As we kicked off the second week of XFL action, we saw the Seattle Dragons take on the Tampa Bay Vipers. It was a hard-fought game between the two teams, but in the end the Seattle Dragons came out on top 17-9. Seattle was able to win the game this weekend because of a couple key components. The first being their defense, they came out fast in front of a crowd boasting 29,172 fans for the home opener. Special teams were also huge for the Dragons in this game, they were able to capitalize on punt and kick returns starting multiple drives in great field position. Lastly, the offense was able to capitalize on big plays in the second half which in the end was the reason the Dragons were able to pull ahead and notch their first victory of the season. When the Dragons took the field on offense, I was interested in seeing the changes that they were going to make between this week and last week. The Dragons made sure to establish the running game, running the ball thirty times this game, while only throwing the ball eighteen times. This is what I expect to see more of as the season moves forward, unlike last week when the Dragons threw over forty times. Coach Zorn used a three headed monster this week in, Farrow, Williams, and Gardner. They all had ten carries each, while rushing for 117 yards combined. Brandon Silvers started the day out on a rough note. He was missing key throws in the first half that were causing promising Dragon’s drives to stall out. At the post-game press conference Silvers said, “Quarterback is the hardest position to play. It’s not easy going out there. You just got to fight through it. I didn’t play good at all in the first half and I knew it, didn’t hit throws I usually make. That first big ball added a lot to my confidence.” I know that a lot of people wanted to see B.J. Daniels come in the game after Silvers threw his second pick six of the year, but just hearing this guy talk, his confidence is never deterred by a bad play, or even by the crowd chanting the back-ups name as he ran off the field. This to me shows the maturity that he has and from what Coach Zorn said, Silvers is still QB1 moving forward. He was able to bounce back and have a better second half which is encouraging but I’m hoping to see a big performance next week by Silvers. If not, I would not be surprised to see B.J. Daniels get some playing time in the weeks to come. Former Navy QB Keenan Reynolds had himself a breakout performance this week, hauling in three catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came in the second half on the first drive. The Vipers had been playing man coverage for most of the game and it was just a matter of time before the Dragons were going to be able to gash them for a big play. Reynolds ran a post and just out-ran his defender. I personally saw Silvers miss this throw a couple times in the first half but he was able to hit Reynolds in stride for the big 68-yard touchdown. The Dragons defense really stepped up this week. As I wrote in my article last week, I thought the defensive backs were the Dragons weakest link. However, this week between the defensive line being able to create a great pass rush, and guys sticking with their receivers in man coverage they only gave up 151 yards passing and kept Vipers back up QB Cornelius to a QB rating of 44.4. The Vipers tried to get some offense going by bringing in back up Quinton Flowers. Flowers, a dual-threat QB, gave the Dragons some struggles when he first came in the game. However, he was not able to get anything going with his arm so head coach Marc Trestman decided to switch back to Cornelius for the rest of the game. Defensive end, Marcell Fraizer, had a pick six in the game. The Vipers were pinned inside their own five, when Quinton Flowers dropped back to throw a screen pass. Before you knew it, Frazier had the ball in his hands for a Dragons touchdown. Another stand-out on defense would be DB, Steve Williams, he was able to record two sacks in this game which is not something you see every day from the defensive back position. Overall, very happy with the defensive performance the Dragons had in this game. They say there are three parts to football, offense, defense, and special teams. In this week’s game we cannot overlook the last one and that’s special teams. I really think this is where the Dragons were able to separate themselves in the game. On kickoff return, Seattle was able to get themselves in great field position. Being able to start a drive at the forty on multiple occasions is a huge advantage when playing in a close game like this. While punting the ball, the Dragons were able to down it on the Vipers one-yard line, eventually setting up Fraizers pick six. Finally, while the Vipers were attempting a field goal, they muffed the snap and the Dragons field goal block unit was able to tackle the hold for the turnover on downs, shifting the momentum Seattle’s way. In conclusion, the Dragons were able to win this game because they beat the Vipers in each facet of the game. Between explosive plays on offense, key defensive stops, and incredible special teams play they were able to secure their first ever home victory in front of a crowd that was bigger than any other teams in the league. Check back next week for when the Dragons take on the Dallas Renegades, at CenturyLink field.
