Week Two of the XFL Season kicks off with the first undefeated match-up in the revamped league. The New York Guardians travel to the Nation’s Capital to face the D.C. Defenders. The battle of these two teams is another early look in the experimental league. Many questions will be answered this week as the Defenders look to leap to 2-0 before hitting the road in Week 3. Here’s a look at the match-ups.
Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones was arguably the most-recognizable face in the XFL coming into Week 1. With the Defenders kicking off league-play to a sold out crowd and millions of viewers on ESPN, Jones didn’t disappoint. Jones showed elusiveness and awareness in the pocket, avoiding sacks and creating plays on the run. For this, Jones received the highest quarterback rating by PFF (90.8). Jones also currently has the highest passing grade in the league (92.2). For the New York Guardians, quarterback Matt McGloin is the vet presence in charge of leading a young,scrappy franchise. The former NFL quarterback is best-known for his time as the Oakland Raiders backup, a uber-confident qb that’s not afraid to take chances downfield. McGloin will look to test the Defenders secondary deep if he gets time in the pocket.
It’s a homecoming for Guardians running back Darius Victor. Hailing from nearby Prince George’s County, Victor played high school football at Northwestern and college 45-minutes away at Towson. Victor is a between-the-tackles runner, which might not bode well for the Guardians, as the Defenders do well against the run inside in their 5-2 defense. For the home team, running back duo Jhurrell Pressley and Donnel Pumphrey will look to duplicate the Tampa Bay Vipers’ success against the Guardians, where De’Veon Smith ran for 79 yards. There’s a good chance we will see the first 100-yard rushing game for a player in this matchup.
Receivers vs Corners
Cardale Jones showed great chemistry with his offense despite a very limited period of practice and no true preseason. The Defenders wideout group will have their work cut off for them going against a stingy Guardians secondary. Jones will depend on star wideout Rashad Ross to take the top off the defense, while Malachi Dupre and Eli Rogers create underneath.
On the defensive end, Defenders cornerbacks Elijah Campbell and Des Lawrence played lights out in Week 1. They will be tasked with stopping McGloin’s best weapon in wideout Mekale McKay. As aforementioned, McGloin will look to hit the Defenders deep, attacking Rahim Moore.
In The Trenches
Jones pocket awareness and mobility surely helped keep him upright, being sacked just once in Week 1. But he will need the Defenders offensive line on their A-Game against a Guardians D-Line where three players already have a sack. Not to mention safety Wesley Sutton picked up two sacks as a blitzer. The Defenders will rely on tight end Khari Lee to pick up blitzes and chip defensive end Bunmi Rotimi Jr.
The Defenders line will have to get pressure on McGloin, as he traditionally has not done well with pocket presence. The Defenders linebacker group will have to do a better job getting off blocks at the second level on run-plays and getting gashed on outside zone runs. Up front, the Defenders are going to need another dominant performance from nose tackles Elijah Qualls and Tracy Sprinkle.