By Matthew Feimer
With the first week now in the books for the XFL, we learned a lot about the new league. There was much hype coming into XFL part 2, just not for the same reasons as back in 2001. If you look back at week one from 2001 and this weekend, it is a total do over. Which is a good thing for football fans. So, what were the top stories from week one of the XFL?
First things first when putting together a new league you need time and money. Vince McMahon as of week one delivered on what he promised. Good quality football and football re imagined. The new rules had a positive impact on the game. The game was faster, more strategic, and involved taking more chances which is what the fans asked for. The kickoff and punt rules were noticed right away. Being a kicker in this league is going to be very challenging. The fans embraced it right away. Taking two years to do this right was well worth the weight.
Second, when you take your time and giving players the much-needed minicamp, training camp, scrimmages, and preparation you get quality football. Week one the defenses were not way ahead of the offenses like what we saw in the AAF last year. Both sides of the ball looked ready to play. The result is close competitive games.
Third, the quarterback play was very good to excellent. Cardale Jones looked like the guy who lead Ohio State to a national championship. P.J. Walker looked like the guy who made Temple a competitive school. He looked amazing in that Run n Shoot offense of June Jones. Matt McGloin looked the guy who came out of nowhere at Penn State and Jordan Ta’amu did not look like a rookie quarterback but a poised veteran. Even the quarterbacks on the losing side looked very good. Phillip Nelson completed 33/41 passes. Brandon Silvers despite two bad interceptions (one not his fault), played well. Al Davis told the United States Football League, you have good quarterback play if you want to compete.
The fourth thing is the rule changes have made a difference. From the opening kickoff you noticed it right away. The game was faster, less commercials, kickoffs and punts kept you watching, and the teams took more chances on 4th down as a result. The option on point after touchdowns also brings more strategy to the game. The only thing missing this weekend was an overtime game.
The fifth thing was the TV coverage was a huge improvement over the Alliance of American Football (AAF). Both Fox and ESPN gave these games great coverage with play by play people and color commentators we all know and like. Steve Levy and Greg McElroy had the best chemistry and were happy to be doing the games. The XFL even gave us their own 15-minute pre-game show from XFL headquarters in Bristol Connecticut.
Overall it was a very successful first full weekend for XFL 2020 and it promises to get better as the season goes on. Everyone who watched were very impressed. I was very happy myself. It erased many poor opening weekends by the United Football League, XFL 2001, and the World League of American football, I have in memory. As for many football fans like myself, there will be no football withdrawals this year. #ForTheLoveOfFootball