As we kicked off the first game of the regular season of the new and improved XFL, we saw the DC defenders take on the Seattle Dragons. The topic of the day for the Dragons would be costly turnovers and big plays given up on the defense. Without some of those key mistakes, we would potentially be looking at a Dragons victory. Here is a breakdown of what I saw in today’s game: Watching the dragons in their first action of the year I was actually pleased with what I saw. I’m hoping to see OC Mike Rielly really step it up week two and open up the playbook a little more. With it being the first week he probably wanted to see how the players were going to respond in real game situations. One thing that I was surprised to see was just how much the Dragons threw the football. Jim Zorn and Mike Rielly are both pro-style coaches with a run-heavy scheme, so throwing over forty times in a game was a shock in itself. I believe as we see the season go on will start to see more wrinkles added in once the main targets emerge on the team. As I watched former Troy Trojan quarterback Brandon Silvers, I saw a quarterback that in most situations made the right reads. Obviously, he looked a little rusty but so did most players we saw playing on the field today. Silvers’ first pick was a situation where he tried to fit a ball into a window that simply wasn’t there. The second pick, however, was the right read, unfortunately, the receiver slipped causing the interception to go the other way for a touchdown. On the other hand, he was able to improvise on broken-down plays and from a coaching standpoint is exciting, because that isn’t something that you can teach a player. Silvers finished the day 21-40 with 217yards passing and three touchdowns. Austin Proehl was the main target of the day bringing in five of the ten passes and was able to find the endzone not just once but twice. He was able to break a huge 57-yard touchdown on one of Silvers (Patrick Mahomes like) improvised plays. Ja’ Quan Gardner and Kenneth Farrow saw most of the workload out of the backfield. The two of them rushed for 77 yards combined over sixteen carries. The defense in the XFL is an interesting topic to me. The league’s rules are stacked for the offense leaving the defense out to dry in some cases. For example, in the NFL you are only able to talk to the QB for a limited time in the helmet headset. While in the XFL QB’s have constant communication with their offensive coordinators giving them the chance to make last-second audibles if the see the defense is doing something that doesn’t fit their play. One positive I saw of the defensive side of the ball was Steven Johnson and Nick Temple. They were the anchor for the defense today. In total, these guys accounted for fifteen total tackles. While the Dragons seem to have a solid linebacking core their demise really seems to start in the secondary. Cardale Jones torched the Seattle secondary throwing 291 yards and sporting an impressive 126.6 QBR. You saw too many guys with their eyes in the backfield resulting in big plays for the offense, and with an experienced quarterback like Cardale Jones you are going to get picked apart like a surgeon. For example, on the double reverse pass, it is crucial for a defensive back to read the offensive line because that will determine if it is a run or pass. Instead, you saw DB’s flowing with the reverse causing Lee to be left all alone on the sideline and then almost going untouched into the endzone. Again, mistakes like this are not uncommon to see in players that haven’t seen game time action in quite some time. If the defense can clean these areas up (which I’m sure will be a focus this week) this group will be really fun to watch. In conclusion The dragons are a couple of mistakes away from winning this ball game. They have the talent and were in the right position to make good things happen but self-caused mistakes will kill you at the professional level. With the right tweaks and adjustments though we should see a more disciplined Dragons team then we saw this week. Check back next week as the Seattle Dragons take on the Tampa Bay Vipers for their first home game of the XFL season.
