XFL – Week 1 Review

By Michael Lavery (@michaellavery98)

The first weekend of XFL football is in the books and after an exciting start it’s time to breakdown each of the games one by one and crown our winners and losers. One immediate winner is the XFL themselves, who not long before kick-off announced that they had sold more tickets for this season already, than the AAF had in its entire existence – an exciting announcement to denounce fears of a sinking ship style company. For more general analysis and first impressions be sure to check out “Initial Impressions of XFL 2020” by our own Shaun Blundell.

In terms of the footballing side of things, it’s safe to say that the Saturday slot of games provided a more entertaining watch than those on the Sunday. We also saw the benefits of playing in smaller stadiums compared to bigger arenas as the sight oF crowded bleachers helps in creating a better atmosphere as opposed to watching in an empty echo chamber like a partially full MetLife Stadium.


GAME ONE: SEATTLE @ D.C


Final Score: DC Defenders 31, Seattle Dragons 19

Cardale Jones’ shone brighter than most on opening weekend. He helped lead his D.C Defenders to a 31-19 victory over the travelling Seattle Dragons.

Image result for dragons vs defenders
ewrestlingnews.com

A game watched by just over 17,000 people it had an upbeat and engaging atmosphere right the way through. The new kick-off rule proved hugely popular with fans and the intimate insight from reporters on the field was a shock to the system of many viewers at first but felt pleasantly refreshing. As for the football itself, Jones’ performance helped spur on his Defenders to a win against a good Seattle side. Jones’ went 16/26 for 235yds, 2TD 0INT, 116.7QBR on the day. A relatively faultless performance and he was able to spread the ball around nicely finding eight different receivers and two different teammates for his touchdowns. He tacked on an extra 30 on the ground, moving freely and looking sharp.

Seattle didn’t play badly, they were in this game late into the 4th quarter until a Brandon Silvers pass intended for Austin Proehl was picked off and returned for six to put the icing on the cake. Proehl slipped on his route giving Bradley Sylve a clear avenue to walk in for the score. Earlier in the game Proehl scored the first touchdown in XFL history but unfortunately that is not how he, or anyone else, will remember this game. Silvers finished with a line of: 21/40 217yds, 3TD 2INT, 72.6QBR.
Head Coach Jim Zorn spoke after the game and said:

We understand how a few errors can really affect a game and we have to overcome those”.

dragons hc jim zorn

A good battle on both sides of the ball, it’ll be interesting to see if D.C can build on this momentum rolling in to week two. As for Seattle, it’s a return to the Pacific North West and Century Link Field for their home opener next week against the Tampa Bay Vipers.


GAME TWO: LA @ HOUSTON


Final Score: Houston Roughnecks 37, L.A. Wildcats 17

Welcome to the P.J Walker show. The Roughnecks quarterback had himself a day in the franchise’s first ever outing throwing 4 touchdowns to 4 different receivers. The Roughnecks intentions were clear from the start, they were going to throw the ball and it was up to LA to find a way to stop it.

The Run N’ Shoot offence was on display for the whole league to see and no doubt teams will be taking notice and preparing accordingly. Walker hit eight different receivers for 272yds off of 39 passing attempts and finished with a rating of 103.8. He was able to make all the throws that were asked of him and his accuracy on tight window throws was perfect when it mattered. His athleticism was on display as he completed several throws on the run rolling left and right. When he decided to run the ball he showed flashes of Lamar Jackson in mid-season form, making defenders miss and drawing big pops from the crowd.

Image result for wildcats vs roughnecks
Eric Sauseda

His one interception came late in the 4th quarter when he tried to force a ball into the end zone for his fifth touchdown. It was a throw he didn’t have to make but given the form he was in he would have had no doubts he could make it. It wasn’t a bad throw, just a great play from the Wildcats safety.

LA had to start with back-up quarterback Chad Kanoff after it was announced their started Josh Johnson was dealing with a groin injury. Kanoff was able to hold his own throughout the game and had a respectable 21/40 214yds, 1TD 1INT and a rating of 66. The interception wasn’t an errant throw but was a fumble that fell into the lap of a Roughnecks defender who was on the floor after pressuring Kanoff. Kanoff was able to make the correct reads when needed and on the Wildcats opening touchdown drive, the offence ran the same play three times in a row to break down the defence. A simple stick concept to the left side of the formation forcing the defender to make a choice and third time round, when he finally came up to cover the flat, Kanoff hit Jordan Smallwood over the top who made a spectacular fingertip grab for the score.

