XFL Power Rankings, Week 2: Defenders stay up top as Roughnecks surge, Vipers crash to the cellar
We've got a couple of big changes in our pecking order after just one week of XFL action
XFL football is once again a real thing, ladies and gentlemen, and if you tuned in for any of the league's four Week 1 showdowns on Saturday or Sunday, you probably noticed that the actual football was pretty darn entertaining, too.
The DC Defenders cut the ribbon on the 2020 season with a promising debut for former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, who got help from a physical, opportunistic defense to rout Jim Zorn's Seattle Dragons. Then later Saturday night, former Indianapolis Colts prospect P.J. Walker stole the prime-time spotlight with a big-play, four-touchdown showcase against the Los Angeles Wildcats. Upsets capped off the weekend, with both the New York Guardians and St. Louis BattleHawks pulling out surprise victories.
Now, it's time to look ahead.
And you know what else it's time for? XFL Power Rankings!
We're just one week into the regular season, but considering Week 1 marked the very first time we got to see any of these teams play, it's safe to say we've got a better grip on where things stand. That, of course, inevitably means all of our favorites will go belly up this weekend while the underdogs prevail, but who cares? Let's rank 'em all anyway!
1. DC Defenders (1-0)
Pep Hamilton's squad needed about a half of football to settle in, but once they started firing on all cylinders, they looked like a legitimately good team. At some point, they're going to have to develop a ground game that's headlined by more than a couple of Cardale Jones scrambles (turns out it's hard to get Donnel Pumphrey going even in the XFL). Otherwise, there was a lot to like from their Week 1 showing. Jones made up for some off-balance throws with a handful of perfect touch passes, both Eli Rogers and Rashad Ross should be weapons all year long, and that secondary has the potential to be the best in the league.
2. Houston Roughnecks (1-0)
The best thing June Jones did for his team was decide not to go with the bigger name at QB in Connor Cook. Like DC, the Roughnecks could stand to do more running the ball, mustering just 24 yards on the ground from players other than the QB. But as long as P.J. Walker is playing like the field general he was on Saturday, well, they'll be fine. Walker looked as if he belonged on an NFL roster slinging the ball against Los Angeles, and it doesn't seem like it's going to take long for him to become the face of the league, especially with how much Jones likes to chuck the ball.
3. St. Louis BattleHawks (1-0)
Jordan Ta'amu hadn't started a single professional football game before his Sunday debut, but he looked like the perfect fit for Jonathan Hayes' offense, totaling 286 yards from scrimmage while going turnover-free in a low-scoring upset. Only time will tell whether the ball-control approach will be sustainable, but if St. Louis can ride Matt Jones and its underrated defense, featuring ex-NFL veterans Terence Garvin (8 tackles) and Will Hill (1 INT), it's no longer a stretch to see them making a decent run.
4. New York Guardians (1-0)
Kevin Gilbride's team definitely benefited from some atrocious offense on the part of Tampa Bay in Week 1, but the Guardians also made the most of their opportunities. No matter how you slice it, in fact, you can't discredit them for finishing with two picks, three forced fumbles and five sacks. Offensively, you probably can't hope to win every week with Matt McGloin throwing for just 180 yards, but those numbers are bound to get better even as the "D" levels out.
5. Seattle Dragons (0-1)
For all the talk of the Dragons lacking in talent, their Week 1 performance was a lot better than the score indicated. Jim Zorn coached a little too conservatively at times early on, and it remains to be seen how healthy Brandon Silvers will be moving forward after the former AAF QB suffered an injury late in the fourth quarter. But the Dragons definitely showed fight, not to mention some promising playmakers -- RB Kenneth Farrow, RB Trey Williams and WR Austin Proehl (88 yards, 2 TD) among them.
6. Dallas Renegades (0-1)
Letting St. Louis run all day long wasn't pretty, and neither was Bob Stoops' offense, which got just 58 net rushing yards and finished a disgusting 1-for-10 on third downs. But we can attribute at least part of the sloppy debut to the absence of starting QB Landry Jones, who's rightfully been touted as one of the top arms in the league. Stoops has plenty to clean up, but he's got the wherewithal to do so, and getting Jones back under center should open all kinds of things up offensively.
7. Los Angeles Wildcats (0-1)
If you don't think their four-spot drop in the rankings is warranted, just ask head coach Winston Moss, who needed only four quarters to decide that defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson was no longer worth keeping on his staff. The Wildcats were supposed to make their money on defense, but instead, they got torched by P.J. Walker in a 20-point loss to Houston. Granted, the Roughnecks were always going to present a challenge by hosting in Week 1, but the Wildcats desperately need QB Josh Johnson to get healthy.
8. Tampa Bay Vipers
Yikes. Remember whento lead the XFL in wins? Good times. Maybe we all forgot how roughly Marc Trestman's NFL career went before his return to the CFL, because Sunday's debut, which featured a measly three points, was not encouraging in the slightest. The Vipers were on the road, yes, and New York was especially feisty on "D," but it's not as if Trestman's hand-picked starting QB, Aaron Murray, inspired any confidence along the way. He needs to get really creative to turn this around.
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