The Seattle Dragons take to the field for the first time in the new version of the XLF. There is a lot more changes this time around compared to the first time the XFL was around way back in the day. There are new kickoff rules and a few other things that are going on that we will have to get used to. The Dragons are set to receive the first kickoff of the season. This is a weird formation where the blockers line up from their 30, the other teams lines up on the 35 and the kicker boots it from the opposite 35. No one can move until the returner catches the ball. This is going to be pretty interesting. Dragons First Drive The Dragons opened up with a nice run, but then Brandon Silvers throws two balls into the dirt near wide open receivers and the Dragons have to punt. Cardale Jones drives the the DC Defenders down the field and Ty Rausa kicks the first field goal in XFL history. DC Defenders lead 3-0. Dragons Second Drive Jim Zorn opens up the second drive with another run. Cyril Richardson, starting left guard, is hurt and has to come out of the game. Silvers completes his first pass to Colin Jeter. ABC is letting the play calls be announced live on air. That’s weird. Gardner Farrow runs for Seattle’s first and second first downs. Silvers then hits Dontez Byrd for a huge gain. Seattle is in business at the 14. Only one foot has to be in bounds for the catch to count. Silvers hits Austin Proehl for the first touchdown in XFL history. It was a nice 14-yard slant. Proehl fought through two defenders to get into the endzone. Seattle doesn’t convert on their one-point play from the two. Seattle Dragons are up 6-3. The defense holds up and forces a missed field goal. Dragons Third Drive Silvers hits TE Ben Johnson on a bit 18-yard connection down the right sideline. Johnson was shaken up after the play. Trey Williams has a nice five-yard run, then Seattle gets the first down on a pass interference call. Rahim Moore picks off Silvers to get DC the ball back. Moore watched Silvers’ eyes and jumped the route in front of Proehl. DC can’t do anything with it and before Moore’s interview is over the Defenders go three and out. Dragons Fourth Drive Seattle starts out with another run, this time Ja’Quan Gardner gets the call and he gets a hard run three yards but loses a yard on his next run. Third and long for Seattle coming up. Silvers hits Farrow for a couple of yards and fourth down comes up. Farrow gets a personal foul and Seattle will punt. Punt is blocked in the endzone and DC scores the touchdown. Their two-point attempt fails. DC is up 9-6. Dragons Fifth Drive The Dragons go three and out and punt. Very conservative call from Zorn there. It was a very makeable fourth and less than half a yard. Allegedly the XFL somehow rewards teams for going for it on fourth down. Jim Zorn apparently did not get that memo. Dragons Sixth Drive Another three and out. Seattle only managed a single yard on that drive. The drive will continue due to a Jay Bromley personal foul. Trey Williams gets a nice first-down run. Keenan Reynolds breaks away from his defender on second down, but Silvers decides to go back shoulder instead of leading him to the endzone. Silvers hits Farrow on fourth and eight for a first down. Farrow then has a nice 19-yard run to get Seattle into the red zone. The next play Silvers hits Trey Williams in the flat for a 13-yard touchdown. Silvers then hits Reynolds for the one-yard conversion, Seattle is up 13-9 with 20 seconds left in the half. Seattle’s kick doesn’t make the 20-yard line so DC gets the ball on Seattle’s 45-yard line. DC can’t move the ball that much and Ty Rausa hits a 55-yard field goal as time expires at the half. Seattle leads 13-12. Dragons Seventh Drive Brandon Silvers hits Austin Proehl with a gorgeous running sidearm throw for a 57-yard touchdown, answering the touchdown DC scored to start the half. Conversion failed and the score is tied up at 19. Seattle forces the Defenders to punt. Dragons Eighth Drive Seattle starts off their eighth drive with another run. They have yet to throw it on first down to start a drive. And once again they are forced to punt on another three and out. Cardale Jones hits Rashad Moss for a 31-yard touchdown. DC fails on the conversion and are up 25-19. Dragons Ninth Drive Trey Williams starts off the