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XFL Defenders dominate as New York’s offense and McGloin suffer meltdown

To state that it was a terrible day at the office for Guardians Quarterback Matt McGloin would be an understatement.

New York Guardians QB Matt MCGloin

“At no point in time, did I feel like we were going to be successful today.” Worst game, I have ever been a part of.”
-New York Guardians Quarterback Matt McGloin after being benched in New York’s 27-0 loss to the DC Defenders on Saturday Afternoon.

” One of two things happen when you get your butt beat like we did. You either come together or you splinter.”
-New York Guardians Head Coach Kevin Gilbride addressing his team in the locker room after the Defenders loss.

Washington D.C–  The New York Guardians faced their first big test of the early season in DC on Saturday and failed to build off of last week’s 23-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Vipers. In front of over 15,000 fans at Audi Field, the D.C. Defenders (2-0) controlled the entire game from the outset, while the Guardians (1-1) fell apart at the seams, in a 27-0 loss. To state that it was a terrible day at the office for Guardians Quarterback Matt McGloin would be an understatement.

It was a tale of two entirely different offenses. Defenders Head Coach/play-caller Pep Hamilton and early MVP candidate Cardale Jones (23/37 276 yards 2 td’s 1 int) are in mid-season form, clicking on all cylinders. The Guardians defense was competitive and held DC out of their end zone for the majority of the game until faltering late.

The drama surrounding New York’s offense overshadowed DC’s crisp overall team win, with its dysfunction and ineptitude. A game that saw Quarterback Matt McGloin (8/19 44 yards 2ints) miss multiple open receivers. The 30-year old former NFL quarterback, McGloin looked frustrated from the outset.  At halftime with the Guardians trailing 12-0, ESPN’s Diana Russini interviewed Matt McGloin on the sidelines to get his take on the teams’ first-half struggles.  McGloin told Russini, “We need to change the whole entire gameplan.”  A shot inadvertently or not, taken towards New York’s offensive coordinator G.A. Mangus. Matt McGloin’s struggles would get worse in the second half, missing two receivers downfield for would be-scores, and then throwing an ill-advised pass in the flat, that was intercepted by the Defenders Jameer Thurman and returned for a score from 46-yards out, to give DC an 18-0 lead. At one point, Kevin Gilbride had to calmly get into McGloin’s ear to try and settle the veteran down on the sidelines. McGloin’s woes on the field and sidelines led to him being benched for Quarterback Marquise Williams late in the game.

The excitement behind the quality of the new league that is the XFL hasn’t worn off, but the business of football has begun. The league may be in good standing with its audience, but players or coaches who perform poorly will not be well received. The Quarterback position lends itself to scrutiny, sometimes unfairly, but it’s part of the job. McGloin has always been a stand-up veteran. It’s part of the reason why he was recommended by Andy Reid, and why the Guardians specifically targeted him to lead their offense back in the fall. McGloin certainly had the type of game as a pro, that he would like to forget as soon as possible. The feeling is that Matt McGloin will remain the starter moving forward for the time being.

One of the underlying elements of New York’s early-season offensive struggles is the change in offensive play-caller from Kevin Gilbride to GA Mangus.  Kevin Gilbride has decided to take on a CEO role with the entire team. He’s entrusted Mangus and his offensive staff with the play-calling/design. A significant concession for someone like Gilbride, who has been a play-caller his entire career. One of the aspects lost in last week’s opening win was New York’s struggles on offense (1-10 on 3rd down) the inefficiency was camouflaged by a strong performance from the Guardians defense and special teams. Part of McGloin’s frustration was the play-calling. If New York produces only 137 yards as they did against DC moving forward. Kevin Gilbride may have to retake ownership of the offense. To Kevin Gilbride’s credit, he told the media and his players after the game that the loss was on him. “This is nobody’s fault except mine.” Gilbride is trying to not lose the team, and keep everyone on the same page.

In a shorter ten-game season in the XFL, how the Guardians respond to today’s disappointing loss will tell the tale of their upcoming season.

After the game, Gilbride spoke to the media and expressed his displeasure, “I’m disappointed with how we played, and that’s on me… When you play as poorly as we did today, one of two things is going to happen. You will either recognize that this wasn’t good enough, and you’re going to dig down deeper, and you’re going to rally each other and inspire each other… Or you splinter apart.” Gilbride continued, “I thought they (Guardians defense) played inspired football, it’s not wasted. The effort that was put forth… it was quite an example of how to go about your business… Knowing the character that was demonstrated today, I would be very, very surprised if we don’t rally around each other and come back ready to play next week.”

The Guardians will visit St. Louis next week to take on the BattleHawks in the team’s home opener (Sunday, 3 pm ET on ESPN)  while D.C. will fly cross-country to take on the Los Angeles Wildcats on Sunday, February 23. (6 pm ET/3 pm Pac, FS1).

Mike Mitchell is a freelance sports writer, analyst, and a general lover of all football. Mike was one of the original XFLBoard.com Team Reporters in 2001, reporting on the New York/New Jersey Hitmen. We have welcomed him back to the XFLBoard and love his ongoing insightful contributions.

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