The Tampa Bay Vipers got to stay home this week as they await the arrival of the DC Defenders. It’s week 4 and the Vipers are still looking for their first win of the season.
Tampa, FL –The Tampa Bay Vipers will face another uphill battle as they’re still looking for their first win of the season.
The Vipers have played three games this season. They’ve played without their number pick in the skill position phase, Nick Truesdell, for one game. They’ve played without their starting quarterback, Aaron Murray, for two of them. Plus they have also played without the number one overall pick in the front seven phase, Obum Gwacham, for all three.
No one ever wants to make the injury excuse, but at some point it doesn’t become an excuse anymore.
QB merry-go-round to end?
The biggest story this week in the XFL has been the departure of Quinton Flowers. He has left the team due to personal reasons. Coach Trestman has stated that Taylor Cornelius will start in Sunday, but Murry will be active.
— Tampa Bay Vipers (@XFLVipers) February 26, 2020
There’s obvious speculation on why Flowers would leave the team, but it’s just that – speculation.
Now that offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo is calling plays, the offense seems to have a bit more creativity in it. The talent on this team has never been questioned. We know the skill guys on this team are as talented a group as there is in this league.
You don’t accidentally have the number two total offense, including the number four passing attack – even if twitter thinks the QB situation is a mess. News flash – it’s not.
There’s obviously things they need to work on – like protecting the quarterback. The offensive line have given up the most sacks in the league (11). That is not s recipe for success. Include the 20% success rate in the redzone, it’s no wonder the team is 0-3.
These are correctable issues, though. Protect your QB and score in the redzone and you wins games.
The team still has two of the top five rushes in the league, De’Veon Smith (174 yards) and Jacques Patrick (123 yards), respectively. With a team that’s been forced to shuffle quarterbacks in and out, and an offensive line that’s struggling to protect them, it’s not a surprise that the Vipers rushing attack is among the best in the league.
The Vipers have had a different leading receiver in each of the teams first three games. Daniel Williams in week 1, Reece Horn in week 2 and Jalen Tolliver in week 3. Williams 180 yards ranks fourth in the league. The Defenders secondary is one of the best in the league, featured by former second-round pick, Rahim Moore and first-round pick, Matt Elam.
Defense at full strength
After allowing 34 points to the Houston Roughnecks last week, the Vipers are now last in points allowed, 74, which is total shock to me with how good the defense has played this season. However, two of the touchdowns were turnovers that the opposing defenses took to the house.
The Vipers have only caused one turnover and have sacked the opposing quarterback three times. Both are good for last in the league. Another recipe for losing football games.
Getting Gwacham into the lineup will absolutely help create pressure on quarterbacks, which in theory will lead to turnovers.
They still ranked third in total defense and second on third down conversion rate, which is a better indicator on how well this defense has actually played. Back at full strength, I’m excited to see if they can take their game to another level.
Meeting the Defenders
The DC Defenders have some familiar names on their roster, starting with quarterback Cardale Jones. The Defenders are coached by Pep Hamilton. Hamilton most notably spent three years (2013-2015) as the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts.
Jones is coming off by far his worst game of the season. He completed 13/26 passes for 103 yards for four interceptions in a 39-9 beat down by the LA Wildcats. A complete 180 from where he was the first two weeks as he was considered one of the two best passers in the league up to that point.
The leading running back for the Defenders is Donnell Pumphrey. Pumphrey is one of the most prolific college running backs to every suit up. He rushed for 6,405 in his four years at San Diego State and accounted for 67 total touchdowns. In 2017, he was drafted in the 4th round by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Defenders also have Jhurell Pressley, who was thought to be the teams lead back. Just a name to keep an eye on.
Rashad Ross is the teams leading wide receiver with 164 yards in his three games. Ross is averaging 23.4 yards per catch and has one touchdown this season. Lining up with Ross is former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver is Eli Rogers. Rogers 14 receptions leads the team.
The offense will have their hands full as they are up against the number one defense in the XFL. The Defenders are number one in passing and rushing yards allowed. This has been a brutal four game stretch for the Vipers, who traveled over 7,000 miles in the first two weeks, then get their first home game against the best team in the league – and now have to face arguably the second best team in the league.
Week 4 injury report
|TB||Quinton Flowers||QB/RB||—||Did not participate||Doubtful|
|TB||S.J. Green||WR||Knee||Did not participate||Questionable|
|TB||Nick Truesdell||TE||Knee||Did not participate||Doubtful|
|TB||Jalen Collins||CB||Ankle||Full participation||Probable|
|TB||Martez Ivey||OT||Knee||Full participation||Probable|
|TB||Aaron Murray||QB||Foot||Full participation||Probable|
|TB||Ricky Walker||DT||Ankle||Full participation||Probable|
New addition, S.J. Green, is questionable for the game Sunday after not practicing on Friday.
Week 4 transactions
What Vegas thinks
The Vipers come into this game as a 2.5 point underdog. They are one of three home dogs in week 4. The total is 44, which is the second highest of the week. You can get the Vipers +120 to win outright.
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