drive with a nice run and then Silvers finds Proehl again for a first down. Silvers finds Williams again on what might be the first time they have thrown the ball on first down all game for another first and back into Defenders territory. Silvers throws a pick-six and DC extends their lead to 31-19. Dragons Tenth Drive Silvers hits Evan Rodriguez for a big gain to get the Dragons inside DC’s 30. They miss a near touchdown with Dontez Byrd in the endzone. An incompletion to Keynan Reynolds leads to Seattle kick a very ugly 42-yard field goal, but DC roughs the kicker and Seattle gets the first down. A Ja’Quan Gardner gives the Dragons a first and goal. Upon review, it was ruled he was a yard short, and we’re at third down. Farrow then picks up a first down to give Seattle a new set of downs at the three-yard line. Gardner fumbles the ball and DC recovers. Seattle forces DC to punt. Dragons Eleventh Drive Seattle moves the ball into Defenders territory, but Silvers takes a crucial sack with under a minute and a half left. Silvers gets his right ankle rolled up on. BJ Daniels has to come in for a 4th and 15 play to keep the Dragons alive now. His throw is incomplete and DC will run it out. Seattle hosts the Tampa Bay Vipers next Saturday at Century Link Field at 11 AM. Stay with us for more coverage on the Dragons’ first game.
While everyone is arguing over what Seattle’s 2021 NHL team will be called (NOT Kraken), another league is starting up in the Emerald City and has filed a trademark for five potential team names. Vince McMahon’s reboot of the XFL will feature a Seattle team, set to play in CenturyLink Field. The five names the team has registered trademarks for are… well, they seem to be in line with the previous iteration of the XFL at least. They are; Seattle Wild Seattle Force Seattle Fury Seattle Dragons Seattle Surge Like I said, these seem to be in line with the previous XFL, which is not a compliment as that was 2001 and featured team names like the Maniax (yes, with an “x”) and Xtreme (yes, with no “e”). Four of the five possibilities are a singular entity. None of them have anything to do with Seattle. All of them sound like indoor soccer teams from the 90s. Let us know which team name you like best and why in the comments, or suggest some other potential team names. Are you excited for the XFL in Seattle?
Fresh off the high from the Seattle Seawolves’ victory and back-to-back Major League Rugby championships, I decided to take on a small venture into another new(ish) sport – the XFL. I know what you are thinking, “didn’t the XFL tank after its only season in 2001?” You would be correct in your thoughts. This is the new and improved XFL. XFL 2.0, or, rather, XFL2020. Walking into Memorial Stadium in Seattle, I thought I would be cool and go against the grain, wearing a shirt supporting the afore-mentioned Seawolves, with the word ‘rugby’ across the front. I don’t pull any punches. Immediately, I was met by a Seawolves season-ticket holder who was checking my credentials at the gate, so my trip started off well. As I wandered down the bleachers to the field, I looked across the open green and saw the array of drills set up. Linemen doing linemen things, Quarterbacks doing the forward passing thing, there were runners and catchers and a few zebras with whistles running around. There were All-American college players delivering what they can do as well as retired Seattle Sounders players showing that the ball doesn’t have to be round to kick. Although I am like most Americans, who have a decent knowledge of American Football, I still felt a little out of my element. It wasn’t until I started listening to Commissioner Oliver Luck speak on innovations and rule changes and what can be expected that I realized I was in a parallel universe, and that I really didn’t roll too far out of my wheelhouse. “What we have is traditional football with rules that are understandable, that people can grasp.” Luck explained, “it’s also important to say what they don’t want, they told us loud and clear that they don’t want gimmicks. Fans want authenticity, they wanted real football.” “Fans also didn’t want to be complicit in watching players get hurt. So, we wanted to make sure that as we looked into the game and made our innovations that we were not making the