DC Defenders vs. Arlington Renegades | UFL Week 3 Preview

DC Defenders vs. Arlington Renegades | UFL Week 3 Preview

The UFL week three opener treats fans to an XFL Championship rematch from last season, featuring the DC Defenders (1-1) and Arlington Renegades (0-2). 

The Defenders come into Choctaw Stadium after defeating the Roughnecks last week in a late-game comeback effort, 23-18 at Audi Field. While the Renegades have struggled to start the season how they left it last year, by winning an XFL Championship. 

Let’s take a further look at the key factors, and discuss what we can expect from each team this week. 

Quarterback Play

The QB matchup for this week is no different from last time these two teams met in the Championship game, with Jordan Ta’amu leading the Defenders and Luis Perez back in charge of the Renegades offense. Both are experienced spring league quarterbacks that have now found homes with DC and Arlington after bouncing around quite a few teams/leagues. 

To start this season, Perez and Ta’amu have fairly similar numbers, with Perez having the upperhand in completion percentage and less turnovers. Through two weeks, Perez is 40/57 (70.2%) for 447 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. While Ta’amu is 41/77 (53.2%) for 439 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Both QBs have been sacked five times as well. 

Renegades backup QB Lindsey Scott Jr. is someone to keep an eye out for in the red zone and short yardage plays. Scott has already been seen in multiple sets for Arlington, as he provides a much different skill-set than Perez with the ability to use his speed and vision to escape to the edge and cause trouble for defenses. Scott scored his first rushing touchdown of the season last week vs. St. Louis. 

Standout Playmakers

As we know, the Defenders offensive playmakers from 2023 vs. this season are completely different. WRs Chris Blair and Lucky Jackson have left for NFL opportunities, while RB Abram Smith suffered an extremely unfortunate torn ACL injury during training camp that will sideline him for the UFL season. 

Through two weeks, there’s been times where DC’s offense has stalled for long periods of time. Oddly enough, the Defenders started the same way on offense last season. They began to hit their stride on offense and find a balance around week three last season. Will DC’s offense return to 2023 form on Saturday vs. Arlington? 

One player that has stepped up in a major way to start the season is WR Ty Scott from Missouri State. Scott spent time on the Chiefs practice squad last season, and it’s clear something from KC rubbed off on him. Scott has started the season hot as DC’s top receiving option, with five receptions for 105 yards and one touchdown (game-winning TD last week vs. Houston).

The Renegades have a slew of weapons on offense that can cause trouble for the Defenders defense. Perez’s receiving options are plentiful, led by Deontay Burnett, Javonta Payton, and Tyler Vaughns, but one player to watch for is WR Isaiah Winstead. Winstead is one of the more dynamic playmakers in this league, and will be used in a variety of ways on OC Chuck Long’s offense. He should be a player that DC pays close attention to throughout the game. 

Former All-USFL linebacker Donald Payne is a renowned leader in HC Bob Stoops’ locker room, and will certainly play a significant role in Saturday’s game, if he suits up. Payne has logged limited practices through the week, as he continues to deal with a groin injury. Something to keep an eye out for as we approach game time. 

Injury Report 

Renegades OLB Tuzar Skipper was placed on the injured reserve earlier this week, a blow to Arlington’s defense. 

For DC, DE Andre Mintze continues to be a non-participant in practice. He’s dealing with a lingering hamstring injury that will likely sideline him for a second consecutive week. The Defenders are also dealing with injuries on the backend, as Deontay Anderson and Montae Nicholson have also been non-participants at practice this week. Saturday could be an all hands on deck situation for DC’s secondary. 

Final Thoughts

For an early season game, this week three matchup certainly carries some weight. Arlington must steer-clear of 0-3, while the Defenders want to return to their winning ways from last regular season, where they finished 9-1. 

Defenders defensive coordinator Gregg Williams talked at length on his podcast this week about staying away from mental mistakes vs. Arlington, something that hurt them last year in the XFL Championship. Williams also mentioned eliminating explosive plays, another key part of Arlington’s success in the postseason. 

The Arlington Renegades host the DC Defenders on Saturday, at 1pm ET on ESPN.

Full Roster Breakdowns: DC, Arlington

What are your thoughts on this upcoming matchup between the Arlington Renegades and DC Defenders? Which UFL players are you looking forward to seeing? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!