The New York Guardians might not be the best team on paper, but they are certainly not the worst team in the XFL. With some good fortunes, the Guardians might be able to surprise and find a way into the XFL Championship. The distance between the DC Defenders and Houston Roughnecks versus the rest of the league is fairly large when it comes to talent, but anything can happen in an eight team league. Injuries to the Defenders and Roughnecks could allow the rest of the league to have a shot at the championship. Cardale Jones getting injured would spur a change in odds, though Tyree Jackson must be one of the better backups in the XFL. Jackson pushed Jones in training camp and may be a starting QB if he was on another team.
Matt McGloin has what Jones and starting QB for the Roughnecks, P.J. Walker, don’t have. He has a decent sample size of starts as an NFL quarterback. Or at least with regards to most quarterbacks in the XFL he does. The Guardians have that going for them, and selecting a quarterback with NFL experience as a starter had to be in the back of their minds when they pulled the trigger on McGloin. A championship likely isn’t going to come on the arm of McGloin, though. He may have experience, but the Guardians are a team that are going to be predicated on strong defensive games.
The Roughnecks and Defenders will likely be able to get away with a bad defensive game here and there, but the Guardians need the defense to carry the load. It isn’t like McGloin is a terrible quarterback for the XFL. However, McGloin is not working with the strongest offense and is likely going to have to pick his spots. Head below for a breakdown and players to look out for on the New York Guardians’ roster in 2020.
— New York Guardians (@XFLGuardians) February 13, 2020
Matt McGloin is in the saddle for the Guardians as their starting quarterback in 2020. Out of all the starting quarterbacks in the XFL, McGloin has the second most starting experience in the NFL. That of course doesn’t automatically mean that he’s going to put up big numbers. McGloin saw the most action of his professional career in 2013 as a rookie fresh out of Penn State as an undrafted rookie.
He threw for 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions with the Raiders, as he bypassed a struggling Matt Flynn and Tyrell Pryor on the depth chart. His career tailed off thereafter, and we haven’t heard much about him since. His last spot on a pro roster was with the Chiefs in the 2018 offseason. McGloin was cut before the regular season began in the preseason, and here he is with the New York Guardians of the XFL.
Former North Carolina Tar Heel, Marquise Williams, is backing up McGloin. The big bodied quarterback was active at UNC prior to Matt Trubisky’s tenure in Chapel Hill. Williams signed with the Packers in May of 2016, but was released in final cuts for the upcoming season. He likely won’t see any playing time unless McGloin really bombs or gets injured. They also have Luis Perez on their roster, a quarterback who played in the preseason with the LA Rams in 2018 but was released. Perez played well enough in the AAF last year to get a chance in the XFL in 2020.
The skills positions, including running back, is where the Guardians are likely going to run into problems against the better teams in this league. Darius Victor leads the Guardians in the backfield, though he’s an unknown commodity in the XFL. He could still very well have a great season. However, Victor hasn’t been tested since his days at Towson from 2013 to 2016. He rushed for 3,309 yards and 41 points on 5.2 yards per carry, which is fantastic, but has never made an active roster at the professional level. Victor was cut by the Saints and Cardinals in the preseason in 2017 and 2018.
Tim Cook is expected to get carries for the Guardians as well. He saw time in the preseason with the Jaguars, but never saw a snap in the regular season. Cook was reasonably effective with the Arizona Hotshots of the AAF last season, having rushed for 274 yards on 56 carries and 3 touchdowns. McGloin was the only player on the Guardians to score a rushing touchdown in Week 1, with Victor leading on the ground with just 3.6 yards per carry.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The Guardians are set up with an okay receiving core. Just okay likely isn’t going to be enough for the Guardians to explode offensively in 2020, though. Joe Horn might be the most recognizable name on the Guardians. No, not the New Orleans Saints’ Joe Horn, but his son. Horn Jr. is part of a receiving core that includes top receivers Mekale McKay and Colby Pearson.
McKay was an Arkansas Razorback in 2012, though he transferred because of a lack of a role in the team. McKay left for Cincinnati and saw an increase in productivity. The best season he has had in his football career was in 2014 when he hauled in 44 passes for 8 touchdowns. He’s the deep threat for the Guardians who is likely going to come up with a big play occasionally. McKay is 6’4” and has some size, so he definitely looks the part for the Guardians. I don’t know if he can be consistently relied on for McGloin in the passing game, though.
