The DC Defenders got off to as hot a start to anyone in the XFL, winning their first two games at home. They were on the road the next two games and turned those into losses. The Defenders returned to D.C. and picked up another win at home to bring their record to 3-2 over the first five games of the season.
Staying true to their name, the “Defenders” excel at just that, defend; both on the field and in their home stadium. As fore-mentioned above, the Defenders are 3-0 in their home stadium. In the three home games, the Defenders have only allowed three total touchdowns and just 25 total points.
They are a completely different team on the road, however. The Defenders have put up two duds on the road, losing week three 39-9 in LA and getting shut out 25-0 in Tampa.
The struggles on the road coincided with the decline in play from former national championship winning quarterback Cardale Jones of Ohio State. In the Defender’s first two games Jones was great, completing 62% of his passes while throwing for four touchdowns and only one interception. The next three were a much different story. Jones’ performance seemed to fall off of the proverbial cliff throwing for only 175 total yards in parts of three games while throwing six interceptions and failing to complete a touchdown pass. Jones gave way to the big Tyree Jackson in the fifth game of the season. Jackson is one season removed from the University of Buffalo where he was the MAC offensive player of the year. Jackson is 6’7″ 250 pounds and has the ability to run a little bit, adding a dimension that Jones did not. While Jackson only threw for 39 yards on 14 attempts after spelling Jones, he made enough plays to win the game.
Quarterback seemed to be a strength for this team coming into the year, but now they have a bit of a QB controversy on their hands due to the poor play of Cardale Jones.
The Defenders are dead last in passing yards, but do boast the 3rd best rushing attack in the league, based on yards per game. Either way that hasn’t translated to many points; their paltry 16.4 points per game is only greater than New York’s total.
Overall this is a team that has to be carried by their defense if they are to pull away from the three-way tie atop the Eastern Division. Pep Hamilton will have to get a quarterback ready to role if this team is going to prove to be a true contender.