After a successful offseason for the Arlington Renegades, now the expectations are high for the team to perform well and win an XFL title.
It all started for the Renegades when they brought back head coach Bob Stoops for his second run with the team after finishing 2-3 in the 2020 season. Coach Stoops started by rebuilding his coaching staff adding former BattleHawks head coach Jonathan Hayes and Chuck Long to run the offense together. Former BattleHawks defensive coordinator Jay Hayes and former Houston Gamblers defensive coordinator Tim Lewis will be teaming up to run their 3-4 defense.
Through the XFL Draft, the Renegades picked up some key players starting with the quarterbacks assigned to them Drew Plitt and Kyle Sloter. On the offense, the top players drafted include former Oklahoma receiver Jordan Smallwood, running back De’Veon Smith, tight end Sal Cannella, and offensive linemen Garrett McGhin and Cameron Hunt.
Looking over on the defensive side, the secondary got a lot of love bringing back former Renegades cornerback Josh Hawkins. Other key players drafted in the secondary includes Will Hill and De’Vante Bausby. Coach Jay Hayes brought on some former BattleHawks defenders to the team including Will Clarke and Joe Powell to the roster. Coach Tim Lewis did the same bringing in 2022 USFL leading tackler Donald Payne to the team.
For the last six weeks, the Renegades players have been battling through training camp to try to make the 51-man roster through rain, sun, snow, ice, or whatever weather hit them. The coaching staff has had to make some tough decisions letting go of some good players including Rahim Moore and Kenneth Farrow. When all is said and done, the team is finally put in place and ready to start the season.
XFL South Division Preview
The Renegades can look at the South Division of the XFL as an advantage to be in and a tough challenge for them to face. A major advantage they have is most of the teams are a driving distance away from Arlington as they would have to travel to Houston and San Antonio for their road games. That’s a big plus as they wouldn’t have to drive more than five hours for those games.
A potential challenge they face is the rowdy road games they will be a part of between the Houston Roughnecks, San Antonio Brahmas, and Orlando Guardians. Based on past experience with other leagues, San Antonio has been able to pack the Alamodome with at least 20,000 fans in the dome. Houston will be able to garner about 15,000-20,000 fans at their home games. As for Orlando, the Apollos of the AAF would get between 18,000-20,000 fans a game which bolds well for the Guardians.
Arlington is the heavy favorite to win the division with San Antonio and Houston being close behind the Renegades. The Guardians are seen as the long shots to win the South Division so it could be between the three Texas teams going for the division. Look for the Renegades thought to be the top team coming out of the division and making the XFL playoffs.
Arlington Renegades 2023 Regular Season Schedule
Looking at the schedule for the Renegades, they start the season with the Vegas Vipers and Roughnecks who both should be strong at throwing the football so the secondary will be challenged early. The toughest portions of the season will be weeks four and five when they are on the road in St. Louis and San Antonio which are two of the toughest places to play in the league. Crowd noise will play a factor in those games for the Arlington offense.
The second part of the season features another back-to-back road trip that will send the Renegades east to Orlando and DC which will be tough matchups for Arlington. While the Guardians are considered closer to the bottom of the league, the Defenders have Jordan Ta’amu who is always tough to defend. The final game showdown with Houston should be a critical matchup that might have playoff implications for both teams.
Renegades XFL Championship Odds
When looking at the sports betting companies across the board, one constant is that the Renegades are among the top three teams that are favored to win the league title. According to DraftKings, the Renegades line is at +500 which is the third highest odds to win the XFL championship behind the St. Louis BattleHawks and the Seattle Sea Dragons. Under Caesars, they are tied for second with a line of +500 as well with the Sea Dragons being favored.
There is one site that has the Renegades as the favorites to win it all this season. Bet365 has the Renegades as the team to beat this season as it is the only one of the major betting sites that has them at +450 odds to win. PointsBet has them tied with the BattleHawks for first with +500.
It’s clear that the biggest competition the Renegades will have this season according to the betting sites is the Sea Dragons and the BattleHawks. Of course, this is all just a guess based on each team’s rosters and how the schedule is structured. Because the Renegades have a strong roster and do less traveling than any other team in the league, they should have the advantage over every team this season.
