Eight starting quarterbacks guided their offenses in the XFL’s opening weekend, to varying levels of success. Just like in the NFL at any level of football, games are typically won and lost at the quarterback position. Keeping drives alive, limiting turnovers, and putting points on the board are all marks of a quarterback who guides their team to victory.
Quarterbacks ranged in name from household (Cardale Jones) to relative unknown (Brandon Silvers, Chad Kanoff). New York Guardians quarterback Matt McGloin came in with NFL starting experience, and it did translate to a win in the same stadium the New York Giants and New York Jets call home.
The eight quarterbacks will be considered based on their passing abilities, with rushing plays, scoring drives, and high efficiency holding value as well.
8. Aaron Murray, Tampa Bay Vipers
16-34, 47%, 231 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT (45.1 Rating) (6.8 Y/A) (3 sacks)
Vipers lost 23-3
Former Georgia and AAF quarterback Aaron Murray struggled in the Vipers 23-3 loss to the Guardians. Murray had some decent throws, but was the league’s only quarterback to complete less than 50% of his passes. Additionally, he was one of two quarterbacks that failed to record a rushing attempt. If Murray is to be considered a pocket passer, he definitely needs to complete more of his passes.
His two interceptions weren’t horrible, both coming off tipped passes. His first endzone pick was a dangerous idea, but his second turnover was more the fault of his receiver.
Murray’s offense put up a league-low 3 points, as the Vipers were one of only two teams that failed to score a touchdown in Week 1.
7. Chad Kanoff, Los Angeles Wildcats
21-40, 53%, 214 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (66.0 Rating) (5.4 Y/A) (3 sacks)
4 rush, 21 yards, TD
Wildcats lost 37-17
Like Murray, Princeton product Chad Kanoff, at his best, is a poised pocket passer with a strong and accurate arm. Kanoff showed a little more life with his legs, rushing four times for 21 yards and a score.
But the Wildcats offense fell completely dry after taking a 17-12 lead on the Roughnecks. Kanoff barely completed 50% of his passes, and his 5.4 yards per attempt was tied for the 2nd-lowest mark in the league.
For the Wildcats offense to succeed, Kanoff will have to push the ball down field more.
6. Philip Nelson, Dallas Renegades
33-42, 79%, 209 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT (77.5 Rating) (5.0 Y/A) (4 sacks)
Renegades lost 15-9
Despite completing a league-high 79% of his passes in the Renegades 15-9 loss to the BattleHawks, Philip Nelson left some things to be desired at the quarterback position. Nelson’s passes gained just 5.0 yards per attempt, the lowest mark for a quarterback in Week 1. Nelson, like Murray, also failed to record a rushing attempt in a game that is clearly evolving towards mobility at the quarterback position. Nelson also took a league-high four sacks.
Nelson has room for improvement, but ultimately held his team back in Week 1, not leading the Renegades on any touchdown drives.
5. Brandon Silvers, Seattle Dragons
21-40, 53%, 217 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT (72.6 Rating) (5.4 Y/A) (1 sack)
1 rush, 1 yard
Dragons lost 31-19
Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers, who has AAF experience and spent about a month on the New York Jets offseason roster, had a pretty good first half for the Seattle Dragons. He looked great as he had the Dragons tied 19-19 with the D.C. Defenders. But in the second half, he struggled to complete passes. The two interceptions he threw were pretty ugly, one for a pick six going the other way.
Still, I saw flashes of brilliance in Silvers’ ability to hang in the pocket and make tough, accurate throws while absorbing hits. He had three touchdown passes and only suffered one sack. If not for his turnovers, he could have put together a nice game and a Dragons win in Week 1.
4. Matt McGloin, New York Guardians
15-29, 52%, 182 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT (82.8 Rating) (6.3 Y/A) (0 sack)
3 rush, 2 yards, TD
Guardians won 23-3
McGloin’s XFL debut had some great throws and catches, but overall, the former Oakland Raider largely hit the mark of average in his final stat line.
McGloin completed 15 of his 29 passes, just over 50%, for 182 yards, with one touchdown, no interceptions. He also punched in a goal-line touchdown on the ground.
While McGloin could have been a little more accurate, his NFL experience showed between his poise in the pocket and his touch on some deep throws. McGloin was the only XFL quarterback not to take a sack in Week 1.
3. Cardale Jones, D.C. Defenders
16-26, 62%, 235 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT (116.7 Rating) (9 Y/A) (1 sack)
9 rush, 28 yards
Defenders won 31-19
Once an electric player at Ohio State, Cardale Jones showed he’s still got the skills to be an effective quarterback in the Defenders season-opening win over the Dragons.
Jones looked great in the pocket, moving around, and using his big arm to complete quick passes, deep bombs, and touch throws alike. He used his legs to move the chains as well, never breaking off anything huge but rushing nine times for 28 yards. It was an all-around efficient game for Jones, whose 9.0 yards per attempt led the league. Jones might have the best deep arm in the league, a trait that could make the Defenders very dangerous.
2. Jordan Ta’amu, St. Louis BattleHawks
20-27, 74%, 209 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT (108.4 Rating) (7.7 Y/A) (2 sacks)
9 rush, 77 yards
BattleHawks won 15-9
I had never heard of Jordan Ta’amu prior to this weekend. But after his first game against the Renegades, I can’t wait to see more of him.
Ta’amu was a true dual-threat for the BattleHawks offense, passing for 209 yards on a 74% completion rate, while also rushing for 77 yards on nine carries. Ta’amu’s legs were at their best on a 37-yard quarterback draw that sparked a St. Louis scoring drive.
The only knock on Ta’amu was the fact he only led the BattleHawks to 15 points. A win is a win of course, but there was just one quarterback who played even better, leading his team to a ton of points.
1. P.J. Walker, Houston Roughnecks
23-39, 59%, 272 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT (103.8 Rating) (7 Y/A) (1 sack)
4 rush, 26 yards
Roughnecks won 37-17
When I think of P.J. Walker, I instantly see an NFL comparison: Lamar Jackson. Obviously, there’s a reason Jackson is the NFL’s MVP and Walker is still in the XFL, but Walker’s play style and abilities showcased in Week 1 leave his ceiling sky-high for the Roughnecks.
Walker (4.72 40-yard dash time) isn’t the fastest quarterback the game of football has seen, but he’s quick and elusive in the pocket. He carried the ball four times for 26 yards, but did most of his damage extending plays in the pocket and throwing deep balls on the run. These aren’t supposed to be easy things to do, but Walker did them with grace, looking head and shoulders above the competition while leading the Roughnecks to 25 unanswered points to close the game.
Walker passed for four touchdowns, and only threw an interception in garbage time while fishing for his fifth aerial score. With a league-high 37 points in Week 1, Walker has established the Roughnecks as the early team to beat.
Header Photo Credit: XFL.com
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