Week three for the XFL season kicked off on Saturday, Feb. 22. This is the usual point in the season where trends start to arise and contenders become more apparent. The XFL has fewer sanctions to keep the league balanced than the NFL does, so you can expect a few teams to dominate the league while others never find their stride. The lack of rules has benefited the league’s viewership and fan bases thus far, and unless things become lopsided, it’s unlikely that the league office will establish new major rules anytime soon. With this league’s continued success, the interactions it makes with the NFL in both player exchange and drafting will dictate the survival of the XFL, as many previously failed leagues had thoroughly messed up that relationship prior to their demise.
One of the teams that have dominated the early season is the 2-0 D.C Defenders. During their first two weeks, the Defenders managed to get in the endzone seven times. The defense has only allowed three touchdowns total between the two contests. A key to the Defenders’ success has come from quarterback Cardale Jones’ dependable production. In the XFL, good quarterback play is rare, as evidenced by the lack of highlights for certain teams. With an actual field general under center, coaches can fully open up their offensive capabilities, and that’s exactly what Jones brings to the table for the Defenders. Over the first two weeks, Jones has thrown four touchdowns and one interception along with 511 yards, while completing 62% of his passes. On Sunday, Feb. 22, the Defenders travel to play the winless Los Angeles Wildcats.
Another team that has taken over the league early on is the Houston Roughnecks. The Roughnecks also sit at 2-0 and have managed to get in the endzone nine times in just two weeks. The Roughneck defense has been partially responsible for the need for offensive firepower, allowing six touchdowns over two contests. The Roughnecks also owe a large amount of their success to stellar quarterback play, as Philip Walker has dominated the early season. Walker currently has thrown seven touchdowns and just one interception with 442 yards and a completion rate of 62.3%. Walker also has a stellar receiving core to compliment him. Leading that receiving core is wide receiver Cam Philips, who, in just two games, has racked up 130 yards and four touchdowns.
A current story headlining the XFL community is the potential return of former Heisman winner quarterback Johnny Manziel. The former Cleveland Browns quarterback tweeted to commissioner Oliver Luck “If ya wanna boost your ratings to another level, just send me the contract tomorrow and we’re in there.” After Manziel was cut from the Cleveland Browns in 2016, no NFL team showed any interest in the drama riddled Heisman winner, sending Manziel to look in Canada to play for the CFL, and after bouncing around that league for a while, Manziel left the football scene. With ratings declining in the XFL, bringing in Manziel might not be a bad move.
Former NFL sign-caller Josh Johnson made his XFL debut in week three for the Los Angeles Wildcats, once again showing the ever-revolving door at quarterback when the right guy can’t be found. Johnson performed modestly, throwing for 196 yards and two touchdowns, but only completing a mere 53% of his passing attempts. Although his play wasn’t amazing, it was good enough to keep the starting job. Johnson gets put to the test this week against the Dallas Renegades’ top defense, a game that could make or break his season.
Over in Tampa Bay, the Vipers have had a troubled start to their season. After two weeks, the offense has yet to manage their way into the endzone. The job of playing under center is rearing its ugly head, as three different quarterbacks have all taken snaps for the team in games, and have a collective five interceptions and a handful of almost interceptions have been what they have to show for it. Although the offense is struggling, the running game seems to be the only part of their game keeping them afloat. The Vipers have been working a committee with running back De’Veon Smith, who has collected 125 yards on the ground at 4.63 yards per carry while running back Jacques Patrick has played a strong second fiddle with 105 yards between the tackles of his own at 4.77 yards per clip. The Vipers season is not looking to turn around this week as they play the division-leading Roughnecks.
As college football and NFL are out of season, football fans now have another league to watch to satisfy their craving for football. Though the XFL season only consists of 10 games, the relaxed rules and intense football being played will hopefully be enough for fans to keep their football needs satisfied. As for the players, they continue to give everything they have to extend their football careers, with some being hopeful of making it or returning to the NFL come September.