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The Wildcats ended the first half by squandering a chance to take the lead going into the break. An early indication that the new rules will take some getting used to – a field goal try with :01 on the clock, the Wildcats didn’t get the snap off in time as the stop/start clock inside two minutes caught some players off guard who thought the clock started on the snap. A disappointing way to end the half but definitely a coaching point for all teams going forward.

In a somewhat shocking and sudden twist, it was announced Monday that the LA Wildcats had fired the defensive coordinator, Pepper Johnson after just one game.


GAME THREE: TAMPA @ NEW YORK


Final Score: New York Guardians 23, Tampa Bay Vipers 3  

The Matt McGloin New York Guardians laid down a statement win on Sunday afternoon against a poor Tampa Bay Vipers team. The Guardians finished as 23-3 victors and enjoyed complimentary football resulting in scores on both sides of the ball. McGloin found his rhythm early and settled into the game. He scored the first touchdown in franchise history on a quarterback sneak from the one yard-line on the first drive of the game and throughout the whole game he reminded everybody of his professional calibre as he confidently and efficiently led his team up and down the field. His game: 15/29 182yds, 2TD (1 throwing, 1 rushing) 0INT, 82.8QBR.

athlonsports.com

An abysmal opening day for the Vipers was a mix of poor execution and good defence by New York. Ball handling was an issue all day, they had three fumbles on the day although only lost one of those. Quarterback Aaron Murray had a couple of picks, the first of which was a bad ball floated to the back of the endzone and swatted into the open arms of a Guardian defender. Murray didn’t make the throws he needed to when called upon and will leave many questioning his starter role ahead of Quinton Flowers who saw a little bit of game time but was used in a more Taysom Hill style role. Flowers finished as the team’s second highest rusher on the day. An understandably frustrated Murray spoke to the media after saying:

If you turn the ball over three times and the other team doesn’t turn over, it’s simple. We drive down there, get to about the 5-yard line — and bad play by me throwing it up, should’ve just thrown that one away — we had four or five tries in the red zone and came away with no points.

Vipers QB aaron murray

A second road game in as many weeks for the Vipers sees them travel out west to play Seattle in what will definitely be a difficult game. The Dragons will be wanting to make use of home field advantage while the Vipers will be looking to right the wrongs of Sundays outing.


GAME FOUR: ST. LOUIS @ DALLAS


Final Score: St. Louis BattleHawks 15, Dallas Renegades 9

Despite being the first Quarterback to be a part of XFL 2020, Renegades signal caller Landry Jones spent week one on the side lines. Nursing an injury it was reported that Landry was good to go but was advised to take minimal snaps and so with that in mind Head Coach Bob Stoops opted to go with the back-up: Philip Nelson. Reports suggest Jones will be good to go in weeks 2 or 3 depending on how long the Renegades choose to sit him.

A pretty underwhelming game for the Renegades seen them register to touchdowns and get on the scoreboard through field goals only. Nelson tried to lead a last minute comeback drive which would have made him a team hero; instead he threw a game sealing interceptions and confirmed the loss for Dallas.

Dallas Renegades quarterback Philip Nelson (9) throws a pass during the first half of an XFL football game against the St. Louis Battlehawks at Globe Life Park on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Arlington.
N.Pool/Dallas Morning News

On the St. Louis side of things, they will be very happy with what they saw. The only team to get a road win this week, they done so by playing solid fundamental football and quarterback Jordan Ta’amu helped his team secure a first ever win with great play. He was also helped by a solid rushing attack which saw the Battlehawks go for 191yds on the ground. 77 of those provided by Ta’amu himself, including a huge 37 yard rush on a designed quarterback run.

The only fault in the Battlehawks game came on a Marquette King punt which checked up perfectly and was going to stop on the one, only for a Battlehawk to come flying through, scoop the ball and end up in the endzone resulting in a touchback and the ball coming out to the 35 yard line. Steve Beauharnais, the player in question jumped up proclaiming it was a live ball as it had struck the Renegades return man but his protests were in vain and a touchback was awarded.

St Louis go on the road again next week to Houston in a game which is sure to be a cracker, but they will need to keep this momentum up if they wish to return home to The Dome @ America’s centre with a perfect record in week 3.

Check back to Full10 Yards later in the week to catch our preview for week two of the XFL.

Season in Review – LA Chargers

By Lee Wakefield (@wakefield90)

Welcome to the Chargers season review, by me, a fan.

It’s January and unlike January last year, there has been no playoff football for the Chargers.

Yes, 2019 didn’t end in a Superbowl either, so it was a failure – Just as this season has been but at least the book closed with hope last season. This season, the book closed with questions, and lots of them.


