Despite a rough close to the regular season with their 25-9 loss to the Houston Roughnecks, the Arlington Renegades are still in the playoffs in the south division.
It was not the performance the Arlington Renegades were hoping for, especially with the Roughnecks playing a good portion of backups in the game. The offense was only able to produce 55 yards on the ground while the defense allowed 196 yards on the ground. Renegades quarterback Luis Perez struggled to get into a rhythm in the second half not throwing a touchdown and throwing an interception. Not much help from the receiving core with key drops in the game. Taylor Russolino was the only real offense for Arlington hitting all three of his field goals including a 56-yard field goal.
The Renegades finished the regular season at 4-6 but got some help Saturday afternoon thanks to the DC Defenders beating the San Antonio Brahmas 29-28. San Antonio’s loss gave the Renegades their playoff spot as they will face the Roughnecks for a third matchup this Saturday with a trip to the XFL Championship game on the line.
Key Observations for the Renegades
Offense Reverted Back to Old Ways
No De’Veon Smith was the right move in terms of preparing him to be healthy for the playoffs. It, however, did not help the Renegades at all with running the football. Leddie Brown had a chance to prove he can be a lead back if given the chance and the result was 14 carries for 29 yards averaging just 2.1 yards per carry. Not exactly glowing numbers for an offense that didn’t hit 60 rushing yards as a unit.
The biggest issue for this team was converting on third and short or fourth and short. Without De’Veon Smith, Arlington had no chance of getting the yardage needed as they didn’t have their power back. It’s been a problem all season for the team and this time it cost them possessions and points on the board.
The receiving core for Arlington was too quiet for a team that needed momentum going into the playoffs. Their leading receiver on the team? Running back Brian Herrien with five catches for 47 yards. No one else was over 40 yards receiving except for tight end Sal Cannella who had 41 yards. LuJuan Winningham and JaVonta Payton had bad drops in the game that could have led to big plays or scores. The reality is the receiving core has to step up and make big plays against this vaulted Roughnecks defense.
As for Luis Perez, it was a mixed bag of inaccurate throws and pressure all game. There were multiple times when he had to run for his life to make a throw or gain some yards on the ground. He did well in the first half but went 9 of 17 in the second half with an interception returned back for a touchdown. While there should still be confidence Perez is the right man to lead this team, nothing about his performance would wow anybody. Fans should fully expect a bounce-back game for Perez in the playoffs who he thrives the most.
Former Renegades Shreds Arlington’s Defense
Arlington’s defense has been very good throughout the season as they are deep at every position. They did not have their best game, especially trying to stop the run as Houston’s running back Jeremy Cox had a field day with them. The former Renegade was cut from the team at the end of training camp with a deep backfield for Arlington. That move backfired on the Renegades as he ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
Houston is starting to hit their stride with running the football as offensive coordinator AJ Smith has changed his play calling for more runs and it has paid off. This should be an indication for Arlington that their defense must focus on the run and lean on their secondary to cover their receivers. The Renegades weren’t terrible on defense on Sunday, but Houston had a good portion of their backups in the game and found a way to gain 341 total yards. There is some cause for concern as they need to clean things up in practice this week.
Third Time a Charm?
Arlington is certainly hoping the old saying “third time’s the charm” will apply to them in their playoff game Saturday night. A lot of work needs to be done as the team moves into playoff mode for the all-important win-or-go-home game.
Reflecting on the regular season for Arlington, their defense has carried them to this point by creating turnovers and scoring when the offense needed. Their offense was rough to watch for the first seven games of the season with a lack of passing game and a running game that lived on three-to-four-yard carries. Perez transformed the offense to being effective and putting points on the board despite Sunday’s showing.
Saturday will be all about what kind of offense will Arlington bring and how will the Renegades’ defense will be fair against the run game. Sunday’s game has to be removed from everyone’s mind as it is not a reflection on Arlington as a team. Everything bad that happened should not be repeated based on their performances against the Guardians and Defenders the previous two weeks. There’s still a fighter’s chance this team can pull off a major upset to get into the title game.
Renegades Offensive Stats
Renegades Defensive Stats
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