A Who’s Who Analysis by John Turner for No Reason at All
Final cuts have come and gone, and after a long two years since the announcement of the return of the XFL, we have a team in the District of Columbia. Lead by Team President Erik A. Moses and Head Coach Pep Hamilton, this appears to be a well rounded team in the Eastern Division that is poised to finally bring a championship back to my city.
If you follow all things football like I do, you’ll know that in Washington, we’ve gone from the pinnacle, through dark years, and now in to the abyss of a black hole that some only hope and pray Ron Rivera can navigate Redskins fans out of.
This is why the DC Defenders are the best thing to happen to football in the DMV since Christ was a Corporal. They’ll play games at Audi Field (currently shared by DC United of the MLS) and practice at the University of Maryland. They have great leadership at the top and have scraped together a pretty impressive roster.
We at A Football World will indeed be front and center on the 50 yard line for home games, as we hope to see all these new and familiar faces line up on February 8th for the league’s inaugural kick off. We also hope to bring you great photos and video through the year and hopefully get a chance to talk to players and coaches.
Speaking of whom, lets meet a few now.
Quarterback Cardale Jones stands at 6’5″ and weighs 264 pounds, and gives DC it’s second National Champion at the position from Ohio State. I’ve met him and I can tell you he’s a brick house, he’s smart, and he sounds like a leader. Much like Dwayne Haskins, he’s not going to run around like Michael Vick or Doug Flutie all game. He’s a pocket quarterback that can throw it a country mile with accuracy. He very well might be the best QB1 in the league.
I would say that Coach Hamilton is going to use a lot of 11, 21, and 20 personnel packages, if I were to be a betting man.
To learn a little more about personnel packages see my video below:
In the first of a few XFL drafts, the DC Defenders used their first five picks to assemble the 11 personnel. The team had the first overall pick in the skills position draft (a 10 round draft compiling of a pool of players at only the running back, tight end, and receiver positions), and with it chose the following:
They had other picks like Rashard Davis (who ended up signing with the Tennessee Titans on Week 16) and Max McCaffrey (yes, that’s the brother of Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers), but it appears as though those two are either going to be late arrivals, members of Team 9, or not quite good enough to make the final cut.
The team also drafted WR Tre McBride, but later traded him to the LA Wildcats for Rashad Ross. Ross is a speedster, and was a standout in the Alliance of American Football last spring for the Arizona Hotshots. He has spent time in Washington for the Redskins as well. McBride was the Defender’s second overall pick in the skills draft, and I think it was an even trade, as Ross went in the second round to LA.
If I were to take a guess, I’d say the starting line will likely look like this:
Cole Boozer is another name I’d expect to be a part of the rotation at Tackle as well. Linemen are a premium in pro football and they don’t grow on trees. I think with the speed at the skill positions the team has put together, we can expect to see a lot of zone blocking in the run game and perhaps less five and seven step drop backs than we’re used to seeing.
To see a bit more on zone blocking see the video below:
I’d like to announce that the only gripe I have with the XFL is the same one I have with the NFL. This league appears to be catering to Fantasy Football fans and is looking to put out high powered offenses.
Nothing wrong with that really, however, I’m a big fan of defense but I also realize offense sells. Call me old school, but I’d watch Navy vs Air Force run the ball a total of 120+ times for 960 yards instead of the Chiefs vs Rams game from 2018, but I suppose I’m in the minority.
That said, the Defenders have put some pretty solid pieces on that defensive side of the ball to make them, dare I say, the most well rounded team in the league. Jury is still out on what base they’ll use (4-3 or 3-4), however, in this day and age, it’s better to go with hybrid multiple fronts anyway.
For the record, after viewing the sizes and head count at the positions on the team I’ll bet the black sheep in the chicken coop of the farm that they are a 4-3 base.
So who are they? First, lets guess the starting big boys:
The linebackers will be coached by former Washington Redskin and Super Bowl winning linebacker Kurt Gouveia. Kurt also was a player in the 2001 version of the XFL -which we won’t spend too much time talking about- thank God.
He will have the opportunity to coach up AJ Tarpley, Scooby Wright, Jameer Thurman, Jonathan Massaquoi and several other key players. Wright and Tarpley were both standouts in the AAF last spring. Wright will be reunited with Rashad Ross from their days on the Hotshots and Tarpley played on the San Diego Fleet.
The Secondary should have the best tandem of Safeties in the XFL with Matt Elam and Shamarko Thomas. Both players were drafted by two of the toughest defensive teams in the NFL, with Pittsburgh taking Thomas in Round 4 of 2013, and Elam being taken in Round 1 by the Baltimore Ravens. Elijah Campbell, Desmond Lawrence, Jalen Myrick, and Doran Grant will likely be the primary Corners and Nickel Backs. Grant went to Ohio State, so he’s got to know how to cover somebody. He’s going to need to be able to cover, because the league will utilize a shorter play clock and teams will likely be passing 66% of the time at least.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, these are your DC Defenders.
If you’d like to see the full roster feel free to have a look here:
I don’t know about you guys, but I am really excited for the season, not only for this team but for the league as a whole. We hope to bring you great analyzation and coverage as the season progresses. Feel free to join us each week as we go live and give away tickets to the Defenders either on our YouTube page or in our facebook discussion group here:
But wait there’s more…