The nation’s capital will be the sight of a historic day for the new-look XFL as the Defenders take on the Dragons. This will be the first XFL game since 2001. The game features a pair of quarterbacks who have played well on different levels of football. Defenders head coach Pep Hamilton gets his first crack at head coaching while Jim Zorn returns after an eight-year absence. Both teams have the weapons to pull out wins.
- Seattle Dragons vs. DC Defenders
- Date/Time: Saturday, February 8th at 2:00 pm EST
- Location: Audi Field, Washington, D.C.
- Network: ABC
Jim Zorn, Seattle Dragons
Zorn hasn’t been a coach since leaving the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012 as their quarterback coach. He has a strong history of developing quarterbacks with his NFL experience as one himself. Jim Zorn brings a sense of familiarity to the city after being their quarterback for almost a decade. The team he built will be very run-friendly with the running backs they have.
Pep Hamilton, DC Defenders
Andrew Luck will always be connected to Pep Hamilton’s name due to their long working relationship. Hamilton helped develop Luck during his time at Stanford and his beginning years in Indianapolis. He has a creative offensive mind who will be able to draw up fun, open plays. He has the task to develop Cardale Jones into an elite XFL quarterback. With the weapons they have offensively, this team should be able to score often.
Brandon Silvers, Seattle Dragons
Silvers is more well known for his time with the Memphis Express of the AAF after performing well in the last three games. He beat out Johnny Manziel for the starting job that earned him praise from fans and spectators. Brandon Silvers won’t kill defenders with his feet, but he will be able to sling it around in the pocket. Silvers, when he has time, has a strong arm with good accuracy. His running game will be a big plus for the young quarterback.
Cardale Jones, DC Defenders
Jones is one of the biggest names in the league and is considered to be an early favorite for MVP. He has one of the strongest arms and is hard to bring down with his size. Jones is a proven winner in college which will help down the stretch in the season. This is his opportunity to prove to the NFL that he can become a franchise quarterback. A win against Seattle would be a big first step in a positive direction.
Keys to Victory
The Dragons need to utilize their running backs as they have a ton of depth to the position. Ja’Quan Gardner has breakaway speed that is complimented well by Kenneth Farrow and Trey Williams hitting the holes hard. Opening up their running game will help Silvers in the passing game to hit targets like Keenan Reynolds who needs a big game after Kasen Williams was ruled out with a quad injury.
The pass defense has to be at its best throughout the game. The pressure will be on starting corners Jeremy Clark and Channing Stribling. The Defenders have a deep receiving core that will be a challenge to face in coverage. If the front four of the defense is not able to get pressure on Cardale Jones, it will be the secondary that will have to win the game for them.
Cardale Jones will have to carry the offense with his arm and leadership. He’s got plenty of weapons to throw it to a receiver but will have to make plays. There are some questions about the ability of the running game. DeAndre Thompkins’ injury hurts the team, but still plenty of targets to throw it to on offense.
The defensive line of the Defenders has key players in Jay Bromley and Elijah Qualls. Why are they key? Seattle has a good offensive line that will open up the running game for its deep backfield. A.J. Tarpley is a top-notch linebacker that will have to step in with Scooby Wright’s injury and help the defense. If Seattle gets in the area of 150-200 yards rushing as a unit, it could spell trouble for the defense. Time of possession could determine who wins the game.
- Isaiah Battle, OT – Ankle, Did not participate, Out
- Cam Clear, TE – Did not participate, Out
- Tyson Graham, S – Hand, Did not participate, Out
- Kasen Williams, WR – Quad, Did not participate, Out
- Jeremy Clark, CB – Ankle, Limited participation
- Alonzo Moore, WR – Hip Limited participation, Questionable
- Mohammed Seisay, CB – Groin, Limited participation
- Will Sutton, DT – Illness, Full participation
- DeAndre Thompkins, WR – Foot, Did not participate, Out
- Scooby Wright, LB – Knee, Did not participate, Out
- Shamarko Thomas, S – Thigh, Limited participation, Questionable
- Tavaris Barnes, DE – Arm, Full participation, Probable
- Matt Elam, S – Thigh, Full participation, Probable
- Dorian Johnson, G – Shoulder, Full participation, Probable
- Bradley Sylve, DB – Thigh, Full participation, Probable
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