Top takeaways from XFL Week 3

By Vincent Frank
Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Week 3 of the XFL season provided us with much better quality of play compared to last weekend. That’s to be expected for the start-up league.

It included the St. Louis BattleHawks putting up a heck of a performance in front of a packed crowd in their home debut. Meanwhile, Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker immediately showed why he’ll be considered by NFL teams.

On the other side of the ledger, Cardale Jones and his DC Defenders laid an egg against the previously winless Los Angeles Wildcats while the Tampa Bay Vipers continue to fall all over themselves.

These are among the top takeaways from Week 3 of the inaugural XFL season.

BattleHawks backfield is scary

The St. Louis BattleHawks absolutely dominated a lesser New York Guardians squad in front of an electric home crowd on Sunday. That included some tremendous play on defense and a few exceptional performances on special teams. It led to St. Louis not having to rely a lot on Jordan Ta’amu under center.

The backfield duo of former NFLers Christine Michael and Matt Jones should be the primary focus here. It’s clear that head coach Jonathan Hayes wanted to build a bully. That’s exactly what we saw Sunday. Michael and Jones combined for 139 yards on 28 attempts in a brilliant combined performance.

Add in a stout defense, great special teams and a quarterback in Ta’amu who doesn’t make mistakes, and St. Louis could end up being a real threat. Sunday’s game magnified this to a T.

P.J. Walker has the “it” factor

I recently focused on just how dominant this former Temple quarterback was in the Houston Roughnecks’ first two games, compiling seven touchdowns and one interception during that span. This did not change Saturday afternoon against a much lesser Tampa Bay Vipers squad.

Walker was absolutely dynamic both passing and running the ball. That included this ridiculous 84-yard touchdown pass that made him look very much likely reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.

While Houston saw Tampa Bay put up a fight in a 34-27 win, Walker was the toast of Raymond James Stadium in Florida. He compiled 340 total yards and four more touchdowns. No longer is Walker flying under the radar. He’s not only a legit MVP candidate, the dude will soon be on the radar of NFL teams.

Dallas’ offense finally picks it up

We were expecting the combination of quarterback Landry Jones and head coach Bob Stoops to dominate out of the gate for the Renegades this season. Jones’ injury ahead of Week 1 put a damper on that. Apparently, the two needed at least six quarters before really taking off.

Despite Jones throwing two interceptions in a 24-12 win over Seattle on Saturday, the Renegades moved the ball at will in the second half. That included four scoring drives in the final two quarters.

All said, Dallas gained 374 total yards while converting on 7-of-12 third-down opportunities. This is the type of performance we expected in Stoops’ spread offense. It also has the Renegades at 2-1 and hitting their stride at the exact right time.

Vipers making a mockery of themselves with quarterback decision

Taylor Cornelius is not the answer. He was not the answer at Oklahoma State, and that has not changed through Tampa Bay’s first three games in the rebooted XFL. Despite this, Vipers head coach Marc Trestman continues to prefer him over a more electric Quinton Flowers.

This could have cost Tampa its first win against a vastly superior Roughnecks squad on Saturday. Cornelius completed just 16-of-31 passes for 193 yards with one touchdown and interception. He’s now put up one score and three picks in two games. At some point, it’s time for the Vipers to move on from him.

On the other hand, Flowers showed once again why he’s a greater threat. In fact, the former South Florida signal caller scored their first offensive touchdown of the season. He also completed a robust 4-of-6 passes for 51 yards. Pushing back against giving Flowers a majority of the snaps on offense is one of the primary reasons Tampa Bay sits at 0-3 on the season. It’s that simple.

Donald Parham continues to show out

There’s a number of former NFL players we wanted to keep an eye on one the inaugural XFL season opened three weeks ago. Former Stetson tight end Donald Parham likely was not on any of those lists. The 22-year-old Florida native spent time on the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins off-season rosters last year before being given a shot as a ninth-round pick of the Renegades.

Parham has more than proven he belongs. The dude put up five catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns for Dallas in Saturday’s win over the Seattle Dragons. That included a 65-yard catch and run. He looks explosive. At 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, that’s trouble for opposing XFL defenses moving forward. All said, Parham has hauled in 14 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns in three games. That seems pretty darn good.

St. Louis is a football town

The last team to make their home debut this season, the St. Louis BattleHawks were met with an enthusiastic fan base inside The Dome at America’s Center. Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who moved the team from St. Louis to Los Angeles following 2015, season was not as lucky.

While most of the focus was on BattleHawks fans trolling Kroenke, the dome itself was loud during their blowout 29-9 win over the New York Guardians. It rivaled what we saw at CenturyLink in Seattle a week ago. Even before the game, fans were outside of the venue tailgating.

There’s no telling just how much interest XFL football will have in the Gateway to the West moving forward this season. But for at least one day, we were reminded that it was not the city nor Rams fans we should blame for the ugly divorce with the NFL team years back.

Cardale Jones looked completely lost

The DC Defenders entered Sunday’s road date with the Los Angeles Wildcats as major favorites. It was their first game away from the nation’s capital. Despite this, most had Pep Hamilton’s squad as the best team heading into Week 3.

Boy, it did not look that way in Southern California. An MVP favorite at the start of the season, Cardale Jones looked completely lost out there. He completed 13-of-26 passes for 103 yards with zero touchdowns and four interceptions in a disastrous overall performance.

The bad we saw from Jones during his brief NFL stint came back to haunt him. The former Ohio State standout struggled with both decision making and accuracy. That’s not a great combo. It led to a blowout 39-9 loss, and more questions about Jones’ future in professional football.