have their work cut out for them as they travel on the road this weekend to take on the 3-2 DC Defenders. A game that could be seen as a season-defining moment for a team that has lost three straight at home, but undefeated on the road this season.

What We Learned After Dallas’ Third Loss

Dallas Renegades quarterback Philip Nelson (Credit: XFL.com)

Saturday was suppose to be a pivotal moment in Dallas’ season as quarterback Philip Nelson was suppose to jump into the starting lineup and lead them to a win in front of 15,950 fans at Globe Life Park. The defense was suppose to shut down the running game and pressure Luis Perez. Coach Bob Stoops was suppose to get his first home win of the season with the Renegades. None of that happened.

Dallas lost a third straight home game to the New York Guardians 30-12 to drop their season record to 2-3 on the year. The team will be spending the next two weeks on the road going to DC and Tampa Bay. Landry Jones is expected to miss at least one more game before possibly returning in week seven against the Vipers. Even though the final score looked to be a complete blowout for Dallas, they surprisingly were in the game for the most part. Fans did get to learn a little bit more about this team that will need to be addressed as they head into the back half of their schedule.

Should the Quarterback Situation be Evaluated?

It’s natural and normal after a loss like Dallas suffered that fans would want to see a change at the quarterback position. Arguably, Philip Nelson did not fair well in his second start of the year. He finished the game 28 of 49 for 210 yards and two interceptions. The offense with Nelson was not able to produce much in the second half. Dallas looked good in the first half as they were able to move the ball down the field, but ultimately could not get in the end zone similar to week one against St. Louis. That is a combination of play calling being conservative and the offense just not being able to establish the passing or running game.

From the fans’ perspective, changing a quarterback would not make a difference in how the team looks. Eric Dungey can jump in the game and make some plays with his arm strength and feet. Dungey brings a different dynamic into the offense that could give them the spark they need. Plus, it would only be for one week before Jones returns in week seven. What’s the harm in giving Dungey a shot at quarterback? The team could also trade for someone like Connor Cook or Quinton Flowers, but it might be too late to bring someone in from the outside to learn the offense in one week.

Looking at the other side of things, Nelson is more comfortable in the offense than Dungey or Brogan Roback. Both guys have been in and out of the team. Dungey has been dealing with personal issues off the field during the season that has kept him from being with the team. Roback has bounced back and forth from Team Nine and the Renegades so he hasn’t been with the team for half of the season. Nelson is the only healthy quarterback who has been with them since the beginning so go with the one that has the most experience and give him an opportunity to redeem himself.

Hal Mumme Abandoned the Running Game

The Air Raid offense is designed to throw the ball often and use their running backs in the passing game. Offensive coordinator Hal Mumme has perfect it for decades as a coach, but something is missing in this offense. The lack of a running game is evident and it’s frustrating for the fans. Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar had establish themselves as one of the best duos in the league. They combined for eight carries for 31 yards. It seemed like once they had a bad run, the Renegades would throw it multiple times in a row. The two never had a chance to get it going.

Moving forward, play calling needs to adjust to the weapons that the backfield offers. Artis-Payne is a solid runner who has proven to be one of the best in the XFL when he is fed the ball. Dunbar is a great runner on the outside as he can use his speed off the edge to get past the front seven. Mumme has to know what he has and use them more often. Especially since the passing game is struggling to pick up so they need the running game to help open up the offense.

Receivers Need to be More Involved

It’s been the Donald Parham and Lance Dunbar show for the most part in the passing game. The only consistent receiver for the Renegades through five games is Flynn Nagel. All the other ones have been under used and somewhat not involved in the offense. Most of the plays being called are screen passes and short passes in the flat. Explosive plays was suppose to be the identity of this team since they have so much speed at receiver. That clearly hasn’t happened so far. Freddie Martino did have a big 32 yard catch in the first half that gave fans some hope for the best. That was it for the team though.

With play calling once again being questioned by fans, they can hope that bigger plays can be developed during the game and take more shots down the field. Jeff Badet was brought in to Dallas to create those long pass plays down the field and he has yet to explode onto the scene. Nelson and Jones aren’t afraid to bomb the ball so let them do it and create a play that can get Badet down the field.