Entering the Season


Well, at least we get to start on a positive note.

Like I alluded to above, yeah getting smoked in the divisional round to the Patriots wasn’t a great way to bow out of the playoffs last year but at least the Chargers had won a playoff game for the first time in what feels like forever and won 12 games in the regular season – Often having to dig deep in those games and get over the hump with a big play, or gutsy play call, or sometimes even a last minute kick.

Optimism was high and some people, fans and media members alike, where talking up the Chargers to make a Superbowl run in 2019. And you know what? The optimism wasn’t misplaced. The team, on paper looked talented and full of playmakers, they’d just come off a 12 win season and their playoff win was one where the coaches out coached the Ravens coaches and they shut down Lamar Jackson almost completely. It looked like everything was coming together.

Thomas Davis came in to sure up the linebacking room and add some experience and steel – Something that was deemed to have been required to stop teams running all over them, like New England did in Foxborough the night the season ended.

Jerry Tillery was added with the 28th overall pick – another mechanism for plugging running lanes but also to add some interior pass rush to match the high quality rushers off the edge that they already possessed.

The signings, whilst not plentiful, seemed sensible and logical. The draft class outside of Tillery contained exciting safety, Nasir Adderley and linebacker Drue Tranquill, and some potential high upside projects, like left tackle, Tray Pipkins – Something the Bolts thought they could afford to wait on, given the talent at their disposal.

It was all looking rosy… Until it wasn’t.

Melvin Gordon started his well publicised contract hold out, Derwin James broke a metatarsal and Russell Okung contracted a Pulmonary oedema.

Adderley then split a hamstring tendon and Tillery was taking longer to adjust to the speed of the NFL than expected and Pipkins wasn’t supposed to play yet…

Where did that sunshine go? Where did out draft class go?

Then the games began.

During the Season


After the early optimism. things weren’t looking great off the field in some respects, the spring felt quite a long time ago but we were going to roll with it and we still backed ourselves. Now the Colts were rolling into town

A prequel for a playoff game perhaps? An early season gut check. 

“At least Hunter Henry was back”, “we can get away with having no Gordon, we’ve got Ekeler and Jackson”, oh how we comforted ourselves.

And Derwin? Well yeah, we’ll miss him badly but he’ll be back around week 8 to lead us into the postseason.

Well, we beat the Colts, just. In overtime. “This is what we do, we can grind wins out against good teams”, “Just like last year”. Like idiots we allowed ourselves to think like this.

The signs were there. We just didn’t know what the signs were yet. Rivers was picked off superbly by Malik Hooker, in the endzone, in this game. Yeah… You know where I’m going. The Chargers, from week 2 onwards well, as the saying goes, Chargered (It’s a phrase that pisses me off whenever I see it, I hate it, it’s what idiots say on the internet to score cheap points or likes but I’ll use it, because this season was just as irritating).

Detroit, week 2 – Rivers threw a pick going for it all instead of just allowing the team to kick a field goal and Austin Ekeler fumbled on the goal line, trying to leap over the pile – Something he’d done successfully earlier in the game. 1-1.

Houston another winnable game goes awry and later Denver and Tennessee…

Gordon was back by now but looking extremely rusty. The whole holdout thing was how exactly not to do it, a disaster for all parties from start to finish.

When I say Gordon was back, it was just in time to fumble literally inches away from scoring a game winning touchdown in Tennessee as the clock ticked its final few ticks.

Image result for melvin gordon fumble tennessee
Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

We’re 2-5 and weeks are ticking by, wins that should have been won are slipping through our fingers and players are dropping like flies. Adrian Phillips to a broken arm the latest. The glue of our defense gone.

No Derwin, no Philips, Tillery still not producing, no discernable attempt at fielding competence opposite Haywood at corner, King only present in body. Where has our defense gone?!

Christ this season is falling apart. Like I said, Chargering is irritating at best.

The weirdest game ever – in terms of my post match feeling, at least – followed. At Chicago, week 8.

A game we won as Eddy Piniero missed a walk off field goal. A WIN!

But I was p****d off, we played terribly and didn’t deserve the win. I didn’t feel like celebrating. This wasn’t the team we all thought it was from a year ago. This very much felt like it was papering over some exceptionally large cracks.

I’m eight weeks in now and the issue I mentioned in week 1 has bubbled without exploding in our face yet. It was about to. Through 8 weeks, Rivers had 7 interceptions. Many stupid, needless and costly.

“Rivers is always prone to the odd game like this”, “It’s the line’s fault”, “we’re 3-5, we can bring it back”.

