The first week of the XFL season saw excitement, action, and drama. It also gave us the chance to finally see and assess the team’s performances on the field. Below we will be breaking down what we saw from each team in the XFL’s kickoff weekend, and how they stack up based off the first week of play.
#1 – DC Defenders (1-0)
With a 31-19 win over Seattle to start the XFL season, the Defenders gave the most complete performance on the field during week one, scoring touchdowns on offense, defense, and special teams. Head coach Pep Hamilton showed his ability to communicate and properly execute his offense. These skills allowed Hamilton’s squad to be the most prepared out of any team we saw on the field over the weekend, and establish themselves as the league’s team to beat.
Quarterback Cardale Jones gave a stellar first performance and solidified his spot as the early MVP favorite, throwing 16/26 for 283 yards and two touchdowns. Jones showcased his huge arm and ability to run and avoid sacks. The receivers played smart and knew where to be, and the defense put up a fight against Brandon Silvers, forcing two interceptions. The whole team ran like a well-oiled machine under Hamilton and shows no signs of slowing down.
#2 – Houston Roughnecks (1-0)
Houston showcased their fast-paced offense in their 37-17 rout of the Wildcats. Quarterback PJ Walker was the XFL’s star of the week, throwing for 272 yards and 4 touchdowns. Head coach June Jones showed that he made the right choice by putting Walker at the helm over Connor Cook. Walker’s mobility and athleticism paid off immensely. His dynamic abilities go father than that though, as he also frequently threw deep dimes downfield.
On the other side of the ball, Houston put constant pressure on LA. Their defensive line landed 16 hits on the quarterback and showcased the best pass rushing we saw all weekend. Defensive End Kony Early had five of the QB hits by himself, which was more than six XFL teams had collectively in the first week of the season.
#3 – New York Guardians (1-0)
The Guardians had a solid first showing in a 23-3 victory over Tampa. Matt McGloin may not be able to run around as well as the previously-mentioned quarterbacks, but he has an accurate arm and a great ability to read the field. A veteran QB in control of this offensive scheme should help with keeping the Guardians competitive throughout the season. The Guardians are one of the most stable teams when it comes to their roster, and the consistency will be even better with a tested leader like McGloin.
The best showing from Kevin Gilbride’s squad came on defense, as they were able to silence and expose Aaron Murray. The Guardians came up with 3 interceptions and sacked Murray 5 times. The team did show some weaknesses defending the run game, allowing 150 yards on the ground.
#4 – Saint Louis BattleHawks (1-0)
The BattleHawks came away with a win in a 15-9 defensive clash against Dallas. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu had an impressive XFL debut as he went 20-27 for 209 yards and a touchdown. On top of that, he was a threat on the ground, running the ball 9 times for 77 yards. The 22-year-old looks much more poised and confident on the field and has improved significantly since his college days at Ole Miss. Ta’amu has a lot of potential and can continue to grow and develop throughout the season under the coaching of Jonathan Hayes.
The Battlehawks’ offensive was also assisted by a relentless run game led by Matt Jones that put up 191 yards and a touchdown. On the defensive side of the ball, they were able to lock down the opposing passing game and have a massive threat in the secondary with safety Kenny Robinson. Saint Louis has a very balanced offensive and multiple ways to defeat their opponents, which can make them tough to gameplan against.
#5 – Dallas Renegades (0-1)
Expect this team to look very different with Landry Jones playing this weekend. In Jones’ absence, backup QB Philip Nelson was never able to throw deep, instead choosing to follow a dink and dunk pass game that never pushed the ball downfield. The defense looked solid except for some struggles against the run. Tegray Scales was the focal point of the defensive line, recording a sack and 3 tackles for loss. This team was still able to play a competitive game against the BattleHawks and would have won if their starting quarterback was in it.
Expect the Bob Stoops and Hal Mumme air raid offense to take full effect this weekend against DC. Dallas is a team that is going to rely on their ability to throw the ball. Even with their backup QB under center the team only ran the ball 10 times. The Renegades’ offense and playbook were built and designed for Landry Jones, so fans should not be panicking after this week’s performance.
#6 – Seattle Dragons (0-1)
Seattle is the other fanbase that shouldn’t be discouraged following a disappointing first week. The team stayed competitive against very tough competition and saw a good outing from their trio of running backs. Their defense played well and was highlighted by former Denver Bronco Steven Johnson. This team has talent in many different areas, which can continue to develop and turn the Dragons into a competitor.
Quarterback Brandon Silvers had ups and downs, throwing for 3 touchdowns but also giving up 2 interceptions. He had some forced throws downfield and wasn’t able to consistently get the ball to his check downs. This is something that he should be able to overcome with proper coaching from Jim Zorn. Silvers has a lot of upsides and potential, but it’s clear there’s still improvement that needs to happen.
#7 – Los Angeles Wildcats (0-1)
The Wildcats were without starting quarterback Josh Johnson to open the season, but it’s apparent they have more problems than just that, specifically with their defense. Los Angeles surrendered 37 points to Houston and had no answers to their run and shoot offense. These problems were clear to head coach and general manager Winston Moss, as he decided to fire defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson and trade defensive captain LB Anthony Johnson following the game.
Backup quarterback Charles Kanoff was thrown into the starting role after just 5 practices with the team. This lack of preparation showed, but Kanoff ultimately had a strong showing given the little time he had to prepare. The team came out of the gate and had a few impressive drives to start the game, but were unable to compete with the Roughnecks as they ran away with the game. Johnson is set to start this weekend against Dallas, which should give a better indicator of where Norm Chow’s offense stands.
#8 – Tampa Bay Vipers (0-1)
The Vipers were the most frustrating team to watch in the league in the first week. The team went 0-4 in the red zone, and failed to capitalize on any of the opportunities they were given. They also lacked direction on defense, failing to record a sack and allowing the Guardians to run over them in their 3-23 loss.
Starting QB Aaron Murray struggled immensely, completing 47% of his passes and throwing 2 interceptions. Murray was pulled a few times for Quinton Flowers, who gave the offense some life as a dual-threat who wasn’t afraid to run. Murray lacks this mobility and will need to stay in the pocket in order to succeed. It’s unclear how this quarterback situation will unravel, but it will present a difficult decision for head coach Marc Trestman.