After week one’s disappointing 23-3 loss to the New York Guardians, the Tampa Bay Vipers could be looking at an early change at quarterback. And for good reason. The team was wildly inefficient in the red zone Sunday, going 0-4 on the game.
In a 10-week season, there is little time to waste. If Aaron Murray can’t get the offense in the end zone, then Vipers head coach Marc Trestman has to find someone who will.
Enter Quinton Flowers
Flowers was not used much at all in the first half of the Vipers week one 23-3 loss to the New York Guardians. The offense was stagnant for most of the game, and the only times the offense saw signs of real life was when Flowers subbed in.
I kept telling the guys, keep our heads up and keep fighting…We all have to work. Each and every one of us, individually, collectively and just keep going.Vipers QB Quinton Flowers (via Twitter @XFLVipers)
During his first couple of snaps, Flowers was very much used as a decoy in order to spark the running game. He was used as a quarterback in a read option offense with De’Veon Smith. This was his first snap on the field, and the defense paid attention to where Flowers was going, opening a whole in the defense for a nice gain.
The Vipers have two big running backs in Smith and Jacques Patrick. The combination of either back with Flowers in at QB for an option-based offense can be tough for opposing defenses.
Quinton Flowers is listed as a QB/RB — used for a read option here pic.twitter.com/g5CDcWhZH2— Arif Hasan, leap day enthusiast (@ArifHasanNFL) February 9, 2020
During training camp, Vipers head coach Marc Trestman talked about how Flowers will factor into the team’s offense during the season. While he didn’t have a specific answer for the question, he said that Flowers would see snaps as long as he’s healthy. During training camp Flowers lined up as a quarterback, running back and wide receiver. He has shown that he can catch the ball, which makes him a legitimate option while lined up, meaning defenses cannot disregard him like they normal do when QBs line up out wide in sets.
Here, Flowers was used out wide as a slot receiver. On this play, he starts in motion before receiving the hand off in a jet sweep. The gain was his longest run of the day. He shows patience before hitting his hole and gaining the first down, he follows the lead block of tight end Nick Truesdell.
In addition to being a threat on the ground, the former University of South Florida standout can also throw the ball. On this play, Flowers makes his only completion from week one, which was a 37-yard dart to receiver Daniel Williams.
Up to this point, Flowers had only made one attempt to throw, which went incomplete. The bulk of his usage came on running plays, if Flowers is used in mostly running downs and in options, the Vipers could catch opposing defenses sleeping in coverage and burn them for a big gain.
Trestman and the Vipers knew all along that their offense can be more dynamic if they opt for a more elusive quarterback like Flowers. In week one, it was a mixture of Murray’s foot injury and his inability to get going that got Flowers in the game. With the XFL’s short ten-game season and fans growing increasingly frustrated with the offense, a move to Flowers at QB1 could come as soon as week three. But everything will rely on Murray’s health going into week two, and how he does under center in Seattle.
Flowers was certainly composed after the team’s week one loss. He offered some words on the situation, and what the Vipers need to do to refocus and move forward ahead of Saturday’s game against the Seattle Dragons.
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