It was made official on the Thursday injury report that Aaron Murray would not play in Saturday’s contest against the Seattle Dragons.
Plant City, FL — The Tampa Bay Vipers drew the short straw as they continue their 7,040 mile journey when they head to CenturyLink Field to square off against the Seattle Dragons. Unfortunately for the Vipers, they’re heading into this matchup without starting quarterback, Aaron Murray.
Murray injured his ankle in the Vipers week one matchup against the New York Guardians. After a week of rehab instead of practice, the team decided it was best that he not play this upcoming week.
So who’s under center?
Coach Marc Trestman hasn’t officially named a starter, however Taylor Cornelius is the second quarterback listed on the depth chart. Both Cornelius and Quinton Flowers took reps with the first team offense all week in practice.
The offense was very productive when Flowers was in the game last week. Especially the running game. It’s not uncommon for running backs to find more success when the quarterback is also a threat to make a play with his legs. That was definitely the case for De’Veon Smith.
The offense only called for Flowers to throw two passes in week one, but that should increase if he’s splitting with Cornelius.
For you fantasy players out there, Daniel Williams and Nick Truesdell should still be the focal point of the offense, even with a new quarterback under center. Williams made a few big plays in practice this week – again – including a touchdown from Cornelius.
Protecting the QB
Murray has stated multiple times leading up to the season that he believes the Vipers have one of the best – if not the best – offensive lines in the league. Unfortunately, they didn’t showcase that on Sunday as the offensive line allowed the most sack (five) in week one.
If the Vipers want to carry over the offensive success, yardage wise, the line needs to do a better job in pass protection. Especially with a backup quarterback playing.
Watching the game in real time, it rarely seemed as if the defense rushed more than the four defensive lineman. They hardly got any pressure on Guardians quarterback, Matt McGloin. Turnovers aside, it’s hard to win football games when you’re giving the quarterback time to pick your defense apart with no pressure in his face. With that being said, the defensive backs did an excellent job in the second half avoiding any big plays in the passing game. That’s a tough task to do week in and week out, especially for a league that wants to showcase offense.
The Vipers are last in the XFL with no sacks.
Meeting the Dragons
The Dragons – who are also looking for their first victory of the season – are led by head coach Jim Zorn. Zorn spent the 2008 and 2009 seasons in the NFL with the Washington Redskins as their head coach. The Reskins went 12-20 in those two seasons.
Quarterback Brandon Silvers was limited in practice this week with an ankle injury. He is, however expected to suit up in Saturday’s contest.
In week one against the DC Defenders, Silvers went 21/40 (53%) for 213 yards. He threw three touchdowns, which is second in the XFL. He did also add two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown. The pick six was not entirely his fault as his receiver slipped on the route. Nothing you can really do about that.
Most of Silvers day was spent throwing to wide receiver, Austin Proehl. Proehel caught five of his 10 targets for 88 yards. He also scored two touchdowns – one of two non quarterbacks with multiple touchdowns. Proehel was a seventh round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in the 2018 NFL draft.
Earlier in the week, the Dragons signed CFL star, S.J. Green. Green, who’s 34-years-old and played his college ball at USF, has 12 years under his belt in the CFL. For his career, he has 716 receptions for 10,222 yards and 60 touchdowns. Reports have said he’s expected to start this week against the Vipers.
Inside the numbers
The Vipers rank first in total offense and total defense. That’s pretty incredible for a team that only scored three points and lost by 20. If you only read Twitter, you would never know that the Vipers own the number two passing offense in the XFL.
What Vegas thinks
The Vipers (-1.5) are road favorites yet again, even without their starting quarterback. The total for the game is set at 43, the lowest total on the slate.
Apologies to everyone waiting to hear our Vipers podcast, Inside the Vipers Pit. We recorded it on Tuesday, but had some difficulties getting it published. I believe we’ve solved to issues and we should have a recap on week two out later next week.
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