XFL Week 2 Special Teams Power Rankings; A Comprehensive Breakdown
We made it through 2 weeks of Spring Football! Our specialists took to the field once more to make their impression on fans around the XFL. Let's discuss that;
This week, Kickers attempted 12 field goals but only made 6 of them, resulting in a measly 50% success rate. League-wide, kickers have made 17 of their 28 field goal attempts so far this year, which amounts to 60% of all attempts. Let's discuss how each of the Kickers performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 2 XFL Kicker Power Rankings;
Hunter Duplessis (HOU) takes First Position in this week's Power Rankings after making his only attempt from 42 yards out. This field goal was a new record long for Hunter and keeps him as one of only two Kickers left at 100%
John Parker Romo (SA) showed that his missed field goal last week was a fluke and knocked through a 40-yarder straight through the uprights. He has completed more kicks over 40 yards than any other kicker.
Matthew McCrane (DC) finally had a chance to show his skill this week when he lined up for a field goal attempt from 47 yards out, which he made with room to spare. He is the only other kicker who has made 100% of field goals they've attempted.
Taylor Russolino (ARL) did not make his only attempt this week, but it must be noted that it was from 55 yards out, which is never a guaranteed kick.
Donny Hageman (STL) had a very hot-and-cold game against the Sea Dragons this week but ultimately came out victorious. Donny went 2/4 on field goals and missed from 36 and 50 yards out (one of which unfortunately hit the goalpost). He did, however, redeem himself when he lined up for a 44-yard, game-winning field goal, which he made easily. He had this to say on the matter during an in-game interview.
Dominik Eberle (SEA) made his only field goal attempt of the night from 29 yards out.
José Borregales (ORL) missed his only attempt of the night., which was a 56-yard field goal that was just short. When his coach asked him if it was within his range, he replied "We can try it". Unfortunately for José, the coach could have called an extra play with 06 left on the clock to get Borregales a yard or two closer, which would have been within his range.
Bailey Giffen (VGS) had the worst week of all kickers in the XFL. On his first attempt, a 39-yarder that missed wide right, the laces of the football were facing backwards. Then, when lining up for a short, 23-yard chip shot, he slipped while making contact with the ball and it went sailing wide right. While these misses hurt Giffen's stat line, they aren't entirely his fault. Hopefully, he can adjust to playing on the sub-par grass in Las Vegas.
This week, Punters kicked the ball 38 times, totalling 1520 yards and 1275 net yards (averaging 37.3 yards and 37 net yards). We saw an increase in fair catches as well, with 10 happening this week compared to 4 last week. This trend will likely continue moving forward because if a Punter hits the ball out of bounds, or gets a touchback they are penalized heavily. To avoid this, punters can kick the ball as high as possible to give their coverage team time to close in and force a fair catch. Let's discuss how each of the Punters performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 2 XFL Punter Power Rankings;
Daniel Whelan (DC) had an outstanding week, punting 3 times for 112 yards and 111 net yards (37.3 Avg. and 37 Net Avg.), which is incredibly impressive by itself. Two of his punts landed inside the 20-yard line (one inside the 10) and 2 resulted in fair catches, making him this week's top punter.
Sterling Hofrichter (STL) punted 5 times for an average of 38.6 yards per punt and also maintained a high net average of 38 net yards. One of his punts landed at the opponent's 6-yard line.
Brad Wing (SA) will jump into the Third Position after showing out in Week 2. He punted 4 times for an average of 49.5 yards and 41 net yards. Two of his punts were over 50 yards, and one resulted in a fair catch.
Race Porter (HOU) performed well again, although his punts didn't travel as far as the other punters. He punted 5 times for an average, and net average, of 35.2 yards per punt. All of his punts were either downed inside the 20-yard line or caught fairly, ensuring no return was possible. However, one of his punts travelled out of bounds before the opponent's 35-yard line, hurting his average.
Michael Carrizosa (VGS) will slide 1 Position this week. He punted 6 times for an average of just 38 yards per punt, a significant decrease from his 51.8 average last week. However, he managed to put enough hang time on his punts so that 3 of them resulted in a fair catch.
Cameron Nizialek (SEA) punted 3 times for 103 yards and 105 net yards, a rare occurrence where his net yardage was higher than his normal yardage. He also landed 1 punt inside the 20-yard line.
Johnny Townsend (ORL) had a rough night, punting 4 times for 46.5 yards and 34.5 net yards per punt. Unfortunately, one of his punts was blocked by the San Antonio Coverage Team.
Marquette King (ARL) had a better second week but couldn't climb higher due to his low averages compared to the other punters. He punted 8 times for an average of 40.5 yards per punt, but only managed 22.6 net yards per punt. On the bright side, 3 of his punts were over 50 yards. Give him another week or two and I'm sure he will be able to master the XFL's punt rules.
