Week four of the XFL is underway! The teams are starting to reveal their strengths and their weaknesses as well as their starting line-ups. Remember that this league doesn’t have a preseason outside of a single scrimmage before the season starts.
The Houston Roughnecks have easily been the best team in the league up to this point of the season, handling each opponent with a lot of offense and an MVP looking quarterback in Phillip Walker. The Roughnecks were coming off of their 34-27 road victory over the Tampa Bay Vipers where Walker and Cam Phillips hooked up 9 times for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Dallas Renegades come off of a solid victory themselves, having beaten the Seattle Dragons on the road 24-12. The Renegades have found an offensive identity in their running back Cameron Artis-Payne and tight end Donald Parham.
Let’s get into these game notes.
Nick Holley proves his value as the man of the game
I could easily point to Phillip Walker being the best player in this game, but I want to point out someone else who made a huge impact and looked like he could be an NFL weapon in about ten different NFL offenses right now. Houston Roughnecks wide receiver/running back Nick Holley has developed very nicely into a slot-type receiver, like a Julian Edleman.
Holley wins with subtly at the top of his routes. He’s quick and sly with his manipulation of defensive backs covering him, whether in man coverage or zone. He’s got good field vision too, from his days as a running back, and can be very dangerous after the catch.
- Renegades running back Cameron Artis-Payne continues to be a star on this offense. Not only does he show excellent field vision and awareness, but Artis-Payne is also showing off his ability as a receiver, snagging a one-handed catch at one point of the game. He’s such a good running back, he should get another opportunity at the next level.
- Roughnecks linebacker DeMarquise Gates manhandled Donald Parham. He stayed on him in coverage and clobbered him when the ball got there to force the incomplete pass in the first quarter. Unfortunately, he didn’t really get any other coverage opportunities on Parham, but Gates was still all over the field, getting 8 tackles, a pass deflection, and an incredible game-clinching interception.
- I’ve been ranting about Renegades tight end Donald Parham throughout the season, but the Roughnecks made a couple of things very obvious to his game. Parham doesn’t do well catching through contact. He struggled to make contested catches, or even when there was a defender in the near vicinity. Speaking of contact, Parham also appears to have some ball security issues. His touchdown catch should have been reviewed as a fumble. He struggles to hold onto the ball sometimes, and that’s not attractive to his game.