We’re halfway through the regular season and the Dragons sit at the bottom of the XFL (with the Vipers) with a 1-4 record. BUT, never fear, because I still contend there’s time to climb back into the playoffs! It’s gonna take a big winning streak, but I feel one coming!
To recap last Saturday’s loss in Houston, the Dragons blew a 14-0 lead in the first half (it was tied at 14 at the break), then subsequently blew a 23-14 lead midway through the third quarter, ultimately falling 32-23. The Dragons DID cover the spread (I think it was 11.5 points) and the over hit pretty easily (so, I feel like if sports gambling were legal, I would’ve won), but that does nothing for the Dragons’ playoff chances.
The offense was pretty out-of-sync all day, and most of the scoring was precipitated by turnovers generated by the defense. Two interceptions and a fumble recovery put the Dragons in VERY good position to take advantage offensively, but when it came time for B.J. Daniels and the crew to move the ball the length of the field, they just couldn’t do it.
The offensive line was pretty bad in this one. I’ve made it a point to not really get too down on these guys; after all, we don’t have enough good linemen in the NFL, why would I expect them to be anything in the XFL? But, it was particularly glaring in this one. I’d also argue that the play-calling was VERY suspect; the Dragons are what they are because Jim Zorn is the one in charge of everything, you’ll never change my mind. If we actually had our offensive coordinator (who never showed up, due to some family emergency I guess?) or, you know, HIRED a proper offensive coordinator to call plays in his stead, things might be a lot different. As it is, I cringe every time the Dragons fail on first down, because I know a 2nd & 10 run is coming (it makes the inevitable 3rd & 9 all the more frustrating).
Bottom line: with B.J. Daniels at the helm, you need to take better advantage of his running ability. He ran it 10 times for 30 yards in this one, but aside from the two goalline touchdowns, they were predominantly scrambles after the passing play broke down. I want to see more zone-read! There were countless times where he could’ve easily pulled the ball and taken off for significant yardage! I mean, this isn’t Russell Wilson here; what are you saving it for? Let’s put him to work and start winning some football games!
The defense, as usual, no notes. They have an uncanny knack for generating turnovers, which SHOULD be huge in a league like this! I will say there were a number of breakdowns in the secondary – a few deep passes down the sideline, and a bunch of guys wide open in the middle of the field – but I’m attributing that to injuries until someone tells me otherwise.
Okay, so one minor note.
Let’s get to the XFL Power Rankings:
- Houston Roughnecks: 5-0
- St. Louis BattleHawks: 3-2
- New York Guardians: 3-2
- D.C. Defenders: 3-2
- Dallas Renegades: 2-3
- Los Angeles Wildcats: 2-3
- Seattle Dragons: 1-4
- Tampa Bay Vipers: 1-4
The Guardians are rising up the ranks with a bullet! I still don’t know if they’re actually good or not (to be honest, I haven’t watched a minute of their games), but a 2-game winning streak deserves something!
D.C. got off the schneid with a win at home over the BattleHawks; the Defenders are now 3-0 at home and 0-2 on the road, by my figures. They had to replace their highly-regarded quarterback to do it, which is interesting to say the least.
So, here’s the deal (I think I talked about this last week, but I’m rehashing it here, sue me): Houston is a lock for one of the two playoff spots in the West. That leaves Seattle, Dallas, and L.A. The Renegades are the team we have to worry about the most, because we only get one more crack at them the rest of the way. Ideally, we’d like the Renegades to lose as much as possible.
We get TWO shots at the Wildcats, including this upcoming Sunday at CenturyLink Field. So, if ever there was a must-win game, you’re looking at it. If the Dragons lose on Sunday, let’s all write off the season and become BattleHawks fans. I feel a little bad for St. Louis (losing the Rams and all); if Seattle can’t win it all, I’d like to see them get some love.
Maybe by Sunday, the Dragons will have installed a better package of plays that takes advantage of Daniels’ skillset!