Week Three of the XFL season delivered major shakeups and surprises, leaving us with more questions. The powers are shifting, and below we deceiver where teams stack up after three weeks of play.
#1 – Houston Roughnecks (3-0; Previously 2nd)
The Roughnecks are the sole undefeated team in the XFL following their 34-27 win over Tampa Bay. PJ Walker stands alone as the standout quarterback from the league. The backbone of June Jones’ offense relies on Walker’s connection with Cam Phillips. During the last two games, he caught a trio of touchdowns. He leads the league in all the major receiving categories.
The team struggles with questions on defense. For instance, defend the run. So far, their league-leading 10 sacks compensates. RB James Butler is the key to making Houston a complete team, with him gradually establishing himself as a good run option. The Roughnecks have been able to distance themselves from the competition with their high-octane offense and the ability to make highlight plays, and they show no signs of stalling.
#2 – Saint Louis BattleHawks (2-1; Previously 3rd)
Saint Louis made it clear that the kaw is the law in front of a sellout crowd at The Dome in a 29-9 victory of the Guardians. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu is an all-around playmaker with his mobility and accuracy when flinging the ball. Jonathan Hayes has teamed him up with RB Matt Jones, who is now the league’s rushing leader with 224 yards, to ensure the team has multiple ways to find the endzone.
The defense has been robust, with eight sacks on the season and a strong presence in the secondary. The Hawks also excel on special teams, with Joe Powell getting the first touchdown off a kickoff return. Kicker Taylor Russolino and punter Marquette Kings round off the team’s talent and provide relief for all of Hayes’ squad. This team can win any way possible and can soar above the competition with its’ artillery.
#3 – Dallas Renegades (2-1; Previously 4th)
Landry Jones has been able to find his stride in Bob Stoops’ offense, quickly turning the team around and securing a 24-12 win over the Dragons. Jones has had no problem finding the 6’8” TE Donal Parham the endzone, with the connection accounting for 101 yards and two scores last week. RB Cameron Artis-Payne is averaging a league-leading 6.4 yards per carry in efforts that have shown this team is the best in the league at moving the ball.
Stoops’ defensive is holding their opponents to just 15 points per game, the best in the league. The biggest question is how well the offensive will be able to perform under pressure from the better defenses in the league. It appears that Jones will be able to continue on his success and develop in this scheme, with effective options both in the air and on the ground. Dallas will be tested on Sunday in a game with major implications when they take on Houston in a Texas throwdown.
#4 – DC Defenders (2-1; Previously 1st)
The Defenders were looking like the best team in the XFL last week, and it’s hard to tell if their floundering 39-9 outing against LA will set them back. Cardale Jones looked out of sync in his first game on the road, throwing four interceptions before being taken out for Tyree Jackson. Their RB duo of Donnel Pumphrey and Jhurrell Pressley was also silenced, and the defense was picked apart by Josh Johnson.
This performance shouldn’t discredit Pep Hamilton, he’s still an incredible communicator and one of the best offensive minds in the league. The Defenders are still a very balanced and complete squad on paper and have the best defense against the rush in the league. The Defenders will look to have a bounceback performance and prove their status as a contender when they take on Tampa this weekend.
#5 – Los Angeles Wildcats (1-2; Previously 7th)
After two weeks of a struggling offense, the Wildcats came out firing on all cylinders behind Josh Johnson in a statement showing against the Defenders. Winston Moss’s squad hasn’t looked consistent in the first three weeks, but the trajectory of this team is shooting up as everything begins to click. Johnson now looks poised under center and was able to pick apart the DC secondary with his dynamic receiving duo of Nelson Spruce and Tre McBride.
After the dismissal of defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson, Winston Moss has been able to turn the defense around and shape it into a unit he can rely on, coming up with five takeaways against a DC offense that had looked unstoppable. In the absence of RB Elijah Hood, Martez Carter was able to pick up the mantle and score a hat-trick worth of touchdowns, punctuating the performance with a backflip in the endzone. The Wildcats have found their identity and are on the rise with no signs of slowing down.
#6 – Seattle Dragons (1-2: Previously 5th)
The Dragons have seemed like a team teetering on the verge, being able to put up good overall outing but struggling to capitalize when it means most. Head coach Jim Zorn has been committed to his initial QB choice in Brandon Silvers, while many fans have been calling for B.J. Daniels to play. Silvers hasn’t been a bad player under center, but he hasn’t excelled much either, throwing for 6 TDs and 4 interceptions on a 53.3% completion rate on the season.
The Dragons have been much more lively on defense, with LB Steven Johnson leading the league with 32 tackles in the first three weeks and DE Marcel Frazier adding to the disruption. The defense is competitive enough, but with their quarterback situation and inability to finish drives when it matters, it’s hard to see Seattle climbing out of the limbo of mediocracy.
#7 – New York Guardians (1-2; Previously 6th)
Kevin Gilbride’s squad does not look ready, with Matt McGloin falling off a cliff following their Week One victory against Tampa. New York’s third-string quarterback Luis Perez, who came in during the fourth quarter of their loss to the Battlehawks offers hope. Perez was a standout in the AAF with the Commanders with a tireless work ethic that I described in my XFL starting QBs breakdown. Even if Perez is named the starter, the team will have a lot of work to do with its playcalling and execution.
The backbone of the team has been their defensive line, but New York still surrendered 27 and 29 points in the last two weeks. Regardless of this, the Guardians will not be able to succeed until they have their quarterback debacle figured out. Rotating through all three of your quarterbacks in a single game is not how you stabilize your offense, and Kevin Gilbride needs to quickly figure out who his starting guy will be to try and keep this sinking ship afloat.
#8 – Tampa Bay Vipers (0-3; Previously 8th)
Vipers fans must hold tight, staying competitive with the Roughnecks for most of the game before losing steam. Marc Trestman seems to be gradually sending his team in the right direction, as they finally picked up their first offensive touchdown in the third week. This team has good weapons highlighted by RB De’Veon Smith and TE Nick Truesdell, but will continue to struggle until they figure out their paramount position.
Marc Trestman thought he had his quarterback situation figured out with Quinton Flowers. However, the team announced earlier in the week, that the quarterback would be taking a leave of absence. This essentially sets the Vipers back to square one. Trestman needs to decide between Taylor Cornelius and Aaron Murray. The Vipers remain a fun team to watch and have a lot of grit. Yet, they won’t be able to make it out of the winless basement, until their quarterback situation settles.