Rush Defense Needs to Bounce Back

Dallas’ linebackers are athletic as they can cover with the best of them along with the secondary. The problem with them along with the defensive line is not being able to stop the running game. New York Guardians’ running backs Darius Victor and Justin Stockton was able to break out nice runs as Dallas didn’t have an answer for them in the second half. This is becoming a common problem for the team as they struggled to stop St. Louis, but since then was good until Saturday. While they may not allow as many yards on the ground as other teams, it’s a small thing that could become a big problem if it isn’t addressed right away.

Secondary Continues to be a Strength

Josh Hawkins and Derron Smith have been so important to the defense all season and have been playmakers for the secondary. They have made PJ Walker look human and have been able to shut down many passing games. Even though New York won, outside of the 80 yard touchdown pass play from Luis Perez to Colby Pearson, Perez was not able to get much going. Good pressure by the defense and shutdown coverage made Perez’s life miserable. Defense has been the strength of this team and has kept them in every game this season. If the offense can reduce the turnovers and hold on to the ball longer, the defense could be even better.

Special Teams Has Been Strong All Season

Austin MacGinnis has been the most consistent scorer for the team as he remained perfect on the season in field goals as he is now 10-10. He has been called upon early in games to get the offense some points on the board. Austin Walter broke out a huge 97 yard kickoff return for a touchdown against New York to get them back in the game. It was all for nothing, but big plays is what this team has been missing and he provided that.

Bob Stoops is Handling This Team the Right Way

This season has the potential to get out of hand for Dallas, but Bob Stoops has provided the leadership this team has needed to avoid that. Stoops has said all the right things in taking responsibility for this season and showing frustrating for not being able to bring home a win at Globe Life Park. If there was any coach in the XFL that can get their team back on track, it’s going to be Stoops. He knows how to win and what it takes to do it. They have an opportunity to get it done against DC in the nation’s capitol in week six.

Five Observations from the Dallas Renegades Loss

The Dallas Renegades went down in their opener to the St. Louis BattleHawks 15-9.
The Dallas Renegades went down in their opener to the St. Louis BattleHawks 15-9. (Credit XFL.com)

Sunday did not go the way the Dallas Renegades were hoping it would go. They debuted their team on the new look Globe Life Park field to over 17,000 fans in the stands. The result of the game was a tough loss for fans and the team to go home to. The Dallas Renegades went down in their opener to the St. Louis BattleHawks 15-9. There were some positives to the game and some negatives that fans were able to observe on the field during the game that will set the tone for the rest of the season.

The Running Backs Will Catch the Ball Often

It was apparently from the beginning of the game that the running backs were going to be involved in the offense. On the first drive alone, fans saw Lance Dunbar catch two passes out of the backfield. He ended the game with six catches. The assumption was that the running backs were going to be apart of the identity of the team, but without Landry Jones, they were a good portion of the passing games. Many times, Philip Nelson would dump it off to the running back as a safety net. It will be interesting to see how much Jones will use his running backs.

Landry Jones is Needed

Hal Mumme’s play calling could be seen as conservative as he didn’t call many deep ball passes until the second half. Most of the game consisted of Nelson hitting Lance Dunbar or Flynn Nagel on short five to seven yard passes. While the offense was efficient in moving the ball down the field, the Renegades was very conservative with their pass calls. This has a lot to do with the fact that Nelson had calls that were all short passes. With Landry Jones most likely coming back into the lineup in week two, that should change how they play.

Rushing Attack is a Concern

All four running backs struggled as they combined for 12 carries for 58 yards. The Renegades was never able to establish a running game throughout the contest. The offensive line could be part of the responsibility as they weren’t able to open up many holes. Lance Dunbar was the most established back. Cameron Artis-Payne came in as the starter, but only got two carries in the game. The passing game was part of most of the game plan, but the team will need to work on opening up the running game more often.

Defense Had Trouble Against the Run

The front seven was considered to be one of the best and played well compared to other teams over the weekend. The weakness came in a couple of deep balls that were caught by the BattleHawks. Stopping the running game was shown to be the tough for the defense. Matt Jones and Jordan Ta’amu had big games on the ground as they are now the league’s top two rushers. Not a good sign for the team. Despite the fact that they allowed 191 yards rushing, the defense did only allow 15 points and have something to look forward to in the upcoming weeks.

