The Tampa Bay Vipers will start off their season with two consecutive road games. The first is against the pro style New York Guardians. Tampa Bay needs to establish the tempo in their favor early. With the injury to Antonio Callaway, the Vipers have lost an offensive playmaker which will force them to slow down and rely more on the heavy hitting backfield of De’Veon Smith and Jacques Patrick. The Guardians have a lot of questions on offense still that should be shut down by the strong Vipers defense. Therefore, if Tampa wants to win this game and cover the spread they need to come out with a long starting TD drive to force their tempo and then shutdown the Guardians passing game forcing them to rely on their less dependable running game. On top of these factors Trestman is gonna need to out coach Gilbride to catch the Guardians off guard with some of the new rules and off season rust.
Struggles the Vipers could come across:
The main struggle I could see the Vipers having would be to have the Guardians able to set the tempo. If the Guardians can get the ball first and score fast the fans will get in to it early and potentially force the Vipers to play at a speed they don’t want to. Home field advantage is gonna be huge for all week 1 XFL games in the fact that a loud stadium and supporting fans are gonna bring out a certain energy that the Vipers don’t get. Therefore, in order for us to lose the Guardians need to get out and move fast and never slow down forcing the Vipers behind on the scoreboard quickly. With that being said the Vipers defense should lock up the Guardians early giving them the chance to score first and control the game.
Jones was seen as the clear WR1 until Callaway came along and stole the spotlight. With the sudden injury to Callaway, Murray is going to need to find a consistent playmaking receiver fast. He will find that consistency in Jones as he has great hands and tremendous route running ability. Before Callaway came along Jones and Murray were already building a relationship as a main target so he easily will be the go to guy. I can’t wait to see if he can rise to the occasion and explode for week 1, emerging as a top receiver in the league.
The most unpredictable player on this team is South Florida standout Quinton Flowers. Currently listed as RB4 and QB4, coach Trestman has confirmed that Flowers will see playing time this weekend in some form. The wildcat and double forward pass possibilities he can create is gonna be a huge boost to the Vipers offense. I can’t wait to see him score his first TD as he is a great player and Tampa Bay native!
Jalen Collins should be the guy forced to slow down star WR Mekale McKay. McKay is expected to be a top receiver in the league and a main contributor to the Guardians offense. If Collins can stop McKay and force McGloin to look other ways we will slow down their offensive attack and force them to play to our tempo. On top of the crucial matchup I can’t wait to see Collins’ development and how he will react to his second chance that he has been given from the XFL.