XFL: 5 questions to be answered in week 3

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Kieran Harm
Football and NFL Writer. Specialising in the Premier League and Bundesliga

With more great touchdowns, stout defensive displays and our biggest attendance of the season so far, week 2 of the XFL gave us a much better look at where each team is at in their development.

Now, coming into week 3, there are a lot of questions to be answered – here’s my five!

Can Tampa Bay Vipers offence finally get into gear?

Tampa Bay Vipers have scored a grand total of 12 points across their two games so far this season, and are yet to score a single offensive touchdown. In both games they have played, they simply haven’t been able to get anything going on O.

In week one, QB Aaron Murray had himself a pretty poor game with an accuracy rating of less than 50%, no touchdowns and two interceptions. In week 2, there was no Murray under centre and the quarterback duties were shared between Quinton Flowers and Taylor Cornelius.

Cornelius threw 16/27 for 154 yards and two interceptions, garnering a passer rating of just 44.4. Meanwhile, Flowers threw 3/7 for 18 yards, one interception and a passer rating of 10.7. Flowers also managed 15 yards rushing from 5 attempts.

XFL Vipers starting QB Aaron Murray
Aaron Murray didn’t play in week two – his replacements didn’t fare much better than he had in week one either

The stats from last week don’t make for too bad reading, but that inability to put points on the board or even get into the endzone is proving to be a real issue.

They led the Dragons in first downs, yards per play, total yards, total plays, total time of possession rushing yards AND passing yards in week 2 – yet simply couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard.

In week three they face the Roughnecks, who have probably the best offence in the league – so they’re going to need to find a rhythm when they’re in possession or they will risk a blowout. Can they do it? I’m not so sure…

Can Cardale Jones continue his good form @ LA?

Cardale Jones is ridiculous and right now, is neck and neck with the incredible PJ Walker for the XFL’s MVP award. Yes, it’s still early doors but both of these men have displayed incredible ability to make plays – so can you blame me for getting a little ahead of myself?

In week 2, Jones threw 23/37 for 276 yards, 7.5 ypa, 2 touchdowns and one interception – giving him a passer rating of 91.7 on the day. Those points came in a 27-0 SHUTOUT win, the first in the modern XFL, against a Guardians team who had restricted Tampa Bay to just three points a week earlier.

DC Defenders QB Cardale Jones takes off running with the ball
Cardale Jones is behind only PJ Walker in terms of QB output so far this season – can he keep it up this week in LA?

Jones takes his 2-0 Defenders team to LA this week to take on the Wildcats who fell to 0-2 following their loss to the Dallas Renegades in week 2. They have a stern offence who can cause the Defenders problems, and let it not be understated that this will be DC’s first venture outside the nations capital – so an interesting match-up awaits.

Can Matt McGloin and the Guardians put the awful performance in week 2 behind them?

As referenced above, Matt McGloin and his Guardians offence had a STINKING game in DC last week, becoming the victims of the very first shutout in the new XFL. McGloin himself managed a passer rating of just 10.7, completing 8 of his 19 attempted passes for a measly 44 yards, zero touchdowns (obviously…) and two interceptions.

This led to something of a meltdown from the former Oakland Raiders QB in his half-time interview. He told the interviewer “we need to change the whole entire game-plan at half-time” before blasting HC Kevin Gilbride on the sideline.

They have a tough game this week as they head to Missouri to take on St Louis Battlehawks. It should be an interesting game as the Battlehawks have looked decent in their two opening games – QB Jordan Ta’amu looks a real star in the making.

Will the average attendance grow or drop?

This week, the attendances across the XFL grew by 10%, thanks mostly to a new XFL record attendance of 29,172 at CenturyLink Field for the Seattle Dragons clash with Tampa Bay Vipers.

According to Ben Fischer at Sports Business Daily, the total attendance figure grew by exactly 9.5% to 76,285 people – 38.2% of that entire audience figure came from the Seattle fans – who really turned out for their new team!

The Seattle Dragons fans set a new record attendance in the XFL
Seattle really turned out for the Dragons in their home opener, recording the biggest attendance at any game so far

The total number in week one saw 69,818 fans in attendance – an average of 17,456. That’s as opposed to an average attendance of 19,071 this week, nearly 2,000 more. However, if you take off the huge, potentially anomalous attendance in Seattle, the average from the other three games was 15,704 – a drop of almost 2,000.

So, it seems as though the average attendance figures could be repeatedly juiced up a little by the huge support in Seattle – so it’s kind of in the best interest of the league that they do well this season. Fortunately for Vince McMahon and Oliver Luck, the Dragons are at home again in week 3 as they welcome the Renegades to town.

Will the Houston Roughnecks impressive offence continue to smash it?

The Houston Roughnecks are currently the number one team in the whole league, thanks mostly to the impressive play from their QB PJ Walker, who has more Touchdowns alone than the rest of the teams in the league have managed.

In the win against St Louis in week two, he had one very prolific passing target – Cam Phillips. The pair linked up for not one, not two, but THREE passing touchdowns. So, I think it’s fair to say PJ has a favourite receiver.

The Defenders have put up 59 total points across their two games so far, an average of just under 30 points per game. With three touchdown passes in week two and four in week one, Walker has set himself apart from the rest of the crowd with two unbelievable performances.

This week, they head to Tampa to take on the Vipers, who have every chance of becoming the XFL whipping boys. They’ve yet to score an offensive touchdown, allowed 40 points across their first two games and look totally out of whack. On paper, it’s a simple affair for the Roughnecks – but football games aren’t won on paper.

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