Week three of the XFL season is underway, and the games from a match-up standpoint seem to be a bit underwhelming this week for the first time of the season as we are starting to grasp the better teams in the league.
We start off the week with a less than appealing game with the 2-0 Houston Roughnecks facing off against the struggling 0-2 Tampa Bay Vipers playing their first home game. The Roughnecks are coming off of a 28-24 win over the Saint Louis Battle’Hawks at the end of their two-game homestand. The Vipers are coming off of a two-game road trip with a 9-17 loss to the Seattle Dragons.
Let’s get into these notes then.
Phillip Walker and Cam Phillips continue to make the headlines
Phillip Walker continues to make his case for the season MVP, and his top receiver – Cam Phillips – continues to catch a lot of touchdowns. Walker and Phillips connected for scores three times for the second consecutive week – and Phillips has built his touchdown count to 7 scores on 20 catches on the season.
Both players were rejected from NFL ranks mostly for their size. While Walker is listed at 6’0″ and 207 pounds, Phillips doesn’t have the large, prototypical body height to be a #1 receiver at the NFL, standing at 6’0″ and 200 pounds. However, Phillips has uncharted athleticism and excellent strength that allows him to play bigger than he actually is and the NFL should be taking notice.
Walker has shown us his improvability. Walker creates things when the pocket breaks down or when mistakes are made. You have to wonder if he’s just a step too slow for the NFL, but there is no doubt that he creates extremely well and his effort erases offensive mistakes.
- Vipers running back De’Veon Smith had a catch in the second quarter that was out of this world. Not only did he run under the catch and make it over his shoulder, but he held on through violent contact to the head and while his feet were taken out from under him. Smith ended up having a good day, running for 49 yards and collecting 2 catches for 36.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">HOW DID DE'VEON SMITH HANG ON TO THIS?! 😱<br><br>He takes a MASSIVE hit and hangs on to the catch for the <a href="https://twitter.com/XFLVipers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@XFLVipers</a> 🔥<br><br>📺: ABC <a href="https://t.co/djrP9mdt0L">pic.twitter.com/djrP9mdt0L</a></p>— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) <a href="https://twitter.com/FOXSports/status/1231306157207281669?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 22, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
- Vipers cornerback Anthuola Kelly has to be one of the best defenders in this league. Each week, he’s shown us a new part to his game that makes him a stronger prospect. Kelly is a good tackler in space, and his speed and quickness make him a valuable asset to any teams secondary. He deflected two passes in this game, putting his season total to 6, and made 5 tackles including a touchdown-saving one on James Butler.
- Roughnecks wide receiver Sam Mobley shows glimpses of being a very good complimentary receiver and could even be a solid #3 at the NFL level. He’s got good quickness, solid speed, and his hands seem to be pretty good as well. He made two catches for 41 yards in this game and caught a 3 point conversion for the Roughnecks, an athletic back-of-the-end zone catch.
- Roughnecks linebacker DeMarquis Gates had a phenomenal day. Not only did he intercept the pass in the fourth quarter that sealed the Houston victory, Gates led the team in tackles (8), collected one of those tackles for a loss and defended a pass. The Ole Miss product was a star in the AAF and couldn’t quite crack an NFL roster this past season after getting a shot with the Washington Redskins. If he keeps it up, I’m sure he will get another chance next season.