There has been a lot of news this past month since we last talked after the Dallas Summer Showcase. Although, most all the news involves that one category, the Summer Showcases. From the first in Dallas to the eighth and final showcase being held this past Saturday for XFL St Louis. There were almost 900 players who worked out with the last two showcases having around 150 each.
There have been a lot of reports on the players participating with a lot of the pieces linked to from here on XFL Plus, and more in-depth player profiles to come I am sure. So, we will just have a high-level run down here of some names to sum things up for the month that was. The players noted were reported by several media outlets at each stop and somewhat general knowledge, but in addition to those articles I linked to here on XFL Plus, I would like to also give special thanks to Greg Parks (@gregmparks on Twitter) for his work on the entire XFL Showcase player list which included the brief history I noted below.
Dallas – QB: Landry Jones, played in Oklahoma under Bob Stoops, drafted in the 4th Rd. of 2013 by the Steelers and stayed a few years with them. RB: Christine Michael, 2nd Rd. pick to the Seahawks also in 2013, played for Cowboys some. FB-Aaron Ripkowski, played with the Packers for a couple years. RB-Lance Dunbar, played with the Dallas Cowboys from 2012-2016.
Houston: QB-Tanner Mangum, BYU standout, undrafted in 2019. WR-Robert Meachem, 1st Rd. pick by Saints in 2007, played in NFL until 2014, also in AAF 2019. WR-Demarcus Ayers, drafted 7th Rd. by Steelers, played AAF in 2019.
New York: WR-Hakeen Nicks, 1st Rd. of the Giants in 2009, played through 2016 season in NFL. RB-Andre Williams, drafted 4th Rd. of 2014 also by Giants and played through 2017. DB-Kendal James drafted 6th Rd. by the Vikings in 2014, played with AAF in 2019.
Washington DC: WR-Vinny Papale, played for Univ. of Delaware from 2014-2017, his dad was the inspiration for the movie “Invincible”. QB-Marquise Williams, played for San Antonio Commanders of the AAF in 2019. WR-Jalin Marshall who also played for AAF in 2019 after signing with the Jets as UDFA in 2016 and playing 2 years.
Seattle: LB: Hau’oli Kikaha, 2nd Rd. pick of the Saints in 2015, played with them through 2018. QB: Keith Price former Univ Washington quarterback, UDFA in 2014, been in CFL and AAF in 2019. LB-Payton Pelluer, UDFA from WSU in 2019, tried out with Browns.
Los Angeles: RB: Fred Davis, played six seasons with Redskins, drafted 2008 2nd Rd. SAF: Rahim Moore five years in NFL, also drafted in 2nd Rd. DT-Will Sutton, 3rd Rd. pick of Bears in 2014, played with 49er’s in 2018 and AAF in 2019.
Tampa Bay: RB-Matt Jones, 3rd Rd. pick of Reskins in 2015. QB-B.J. Daniels, 7th Rd. pick in 2013, played for a few NFL teams up through 2017, most recently AAF in 2019. QB: Vinny Testaverde Jr., yes that Vinny Testaverde, undrafted in 2019. QB-Ryan Mallett, Patriots 3rd Rd. pick in 2011, played in NFL up through 2017.
St Louis: RB-Trent Richardson, 1st Rd. pick of Cleveland Browns in 2012. QB-Zach Mettenberger, drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the sixth Rd. of the 2014, played in NFL through 2016, most recently in AAF 2019. QB-Connor Cook, drafted by Raiders in 4th Rd., played with them a couple years then other NFL teams including in 2019.
Things we Think are Finalized
According to the Chalk Talks at the various Summer Showcases we got a pretty good idea on what rules and such are finalized. But of course, even these are subject to change before the season starts and final testing is complete. This is again a brief rundown and you can find more details on some of these items by visiting the sites in my June and July news links.
Overtime: OT looks to be what we have mostly been hearing. Both teams getting 5 tries to score from the 5-yard line. The key being all 44 players on the field at once. Then just taking turns at each end. Most points after five tries each wins, if still tied then sudden death.
Kickoff: Will be in play of course, with the formation being something along the lines of kicker back, returner back on other side, then two lines of 10 people lined up about 5 or 10 yards apart, somewhere around the receiving team’s 35 yard-line. The kicker far enough back so touchbacks are rare or non-existent. Teams can’t move until the ball is caught by receiver.
Double-forward Pass: It is defined as unlimited forward passes behind the LOS, but in all actuality, I think will usually just involve one pass to the flats and then a trick play bomb or something. This was not added as a gimmick as Oliver Luck made clear. It was because of the growing use of shotgun formations causing a trick play like that to be almost obsolete, as throwing to the flats in shotgun would almost certainly be given away if the receiver must get back behind the QB in the shotgun. So, it is just another way to save a cool play. Like saving the kickoff.
Punt Return: Will have the 5-yard halo to help ensure punt returns and help give return teams the ability to call more plays and blocking schemes. Again, like the kickoff and double forward pass, just another way to potentially have better plays for the fans.
Comeback period: As we know, the XFL wants to speed up play. So, they are implementing a policy of not stopping the clock for some plays like the NFL does. However, during the last two minutes of each half they will indeed stop the play clock after almost all plays, to encourage comebacks and discourage kneel-downs.
Extra points: This will be what has previously been out there; no kicking, only scrimmage plays. There are the three different options a coach may choose, going from the 2, 5- or 10-yard line. With the scoring opportunities being 1, 2 and 3 points respectively.