Bob Stoops is the Right Man

Nothing bad can be said about how good it felt to have Bob Stoops back on the sidelines for the first time in three years. Stoops looked confident and handled the Jones injury as well as he could. He handled the media well after the game as he seemed excited to be back in coaching. This was a good test for the team and for Stoops to see how they would respond. The offense wasn’t able to finish drives and the defense struggled against the run, but the team was in the game the whole time. Stoops had his players ready for the game even though the result was not what they wanted it to be. Jones looks good to return next week against LA and with all the changes happening to the Wildcats, it looks to be a good matchup for the Renegades to bounce back with.

Bob Stoops Squashes Florida State, College Rumors

All that we have been hearing in the past few weeks was the rumor that Dallas Renegades head coach Bob Stoops was going to bolt from the team and head to Tallahassee to coach the Florida State Seminoles football team after they fired Willie Taggart with only a season and a half under his belt.

After Taggart’s firing, the rumors grew like a wildfire when Stoops was found in early November at a Dan Marino Foundation event held in Florida. There were even journalistw based in Florida that were convinced that he was going to agree on a deal with Florida State to be the head coach. Stoops took this chance to shut down the rumors by telling ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit that he was not a candidate for the job.

This week, XFL coaches and team presidents are at the league’s headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut as they discuss the upcoming season. Stoops gave fans more of a reinsurance when he commented on why he came out of retirement to coach the Renegades by saying, “I believe in this league. I believe in our leadership. I believe in these head coaches, that we’re gonna put a good product out there. That’s going to be exciting, and fun to watch, and fun to be a part of.”

He also made an appearance on ESPN Central Texas Wednesday where he answered a question about his future in coaching college. ““Well you never know what the Lord is going to bring you,” Stoops said. “Everybody wants you to define your life at every age. At 50, they wanted me to know what I was going to do the rest of my life. And at 55, and now at 59, everyone thinks you gotta, you know, who knows what I’ll be doing next year or the year after. You don’t know what you’re going to be doing next year. And the good Lord is the only one who knows. We’ll see where things end up for me.”

This isn’t new to Stoops as his name was brought up for the Auburn job last season when Gus Malzahn was on the hot seat before keeping his job. Fans should expect this to not be the end of the rumors as well as his name has also been brought up for the USC job should that be open.

He will always be at the top of every college head coaching job as he’s one of the most decorated coaches in college football in the past two decades and in history. Renegade fans can rest assure that Stoops seems to be staying for at least this upcoming season.

Fans can watch Bob Stoops and the Renegades kick off their season at their new home in Globe Life Park when they take on the St. Louis Battlehawks Sunday, February 9th at 4:00 pm central time.

A Stroke of Oliver Luck

Oliver Luck signs Bob Stoops to Coach in the XFL.”That’s not something, I am going to be interested in,” Bob Stoops said when the XFL initially reached out to him over a month ago. Stoops was echoing the sentiments of millions of sports fans, when they first heard about the return of the XFL.

At this point, not being interested in the XFL is probably still the feeling of most sports fans, but there’s no denying that the improbable return of the league was matched or bettered by the shocking announcement that legendary coach Bob Stoops was buying in. Changing people’s perception of the league is not going to be an overnight accomplishment, but this is a big step forward in doing so. Call it a “Stroke of Oliver Luck.”

Eyebrows were raised with astonishment when it became official that Bob Stoops had signed a two-year deal, becoming the Head Coach and General Manager of the XFL’s Dallas pro-football team. Very few saw this coming. When NFL reporter Benjamin Allbright reported in January that Bob Stoops was contemplating a return to coaching, in the XFL, he was mocked and ridiculed. There were people on social media that were ripping news sources that finally confirmed the Bob Stoops rumor as a reality. One Twitter user even cursed out ESPN for “getting it wrong.” This person thought that Stoops was signing with the other league, and was angry that ESPN got the league name wrong. Almost as if to say, “How could this possibly be right?”