game any more dangerous. We took a product development approach. We analyzed a whole lot of data, and we did on-field testing.” You see, the XFL is an alternative to the National Football League (NFL). I have spent my life playing a sport that has been on the fringes as an alternative to the NFL as well. Similar attributes, similar brutality, similar strategy, obvious differences. Speaking to Luck individually, I found that he lived in England for a time and was a big fan of rugby. In fact, he told me that several of the tested innovations have rugby roots. For example, the conversion points after a touchdown. In rugby, when a try is scored, the conversion kick is brought straight back from where the ball was grounded, potentially making the conversion more difficult, the further to the side the try is scored. Luck had extensive on-field testing regarding corner touchdowns and an angled conversion, or point-after-touchdown (PAT) attempts. He liked the idea and may still implement in the future. Wandering around the field, I found some solid conversation with Keith Price, former quarterback from the University of Washington (UW). Price was elated with the fact that he had the opportunity to show that he can compete with the best the region has to offer. “The XFL is where it’s at, there is a lot of competition,” Price noted after exclaiming he was about to start the next AAF game before it dissolved. “It’s giving players like me an opportunity to prove themselves. What an amazing opportunity to be here. Training doesn’t stop. Luckily I was coming off a season and I was in playing shape or I would have had to pass it up. My mom was joking that ‘you have played in every FL there is. So it is keeping the dream alive. If the phone keeps ringing, I’ll keep playing. I am truly honored to be here” With UW having seven representatives, and Washington State having five, Washington area schools had a total of 14 potential players among the nearly 120 men in attendance to this invite-only showcase. “This is an invitation-only combine. We have had about 100 players per city, and this is city number six.” Luck added, “We’ve had some great talented guys here, former NFL players, former CFL players. All former college players, in many cases All-American players. All guys that want to get back in to play professional football. I’m just happy we can provide opportunities for players, and of course coaches, like Jim Zorn. We have some great football to play and we can really make this attractive to fans.”] Coach Jim Zorn said that one of the things that attracted him to the XFL was the fact that this is going to be real football, as compared to the early rendition of the XFL. On lessons to be learned from the Alliance of American Football AAF: “The AAF had a great focus of people, coaches and players. We have been learning from things they have done well, and the things that haven’t gone so well. Each showcase is building a group of players where we are going to be able to field some really good athletes.” Zorn said, “We are getting tremendous support from Vince McMahon and his group. What I like about what they are doing, is everything that they are doing for us is times 8. What they do for one club, is being done for all 8 clubs.” Zorn commented on the “interesting and intricate rules that will be implemented in 2020. He noted that there will be different elements in the game to allow the fans to really enjoy the play and the strategy of the game. He really sold me on the idea of offering another opportunity for the great Seattle-area sports fans. Zorn compared the XFL-Seattle to the Seawolves, as they both will continue to grow. He loves the name, and as he knows more regarding rugby, he knows that Seattle will thrive with platers. Zorn agreed that there exists similar brawn between rugby and football players, and that there is more potential pool to draw talent from. There will not be any pre-season. Every game will mean something. Adjustments will be made on the field and the preparation will be just as exciting and unpredictable as the games themselves. First kick-off is the weekend following the Super Bowl in February 2020. So, don’t return that 100” TV or put away the grill, because there is another exciting addition to Seattle Sports in the form of the XFL2020.
