Is there a real QB controversy brewing in H-Town?

Houston Roughnecks Quarterbacks Phillip-Walker and Connor Cook
Houston Roughnecks Quarterbacks Phillip-Walker and Connor Cook

With the XFL season opening next week, most teams have settled on their final rosters and announced their starting quarterbacks for the opening week games.  This isn’t the case in Houston, where head coach June Jones hasn’t announced who the starting quarterback will be next week in the inaugural opener against the Los Angeles Wildcats.  This strategy may be nothing more than a tactic to force the Wildcats defensive staff to prepare for either P.J. Walker or Connor Cook and not know who will step up to lead the Roughnecks offense until the very last moment.  Another version could be the fact that Coach Jones likes both QB’s and hasn’t made a final decision, but this theory is not very likely; any football coach quickly knows who the proper “fit” is player-wise and move forward with developing a game scheme around personnel decisions.

The Houston Roughnecks are lucky to have two outstanding players at the QB position, both of whom are proven leaders and have plenty of talent to bring to the Roughnecks offense.  P.J. Walker came out of the Matt Rhule-led Temple program in college and was probably the greatest QB that school has ever seen, including American Athletic Conference championships and bowl game appearances.  Walker was a prolific passer and has the reputation of being a highly mobile style of quarterback — a key ingredient in the “Run N Shoot” offense favored by June Jones.  Connor Cook, on the other hand, was equally successful in college at Michigan State and led the Spartans to Big Ten championships and bowl game appearances in the Rose Bowl and a CFP semi final in the Cotton Bowl against Alabama.  Cook is a strong QB who has the ability to be a big-time playmaker and is best remembered for making his NFL starting debut in the playoffs with the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders.

June Jones obviously has to make a decision on which QB best fits into his offensive scheme.  Furthermore, every head coach has to pick a QB based on their leadership ability and their game management style.  Both Walker and Cook have proven that they are tested leaders in the college ranks and both have strong passing arms.

Who gets the final nod? When all else is equal it will probably be P.J. Walker who gets the starting nod next Saturday.

Does this mean that Connor Cook is a lesser choice?  Cook is a proven QB who stepped up like a true leader to intense pressure with his first NFL start in the postseason.  The reality is both players are talented QB’s and either of them will be successful in the XFL.  It’s now up to the head coach to decide who will start and who will be the backup QB in Houston.  Time and time again the NFL regular season has shown that every team must stock themselves with multiple, high quality QB’s who can step in and lead a team in an instant and the Houston Roughnecks have two great players to lead the offense next week

Ten days out, and the XFL Houston Roughnecks starting QB is still a mystery

Quarterbacks P.J. Walker and Conner Cook
Quarterbacks P.J. Walker and Conner Cook

What’s up Roughnecks fans! Can you believe it? We are just 10 days away from kick-off at TDECU Stadium near Downtown Houston. Two years we have waited for this day to come, and now it is finally upon us. The Texans miserable loss is long forgotten, because a new face has come to town, and they are ready to hit the ground running. The XFL’s Houston Roughnecks are here, and they are ready to make a stand.

When you listen to podcasts, read predictions, or just simply look at the roster, you will realize that a lot of people are considering the Roughnecks among the top four teams in the league. Some consider them the best, others are very high on them, but almost no one thinks they will be the bottom of the barrel. And for good reason! Just look at their roster.

Let’s start with who I believe will be the BEST receiver in the league in Sammy Coates. The former Pittsburgh Steeler, and yes Houston Texan for a brief moment, is one of the most talented players in the league. His second year with the Steelers, he caught 21 passes for 435 yards and 2 TDs. You have to remember, he was playing with Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith Schuster, and a very talented receiving core. If you could stand out in that field, that’s saying something.

Andre Williams, running back out of Boston College and 2013 Heisman Finalist, finished his college career ranked 5th All-Time in NCAA history for rushing yards in a single season with 2,177 yards, can move the sticks and even be versatile in the passing game. Speaking of…

Let’s stick on the passing game. Head Coach June Jones, who if you remember, is a old Houston face, most notably for his time with the Houston Gamblers as their Wide Receivers coach in 1984, is one of the most pass happy coaches out there. His brand of offense revolves around passing the football all over the field. But in order to do that, you need a competent quarterback. It just so happens the Roughnecks have two. Now don’t get me wrong, that is a good problem to have. I’m a Houston Texans fan. For the longest time, I hoped we would at least get one. Before Deshaun Watson, we had guys like Tom Savage, Brock Osweiler, the list goes on. It wasn’t pretty to say the least. But now with the Roughnecks, Coach Jones has a dilemma. Before the Official Draft began, the XFL assigned a Tier 1 quarterback to each of the 8 teams. Houston was gifted PJ Walker, former Temple standout, who set all kinds of records during his time there. I was excited! I love Walker’s game. He is a good thrower of the football, he can scramble when need be, and he is just very athletic in every way. So I was totally on board with PJ as our starting QB.

Well, now the Draft has begun, and it’s the Roughnecks with the #2 overall pick. Who do they get? Connor Cook, who you will remember played at Michigan State, set records, won big games, and led the Spartans to a Big 10 Championship and the victory at the 2014 Rose Bowl. However, if you live in Houston, you most notably remember Connor Cook, as the starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders against the Texans in the 2017 NFL Wild Card Playoff game. BUT, I want to caution people who think back to that game, and I want you to look at it from this perspective. Cook had NEVER started an NFL game up to that point. He wasn’t even expecting to start. But when Matt McGloin, now of the New York Guardians, got injured, he had to step in and take his place. So his very first NFL start came against, a Houston Texans defense, who that year ranked #2 overall in the league, led by Jadeveon Clowney, who was having a monster year. Not to mention, your first start coming the Playoffs, that can certainly be nerve wrecking. So I have always felt that Connor Cook never really got a fair shot at really being able to prove himself in the NFL.

But now that brings us to the Roughnecks. PJ Walker. Connor Cook. Not only both capable quarterbacks, but two guys, that if you ask me, have a shot to be the best quarterback in the XFL. Especially when you consider the system that they will be running with June Jones at the helm. And let’s not forget the weapons that will be at their disposal. However, the question remains, who do you go with? Well, as of right now, there is still no official word on who that week one starter will be. But I will tell you this. Whoever, Coach Jones decides to go with, we know they will thrive in this offense. I am excited to see what the Roughnecks bring to the field on February 8, because I can assure you, it will be a firework show.

Now, the question everyone wants answered. Who would I choose. Well… I would go with…