The rebirth of the XFL opened the season with eight teams, mostly in markets that already have NFL teams. This matches the eight teams that the original XFL opened with in 2001. Vince McMahon only got one season out of that league, as he struggled to blend the worlds of professional wrestling with professional football. I should say “professional” football, because there wasn’t much that was professional about it. The XFL in 2020 is trying some quirky new rules, but at least the focus is on football instead of all the theatrics like a presentation of Raw or Smackdown. It’s clear that Vince has learned from his mistakes, and was wise to pluck Oliver Luck and make him the CEO and commissioner.
The goal when selecting cities for the new XFL was to target markets that already have a keen interest in football. Seven of the eight cities featured in the XFL already have a hometown NFL team. The 2001 version of the XFL had three teams that had an NFL franchise. That’s including Los Angeles which didn’t have an NFL team in 2001. It was the first lesson that Vince learned from his previous failure. Instead of targeting smaller markets that don’t have the largest population and haven’t supported professional football in the past, the XFL went for NFL markets that still might be hungry for football. The St. Louis BattleHawks notwithstanding, but St. Louis had support for the Rams despite their move to Los Angeles. What teams are in the XFL in 2020? Read below to find out and learn a little bit about each franchise.
— XFL (@xfl2020) February 20, 2020
Head Coach: Pep Hamilton
Starting Quarterback: Cardale Jones
Stadium: Audi Field
Fans in Washington are thirsty for a winning football program. Enter the DC Defenders, who have a much greater chance of bringing a championship to Washington than the Redskins. Pep Hamilton was wise to target Cardale Jones in the draft, as he brought in a quarterback that has recent experience in the NFL, and was a quarterback who thrived under pressure at Ohio State. It’s smart from a football perspective as well as from a business perspective. Fans are more likely to watch a team with a quarterback that people know. Most football fans are familiar with Cardale.
The Defenders are a well built team that have a good chance of going to the XFL Championship and winning it all. There are players on both sides of the ball that make the Defenders one of the most watchable teams in the XFL. This team doesn’t have too many glaring weaknesses on either side of the ball. For a complete DC Defenders’ roster breakdown and players to look out for in 2020, click on the link below.
DC Defenders Roster Breakdown
Head Coach: June Jones
Starting Quarterback: P.J. Walker
Stadium: TDECU Stadium
June Jones is one of the most experienced head coaches in the XFL. He has been around the block in just about every football league in North America, with gigs in the NFL, CFL, USFL, high school, and now the XFL. He probably best known for his time with the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors from 1999 to 2007, which is where he had the most success as a head coach. Jones has done a good job compiling his team, which could ultimately develop into a winning franchise in Houston.
The Roughnecks are led by former Temple standout P.J. Walker under center. The NFL didn’t work out for Walker in Indianapolis, though he was on the cusp of making the Colts. He did get to the practice squad, but the numbers didn’t work out and he had to get released. The NFL is a huge opportunity for him. To learn more about Walker, the Roughnecks’ offense, and defense, get a full breakdown of the roster below.
Houston Roughnecks Roster Breakdown
New York Guardians
Head Coach: Kevin Gilbride
Starting QB: Matt McGloin
Stadium: MetLife Stadium
The New York Guardians have some work to do if they want to attract a fanbase. They’re competing in a busy football market, sharing a stadium with two NFL teams, the Jets and Giants. New York doesn’t care much about college football, and a bad XFL team likely isn’t going to get the attention of fringe fans. This isn’t a good team despite a former NFL quarterback. Kevin Gilbride did the best he could, and probably wasn’t wrong in turning to McGloin. There aren’t many quarterbacks available with NFL experience, so I see why they went in that direction.
McGloin is a quarterback that has NFL experience, notably with the Oakland Raiders as a spot starter. He had a couple of serviceable outings, but it’s been a while since the NFL has considered giving McGloin a job. McGloin hasn’t been in the NFL since 2016, and hasn’t played meaningful minutes since getting six starts in 2013. The Guardians are banking on McGloin, but the entire product in New York isn’t that impressive. They will need a strong defensive effort for the Guardians to stay float in 2020. Is that enough to get people interested in XFL football in New York? Probably not, but we’ll see what happens. Feel free to click below for more information on the Guardians.
New York Guardians Roster Breakdown
St. Louis BattleHawks
Head Coach: Jonathan Hayes
Starting QB: Jordan Ta’amu
Stadium: The Dome at America’s Center
The St. Louis BattleHawks don’t have a brand name at quarterback, but they may very well have a quarterback that develops into the best in the XFL. At only 22 years of age, Ta’amu is going to be an attractive option for NFL teams if he can play well with the BattleHawks. He tried to get on a roster out of Ole Miss, but failed this past preseason in Houston with the Texans. Ta’amu is still young, though, and might be the most attractive of QB’s to NFL teams if he has a good season. That would likely include a deep run by the BattleHawks in the playoffs.
