The New York Guardian season starts on Sunday, February 9th with a home game against the Tampa Bay Vipers. This is a little surprising that the XFL would start their coldest market team at home for opening weekend.
However, starting out in one of the major media markets the first week has benefits of getting the most of the major media outlets involved right away. When you are a new league, any immediate buzz you can get is a plus. It also may help start off with good ratings.
The contest will feature a time of year with average temperatures in the low 40’s in New York. Matt McGloin, while playing most of his NFL career in Oakland, is a Penn State product and the cold weather should not impact the Guardians QB as much.
"Playing for New York is something I always wanted the chance to do." ?— New York Guardians (@XFLGuardians) November 6, 2019
Our QB @McGloinQB11 is ready to take the league on by storm this season ? #OnDuty #WednesdayMotivation pic.twitter.com/cUTYMzL2od
Tampa Bay Vipers QB Aaron Murray
Aaron Murray fought to get time in the AAF and had a tough 3 TD and 7 INT time of it while with the Atlanta Legends. But, he did show good accuracy when not pressured and had completed almost 65% of his passes. Murray does have the advantage of having familiarity with his #1 WR in Seantavius Jones, who was his top playmaker in Atlanta. The OL for Tampa is OG heavy and it will be interesting to see how they hold up at the tackle position. The Vipers are built to stretch the field. It will be interesting to see how they deal with the cold weather and what may not be the best conditions for a deep passing offense, especially with a new offensive line that may not give the best protection early on.
DC Defenders Week 2
New York will have a short week against a team with an extra day of rest in DC, who will be playing their second straight home game. The Guardians will get their first road contest in a smaller soccer stadium against a big-time dual threat in Cardale Jones. This game will feature 3 former Arizona Hotshot running backs. Jhurell Presley for the Defenders and Tim Cook and Justin Stock for the Guardians. For the Guardians it is imperative to keep Jones in the pocket and try to avoid getting gashed by scrambles.
The Defender’s first Defensive pick is currently playing in the NFL having been signed after the draft and if he does not return can seriously impact the edge-rushing ability based on picks made after this. The loss of James Vaughters may have major implications to the front 7 in DC and we will wait and see how that plays out.
St Louis BattleHawks Week 3
The Guardians stay on the road and get 8 days off to make up for the short week the prior week. They will play in the dome in St Louis against the Battlehawks. The Battle Hawks have 5 draftees already in the NFL now and it is something to watch how many return after the season.
The loss of 5 guys can have a major impact assuming they are replaced with lesser players. You know that Jonathan Hays will feature his tight ends, being a long time tight end coach and that he would like to run the football.
Lead by Jordan Ta’amu, the youngest QB in the league at 21, you can expect them to look to use Ta’amu’s running ability as much as possible. Ta’amu has the legs and arm talent to play at the next level, but he is very inexperienced and has to learn to protect the ball better and the Guardians lead by a talented secondary and speedy linebacker corps will present some problems for the young QB.
LA Wildcats Week 4
Finally, on Feb 29 (leap year) the Guardians return home. By this time, the weather can be very unpredictable in New York, but temps are normally approaching 50 degrees. The Guardians will face their first non-conference opponent in the LA Wildcats on another 6-day turnaround. The Wildcats are an interesting team.
Luis Perez is a polarizing QB who people either really like or really do not like. He is also the first real non-dual threat guy the Guardians face. Injuries may start playing havoc with some teams by this time, so it is hard to say by this point how these teams will look Both teams have very similarly built offenses. They feature larger RB’s and sizeable WR. the LA team features two of the best WR in the AAF in Rashad Ross and Nelson Spruce. If healthy, they can really be a challenge for the Guardians to deal with and they are built in a way where they can really keep their attack balanced in a traditional pro-style way.
Both teams mirror each other defensively, they even both picked a Birmingham Iron secondary player 1st on their DB selections. This game likely will come down to whose QB performs better and on health. Sadly, the Guardians go back on the road after this and 2 home games in the first five can make life difficult if they do not play well on the road.
