Hello everyone and welcome to the XFL 2023 Preview, where we breakdown the team and the hogs associated to them. Let’s begin with the Arlington Renegades.
Formerly known as the Dallas Renegades, this team started in the previous XFL by going 2-3 before COVID shut the league down. Former Oklahoma Sooner and college football legend Bob Stoops was coach of that 2020 team and returns at the helm again in 2023. They have some quality coordinators in Chuck Long, Stoops’ trusty assistant since Oklahoma, and Jonathan Hayes, longtime Tight End coach for the Cincinnati Bengals, with wildcard legacy Steve “The Head Ball Coach” Spurrier’s youngest son on the coaching staff. This coaching staff as a whole is one of the best units in the league and will prove how good they are in this league.
Quarterback – Kyle Sloter. After only playing one season at Northern Colorado, he went to the NFL undrafted and bounced around to 6 teams, twice to the Vikings, before landing on the New Orleans Breakers as a 1st round selection and making the All Pro USFL team.
Punter – Marquette King. Marquette had a solid 3-4 year run in the NFL with his viral dances and moves gaining him popular culture notoriety. For whatever reason he found himself completely out of the league after some quality stints, so hopefully he gets wild with the moves again.
I do not recognize anybody else on this roster, but after some quick clicks and reading, the defense seems pretty stout and experienced in semi-pro ball with some NFL stints. I like this team to win the championship at +450 under Stoops’ guidance.
Head coach Reggie Barlow won a Super Bowl as a player and comes off as a very reputable person in the football world. After successful head coaching stints at Alabama State and Virginia State, Reggie will take over with most of his unknown staff besides his defensive coordinator Gregg “Blitz Package” Williams, 20+ years in the NFL with a Super Bowl ring, as well as “Bounty Gate” allegations.
Quarterback – D’Eriq King, Miami U and Louisville product, would make a juicy storyline as he has amazing athleticism and charisma to showcase.
Quarterback – Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss stud who finished second in SEC passing yards behind Tua Tagovailoa in 2018. He has bounced around since and performed well when given the shot just unable to crack through in the NFL.
The Defenders are led on defense by a couple of SEC blue bloods in Davin Bellamy (Georgia) and Fadol Brown (Ole Miss). The linebacker group is full of high-motor, run stoppers who should blow up the backfield of opposing offenses. Defenders were usually bouncing around 2nd to 3rd best odds to win the championship at +450, as they should be with a solid group front and back.
Head coach Wade Phillips is back at the helm of another team, and I am excited to see what this legend of the game does. Wade has been coaching football since 1969 and won Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos as a defensive coordinator. This defensive minded coach runs a strong crew, albeit without any prolific names, so this team should be firing on all cylinders right out of the gate.
Quarterback – Brandon Silvers, Troy stud who holds the NCAA freshman record for highest completion percentage went on to throw for 71 touchdowns in 4 years. The guy is nowhere near NFL level but is exciting semi-pro talent and should be more than enough to lead this team through the season.
Defensive tackle – CJ Brewer, Coastal Carolina stud who was third team All-American in 2020. Went undrafted and made the Bills for a bit but I think this dude has a great motor and exciting play.
Outside Linebacker – Chauncey Rivers, Last Chance U star and SEC blue blood recruit makes a nice splash for this team. Nothing crazy skill wise but he’s a good kid and good talent who should be exciting to watch on this stout defense.
With a roster with skillset players across the board, this team currently has +350 odds to win the league.
The Guardians are coached by a very interesting guy in Terrell Buckley. Buckley was basically another Deion Sanders, but he played a couple years after him. He was even selected with the same pick (1st Round, 5th Pick), with Sanders in 89’ to Atlanta and Buckley to Green Bay in 92’. Buckley had an interception in 13 consecutive years in the NFL while going on to win a Super Bowl with the Patriots over the Rams in 2001. Seems like this guy knows ball and I hope he makes his way to the NFL with how exciting his history is, but it starts here with his first head coaching stint.
