The Dallas Renegades have some brand names on their roster and coaching staff, but is that going to equate to an XFL Championship in 2020? Former head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, Bob Stoops, signed up to be the first ever head coach of the Dallas Renegades. His time away from football didn’t last long, and I think people probably expected Stoops to take a high profile job instead of going to the XFL. If Stoops was looking for a coaching job without a lot of pressure this was it, though.
Obviously he’s expected to win games, so there is some pressure, but this isn’t the Big 12 and Stoops can have a bit of fun. He is taking a massive pay cut to coach in the XFL. It’s not about the money. Will there be a day that he wants to go back to college or even the NFL? I suspect we haven’t seen the end of Stoops in that capacity. The Renegades also made a splash at quarterback with Landry Jones.
Stoops and Landry are together again after spending time together in Norman. Jones was the starting quarterback for the Sooners, and he ultimately turned that success in college into a spot with the Steelers. He was with the Steelers from 2013 to 2017 as a backup. Jones waited until 2015 to get an opportunity in the regular season. That was due to injuries to Ben Roethlisberger, but other than that, Jones was a lifetime backup in the NFL. His last team in the NFL was the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018.
The XFL is a quarterback-driven league, or at least, that’s what Vince McMahon and Oliver Luck want this league to be. The quality of quarterbacks in the XFL is not great, so if you have a good quarterback that can throw the ball downfield, you’re at a serious advantage. Dallas is equipped with a quarterback who at least has a bit of arm strength and can push the ball for big plays. He was never able to excel at the NFL level, but the XFL should be a good fit. For the rest of our Dallas Renegades’ breakdown and key players to watch out for this season head below.
CAP was ❄️ cold down the stretch to seal the first Dallas win of the year!
— Dallas Renegades (@XFLRenegades) February 17, 2020
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Landry Jones is the undisputed No. 1 quarterback for the Renegades. The former Steeler passed for 8 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in his NFL career. He was never able to crack the top of the lineup and consistently see starts behind Ben Roethlisberger, which is understandable of course, but there wasn’t another team willing to give him a chance either. Jones was drafted with the potential to be Roethlisberger’s replacement. That of course didn’t come to fruition. That being said, Jones is still one of the best options at quarterback in the XFL. He is also paired with a head coach that is familiar with him and his ability.
Former Minnesota Golden Gopher and East Carolina quarterback, Philip Nelson, is backing up Jones in Dallas. He landed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after his collegiate career, but failed to make the roster in 2018. Nelson opened last season as the backup quarterback for the San Diego Fleet, though he was eventually moved to starter after Mike Bercovici struggled to get going.
The Renegades are also carrying a third quarterback on their roster, Brogan Roback, who got some work with the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 preseason. That was all the Eastern Michigan alumnus could accomplish in the NFL, though. He was drafted into the XFL by the St. Louis Battlehawks and was released in late January. If Jones and Nelson are healthy, it’s unlikely Roback survives in Dallas as well.
Landry Jones isn’t the only offensive player on the Renegades that has experience in the NFL regular season. There aren’t a lot of players in the XFL who’ve experienced the regular season in the NFL. Cameron Artis-Payne is one of them, as he got plenty of work with the Carolina Panthers from 2015 to 2018. He never developed into a starter, but was decent as the No. 3 option for the Panthers. Artis-Payne rushed for 491 yards and 5 touchdowns for a pretty good average of 4.2 yards per carry. He is expected to be one of the more dangerous running backs in the XFL in 2020.
The No. 2 running back for the Renegades also has NFL experience. Lance Dunbar, a name that might ring a bell with Cowboys’ fans is a nice change-of-pace back. Dunbar signed with the Rams in 2017, but couldn’t play because of a knee injury which landed him on the PUP. At 30 years old, his career is winding down, though he could still be a contributor for the Renegades in the XFL. He is a small back that can be tricky to locate coming out of the backfield. Expect a lot of screens and short passes heading Dunbar’s way.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
If the Renegades had a wide receiver like Eli Rogers in their offense, they’d likely be in business. Instead, they’re going to have to rely mostly on Dunbar and Artis-Payne out of the backfield. The screen game might be their biggest home run threat on their roster. Outside of that, look for Jones to try and hook up with Joshua Crockett and Jeff Badet in the passing game.
Badet was the first pick by the Renegades for skill positions. He is really fast, but not much more. If Badet had kick return skills, he’d probably be in the NFL somewhere right now. He appeared in four preseason games for the Vikings in 2018, as he hauled in 5 receptions for 34 yards. Besides his speed, there isn’t a whole lot that Badet does well.
