Week 2 of the XFL season kicks off with the New York Guardians vs DC Defenders. The Guardians will make their first road trip as both teams will be looking to win again. The game will air at 2pm on ABC and the weather looks to be in the mid-thirties but clear. The Guardians will have to play top notch defense again as the Defenders have some explosive playmakers. The offense will have to control the tempo and not make mistakes against a defense that thrived on opportunity last week. Let us dive in to how the Guardians can get another victory this week.
Guardian’s offense vs Defender’s Defense
Matt McGloin is going to have to lead a better performance for this offense than what they did in week 1. The Defenders last week had a tremendous secondary performance that intercepted 2 passes and had 9 pass deflections. Their safety Rahim Moore had a crucial interception early in the game after the Defenders started slow. Receivers Mekale McKay and Joe Horn are going to have to create separation as the cornerbacks for the Defenders could be exploited. Seattle finished with 3 passing touchdowns and I expect the Guardians to come out passing like last week to get McGloin in rhythm. McGloin is going to have to stay calm in the pocket and move around a little if the offensive line struggles early. Being on the road could be difficult so McGloin will have to use his experience to help the players around them.
We also must see a major improvement by the run game. Tim Cook and Darius Victor struggled to get anything going on the ground last week. The Defenders rotated between 3 and 4 down lineman last week which could make personal interesting. Elijah Qualls is a very big nose tackle who could clog up the middle and the linebacker core is led by former Stanford standout A.J. Tarpley. The Guardians may want to use bigger formation groupings in order to get their lineman to the second level on the linebackers. This could help in further opening up holes for both Cook and Victor. Getting the run game going could also open up the play action game for McGloin. This could also help a guy like McKay who has big play potential to open up the field for him if the defenders bite on the run.
Defender’s Offense vs Guardian’s Defense
The Guardians pass rush is going to have to get after Cardale Jones like they did last week. The Guardians had 5 sacks last week and 8 quarterback knockdowns. Jones showed that he can still sling it last week posted an XFL best 9.0 yards per attempt. If the Guardians can get consistent pressure and rattle Jones early he won’t be able to have time make those deeper throws. The Guardians defensive front will also have to account for several running backs. Both Jhurrel Pressley and Donnel Pumphrey played last week but were ineffective. Defensive end Bunmi Rotimi and linebacker Grant Dooley will have to be playmakers again in both the rush and pass game. If the Guardians front can take away the run they can lean on their secondary like last week.
The Guardians secondary played tremendously last week. They rotated 8 guys total and players made the most of their opportunity. Safety Wes Sutton shined as he played only 21 snaps but recorded 2 sacks. Cornerback Jamar Summers is going to have to have another big game against some solid Defender wide outs. Eli Rodgers is a player to watch in the slot and the Defenders have multiple receivers who could perform. I expect Summars again to shut down one of the wide outs as the Guardians rotate players to match up against the skill set of the Defenders. If they can force a physical game and create turnovers it will give the Guardians a good chance at winning.
After watching XFL this past weekend it is clear that special teams will play a crucial role in the game. Being able to break open a big time return like the Guardians did at the start of the game. Momentum swings also can occur on special teams as seen in the Defenders game last week. A blocked punt returned for the second quarter allowed the Defenders to get their first touchdown of the season. The Guardians will have to prepare for the special teams unit to ensure that the Defenders do not create a momentum changing play. Whether it is the return game or just punting in general the Guardians need to be sharp.
The New York Guardians will have to play an all-around game this week in order to beat the defenders. Offensively they will have to get some type of run game going in order to take some pressure of McGloin. McGloin will have to be more effective with his throws and the receivers will have to create more separation. Defensively they need to continue to get a pass rush and the cornerbacks need to play physical. Expect this to be a close game however being the first road start I think it’s a tough spot for the Guardians. They certainly can win but I think the Defenders powerful offense will win behind the arm of Cardale Jones.