The XFL announced today that Bellevue native Ryan Gustafson has been announced as President of the XFL football team here in Seattle. The news follows the announcement of Jim Zorn as the team’s Head Coach and General Manager. Gustafson, most recently the Vice President of Business Strategy & Development for Sounders FC, will be responsible for fan engagement and business operations such as ticket sales, corporate partnerships, marketing, content, communications, community relations, and the game day experience. “Ryan is well-established in the Seattle sports community and Vince McMahon and I are proud to welcome him to the XFL family,” said Jeffrey Pollack, XFL President, and Chief Operating Officer. “We have no doubt he and Coach Zorn will have a strong partnership and together build something special on and off the field.” The XFL will hold its inaugural season in February 2020 with Seattle playing their home games at CenturyLink Field. “I’m excited to help bring the XFL to the Pacific Northwest and build a team that makes a lasting impact in our community,” said Gustafson. “I’d like to thank Adrian Hanauer and the entire Sounders family for the chance to be part of such a great organization. Growing up less than ten miles from CenturyLink Field, and with a love of all things connected to Seattle sports, I know how special fans are here, and I’m grateful to the XFL leadership for this truly unique opportunity.” Starting in 2013, Gustafson previously spent four years with the San Diego Padres as manager of Business Strategy and Analytics. He was promoted to Senior Director, Strategy & Innovation in 2014 and again to Vice President of Strategy & Innovation in 2015. He then shifted to a senior analyst role within Major League Baseball. “I’d like to extend Ryan a warm welcome,” said XFL Seattle Head Coach and General Manager Jim Zorn. “He’s a hometown guy with a wealth of front office experience, and I’m looking forward to working side-by-side with him to bring to life our team here in Seattle.” Gustafson earned a bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics from the University of Puget Sound prior to graduating with a Master’s in Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
Okay, he’s not going to be QB’ing the club, but he’ll be leading its offense. And its defense. And its player operations. On Monday, former NFL quarterback Jim Zorn was introduced as the head coach and general manager of Seattle’s new XFL franchise. Zorn joins the new spring league as the third announced head coach, after Bob Stoops with the Dallas franchise and Pep Hamilton with the Washington, D.C. club. The second iteration of the XFL will take to the field in February 2020 with 8 teams, all owned by WWE mastermind Vince McMahon in a single-entity structure similar to Major League Soccer. “It’s going to be real football,” Zorn explained at Monday’s presser, playing off of his initial impressions of hearing McMahon’s involvement and the less-than-enthusiastic reception to the 2001 version of the league. “We’re gonna have real names on the back of jerseys,” he quipped. The “extreme” earlier version famously allowed players to wear colorful nicknames like “Deathblow” and “He Hate Me”. In introducing the new head coach, league commissioner Oliver Luck, father to Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew, remarked on Zorn’s “innovative” and “creative” quarterback style as being emblematic of the new XFL. Zorn shared his excitement over the league’s creative “tweaks” to the clock and ball placement as part of rule changes designed to make the pro game faster and more exciting. Zorn is no stranger to an expansion team or the Emerald City, hitting the lawn as the Seattle Seahawks first field general from their inaugural season in 1976 to 1984. He was benched in favor of his successor, Dave Krieg, 7 weeks into the team’s most successful season in the AFC, 1983. Yet, while Krieg would help lead the team all the way to the AFC Championship game in their first playoff participation, it was Zorn who stepped into the second half of that game to put points on the board after Krieg proved ineffective against the Raiders. After retirement from the NFL in 1987 following stints with the Bays, Green and Tampa, and even part of a season in the CFL, Zorn became an assistant coach at the college level. Ten years later, he’d move to the NFL, primarily as an offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach for the Seahawks, Detroit, Baltimore, and Kansas City. Zorn is not without head coaching experience. He was initially hired in January 2008 as the offensive coordinator of the Washington NFL team following the retirement of head coach Joe Gibbs. It was a scant few weeks later that owner Daniel Snyder promoted Zorn to the head chair as well. He came out of the gate fairly successful, notching a 6-2 record to start the season. They’d finish the season 8-8, though, and start the next year 2-4 before the offensive play calling was handed off to assistant Sherman Lewis. The team would finish 2009 with just four wins and Zorn was handed his parting gift. He hasn’t coached at any level since being replaced by Andy Reid’s new staff in Kansas City following the 2012 season. Looking forward to developing young talent that got lost in the NFL shuffle, Zorn called on fans to embrace the new team with the kind of enthusiasm and support the city has come to be known for in recent years. The team will play its home games at CenturyLink Field like its NFL cousin.