Oh how we deluded ourselves. Well… to add to the delusions. We went and beat Green Bay. Just what we needed. Although it wasn’t. The Chargers would only beat a hapless Jags team the rest of the way.

We all know what happened from here… We threw it all away. Literally and repeatedly.

The team were disjointed on the field and lacked joined-up thinking off it. Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, was a casualty and nothing much changed. Was it his fault? Or was it actually the offensive line?

13 more Rivers interceptions, 4 multi-pick games: questions about effort and in-fighting reigned from inside the locker room.

Image result for philip rivers
Image Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty

The end of an era was nigh. Rivers? Lynn? Telesco? All three? Who was going? In the end it only seems like it’s goodbye to Philip Rivers, and hello to, well, we’re not sure yet. Cam Newton or Justin Herbert? Or Tom Brady? Who knows… Rivers is reportedly moving himself and his family to Florida. Where everyone goes to retire, right?

All we know it’s there’s more questions than answers at this point and the optimism is long gone.


Offseason Outlook


Lots of work to be done. That’s what the outlook it.

Look, this group isn’t too bad, far from it, they have some very talented players and a bunch of good draft picks to take.

The General Manager and Head Coach probably won’t survive another poor season either, so you’d like to think it’s time to push the chips into the middle of the table and make some moves.

First things first – The deadwood needs clearing out. There are a few players who have either, just not worked out or are earning way too much to keep around compared to the end product on the field.

Next – Well, maybe this over anything but maybe you need the money from clearing out the deadwood but anyway, SIGN JOEY BOSA.

Don’t mess around like you did with his rookie deal. Walk in with a smile on your face and a blank cheque in your hand and say: “Joey, you’re the face of the franchise now, you write whatever number you’d like on that cheque and you can have it”. Get it done. No amount is too much. If this team is serious about making a fist of it in Los Angeles, then you absolutely have to keep Bosa in the building. AND! This team could do without the drama of another holdout. Thanks.

Next, have a good draft!

Telesco’s drafts have been spotty at best – We’ve had some notable hits but also some notable misses – Especially in round 3 (If Gordon goes elsewhere in free agency, the Bolts should receive a 3rd round compensatory pick), so eyes peeled for that one. I want to see another QB. Whether it’s Justin Herbert at 6 or Jalen Hurts on day 2, this team needs to usher in a new era at SoFi Stadium, even if the new era begins with Tyrod Taylor under center.

Hopefully we’ll see the 2019 draft class come to the fore too and therefore they’ll be like new signings too.

There’s always room for optimism in the offseason and as I said earlier, there is talent in every room for L.A. but some careful surgery is needed. If they receive that, then we could be looking at a worst to first candidate in 2020.

Maybe.

Podcast 59 – Week 11 preview, Thanksgiving look ahead

Welcome in to the week 11 review episode!

We recap all of the games including the barnstormer in LA (no not the Chargers game)!

We give you are stinkers/stonkers and Jason Garret Corner candidates from last week but also look ahead to the triple header on Thursday for Thanksgiving and give you some waiver wire adds for the business end of the fantasy season.

It’s Tuesday so of course it’s everyone’s favourite NFL Quiz – The Full10Questions.

Our very own Adam Walford joins us and also relays some of the value ahead of the Thursday games too!

Podcast 53 – Week 8 Review and Trade Deadline Day!

Lots of trades on deadlines day! Tim and Lee bring you the latest from all the trades and go through the week 8 games.


We have a dedicated Jason Garrett Corner to the man who pushed Jason Garrett all the way to have their name grace this segment.
Stinkers/Stonkers and week 9 waivers to complete the episode.
No Quiz or Scott Mackay this episode, he will join us Thursday as will the draw for the NFL FREE JERSEY which ends on Wednesday.

Podcast 45 – Week 4 Review

Week 4 is in the books and we are here to review each and every game.

3 Overtime games this week so lots of bonus football, but who impressed, who fell flat and what Cowboys rant will we hear this week?

We also give you some waiver wire targets and look ahead to TNF between the Colts and the Patriots.

Dont forget our FREE NFL jersey giveaway, check out our Twitter (@full10Yards) and we also want any aspiring fantasy writers out there to get in touch!

Podcast 39 – Week 2 review

Week 2 is done and dusted so I am joined by Lee Wakefield fresh from holiday.


We recap all the main talking points from the weekend games, give you some waiver wire adds ahead of the week 3 games and try to preview Thursday Night Football between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns.
All that plus the latest injuries and news from around the NFL.
Want to contact us? @full10yards is the podcast’s Twitter handle and Lee’s is @wakefield90.