QB Cardale Jones shines as Defenders earn first XFL win


Well, that was different.

The inaugural game of the XFL kicked off Saturday in front of 17,000-plus fans inside of Audi Stadium, and saw the D.C. Defenders (1-0) pull out a solid 31-19 victory against the Seattle Dragons (0-1).

Led by former Ohio State star quarterback Cardale Jones, the Defenders came back from a 13-12 halftime deficit to outscore the Dragons 19-6. Jones, a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, finished the day 16-of-26 for 291 yards and two touchdowns, both of which came in the third quarter.

Standout receiver Eli Rogers, whose three years with the Steelers was marred by injuries, caught all six of his targets for a team-high 73 yards, demonstrating just how dangerous he can be when healthy. Khari Lee, a former tight end of the Bears, Lions and Bills, secured a 39-yard pass for D.C.’s first TD.

The Defenders’ defense also came to play, snagging two interceptions — one a 69-yard trip to the house from cornerback Bradley Sylve in the fourth — as well as four tackles for a loss and nine passes defensed. The defensive line provided a ton of pressure all afternoon, most noticeably linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi, who had three tackles and recorded the team’s lone sack.

Defenders nose tackle Elijah Qualls came away with a fumble recovery on a botched handoff by Dragons QB Brandon Silvers with five and some change to go that zapped the little momentum Seattle, down by 14, had been trying to build towards a comeback of their own.

      ▶ Brooks: QB revolution sweeping NFL
      ▶ Reuter 3-round mock draft 1.0
      ▶ Most clutch players right now
      ▶ AFC South rookie grades

Silvers completed 21 of his 40 pass attempts for 217 yards, three TDs and two INTs. Silvers’ first TD toss — a pin-point 14-yarder up the middle to tight end Austin Proehl — will go down as the first TD in the new league’s history. As the pocket collapsed around him on his third TD, Silvers displayed good awareness by scrambling up the field and finding Proehl (5/88/2) for a 57-yard catch-and-run score. Both “Play of the Day material” but for totally different reasons.

Defenders kicker Tyler Rausa contributed the first points (note the distinction) of kickoff day on a 34-yarder. The former Boise State special teamer finished 2-of-3 on the day, including a career-best 54-yard FG to end the first half.

Aside from the notable rule differences, which you can familiarize yourself with here, another exciting aspect of the game was the live mic used by both teams for the duration.

Defenders coach Pep Hamilton, whose previous experience includes stops with the Jets, 49ers, Bears, Colts and Browns, as well as stops at the collegiate level with Stanford, Michigan and Howard, could be heard delivering plays to his starting QB. Jones, in turn, could also be heard going through his cadence prior to the snap.

Dragons coach Jim Zorn, who is very familiar with the DC area as the Redskins’ head coach from 2008-09, could be heard doing the same. He likely wishes his “revenge game” would’ve ended a little differently. Zorn’s other stops include stints with the Seahawks, Lions, Ravens, and Chiefs, as well as in the NCAA with Boise State, Utah State and Minnesota.

The hot mic was also featured rather interestingly in sideline interviews with players as they came off the field; topics ranged from celebratory chatter about the play they were previously involved in to frustrated breakdowns of what went wrong and so on and so forth.

All in all, it was an intriguing beginning to what should be an intriguing new era for the XFL.

Source: Read Full Article


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here