Safety – Matt Elam, Florida stud and former 1st rounder found his way out of the league after a few seasons of injuries and issues with the law. Matt has bounced around to CFL to Tucson Football League and now has a chance to show his skills with a new team.
Quarterback – Paxton Lynch, Memphis standout and 1st round pick to the Broncos that failed out after 2 seasons due to very poor and unexciting play. Lynch is going into his 3rd year of semi-pro ball and is desperate to find some of that 1st round magic that got him in the NFL.
Wide Receiver – Eli Rogers, undrafted player out of Louisville who made a solid 4 year career with the Steelers, Eli is a speed freak and should be nice as a return man as well. Eli has played a lot of ball so his legs have some miles on them but he should still be in the upper echelons of skill in this league.
The Guardians are one of those dark horse picks for me as they have a bunch of pieces that seem strong on paper but can they bring it all together on the field? I don’t know much about this coaching staff and the players are led by known NFL busts so this has a funny “underdog” story to it. At +1700 to win the league, it just tells you how optimistic their future is as they are 0-2.
San Antonio Brahmas
The team, named after one of the league owners’ nicknames, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson aka the Brahma Bull, is coached by NFL legend and Steelers great Hines Ward. Ward interned with the Steelers and recently coached FAU’s wide receiver group, who now finds himself as head coach and general manager at the same time, for the first time. The two-time Super Bowl winner has named James Herman as defensive coordinator who has been at it collegiately and professionally since 1985. He won a national championship with Michigan in 97’ and Super Bowl 2011 with the Giants as linebackers coach. Speaking of linebackers, Ward decided to bring a familiar face to coach his linebacker’s group in Joey Porter. Porter worked with the Steelers from 2014-18 before some off the field issues intervened with his coaching career that saw him fired. This will be a solid team top to bottom, and they probably have one of the best jerseys in the league.
Quarterback – Jack Coan, Wisconsin and Notre Dame QB and brief NFL backup for the Colts who has a solid arm and decent pocket awareness. I can see Jack slinging that rock pretty well in this league and should create some excitement in this air raid offense.
Running back – Kalen Ballage, NFL splash with the Miami Dolphins for a couple seasons and with his speed and quickness carved out some notoriety. Unfortunately, a harsh leg injury ended his sophomore season and found his way out of the league with unsuccessful stints on the Jets and Chargers. I think there are some decent miles left in them legs and his experience should help find those extra holes.
Tight end – Alize Mack, Notre Dame product that had a lot of hype around him to which he failed to meet due to poor performance and injuries. I’m all for a ND-to-ND connection plus Mack should get plenty of targets so let’s see what the Golden Domers can do.
I LOVE this team to make a splash and with a +650 to win it all, not bad for a low risk, high reward play and this team looks to be my favorite as a fan, besides the Arlington Renegades who I like to win the league. Brahmas will find themselves keeping it close in many games with their reliable offense and defense.
Seattle Sea Dragons
Head coach Jim Haslett has been coaching since 1998 and takes the head coaching gig for the first time since 2009. Nothing too prolific from this guy but he’s got plenty of experience and won AP NFL Coach of the Year in 2000 with the New Orleans Saints. I have 0 clue about anybody else on this staff, but the defensive coordinator Ron Zook has been coaching football since 1978. Just incredible pedigree between Zook and Jim who alone share over 60+ years of coaching experience.
Quarterback – Ben DiNucci, James Madison stud and 3 games played for the Dallas Cowboys, starting in 1 of those. DiNucci can sling the rock and is pretty skilled for a QB albeit not at the NFL level. He should make the Dragons very competitive offensively with his leadership and passionate play.
Wide Receiver – Josh Gordon, Baylor stud and NFL bad boy who found his way suspended and out of the league multiple times after multiple failed drug tests. Gordon dominated 2012 for the Browns and exploded in 2013 to lead the NFL in receiving yards. He went on to play 46 games over the next 9 seasons while being suspended for 3 whole seasons along the way.