Crockett is a failed CFL receiver out of Central Oklahoma. He participated with the Hamilton Ti-Cats in 2018, having caught no receptions on two targets. Crockett had a brief stint with the KC Chiefs, but was ultimately let go in May of 2019 after failing to impress. At 6’4” he’s a pretty big target for Jones, which could come in handy with the speedster, Badet, on the other side. He along with tight end Sean Price, provides Jones with a couple of decent red zone targets.
If the Renegades are really going to go wild offensively, it’s likely going to hinge on Flynn Nagel out of the slot, though. A productive slot receiver opens up a lot of the field, and with Dunbar and Payne pass catchers out of the backfield, Stoops might be able to get creative. I don’t know if the former Northwestern wide receiver can do that particularly well, though. There’s potential here, but this unit may hold Jones back from reaching his potential in the XFL.
The secondary should give the Renegades a decent chance of finishing with a solid record this season. Even against the top teams in the XFL, they’re likely going to be able to frustrate opposing quarterbacks. Winning the XFL Championship could be tough for the Renegades, but don’t expect a lot of errors by their defense. Treston Decoud, Donatello Brown, and Josh Hawkins will likely all be serviceable enough to get by this season at cornerback.
Decoud, who was drafted out of Oregon State in 2017 in the fifth round, should give the Renegades reliable support. It was a waste of a selection by the Texans, who initially signed him to a four-year deal before releasing him a year later before the start of the regular season. Decoud tried out for the Cowboys this past offseason, but was released in the final roster cuts.
Brown entered the NFL at the same time as Decoud, though as an undrafted free agent. He did make the practice squad, and was activated to the roster in November. Brown didn’t stick with the Packers, but reaching an active roster is a lot better than several guys in the XFL can say. Playing in the AAF with the Atlanta Legends last season should provide him with some much needed experience in Dallas.
Tenny Adewusi and Derron Smith round out the secondary at free and strong safety. Adewusi signed with the Giants out of Delaware this past spring, but failed to make the roster. He was a long-shot to begin with, though Adewusi is still young at only 22 years old. The XFL could be an important stepping stone for him. Smith has way more experience at 28 years old, as he was drafted by the Bengals in the sixth round of the 2015 draft. Reaching the practice squad of the Bengals is his career high point thus far. He recently was with the Vikings in 2019, but was cut on the last day of August.
A few linebackers on the Renegades are worth paying attention to. You will likely hear their names called plenty in Dallas games this year. Look for former Notre Dame linebacker, Greer Martini, to be active at inside linebacker for the Renegades. He enjoyed a nice career with the Fighting Irish, concluding it in 2017 and then heading off to try and find a job in the NFL. Martini had an opportunity with the Vikings, but couldn’t beat out the competition in the preseason.
Another guy to look out for on the Renegades has to be 23-year-old Tegray Scales. Scales had a promising career at Indiana and hoped to find his way onto an NFL roster. It wasn’t the case, as Scales was released in final roster cuts in 2018 with the Rams, and 2019 with the Steelers. To get that close twice and lose has to sting for Scales. But, he can still prove that he belongs with a strong season for the Renegades. Asantay Brown should be active on defense for Dallas as well. The long-shot 25-year-old out of Western Michigan hung around with the Eagles for two years, but was unable to have an impact.
The talent on the defensive line begins with Frank Alexander. Another former Sooner who Stoops had the chance to coach, is expected to be a force for the Renegades in 2020. The 30-year-old was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the fourth round of the 2012 draft following a nice career with the Sooners. He dealt with off the field problems and injuries throughout his career, though he was able to last to 2016 in the NFL. He finished his career with 34 combined tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two fumble recoveries for the Panthers.
Alexander and nose tackle Tony Guerad are likely going to be the most active players on the line for the Renegades throughout the year. Guerad had an impressive career at UCF, though didn’t do enough to impress the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL. He didn’t last long in the NFL and failed to make the roster, but should be able to anchor this Renegades’ defense in the middle.
Bob Stoops has a fairly decent team to work with in the XFL. It’s clear that he sought out guys that he has experience coaching from college. With that in mind, there should be a rapport already developed with some pivotal players on the Renegades. Landry Jones is a borderline NFL backup, so that’s certainly going to help in the XFL. If I’m drafting a quarterback for this league, he’d be the first guy I consider going with. There is also a lot to like at running back for the Renegades. Artis-Payne and Dunbar both bring NFL experience to the mix, too. If a receiver can emerge as a big weapon, then the Renegades may surprise pundits in 2020. Given their odds to win the XFL Championship, they seem to be getting overlooked by the oddsmakers.