Regardless of the negative perception of the XFL, some of it was earned through sins of the league’s past. There’s no denying what a great hiring CEO and Commissioner Oliver Luck pulled off here with his football operations staff. This is a superb hire in any league, or for any college program, let alone an upstart spring pro-football league that has baggage. There was no one happier this past week than Oliver Luck. He was downright giddy. He deserves to pat himself on the back for this hire. If he was running the Cincinnati Bengals and made this hire, it would be worthy of praise. But this is not the NFL. Luck actually convinced Stoops to take the unlikely plunge of being an XFL head coach. At this point, it’s quite clear that the XFL’s best asset is their commissioner.

It was reported and highlighted through video by Mark Berman in Houston, that Oliver Luck, through his close associate and friend newly minted Houston Cougars coach Dana Holgorsen, reached out to Bob Stoops to gauge his interest. Holgorsen told Luck that Stoops was getting the itch to get back into coaching. Stoops dilemma was that he didn’t want to get back into the college ranks. He wanted to be near his three kids, who are attending Oklahoma. He wanted to see his son play college ball in the fall.

The XFL, as absurd of an option as it appeared to be initially, turned out to be an ideal fit for what Stoops was looking for. He had nothing left to accomplish in college. No interest in getting back on the recruiting grind, and no interest in being away from Oklahoma or his family. Then, in comes Oliver Luck with the ideal job. It was Luck, who convinced Stoops that the XFL was going to be a respectable and viable entity. This is something Oliver Luck has been working really hard at doing, especially in the last couple of weeks. After an interview with ‘The Professor” John Clayton on his ‘Schooled’ podcast in Seattle, Clayton commented on how his conversation with Luck, changed his viewpoint on the league. Even legendary sportscaster Tim Brando applauded Oliver Luck and their hiring of Bob Stoops, stating that the XFL had “more juice” than the AAF.” Brando even commented on social media that the hiring of Oliver Luck told him, “all he needed to know.” The television decisions they have in front of them will be fun to watch moving forward.” Brando currently works for Fox Sports, which coincidentally is the rumored broadcasting co-partner of the XFL. It’s not a stretch to think that Brando could be a part of the presentation.

Besides the obvious credibility and name recognition that Bob Stoops brings to the league, his expertise in college football and recruiting also greatly benefits the XFL. This is a football coach who has recent knowledge of the college football game, not someone who has been out of the loop for 10 to 15 years. Stoops is going to be recruiting and signing from a pool of players that he is extremely familiar with, something he mentioned on Dallas Radio Friday. Not only players that he successfully recruited and coached at Oklahoma University, but even players that he recruited but ended up landing at Texas, Texas A&M, or TCU, etc, and players and coaches he coached with and against. During an interview on “The Ticket,” in Dallas, Stoops stated that he is already fielding “millions” of calls from coaches and football players that are looking to join him in Dallas. Having “Optimum Scouting” as the league’s direct scouting department, and VP Doug Whaley’s scouting expertise, will also aid Stoops and the other seven head coach/gm’s that sign on.

Pep Hamilton may be the next XFL Head Coach/GM hiring. He is rumored to be taking on the challenge of finally getting to run his own pro-football team in Washington D.C. Hamilton has ties to Oliver Luck, coaching and coordinating offenses for his son Andrew at Stanford and Indianapolis. Hamilton also coached current XFL Director of Football Operations, Sam Schwartzstein. Beyond those connections to the league office. Hamilton went to school and started his coaching career in D.C. at Howard University. Like Stoops, Hamilton has experience in the college game, but also brings along pro-football experience as well. It’s clear at this point, that when Oliver Luck drops hints it’s not just noise or false hype. He revealed on Radio Row that a coach from a major college program had signed on. That turned out to be true. On Texas radio, he stated that a former coordinator that didn’t have head coaching experience, had signed on. That spells out Hamilton. His other hint on Houston Radio with Sean Salisbury, was that, “former NFL head coaches have left assistant jobs to sign on with the XFL.” Perhaps, with the heightened amount of attention towards the league with the Stoops hiring. credible reporters like Benjamin Allbright will out-scoop everyone again on the next group of names.

Legendary Chinese Philosopher Lau Tzu once said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Oliver Luck and the XFL just took a giant-step forward in their journey towards credibility and redemption.