Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo MESPORTS SOUTH
Week 1 of the revived XFL is in the books. While there is a lot for football fanatics to be excited about it still remains too early in the ball game to see if the XFL will be embraced enough to stand the test of time. Now that the curiosity has been fed and the anticipation has died down Week 2 will definitely give a better sense of just where this train is heading!
Here are my Power Play Team Rankings heading into Week 2 of the XFL
June Jones and his ball club show why this league may be all about the offense this Spring which wasn’t too difficult considering the arm Roughnecks QB, PJ Walker who accounted for four of Houstons five touchdowns in their season opener victory against the LA Wildcats. The Roughnecks offensive unit is stacked with the speed at least for the XFL that will be tough for some of these newly formed XFL defensive units still trying to play in sync. One offensive juggernaut player that could be a big versatile playmaker is former Kent State player and Roughnecks Slot Recieve, Nick Holley.
Holley has worn many offensive hats that could be useful in banking up the Roughneck bag of tricks. If you want a hybrid player that has played wide receiver, running back and even a little quarterback than Holley is Houstons guy! Rarely do you get a player like that? So it will be interesting to see how Walker and Holley operate in week 2 to speed up the Houston Offense. The Roughnecks remain at home in Week 2 and will take on the St. Louis Battlehawks in a Sunday evening showdown at 6 PM ET on FS1.
It’s one thing for a team to win games but its another thing for a team that has the makings to win it all. The DC Defenders have a strong ability to be that team that is pretty solid on both sides of the ball. The Defenders have a lot of Pep in their step. On the offensive side of the ball, there is a lot of potentials there with Cardale Jones anchoring the offense and a nasty receiving corp in Eli Rogers, Rashad Ross, and Malachi Dupre. I think one of the strongest suits is DCs focus on RPO heavy but also the incorporation of trick plays that are executed well which is tough to do. These two playbook components open a lot of looks that could be a strong X-factor in the red zone.
While the Defenders D did allow the most points for a team this weekend. They put up a strong showing that included a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown along with two interceptions off Seattle QB, Brandon Silvers. The Defenders remain at home on Saturday Feb.15 to take on the NY Guardians at 2 PM on ABC.
Probably one of the stronger defenses in Week 1 of the XFL that was able to keep a tight ship that looked like they had been playing together more than just a month. Not once but twice they were able to pick off former UGA QB Aaron Murray who looks like he may be out for Week 2. The Guardians definitely were guarding this gridiron only allowing the Vipers just three points in their four attempts in the Redzone in Week 1. Now the offensive didn’t get off to a swift start as expected especially but after a few more games we should see it pick up and will fit for the XFL if it is executed correctly. Even with the slow pace, the Guardians were able to be nearly mistake-free in their play which will be a huge difference-maker down the road. The Guardians are on the road Saturday to take on the DC Defenders. Tune in to ABC at 2 PM ET.
Defensively watch out for St. Louis to be a dark horse down the road once they settle in. They put on a strong show in Week 1 when they weren’t getting caught up in penalties. Offensively, there was nothing just that set them apart but again its only Week 1. What was electrifying was seeing the potential QB Jordan Ta’amu could be in this league and more. Ta’amu had 77 yds with just nine carries and completed 20 of his 27 passes which was the second-highest in the league for Week 1 behind Phillip Nelson who he beat. The Battlehawks remain on the road in the Lone Star state to take on the Houston Roughnecks Sunday at 6 PM ET on FS1.
Dallas didn’t seem to have that wow factor moment I think most expected but then again they were without Landry Jones. However, Phillip Nelson did pretty damn good at the QB and having both these guys healthy alongside that Hal Mumme Air Rad and more offense Dallas could climb up the ranks. On the defensive side of the ball, they had grit and grind which is not a bad thing but they can’t make a big stop but then allow other things to go under the radar. Forgetting to pay attention to those details could be the difference in the close games if they are not careful.
They say there is just something about a Princeton man maybe I am a bit partial because I went to Brown and giving props to a fellow Ivy League kid making his mark. Though the Cats fell short in Week 1 they put up a pretty impressive display offensively using their backup QB Chad Kanoff ( The Princenton Man). Considering Kanoff was not only the stand-in for Josh Johnson but also came to the Wildcats late in the season adapted pretty damn good to their playbook even in a loss. We will get a better sense of how well the Wildcats can be when Johnson is back in the mix for Week 2. The slot receivers seem to be playing explosive roles in the XFL across the board. Be on the lookout for the Cats to utilize their slot receiver, Nelson Spruce even more in Week 2. His accuracy and frame could spell trouble for XFL defenses in the upcoming weeks.
It’s all about the comebacks and former Baylor standout Shawn Oakman is looking to be that x-factor for the Wildcats defense this season. You wouldn’t think that Oakman has been out of the game for nearly four years. If he keeps up that kind of play in Week 1 look for the Wildcats to become one heck of a wrecking crew with that defensive unit. LA opens up home play against the Dallas Renegades on Sunday for an early afternoon showdown at 3 PM ET on ABC
If Seattle is looking for that “Silver Lining” with Brandon Silvers anchoring that offense they may be waiting a long time if they don’t change some things around. While he did make those three touchdowns if it wasn’t for a strong supporting cast the DC defense could have made things get real ugly for Silvers and the Dragons. The Dragons are going to have to change things up and not rely solely on Silvers to get them out of a rock and hard place. I think the focus should be centered around their RBs with a triple threat in players like Ja’Quan Gardner, Trey Williams, and Kenneth Farrow that could be a dangerously beautiful RedZone combo. The Dragons take on the Vipers at home in an evening Saturday Showdown. Tune in on ABC at 5 PM ET to see which of these teams will pick up their first win of the season.
Granted its only Week 1 and a lot will change, but by damn did the Vipers along with Aaron Murray look a more of a mess than I expected them to be. They turned over the ball not one but four times and were 0-4 in the RedZone offensively. I was quite surprised to see Quinton Flowers not be utilized more at key moments. This kid’s explosive speed and versatility having played QB, RB and WR could have changed the game in the Vipers favor.
The Defense could be great if it could stop digging its own grave with all those penalties. That careless play is going to cause the Vipers to stay at the bottom of this barrel. They sure as hell don’t need another ejection in Week 2. The Vipers DT, Rickie Walker made XFL history and not the good kind being the first player ejected after he straight up threw a punch at another player. I mean yes this may be the Xtreme Football League but come on man. So the Vipers need to make some adjustment sooner than later or it’s going to be one hell of a long season. Tampa Bay hits the road to take on Seattle Saturday. The game will air on ABC at 5 PM ET.
Realistically, these ball clubs have only been practicing together for a month and there really is not much to go by to be able to give a real breakdown of who are the winners and losers just yet. This really a league that is unfolding in front of our eyes so my guess is as good as the fans to which direction any of these teams will go. Guess will have to tune into Week 2 to see how things pan out.
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Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a veteran SEC sports journalist and NFL beat writer. She is our Sr. Editor and columnist for MESPORTS digital. A Brown University graduate who loves good cigars, good games and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Misskyus2011