Week 1 of the XFL season ended in a New York Guardians win. Their match up verse the Vipers had a ton of excitement for the home Guardians. Offensively they moved the ball enough early on to score points and lean on their strong defense. Defensively their unit played some of the best football all weekend. Let us look at where the Guardians excelled in their week 1 victory.
When looking at this game we are going to start with the defense. We talked about how the Guardians would have to get pressure and have a great game in the secondary to win. Well they did that and even more. The Vipers were supposed to be a top passing unit and the Guardians held them to 244 pass yards and forced two interceptions. The pass rush really excelled in this game forcing 5 sacks and pressuring Murray consistently. Murray finished completing less than 50% of his passes and only had 6.8 yards per attempt. The line also held up for the most part against the run which was one of our concerns.
One player we said was sure to make an impact for this defense was Jamar Summers. Summers had a terrific game for this secondary that consistently harassed the Vipers wide receivers. Summers returned a fumble for a touchdown late in the game that essentially sealed the victory. The Guardians secondary consistently kept everything in front of them and forced the Vipers into difficult throws. Wesley Sutton also had two sacks from his safety position in crucial spots in the game. It seemed like the perfect scheme for going up against a team like the Vipers. If this defense can play this well moving forward the Guardians will be a tough out.
We start by saying that this was not a spectacular performance by any means for the Guardians offense. They struggled to keep moving the ball and the run game was dreadful at times. McGloin managed the game well and made the accurate passes when need be. Early in the game after a tremendous opening return McGloin led a terrific drive. The offense went 48 yards in 8 plays coming out passing. Although this is a balanced offense I loved the approach of coming out swinging. It showed McGloin’s ability to make accurate throws and fit them into tight windows. This is the drive that Guardians fans want to see for the season.
The rest of the game was very sluggish for this Guardians team. Outside of a huge catch by Mekale McKay to set up the second touchdown for the Guardians in the 2nd the team did not do much. 6 out of the last 7 drives ended in punts including all of their second half drives. They only had a net of 43 yards and 2 first downs in the second half. No player really stepped up for this offense and they found no rhythm. The offensive line struggled against the pass rush and could not open any lanes for the running backs. If it was not for the strong defensive effort the offense could have lost this game by not being able to control the clock. The one plus we did see was that the unit did not lose any fumbles and had no turnovers overall.
The special teams unit started off the game very strong. An opening kickoff of 59 yards by Austin Duke immediately got the crowd into it. Being able to have explosive plays like this from this unit will be important in swinging momentum in the Guardians favor. Matt McCrane also added a 49 yard field goal in the game. Being able to make a kick of that yardage gives the coaching staff confidence in him moving forward. Having an accurate kicker in McCrane can go a long way for this Guardian team. Overall the coverage unit played very well and did not give up any major returns which helped mightily in the New York Guardians win.
Overall the New York Guardians win was a very solid effort. Yes the offense struggled at times but they were able to make enough plays early on to take a lead. The defense settled in and had a very strong showing which included several big plays in key moments. The Guardians will have to continue to improve all around especially with a two game road trip coming up. Next week the Guardians will play the DC Defenders who also won their home opener. Look for the Guardians to have an important week of practice and check out our game preview at the end of the week.