Pearson will operate largely out of the slot, where he can find room to catch balls across the middle of the field. He played in an offense at BYU that didn’t really throw it an awfully lot, so his numbers didn’t look impressive. Pearson had 864 yards and 8 touchdowns in three years with the Cougars from 2014 to 2016. It was enough to get a look from the Green Bay Packers, though he was unable to make the team. If McGloin has a big season, I think it’s going to be because Pearson helps him out consistently.
The secondary is probably going to have some fun for the Guardians this season, but whether they can hold up against the best offenses may be difficult. That being said, New York appears to be in good hands in the secondary. Bryce Jones who was on the Texans’ practice squad in 2017, before getting released in final cuts in 2018, is likely on pace for a big year with the Guardians. He was close to making it to the active roster of the Texans, but came up a bit short.
Deep in the secondary is where it might be tricky to beat the Guardians this season. They have talent at strong and free safety, which should help them avoid being susceptible to the deep ball. AJ Hendy, Wesley Sutton, and Andrew Soroh are all likely to help contribute for the Guardians. There is plenty of depth on their defense, and they will be able to roll through several guys to keep legs fresh. You have to expect nickel cornerback, Dravon Askew-Henry to play a significant role as well. The 24-year-old was unable to catch on with the Steelers, but is still young and raw with plenty of room to develop.
We’re likely to see a lot of bad tackling in the XFL this season. That was the case in the AAF, when rather routine looking tackles turned into problems. However, don’t expect to see the Guardians missing too many of their tackles. They’ve compiled a pretty stout linebacker core led by former NFLer Ben Heeney. Heeney played in 24 games between the Raiders and Texans from 2015 to 2017. He was responsible for a total of 55 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and five tackles for a loss. In just one game in the XFL, Heeney put up a combined 9 tackles, including one for a loss in Week 1. Expect a lot out of him throughout the year.
Heeney along with D’Juan Hines are both going to be a load for offensive lines to handle this season. They’re going to have to get a blocker on them or they’re likely going to cause havoc. Hines had a standout career at the University of Houston with the Cougars. In his senior season in 2016, Hines led the team with 110 tackles, which was good for third in the AAC.
He was named to the first team in the AAC as one of the best linebackers in the conference. Hines was signed by the Chargers in 2017 and appeared on their practice squad before the Cleveland Browns signed him to a deal. He appeared in 13 games and made four tackles on special teams. These are two linebackers who should accumulate plenty of tackles for the Guardians in 2020.
Aiding the Guardians in the trenches is a formidable defensive line for the Guardians. Opposing offensive lines must be aware of Bunmi Rotimi off the edge or they could be in trouble. The 24-year-old out of Old Dominion is a guy that could get another opportunity in the NFL. Originally from Nigeria, Rotimi, played in the middle at defensive tackle and moved to end for his final two seasons. All of his stats went up, ultimately recording a career-high 20 tackles, 7 sacks and 10 TFL’s in 2016.
Rotimi was really raw and underdeveloped coming out of college, but the XFL could prove to be what he needs to get to the next level. Opposite Rotimi on the defensive line is expected to be Cavon Walker, a guy who was trying to make the Bear as well. He was a converted linebacker trying to make a living as a defensive end in the NFL, but did not impress the Bears or Chiefs to earn a spot on the roster. This most recent preseason, Walker played pretty well, though. He made 8 tackles which included a sack in four preseason games.
T.J. Barnes should be able to help Rotimi out as a mentor on the defensive line. Barnes had been in the NFL from 2013 to 2019 with five different teams, most recently the Carolina Panthers in 2019. He did get a bit of work in the regular season, recording 6 tackles in the NFL. All in all, the Guardians’ defensive line is likely going to give quarterbacks a lot of pressure in the pocket this season.
The New York Guardians look like the fourth or third best team in the XFL. If the defense really plays exceptionally well, then I think the No. 3 spot looks pretty accurate for them. McGloin is a safe option at quarterback given his NFL experience, but don’t expect him to do anything overly amazing. A solid game managing quarterback is likely what you’re going to see out of McGloin in 2020. Nothing flashy, but maybe just enough to let the defense carry this team all the way. With the DC Defenders and Houston Roughnecks ahead of them talent wise, it’s not going to be an easy chore. That said, the Guardians might be worth a look given their decent odds. You do have a good defense and former NFL quarterback on your side if you want to ride with the Guardians to the XFL Championship.