Week One of the XFL is over. Week Two kicks off in a matter of hours so it seems an ideal time to pick out some of the key performers of Week One and look forward to Week Two.
Walker Shines in Week One
It’s way to early to crown anyone XFL Champions but one quarterback set the bar for performances. P.J. Walker starred for the Temple Owls in college. On Sunday, the Houston Roughnecks’ quarterback exploded into professional football with a 272-yard, 4 touchdown performance that saw him showcase a live arm, impressive illusiveness and the ability to anticipate throws. Check out Walker’s deep ball to wide receiver Cam Phillips below.
Walker’s performance was pivotal in the Roughnecks 37-17 win over the Los Angeles Wildcats.
Spruce Still Loose
Speaking of Wildcats, I highlighted Los Angeles Nelson Spruce in my Week One preview and he didn’t disappoint. Spruce carried on in Week One of the XFL as he left off in the AAF. Spruce’s 103 yards and 11 receptions were second in the league and Spruce produced whether it was upgraded to Charles Kanoff or Jalen McClendon throwing him the ball.
New York’s Defence Dominates
In their Week One matchup against the Tampa Bay Vipers the New York Guardians defence strangled the life out of Aaron Murray. The team collected 5 sacks and a fumble return for a touchdown. 23-3.
Despite allowing Tampa to move the ball up and down the field they kept the Vipers out of the endzone. The fumble and interceptions were enough. Sometimes ‘bend don’t break’ is good enough.
Cardale take control for DC
Cardale Jones looked every bit the star quarterback for DC. He passed for 235 yards, completing 16 of 26 passes with two touchdown and no interceptions. While Jones distributed the ball effectively around his receivers, it became clear that he has chemistry with former Pittsburgh Steeler, Eli Rogers. The pair hooked up 6 times for 73 yards.
Cardale was also central to the XFL’s first trick play touchdown, a double-reverse flea flicker to Khari Lee.
St Louis’ Dual Threat
St Louis went into Week One with a player looking to make his pro debut. They left hoping they’d found a new star in Jordan Ta’amu. Ta’amu looked impressive as he completed 20 of 27 passes for 209 yards while also adding 77 yards on 9 carries.
In football, one position outweighs all others; that of quarterback. Those teams that don’t have one invariably struggle. Week One in the XFL showed that to be true.
Seattle running backs Kenneth Farrow and Ja’Quan Gardner combined for 77 yards rushing, Austin Proehl had one of the performances of the week, hauling in 5 of his 10 targets for 88 yards and two touchdowns, including a 57 yarder. Yet Seattle still lost and the lions share of blame here must go to Brandon Silvers bad play. He threw two interceptions (one that was returned for a touchdown), mishandled a handoff, frequently made bad reads an held onto the ball too long.
Vipers’ Aaron Murray looked anything but a starting quarterback against the New York Guardians. He was responsible for the team’s three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble), one in the redzone and made consistently bad decisions despite showing a live arm. Murray’s strong arm was productive though, he hit Dan Williams 6 times for 123 yards.
LA quarterback Chad Kanoff and Dallas’ Phillip Nelson could be included in those that looked shaky but neither were expected to be starters and should make way for Josh Johnson and Landry Jones respectively.
We Have a Trade!
The XFL saw its first trade on Friday. The DC Defenders traded away Bradley Sylve, who recorded the XFL’s first interception return or a touchdown in the Defenders 37-17 win over Seattle. In return they received defensive lineman Anthony Johnson.
The move occurred, at least in part, because of Anthony Johnson’s disapproval of PepperJohnson’s firing.
New York Guardians vs DC Defenders
We won’t have to wait long to get our first look at Johnson. The former LSU star will be in action tonight for the Defenders, through its unlikely he’ll be overly effective with the trade so recent.
This game pits two 1-0 teams against each other, as high powered offense meets punishing defence.
For DC, perhaps the most impressive part of Cardale Jones’ performance was his ability to avoid the rush and keep plays alive. Look for him to build on this in Week Two.
For New York, Matt McGloin failed to ignite the offense’s fire in Week One as he completed just over 52% of his passes (15/29) for 182 yards and one touchdown. He received very little in the way of help aside from Mekale McKay’s 58 yards receiving but the defence stepped up.
Can the Guardians’ defense continue its strong start against Cardale Jones and the Defenders receivers?
Tampa Bay Vipers vs Seattle Dragons
There will be no Aaron Murray tonight for Tampa. Many will see that as a blessing. Instead, untested Taylor Cornelius will start at quarterback, but I’d expect to see a bigger dose of record setting USF star, Quinton Flowers.
Saturday’s second game should feature a heavy dose of Austin Proehl and Kenneth Farrow, who looked elusive in Week One. If they can make more plays than Silvers makes mistakes then this one could be one sided.