Just like that, our focus shifts to week two of the XFL. In week one, we were treated to some excellent football. Surprises, crazy endings, and quality moments filled TV screens across the country as the XFL kicked off their season.
Week two continues on Saturday, with the Vegas Vipers vs. DC Defenders. Sunday brings us two matchups. First, the Orlando Guardians host the San Antonio Brahmas. Then, the Houston Roughnecks face off against the Arlington Renegades in a Texas Throwdown rematch.
Let’s take a quick look at each game this week, and the keys to victory for every team.
Week two kicks off with what should be an exciting game. Seattle is playing at home for the first time, hosting a St. Louis team that just had a ridiculous comeback win in San Antonio.
The game plan for Seattle is simple: don’t turn the ball over. The Sea Dragons played an excellent game in DC, but shot themselves in the foot at crucial moments, costing them the win.
Ben DiNucci is certainly to blame, in some aspects. He was responsible for three turnovers, including a crushing fumble on the one yard line right at the end of the game. That being said, Ben looked like one of the XFL’s best quarterbacks at times on Sunday. June Jones simply needs to rope him in, to avoid those unnecessary decisions.
GUCCI DINUCCI WITH THE PATRICK MAHOMES IMPRESSION 🔥
At the same time, the Sea Dragons have to feed their running backs. Brenden Knox and Morgan Ellison are both very talented. If they can get solid production from those two backs, it makes DiNucci’s life that much easier. Seattle has a loaded WR room. Expect everyone to continue to eat in June Jones’ offense.
As for their defense, the Sea Dragons have to attack McCarron. He performed quite poorly when facing heavy pressure. Seattle should be dialing up blitzes early. They played an outstanding game against DC, holding that offense to under 200 yards.
Early Rhythm For St. Louis
The Battlehawks had one hell of a win – but, they can’t expect to do stuff like that every week in the XFL. To be quite frank, this offense looked horrible for three and a half quarters.
Once it clicked, the Battlehawks were unstoppable. They moved the ball with ease in the final two minutes. This team lives and dies by the decision making of AJ McCarron. Once he started moving around in the pocket, he bought extra time and it allowed the receivers to get open.
In the XFL: Instead of an onside kick, the trailing team can maintain possession with a 4th-and-15 play from its own 25-yard line.
St. Louis has to get Brian Hill involved, as well. He broke off the league’s longest run on Sunday, for 40 yards. If he can help take some of the pressure off of McCarron, the Battlehawks are in good shape. Anthony Becht needs to scheme something together to get his offense going early, otherwise it could get ugly.
The Vegas Vipers have to find some stability as a team. Their two halves of football on Saturday couldn’t have contrasted each other any more than they did. From an offensive perspective, Vegas had very few answers once Arlington started to ramp up the pressure.
Luis Perez will get the start again on Saturday. The spring football journeyman needs no introduction. We’ve seen what Perez is capable of, as he is very accurate with the football. He also rarely turns the ball over, so to see two pick sixes last weekend was a bit of a shock.
Now, Perez got zero help from his backfield. That has to change. Vegas’ leading rusher was John Lovett, with only 10 yards. Rod Woodson must get his running backs in a groove, to alleviate some of the pressure Perez might face.
LUIS PEREZ AND JEFF BADET ARE TEARING UP THE #XFL.
The duo connect for their second TD in the first half, this time for 39 yards. This Vipers offense looks excellent with Perez at the helm in the #XFL. pic.twitter.com/i2P4bCbLds
Martavis Bryant was relatively quiet this past week. It would be beneficial to Vegas to get him going early as well. Jeff Badet is looking like a star already, so if this XFL receiver duo could find their footing, the Vipers will be lethal in the passing game.
Defensively: don’t change a thing. Vegas might have the best defense in the league. They didn’t give up one offensive TD to Arlington all day long, making multiple stops in the red zone.
DC: Who’s Their QB?
While Jordan Ta’amu is QB1, the Defenders were arguably a more effective team when D’Eriq King got his snaps. Don’t get me wrong: Ta’amu is an excellent QB. We’ve seen him perform quite well throughout his spring football tenure.
D'ERIQ KING RUNS INTO THE ENDZONE TO GIVE THE DEFENDERS THE LEAD!! Jordan Ta'amu however did not convert on the 2pt pic.twitter.com/BHVY9565hz
However, King gives DC a spark that they really need at times on offense. He is extremely speedy – even more so than Ta’amu. If King can get some reps throwing the ball, he could be the x-factor for DC’s offense.
Stay Aggressive Defensively
The Defenders have to keep their foot on the gas pedal defensively. We saw how Perez faltered when faced with multiple looks and blitzes. Gregg Williams fired up his XFL defense on Sunday night, and will have to do the same in Vegas.
Still not over how electric that @XFL2023 atmosphere was in DC last night.
Orlando has a lot to clean up. It was a disaster class for Terrell Buckley’s Guardians last weekend. The good news – there’s nine games left in the season.
First and foremost: the offensive line has to protect their quarterbacks. Paxton Lynch caught a lot of flak after week one, but not all of it was deserved. Lynch had very little time to throw the football. It was nearly impossible for him to get in a rhythm, when defenses were swarming Lynch from the get go.
