Wow, what an impressive New York Guardians win. If you read our preview article detailing the ways, we thought the Guardians could win you knew we had confidence in this team. Yet, we thought going on the road would be a difficult task for the Guardians. Yet we were wrong! This team went in and played their style of football in order to pull off the upset. They leaned on another stellar strong performance by the defense and played grind it out football. They also finally added an explosive passing play that we have been wanting for the past few weeks. Let us break down what led to this New York Guardians win.
The offense for the Guardians was filled with some gritty mentality and electric play. The beginning of the second half was electric for the Guardians. With the first half being mostly about field goals the Guardians needed to come out hot at the start of the second half. Their first touchdown drive consisted of some of the better passing we had seen all season. Perez completed passed of 19, 10 and 26 yards to slice through the defense. Two of those were to his big-time target McKay. The Guardians finished that drive with a one-yard Marquise Williams run. On the next possession, we finally got the big-time excitement. Perez threw a bomb to Colby Pearson in which he caught and broke a tackle to take it the distance. That 80-yard touchdown pass and run was exactly what this team needed to build excitement.
Perez overall has looked like a savior for this offense. Even though this team still has trouble finishing drives they moved the ball effectively. Getting 3 field goals may not excite people but for the second week in a row, we have seen them move the ball. The Guardians have been able to run the ball with multiple players as well. This leads to a more balanced attack we discussed them needing to have in the preseason. Overall, the Guardians ran the ball for 144 yards and posted a 4.5 yards per attempt. This has allowed things to open up more for the passing game. The offensive line also has been playing better which helps. They have given more time for the quarterback and are getting more of a push at the front.
I cannot say enough about how impressed I am with this defense week in and week out. One of the first things that stand out to me is the 3rd down efficiency. The defensive unit held the Renegades to 4 out of 15 third-down conversions. This equates to a 27% effectiveness which is just incredible. It starts with the players up front. The defensive line consistently got pressure on Phillip Nelson. Cavon Walker had 4 hits against the quarterback and Bunmi Rotimi added 3 quarterback hits. Walker also added 2 sacks and Frank Ginda added one. This pressure was key as it got Nelson off his game and has led to this team’s success. They also stuffed the run game as they only let up 56 yards yesterday. This strong play up front set the tone for a huge defensive performance.
Perhaps this biggest surprise by the defensive line was the fact they added two interceptions! Defensive tackle Toby Johnson intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter and defensive end Ryan Mueller returned one for a touchdown. Being able to create turnovers as they did is just incredible and shows how aware the defensive front is. The back end of the defense also needs to be recognized. Although, Dallas attempted almost 50 passes they only completed 57% of them. The team as a whole had 12 pass deflections with 5 coming from safety Dravon Askew-Henry. This team’s ability to play very good coverage against a pass-heavy attack will lead to big things moving forward. By limiting the team’s big play ability, it allows that ferocious pass rush to get after teams.
Overall, this was a complete team effort that showed how talented this team really is. The offensive unit seems to finally have found a rhythm heading into a crucial part of the season. Perez seems to be the answer they needed at quarterback and his play has lifted this team. The defense has been able to consistently get pressure and make plays. They look like a clear top unit in the league and could help them get to the playoffs. With a huge matchup coming up against Houston, we get ready to see how this team will match up against the top team in the XFL.