Dallas Renegades Week 5
Week 5 the Guardians go on the road to play Dallas. A team led by Landry Jones and coached by Bob Stoops. Most XFL pundits think Dallas has the best overall team heading into the season. Dallas features very quick receivers who can get downfield and make plays. Tommylee Lewis, who was the victim of the famous pass interference non-call for the Saints, figures to be prominent with a couple of NFL seasons under his belt and has found the end zone multiple times in the top league in the world.
They have a very experienced team overall with Cameron Artis-Payne being a former 5th round pick, features over 30 NFL games, 3 starts and 5 NFL TDs. He has a respectable 4.2 yards per carry in his NFL career as well.
Defensively they are lead by Hau’oli Kikaha, who was a former 2nd round pick He has over 60 NFL tackles and 8 NFL sacks to his credit. He has had an ACL tear and multiple ankle injuries that cost him time and likely his NFL career out of fear of these injuries. If he stays healthy, he will be a beast and likely the best edge player in the league. The D front also features Sealver Siliga a long-time NFL vet with over 100 NFL tackles, He is a true veteran and run stopper. There is no doubt this combination makes this the best D front in the league and a very difficult matchup problem for the Guardians who will not have the size advantage they will normally be accustomed to.
Houston Roughnecks Week 6
The second half of the season starts off at home versus the other Texas team, the Houston Roughnecks. The Roughnecks are a confusing team as it is unclear who their QB will be. Philip Walker was the assigned QB, but Connor Cook was a late entry to the XFL draft and was their first selection (the only team to pick a QB #1 in the skill position round). This team also did not pick any Tight Ends during the entire draft!
While June Jones has not had a TE in the past, it is hard to fathom a pro team operating without one successfully. Sammie Coates will figure in the passing attack as a former 3rd round pick who dealt with some injuries that limited his NFL output, he still has over 500 NFL yards to his credit and if healthy can be a big playmaker in the XFL.
The RB corp features Kyle Hicks, a former TCU college star and Andre Williams who played in the NFL for a while, but the former 4th rounder was underwhelming and has something to prove here. The Defense is built for a 3-4 with only one DE picked in the front 7 phase, expect them to use traditional LBs in what would be a DE roll. The order of their picks was interesting. Demarquis Gates was an XFL standout and should play higher than his draft position. At this point, I would say we will need to wait and see how this team will shake out.
Seattle Dragons Week 7
For Week 7 the Guardians travel across the country to play in Seattle against the Dragons, By now we will really have a feel for where the teams all stand and likely will see a team or two out of the race. This team lead by the experience of Jim Zorn will feature Brandon Silvers under center.
Silvers was a star at Troy who lead them to LSU and won, He continued to open eyes with his play in the AAF, They will feature Trey Williams and Kenneth Farrow at RB, the tandem both played for the San Antonio Commanders and only them and the Guardians have an offensive tandem from the same AAF team in the backfield.
The Dragons WRs will be something to see as they feature a former college star in Fred Ross with limited pro experience and former Navy QB Keenan Reynolds expected to start at the other WR position. We will see if their natural talents overcome the lack of professional experience.
They do feature an experienced NFL TE, a former 2nd round pick, in Jace Amaro who is still trying to prove he can make an impact at the pro-level. Evan Rodriguez is the other TE expected to see a lot of time and he was a formidable target for the San Antonio Commanders and also has some NFL experience.
Seattle does feature a very talented CB duo in Jhavonte Dean and Chris Davis who starred at Miami U and Auburn respectively. Davis has had some injury issues but has some NFL experience which will help out the youthful Dean.
Seattle drafted a lot based on potential rather than established talent, especially at WR and DB. it will see if this potential plays out on the field.
Rest Of The Season
Starting in week 8 the Guardians again playing the eastern conference teams for the second time. I will not review all the opponents as this was already done.
They play The Battlehawks at home week 8, Defenders at home week 9 and finish on the road with the Vipers. Weeks 8 &9 are the first and only time they play back to back weeks at home all season. The Guardians will need to be road warriors early to stay in competition. If they play well at home they will have the benefit of late-season home games against division opponents late assuming they are still in the playoff hunt.