To win it all at +750 while being down 2 is pretty interesting because DiNucci and Gordon are exciting and will play top notch XFL football, so if the defense can elevate its play then the Dragons could rebound for an exciting finish.
St. Louis Battlehawks
Head Coach Anthony Becht played a single year of his pro ball for the St. Louis Rams during his 11-year professional NFL career as a tight end. He is a new coach, having only coached the San Diego Fleet tight ends group for a single season. This will be a handful but he’s been a college football analyst for ESPN starting in 2013 before coaching so he knows ball and looks to confirm that with a 2-0 record. Bruce Gradkowski, 8 year NFL Quarterback, leads the offense which a good amount of people should know his name as he played for 5 teams and made a splash with the Raiders. Ricky Proehl, two-time Super Bowl champion, who coaches the wide receiver group, and defensive coordinator Donnie Abraham, 1999 NFL interceptions leader, bulk up the coaching staff with quality ball knowledge. La’Roi Glover, defensive line coach, is also a beast who led the NFL in sacks in 2000 while making 6 consecutive Pro Bowls and All-Pro 4 times. He has coached the defensive line for the Jets and Chargers so this team is STACKED with great former NFL studs.
Quarterback – AJ McCarron, Alabama stud and 5th round NFL drifter who won 3 national championships with Saban early in his Roll Tide career. AJ finds himself leading the Battlehawks after failing to find a starting gig in the big league. This dude is a very experienced baller so I expect him to do well early and be able to win a championship under this incredible coaching staff.
+450 to win and 2-0 to start the first two weeks of the season. This team is stacked on every aspect of the ball and I would love to see this team go on to challenge Houston for top hog. The coaching staff seems ready to gear up and play again.
Last but not least, NFL Hall of Famer Rod Woodson takes over as head coach after some brief coaching stints in the NFL with 4 different teams while working with multiple tv/broadcasting networks as an analyst.
As if that isn’t wild enough, Bob “Hut Gut” Wylie is coaching the offensive line. He is from the Browns’ “Hard Knocks” season with his infamous gut hiking into his body as he yells “hut!” before the sled pushes. He has also coached football since 1980 so this guy is legit and has seen A LOT of ball at all levels. Darren Perry has won 2 Super Bowls as a Steelers defensive back coach and went on to coach the Packers safeties for 8 seasons. The Vegas Vipers also have Jen Welter who has been one of the pioneers for female coaches in American football.
Quarterback – Luis Perez, DII National Champion and USFL’s passing and completion leader from last season, is looking to conquer the XFL like he did the USFL last year. Perez is also returning to XFL ball after the solo 2020 XFL seasons before The Rock purchased the league.
Wide receiver – Geronimo Allison, Green Bay Packer and Lion who found his way out of the NFL after some disappointing seasons and trouble with the substance abuse program in the NFL. Allison should prove a nice option to Luis as he tries to make a big splash before next NFL season.
Wide receiver – Martavis Bryant, 4th round pick out of Clemson who came into the NFL as a very promising player for a late pick. His athleticism earned him starts and respect with the Steelers but discipline issues and lackluster play with some more substance issues found Bryant out of favor with the NFL. He is only 31 and still 6’4 210lbs, so it will be interesting to see how many miles are left on those legs and how much competitive juice he has left to use.
Linebacker – Vic Beasley, also from Clemson and 1st round pick of the Atlanta Falcons, not only earned Pro Bowl honors but led the NFL in sacks, as well as tying for forced fumbles during the 2016 campaign. Unfortunately, Vic never touched double digit sacks again and found himself out of the league after two unsuccessful stints with two other teams in 2020.
At +650, this team is a low risk, high reward pick with their potential. I mean we have quality NFL talent on this team with some interesting coaching staff members. I love the storyline for this Vegas team and there is enough magic for this Vipers unit on this roster to make a splash.