By Matthew Feimer
With week one of the XFL now behind us, we can now look forward to week two. Last week the top headlines and questions were all about the new league itself. This week with we can now focus more on the games and teams themselves. The XFL had a great opening week. The football was fast paced, competitive, and had good quarterback play. The crowds were a good size and all 4 games were the highest rated sports events of the weekend while surpassing expectations and the ratings of the Alliance of American football (AAF) from last year. So, what are this week’s top questions for week two?
The first question is, will the attendance and ratings remain solid? History shows in other spring leagues like AAF show they fall hard and fast, although the AAF did not have the quality of play like the XFL. Last year’s AAF play was ok with some teams like the Orlando Apollos and the Arizona Hotshots looking like the best teams. The AAF also did not have a TV contract like the XFL does. The opening game was on the main CBS Network. The week after, it was on premium channels like CBS Sports Network and the NFL Network. Both those channels require customers to pay more. Add in the fact that people had to watch on their computer screens from Bleacher Report and that was a turnoff. With the XFL, every game is on an ABC, FOX, FS1 and ESPN with some top broadcast crews covering the game with top access like never seen before. More importantly, the football play on the field is very good.
Question two is, will injured quarterbacks like Landry Jones and Josh Johnson be back in the starting roles? Ironically, Dallas and Los Angeles play each other this week. Both teams after last week really need them to come back. This was supposed to be one of the higher profile games in my honest opinion. This could hurt the game and in turn hurt attendance and ratings. The Dallas Renegade offense was held in check last week by the Battlehawks. Although Phillip Nelson did a good job, he is no Landry Jones and the deep ball was not existent last. As for the Wildcats, Charlie Kanoff had a good first half and a horrible second half. He was pulled from the game and put back in after Jaren McClendon had one bad series. Then the Winston Moss press conference meltdown. We really need both Jones and Johnson to play.
Question three is, will the Seattle home opener draw over 30k fans? It is no secret that Seattle and St. louis have sold the most tickets. Seattle has made more tickets available after the demand got higher. Both Seattle and Tampa Bay are coming in looking for their first win after both losing on the road in week one. One can only hope this will help the league and keep the networks encouraged. Will Aaron Murray play? He is day to day with a foot injury. Again, the quality of play is the most important thing and the QB’s need to look good. I’m hoping the fans in Seattle will be as loud as DC was last week.
Question four is, can the Houston roughnecks and P.J. walker duplicate last week’s best overall performance? P.J. Walker was the star of the week and put on a great show against what was a big physical LA defense that wore down chasing him around. They face a tough St. Louis defense that shut down that potent Dallas offense. Will rookie Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu build off his first game and manage to keep P.J. Walker off the field in the more balanced attack of the Battlehawks?
Question 5 in what I think is the game of the week between New York and DC. Will the DC fans show up like they did last and be the 12th man? Will fans from New York be willing to travel to DC to support the Guardians? We also have the best quarterback matchup in my honest opinion this week. Cardale Jones will look to duplicate what he did last week. You could have made the case for him the be the star of the week in that DC air raid attack. Matt McGloin also had a good week in the colder weather-based offense that Kevin Gilbride has put together. It will be cold in DC, the high is supposed to be 28 degrees. Which adds to the question, will the fans show up? I will be there, and which offense will have to adjust in the cold climate and does the advantage go to the defenses?
The hype and excitement of week one is over. I can honestly say I’m looking forward to week two just as much. Last week made me want more XFL. Unlike the National Football League, the XFL gives us football on both days of the weekend. The most important thing is the quality of play and keeping the games close. To the AAF’s credit 26 of the 32 games were close. The XFL needs to do the same. I am hoping we get at least one overtime game to see those new OT rules in effect and the quarterbacks we want to see.