Same goes for Quinten Dormady. No matter who ends up starting (and – it would be nice to see Deondre Francois get some time), the success will start with an offensive line that blocks efficiently.
Something to note: a dual threat QB, like Francois, could prove to be beneficial. If Francois plays, and uses his legs to generate some offense, that could give Orlando a much needed spark. RB Jah-Maine Martin showed signs of life throughout the game. Getting him consistent reps is very important.
Errors have to be eliminated for Orlando. Multiple wide receivers dropped passes – that can’t happen. At the same time, the Guardians couldn’t guard much of…anything. Tightening up the loose ends is a must for Orlando, as San Antonio is certainly a beatable team.
San Antonio: Too Flat?
Speaking of the Brahmas, this offense needs some life. If the Brahmas want to win, they have to come out swinging against Orlando. Despite Kalen Ballage and Jacques Patrick combining for over 110 yards, Jack Coan and Co. struggled to put up points for most of the game.
Unfortunately, it was San Antonio’s lack of execution on the offensive end that allowed St. Louis to mount the comeback that they did. What has to change?
Jack Coan has to find his receivers early. Dropped passes and miscommunications plagued the Brahmas’ offense on Sunday. Now, the team did just sign Dan Williams (former Tampa Bay Viper), which is a fantastic pickup. Williams was electric in 2020, and now reunites with his OC from that season.
WR Dan Williams joining the @XFLBrahmas might be exactly what this #XFL franchise needs.
Remember this play? Williams was electrifying in the XFL in 2020. Now, he's teaming up with the same OC in SA. Expect Williams to make a solid impact offensively.pic.twitter.com/hHU0tBAKFK
On defense, San Antonio simply needs to play the way they did for 57 minutes on Sunday. Outside of the final three minutes, which were brutal, the Brahmas were excellent. If Orlando can’t make adjustments to their offensive line, that’s something SA must attack.
The Houston Roughnecks were the epitome of complete football. Sure, there were a couple of ugly turnovers (I’m looking at you, Brandon Silvers). But when all was said and done, Houston dominated from start to finish on Saturday.
For the Roughnecks, they simply need to build upon what they did right in week one. Silvers did an excellent job of throwing to multiple receivers, and getting more than just one guy involved. This has to continue, and it will be a tough test for Silvers going up against a stronger Renegades defense.
Max Borghi just saved this Roughnecks drive. After a dropped touchdown pass, Borghi breaks loose for a 27 yard scamper to the house.
Max Borghi is going to be an excellent story for the XFL if his production keeps up. This dude can straight up ball. Wade Phillips should ensure that Borghi gets his rightful touches week in and week out.
How about that H-Town defense? Playmakers are found all over the place. From the secondary, to the men in the trenches, Houston has a squad. Sean Davis, Trent Harris, and Tavante Beckett are phenomenal athletes, and should continue to make impact plays as the season continues.
Now, Houston can’t get ahead of themselves here. Arlington boasts an extremely talented offense, one that is desperately trying to figure things out. If the Roughnecks can knock Arlington off their rocker early, odds are it’ll be a solid outing for this unit.
The Drew Plitt XFL Saga
Arlington officially has a QB dilemma…sort of. Drew Plitt won the starting job over Kyle Sloter, which was somewhat of a surprise. Despite the win, though, Plitt looked all out of sorts. He struggled to push the ball down the field, forcing passes at times when he shouldn’t have.
Tough look for Drew Plitt, who gets picked off by C.J. Avery. Vegas is absolutely DOMINATING this first half.
Seems like Plitt simply didn't see Avery in coverage, throwing it right to him. First turnover in the new #XFL goes to the Vipers!pic.twitter.com/NOYnJyV10b
Of course, it takes time to build chemistry in spring football. Plitt has loads of talent, and might just need to settle into Bob Stoops’ system. That being said, he has to throw the ball with confidence early on. With how aggressive Houston’s defense can be, Plitt needs to avoid making costly mistakes.
Additionally, Plitt will have to hope that his running backs can provide support. De’Veon Smith had a decent outing, but Arlington would definitely like to see more production in that area. The Renegades didn’t score one offensive touchdown in week one. That can’t happen again.
Make Brandon Silvers Uncomfortable
The split second this defense began to put pressure on Luis Perez, everything changed. A 14-3 blowout turned into a clutch victory at home, fueled by the big plays made by their defense.
Remember, Arlington’s defensive unit is the main reason why they won on Saturday. It might be the reason they win again on Sunday, if they stay consistent. Silvers faced a relatively weak defense in Orlando, but will truly be tested by Arlington this week.
De'Vante Bausby with a crushing pick six on Luis Perez. Arlington now leads 22-14 with just a few minutes to go.
No surprise to see Bausby make a big play. This guy has been doing it at a high level for years in spring football, and now the #XFL. pic.twitter.com/Jo00rshVrQ
Expect the Renegades to throw different looks at Brandon throughout the game. Forcing him into uncomfortable positions is a must. Once Silvers feels some pressure, odds are he’ll end up making some poor decisions.
At the end of the day, we’re set for another exciting week of XFL football. It will be entertaining to see which teams develop more chemistry in week two. Fans, grab your popcorn! It’s going to be a show.
The first game is tonight, as the Seattle Sea Dragons host the St. Louis Battlehawks on FX, at 9pm ET.