What is not Finalized
Overtime: What we are not sure of is how many points you might get for a score in OT, and will it count to the overall score. Will it be just one point each since score doesn’t matter during OT. Or will it add to the overall score like a TD. I doubt it will add a traditional score in order to keep stats (scoring) somewhat even, since you get five tries. But will the final score simply say 24 to 24 with a check by the winner. Or will each score add simply 1 point to the overall score? Also, who gets the ball first in the event sudden death matters? I am all for the home team getting it. But I could also see the XFL going the other way to try and even out the home team advantage some.
Kickoff: While the general formation and philosophy has been decided on kickoff, the intricacies have not been finalized. Like the exact line the 10 players will face off on (LOS). Or who and how many can go how far off the LOS in order to create trick plays and such. They said it would not be a free-for-all as to how many and how far off the LOS players can go, but the exact number has not been stated yet.
Playoff Divisions: The divisions have been finalized as East and West, but the playoff seeding, and scheduling has not been put in stone yet. It may be divided by East and West, but Oliver Luck stated East could play West in the playoffs, it was all about getting the best matchups.
Draft: We are still not sure how the draft will work. There has been some talk of maybe something separate for the Tier 1 players (probably QB) for each team. And we are not sure how many rounds or overall number of players will be eligible yet. Or of course the order. I could almost see them doing a fantasy football type ‘snake’ draft this first season. But then again that could seem to gimmicky to some.
I think whatever they decide on these items will end up being a good choice. Based on past behavior from Oliver Luck and company it seems they are almost always taking their time and doing things the right way. And speaking of taking their time…
Things to Look Forward to
A lot in the XFL fandom are getting a bit antsy in waiting for team names and logos. I am not one, mostly because of the aforementioned XFL leadership doing all the right things. Two; because I just love the whole XFL build up and ride to opening day, so I am fine with it taking a bit. But then I also got thinking there is a third main reason; I am close to an XFL city, Dallas. So, I kind of have a built-in team and can scoop up some gear now, others won’t even buy a t-shirt yet. And I guess I can see their point, especially if you live in say San Antonio or Austin. Or maybe Birmingham, where you know there are spring football fans (XFL 2001, AAF 2019) waiting to root. Do they go Tampa Bay or St. Louis? Or maybe they just jump all the way to LA because the name and logo are cool. Can’t blame them.
Some people are saying the names should come quick because of a good time in the news cycle, NFL and otherwise, for an announcement. And they could come all at once or one at a time. These are good predictions, and I too at first thought it would be July. But now I am thinking it may actually be some time in August when training camp slows down or otherwise NFL preseason talk gets slower. Then announce them all at once, a little bit prior to the NFL buildup to their first game. This will still give the XFL around six months to have the apparel out there and hype up the team names. Just my feeling and then with the XFL taking their time with very measured announcements on most things, I just think this close after the final Showcase might be rushing it. We will see, they may put out a PR tomorrow setting me strait.
What should come after the team names and logos will be the signing of players to XFL contracts. Since the XFL is one overall entity, the teams players are on, at first will not matter. I say at first, because later there must be some adjustment made contract (pay) wise, for the different tiered players allocated to each team. It will also be interesting to see how they approach the draft in this respect.
And the draft, by most rumors is slated to come sometime in October. We don't have much on exactly how it will work. The teams will have 45-man rosters, but initial rosters will have much more of course. So, will they draft all of those, or have some free agent signings afterword? And how will the tiered player and pay structure affect the picks?
This will also make NFL training camp and preseason more interesting to watch as the position battles for 2nd and 3rd backups could indeed trickle down to the XFL. Instead of being out of work those players could find themselves at our next XFL milestone after the draft, Training Camp. This is scheduled to be in Houston, TX. It will be for all teams and should be the last league-wide player/scrimmage activity. After which will be hometown training and getting ready for opening day 2020.
We have a lot to look forward to in the next couple months with all the already scheduled activities. And then with seeing how all the rules and gameplay get worked out. It is going to be very exciting to follow the progress in the next month itself, let alone the 7 months ride we have, hang on.
+Plus Random Thoughts
I was reading a headline or something on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and a link somehow took me to a page with an article from within a week of the XFL opening in 2001, February 8th, 2001. I thought that was quite a coincidence as I was writing this column and surfing around a bit. So, it made it to the Random Thoughts for today. I guess the industry was worth $61 billion back then. And now 20 years later is nearing $400 Billion. And predicting in the next 20 years to hit a trillion or more. Crazy numbers. A lot of people think of the space industry growing and think of things like private companies offering space tourism and just more overall companies launching rockets beside the government. But that is not the biggest growth.
The biggest growth by far is simply the tiny satellites we are all starting to use exponentially more and more. Think back even 10 years ago, most thought of TVs and phones as about all that went to outer space to talk around the world. Now, just this last year even, I started talking to my living room lights; which apparently goes from my voice to a microphone, which then converts that audio message to ones and zeros in bit form and sends it thousands of miles to outer space and back. Then based on what I have programmed on some main server somewhere it reads that message, sends it back to outer space, back to my house and turns on my lamp. All before I can twist around and do it myself. Almost as good as going from whiteout to backspace. Or maybe that is up for debate when all my grandpa needed was a 10-inch string to turn that same light on.
See you next time, enjoy The Week That Is!