Top storylines for XFL Week 1

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It’s officially time. The XFL will be giving it a go for a second time after a two-decade hiatus. Though, it seems a bit different this time. There’s just eight teams with a bunch of talent NFL fans will recognize.

We’re not going to see the same showboating display that the Vince McMahon league showed back in 2001. It’s more serious, and it should be blast.

Former Ohio State and Buffalo Bills quarterback Cardale Jones leads the D.C. Defenders into an opening matchup against the Seattle Dragons. Will Jones live up to his billing as an early MVP favorite?

A team most expect to come away with the title, the Dallas Renegades will be without starting quarterback Landry Jones. Can former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops scheme his way to victory against the St. Louis BattleHawks Sunday afternoon?

These are among the top storylines for Week 1 of the inaugural 2020 XFL season. Sit back and enjoy.

Cardale Jones as MVP favorite

This former Ohio State quarterback is already an early favorite to earn the XFL MVP in its inaugural season. The 6-foot-5 Jones was a fourth-round pick of the Buffalo Bills back in 2016. As of yet, he has not been able to cut it in the best league the football world has to offer.

With his DC Defenders set to host Seattle to open up the XFL slate Saturday afternoon, Jones has an opportunity to prove himself as the best quarterback in the league. He’ll have the likes of fellow former NFL players Simmie Cobbs and Eli Rogers to rely on at receiver. It should be interesting to see how Jones performs as he continues to showcase his talents for potential NFL employment.

Dallas Renegades without former NFLer Landry Jones

Bob Stoops making his first appearance as a head coach since his Oklahoma days came to an end back in 2016. He was set to do so with former Sooner quarterback Landry Jones under center against the St. Louis BattleHawks Sunday afternoon.

That’s not going to be the case. Jones is dealing with a knee injury. Instead, Stoops and Co. are going to be relying on former East Carolina and Minnesota collegiate quarterback Philip Nelson. We’re intrigued to see how he’s going to perform in a spread offense that Stoops made popular during his days in Norman.

Dynamic P.J. Walker starting for June Jones’ Roughnecks squad

Dating back to his days as the Houston Oilers quarterbacks coach in the 1980s, the 66-year-old Jones has relied on a run-and-shoot offense. It followed him to the Atlanta Falcons as their head coach and in the same role with Hawaii and SMU in the college ranks.

Jones has a weapon in that of the explosive Walker to run the ship in Houston. The former Temple quarterback and Indianapolis Colts practice squad member racked up nearly 12,000 total yards and 83 touchdowns in college. Given Jones’ offense, Walker might very well challenge Cardale Jones for the league MVP award. It starts this weekend against a Los Angeles Wildcats team that boasts a talented defense with former NFL star Pepper Johnson leading the charge as coordinator.

How will St. Louis look under new offensive coordinator?

The BattleHawks are already behind the proverbial eight-ball after they had to hire Chuck Long to replace Doug Meacham as their offensive coordinator back in January. Long has not coached at anywhere near a pro level or even a collegiate level since serving as the Kansas Jayhawks offensive coordinator a good decade ago. That was not a great run.

Without much time to implement Long’s system, it’s going to be interesting to see how this unit performs against a Dallas Roughnecks team we project to be the best in the XFL this season. Former NFLers Taylor Heinicke, Christine Michael and Matt Jones are going to have their hands full in this one.

How dynamic can the Dallas offense be?

We’ve focused on Bob Stoops and what his offense has been able to do at the collegiate level. Now, going up against better competition, it’s going to be interesting to see whether this unit can take off.

Outside of Landry Jones’ injury, there’s a whole heck of a lot of talent on this offense. Former NFL running backs Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar join receiver Jazz Ferguson as elite skill-position players. Dallas also has former NFLers starting at tackle in that of Willie Beavers and Pace Murphy. St. Louis is going to be in for a test here.

Final chances

The XFL is going to want to fancy itself as a minor league league to the NFL. Given the struggles of the now-defunct AAF, that could end up being the case. However, this league is also about second chances.

Tampa Bay Vipers receiver Antonio Callaway, just recently waived by the Cleveland Browns, is a prime example of this. As talented as all get out, Callaway’s off-field issues have caught up to him. Can he excel on this stage while keeping his nose clean? He’s among several former NFL players with one final chance in the XFL. Week 1 begins that process.

Matt McGloin or Luis Perez in New York?

A player who actually started multiple NFL games, McGloin will be under center for the Guardians against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Here’s a dude that has started a game in the NFL as recent as 2016. He gives head coach Kevin Gilbride someone with experience.

On the other hand, Perez absolutely dominated in the first and only season of the AAF. It drew a nice amount of interest from NFL teams, including a four-day stint with the Detroit Lions last summer. New York doesn’t have the proven talent at the skill positions. If McGloin struggles early Week 1, it would not be a surprise if Perez — a more dynamic player — got the call in short order.

NOTE: Read how the XFL rules differ from what we see in the NFL right here. It’s an important thing to check out preparing for this weekend’s action.