XFL – Week One Review
The first week of the new XFL is over and the reception seems pretty damn positive we must say! The football was fun, the broadcasting was entertaining and the fans were excited for the new spring league.
Game 1 of the new era: Seattle Dragons @DC Defenders
The inaugural game perfectly introduced us to this new brand of American football and showed us that this new spring league would be faster and higher quality football than the AAF, UFL, and the first incarnation of the XFL.
This league was not rushed like the first time or the AAF, and the world could tell.
The offense was not just dominating a weak defense, scoring at will like some critics feared and anticipated. However, both sides of the ball, for both teams were making plays. DC Defender QB Cardale Jones had Pep Hamilton’s offense looking efficient, moving up and down the field, only for the Dragons defense to make a stand in the red zone. Likewise, the Defenders defense was buzzing all game, staying hype from the crowd that damn near sold out the home of DC United.
Game 2: LA Wildcats @ Houston Roughnecks
This game showcased the long awaited professional football debut of noteworthy pass rusher Shawn Oakman and gave the football world the first sack of his career. However the star of this game was without a doubt Houston’s starting QB Phillip “PJ” Walker, a Temple alum.
Walker was 23 for 39, threw for 265 yards, 4 touchdowns with 1 interception (103.8 rating). The quarterback also proved his mobility despite not wanting to be known as a mobile quarter, rushing for 4 times for 26 yards.
Houston had a rocking crowd, and Walker had the Roughnecks looking like the Oilers2.0.
Game 3: Tampa Bay Vipers @ New York Guardians
This was arguably the least entertaining game of the first week, and if that is the case the XFL is in great shape.
Coming into the game the Guardians were rated by somebody (the odds-makers and experts) as the second worst team in the new league. The Vipers, led by quarterback Aaron Murray, were the favorites coming into the contest. A fair assessment given that Murray is arguably the greatest Georgia Bulldog of all time. In his first professional start Murray was set to go head to head with arguably the greatest Penn State QB ever in Matt McGloin.
The day one fans in the stands were calling them “The Guards” (the Guardians defense) and they were the stars of the show. The defense got 5 sacks, picked the ball off 3 times, and ran in a fumble recovery for a touchdown; they dominated the game.
Some of the biggest criticisms of the Guardians defense was that the secondary dropped some would-be interceptions that could have been turned into 6 points. Consider the new extra point scoring, and realize XFL defenses have a chance to truly take over and dominate games if they can turn turnovers into points.
Time will tell if this game was good Guards’ Defense or bad Murray qaurterbacking/Vipers offense.
Game 4: St Louis Battlehawks @ Dallas Renegades
The fourth game might have proved that the league is higher quality football than expected, or at least superior to the league’s previous incarnation.
This game featured the debut of another noteworthy defensive player, Saftey Kenny Robinson, the only college eligible player in the league. He was one of the best defensive players in the Big 12.
The Battlehawks were the only road team to take home the W in week 1. St. Louis was led by the young QB Jordan Ta’amu, who threw for 183 yards and a touchdown, and ran for another 77 yards.
Week 1 recap:
The extra point system was GREAT, the fact that you can be down by 9 and still tie it up with one touchdown and the extra point play changes the dynamics of ball control and play-calling. Mix this with the shortened game time and all four games were very entertaining.
The referees let the defensive backs play defense. There were not calls slowing down an already long game. The refs were not trying to be the stars of the show, and lets be honest the common sense play reviews from a third party was a breath of fresh air.
While the on the field interviews have been seemingly hit with mixed reviews, but we loved the entertainemenr of it! For those who are not too familiar with Vince McMahon, Vince always grab’s the “casual fan” because he knows the die-hards will be there.
All the games had over 17,000 people in attendance and the XFL sold more tickets in one weekend than the entire AAF did in its existence.
According to numbers released by ABC, the kickoff game between the Dragons and the Defenders drew an average of 3.3+ million viewers. Perhaps an even better sign for the league was that the kickoff audience peaked with an audience of 4.0 million at the end of the broadcast, an indication that viewers stayed interested throughout the game. Although it is worth noting The now-defunct AAF had similarly high numbers for its opening kickoff weekend, according to USA Today.
Now there were certainly those “this is why you’re not in the NFL” moments when receivers would drop a ball that hit them in their hands or in the numbers, or when a quarterback would just overthrow a receiver, that if properly hit in stride would have ran in a touchdown.
However, we know this is not the NFL.
The good thing is that THIS IS THE XFL (WWE voice) and we have football.