While the XFL’s first kickoff will be on February 8th as the Defenders and Dragons face off at Audi Field, this game will be special too. It’s the first Sunday night game we’ll get, and thank god we won’t have to go 7 more months without football, spending our Sunday evenings filled with uncushioned dread about Monday morning.
Doubleheaders on Saturdays and Sundays mean that fans could watch every single game in a given weekend if your loved ones and employers are so inclined to let that happen.
The Dallas Renegades will enjoy a home-field opener at Globe Life Park, and they’ll be kicking off at 5 pm EST. Bob Stoops‘ Renegades will be taking on Jonathan Hayes’ BattleHawks, and while I currently have the Dallas ranked first with St. Louis last, I think It’ll be an interesting matchup.
The Renegades are built to be a high volume offensive attack with an aggressive defense centered around the pass rush, while the BattleHawks at this stage should be a ground and pound, grind it out kind of offense with a strong D to back them up. Let’s take a look at the and key matchups and injury reports here.
Hal Mumme vs Jay Hayes
With Landry Jones questionable to play week one, OC Hal Mumme will have to tailor his scheme to either A: a starting QB who’s not physically 100%, or B: a young backup. The Renegades Official Depth Chart cryptically says their QB is Landry Jones OR Phillip Nelsen OR Eric Dungey. So. Scripting the offense, calling the right plays and reads will be especially important for the Renegades OC this week.
BattleHawks DC Jay Hayes (a former DL coach with Tampa Bay and Cincinnati) will have to find out how to take things away from the Renegades offense and put his guys in the best position to stop the Dallas Air Raid attack while accounting for a workhorse back Cameron Artis-Payne. Lotta chess going on here in the first game.
Derron Smith (31) vs Jordan Ta’amu (10)
Smith was the Renegades first pick in the Defensive Backs phase of the draft, and the 27-year-old is a serious BallHawk. At Fresno State, he had 15 picks and broke up 15 passes. He’s a seriously disruptive element in this secondary, and Jordan Ta’amu will have to account for him on every play.
Ta’amu is an unquestionably physically talented QB with plus athleticism and a good arm. However, he is raw at just 22 years old and has been criticized for his ability to read defenses at times. His OC Chuck Long is a former QB himself and can hopefully help develop his vision, but Smith could be a problem for him on Sunday.
Christine Michael (24) vs Matt Jones (33)
Ok, this is less of a matchup than a competition because these guys share a backfield, but the way Chuck Long uses these two veteran backs in conjunction with each other could have a huge impact on the game. Christine Michael is built like a typical bell-cow back at 5’10, 220 pounds with a 4.54 40. He’s proven himself time and time again in the pros and has over 1000 yards rushing to his name.
Matt Jones, on the other hand, offers some really awesome tools to the offense. He’s huge for his position at 6’2″, 239, and while he’s not going to be blazing past defensive backs, he’s a hulking force who can churn out yards up the gut, and actually offers some upside as a pass-catcher. He’s likely their short-yardage/goal-line back, but I’d love to see Chuck Long get creative here.
These two can take a lot of pressure off their young quarterback if they can establish the run early and get in a rhythm as a one-two punch. If they can field these guys in two-back sets with Michael as the Halfback and Jones as the Fullback, I think that would really keep Dallas’ defense guessing.
full weekend report at CBS Sports
BattleHawks – TE Cole Hunt – Limited Wednesday (hamstring)
Renegades – QB Landry Jones – Limited Wednesday (knee)
Renegades – WR Jazz Ferguson – DNP Wednesday (hand)
Renegades – TE Julian Allen – Limited Wednesday (hand)
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