St. Louis is the only XFL team without an NFL counterpart in the city. Of course, the Rams moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles, so it’s not like Vince McMahon put a team here without a market for professional football. And Rams’ fans supported their team in St. Louis, but owner Stan Kroenke wanted a team in LA with a brand new stadium. Football fans in St. Louis will likely have a decent XFL team to support. You can find out more about the BattleHawks below.
St. Louis BattleHawks Roster Breakdown
Head Coach: Winston Moss
Starting QB: Josh Johnson
Stadium: Dignity Health Sports Park
Football returned to Los Angeles in 2016, and then the Chargers followed them to LA as well. With the XFL dabbling in the LA market, the city suddenly has three professional football teams. Prior to the Rams returning to LA, the only professional football in recent memory was the LA Kiss of the Arena Football League. The Rams made it to the Super Bowl last season, but it’s unlikely their XFL counterparts get to the XFL Championship.
The Wildcats did well drafting Josh Johnson. He’s a quarterback with plenty of experience around NFL teams, and the Detroit Lions even wanted him back during the season after a back injury to Matthew Stafford. Johnson was already under contract with the Wildcats, so that didn’t happen. While that sounds great for the Wildcats, Johnson is about the only attractive piece that they have on the roster. Winston Moss has a lot of work to do for the Wildcats to contend, but there isn’t much for him to work with.
L.A. Wildcats Roster Breakdown
Tampa Bay Vipers
Head Coach: Marc Trestman
Starting QB: Aaron Murray
Stadium: Raymond James Stadium
Marc Trestman hopes to get back into the NFL again, but he did not get the best XFL team to improve his odds. Having said that, it’d be doubly impressive if Trestman can get the most out of this roster and lead them to a successful season. If it does happen, it likely means that Aaron Murray plays above expectations. There are people high on Murray, but don’t expect that much. Murray was a terrific quarterback at Georgia. He was pegged as the next Matthew Stafford, though that NFL dream for Murray was dashed after a stint with the Chiefs didn’t work out.
This market, like New York, needs a good product on the field to get fans interested. The Vipers are sharing a city with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are going to be in the midst of a playoff run soon. Also, when it comes to football, the state of Florida mostly cares about college ball. Obviously there are Buccaneer, Jaguar, and Dolphin fans, but the rabid fan bases can be found in Gainesville and Tallahassee. It’s imperative that the Vipers put a good product on the field if fans are going to care about the XFL. I don’t see that happening in 2020.
Tampa Bay Vipers Roster Breakdown
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Starting QB: Landry Jones
Stadium: Globe Life Park in Arlington
Bob Stoops and Landry Jones are united again, as the former Sooners travel a little further south to Texas for a chance to lead the Dallas Renegades to an XFL Championship. Stoops opting to select Jones was a no-brainer. They were together from 2009 to 2012 and found success at Oklahoma. Jones went to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. There was some hope that Jones could be the eventual replacement of Ben Roethlisberger. While he was a serviceable backup, Jones was unable to do much more. Former Sooner wide receiver, Jordan Smallwood, is also with the Renegades.
The NFL has given up on him for now, but Stoops saw it as an opportunity to coach him again. The Renegades are likely somewhere between the top and bottom of the league. They’re good enough to beat the bad teams, and likely stay competitive against the Defenders and Roughnecks. With some generous breaks, the Renegades might be better than the oddsmakers are giving them credit for. Whether fans in Dallas warm up to the idea of another professional football in town remains to be seen. In any event, Landry Jones at quarterback makes this a team worth watching. Get a full breakdown of the Dallas Renegades below.
Dallas Renegades Roster Breakdown
Head Coach: Jim Zorn
Starting QB: Brandon Silvers
Stadium: CenturyLink Field
The home of the Seattle Seahawks is home of the Seattle Dragons as well. The Seahawks have the 12th Man and the Dragons are hoping for support from the home crowd in Seattle, too. I think they’ll get it, and CenturyLink Field is likely going to be one of the more difficult stadiums in the XFL to go and play in. The Dragons may not have the Legion of Boom, but this is a team that is likely going to have to depend on defense to win football games. Their roster is defensive heavy with a shaky offense. Jim Zorn is known for being a QB coach throughout his career, so maybe he can get the most out of Brandon Silvers?
Silvers was a member of the Memphis Express and played reasonably well after sharing time with Johnny Manziel. I think if the Dragons and Cardale Jones or Landry Jones, then we’d be talking about a better squad in Seattle. However, Silvers is unlikely to elevate this team to the top of the league, and will struggle to score points often. You can learn more about Silvers and his teammates below.
Seattle Dragons Roster Breakdown