Renegades Season Storylines
Who Will Start at Quarterback?
The depth chart for the Arlington Renegades was released Thursday morning with a twist to one position that has not been announced yet: quarterback.
One certainty from the beginning was that the two quarterbacks assigned, Drew Plitt and Kyle Sloter would be the guys battling for the starting job with Kevin Anderson most likely landing as the number three quarterback. Both Plitt and Sloter have strong arms and can use their legs to make plays.
Sloter had some issues with turnovers in the USFL last year as he had nine touchdown passes to 11 interceptions which were the second most interceptions behind Defenders quarterback Jordan Ta’amu. Part of the issue he was dealing with was his ankle injury that affected his play for about half the season which could have led to the turnovers. He’s built like a prototypical quarterback which adding the mobility part makes him an intriguing player to start.
Plitt is not a guy to sleep on though as he has proven at the college level that he is dangerous running the ball. The two issues that people might have with Plitt are his inexperience at the professional level and being shorter than Sloter at six feet, three inches. There’s no doubt though he’s got all the abilities to be like how Jonathan Hayes used Jordan Ta’amu in St. Louis back in 2020.
While Sloter has the veteran experience, all signs seem to be pointed toward Plitt being the guy to start. Fans won’t truly know until kickoff to the week one game against the Vipers. Regardless of who starts, the Renegades will be in good hands with two quarterbacks who play the position well.
Coach Bob Stoops Back for Round Two
Surely, there were moments in the 2020 XFL season that Bob Stoops looks back on and thinks that he should have changed something or a decision he could have made differently. It was an up-and-down experience for Stoops during those first five weeks of the season as the team finished 2-3 which was lower than what was expected of them. Granted, they had five more weeks to ride the ship and recover, but a dangerous pandemic prevented fans from witnessing the potential turnaround.
This time around, Stoops is doing things differently with a more experienced coaching staff and a change in philosophy offensively. Jonathan Hayes and Chuck Long will be running a similar offense that fans saw with the BattleHawks where they were spread, but balanced between the pass and run. This would lead the way for running backs Keith Ford and De’Veon Smith to get multiple carries and be the workhorses for the offense.
The job Stoops has done in building this team has been great and it appears that it looks like the best and most experienced roster in the league. Time will tell whether the older team that Arlington has will be a benefit or a curse against younger teams. It’s a unit that should play at a high level and win some games. Stoops has this team set up for success thanks to the way he constructed this team together.
Renegades Season Prediction
These are always tough to determine since no one truly knows what the result is going to be. There are unknowns with all eight teams and how they will perform through the ten-game season. The one constant is that the Renegades should be one of the better teams this season and should be poised for a playoff appearance.
Arlington’s biggest strength to the team comes with their secondary. Between Josh Hawkins, De’Vante Bausby, Will Hill, and Jamal Carter, it’s a unit that will be hard to pass on due to their ball-hawking skills. Offenses will have a hard time moving the ball down the field as this secondary will be up for the challenge. The hope for Arlington is that these veterans can help groom some of the younger players to play at their level.
Offensively, running the football will be a major plus for the team. The backfield is deep with Ford and Smith leading the way, but don’t be surprised if fans see Adrian Killins in the offense as well as he is their speed back. One reason the running game will be good is because of how strong the offensive line is. Garrett McGhin and Cameron Hunt lead the way for a line that will bully defenders. The addition of Willie Beavers is huge as he should eventually find his way into the lineup as the starting left tackle unless George Moore exceeds expectations.
This article can’t be completed without talking about how good the special teams unit is led by kicker Taylor Russolino and punter Marquette King. It’s the best one-two punch in the XFL based on their experience and how well they have performed previously in the XFL. Rannell Hall being added late in training camp is also big for the team as he is the top kickoff and punt returner for the team.
The Renegades are going to be a tough team to face and beat. They are loaded at all three phases of the game from the offense, defense, and special teams. If the veterans can perform well as they did in other professional football leagues, Arlington will be the top team in the XFL and should be lifting the championship trophy at the end of the season.
Arlington Renegades: 7-3 Record, First in South Division, XFL Champions
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