This week, there is going to be a change in the way I'm tracking Kickoff statistics. Penalized Kickoffs (where the ball doesn't reach the 20-yard line) will no longer count as an attempt. I will still be tracking the number of penalties received, but by not counting it as a kickoff attempt, the average yards per Kickoff for Kickoff Specialists won't be as negatively affected. In total, there were 26 kickoffs this week that covered a combined distance of 1601 yards (61.6 Avg.). We saw a slight increase in penalties (from 1 to 4), as well as kickoffs remaining inside the 25-yard line (from 7 to 8). Let's discuss how each of the Kickoff Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 2 XFL Kickoff Power Rankings;
Dominik Eberle (SEA) leads the pack this week after averaging 64 yards on 4 kickoffs. He managed to keep his opponent starting inside their own 25-yard line twice, which was a big help in the field position battle helping.
John Parker Romo (SA) jumps into the Second Position after averaging a cool 63-yard average over 6 kickoffs. With the new rule change, his stats from last week aren't as poor, which is a big help.
Hunter Duplessis (HOU) will slide into the Third Position, having kicked off 4 times for an average of 61.5 yards. While he did manage to add to his impressive 8 kickoffs inside the 25-yard line, he also had a kickoff that did not pass the 20-yard line.
Taylor Russolino (ARL) kicked off 2 times for a very impressive 69-yard average. He currently leads all kickers with an average of 62.6 yards per Kickoff. Unfortunately, he did have 1 kickoff that did not make it past the 20-yard line.
Donny Hageman (STL) had 4 kickoffs for an average of 60.3 yards per kickoff, which is below the league average. He will slide out of the Top 3, into the Fifth Position.
Bailey Griffen (VGS) only kicked off once, covering 49 yards.
*Matthew McCrane (DC). I think D.C. has split kickoff duties between McCrane and Whelan pretty evenly, but it's tough to be sure. The league is not very kicker-friendly in terms of tracking statistics and the XFL website shows that McCrane has kicked off when video replay shows Whelan kicking the ball. That being said, I think McCrane kicked off 2 times for 114 yards (57 Avg.) and 1 penalty. Whelan also kicked off once, but was penalized, I think.
José Borregales (ORL) kicked off 3 times for 179 yards (an average of 59.7 yards per kickoff). He managed to keep his opponents inside the 25-yard line on 1 of his kickoffs, which was a highlight of his performance this week.
I will also be changing the way I track return statistics. Last week, I had a column for Return Touchdowns, but a touchdown will rarely come off of a return, and I don't believe it is worth tracking at this time. Instead, I will be tracking the number of muffed returns that occur, as I think this will give us more insight into why specific Specialists are benched.
Kickoff Return Specialists
There were 26 Kickoffs Returned, for an average of 17.9 yards per return. There were 2 returns over 30 yards, with the longest return being 35 yards. Let's discuss how each of the Kickoff Return Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 2 XFL Kickoff Return Power Rankings;
DeAndre Torrey (VGS) returned 1 punt for 6 yards, and Las Vegas also had Mathew Sexton return 1 punt for 17 yards. This brings Deandre to an average of 20.2 yards per return.
Fred Brown (SA) jumps up the Power Rankings into the Second Position after returning 3 kickoffs for 61 yards (20.3 Avg.) with a long of 35 yards.
Sarrius Shepperd (STL) climbs into the Top 3, returning 4 kickoffs for an average of 18.3 yards. His long for the week was 24 yards.
Dejoun Lee (HOU) had the same stat line as last week and returned 2 punts for 48 yards. The difference is that this week he managed to rip off a 31-yard return.
Adrian Killins (ARL) returned 4 kickoffs for 69 yards, which is good for an average of 17.3 yards per return.
Jaquez Ezzard (DC) returned 1 kickoff for just 8 yards this week, dropping his average to 19 yards per return.
Justin Rogers (ORL) took over Kick Return duties for Eli Rogers after Eli struggled during Week 1. Justin managed 96 yards on 5 returns (19.2 Avg.) and a long of 26. I think we will see more of him moving forward.
Jaylon Redd (SEA) had a rough night, splitting return duties with Blake Jackson. Redd ended up taking 3 returns and only managed a 15-yard average. His long of 19 yards was good but wasn't enough to bring him out of the Eighth Position.
Punt Return Specialists
There were 20 Punts returned this week for a total of 150 yards (7.5 Avg.). We did get a new record for the XFL's Longest Punt Return (42 yards). We did see an increase in the number of muffed returns, and one return man was even benched. Let's discuss how each of the Punt Return Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 2 XFL Punt Return Power Rankings;
Darece Roberson (SA) looks to be a solid return man for the team after returning a single punt for 18 yards this week. We will likely see him back deep to return more often.
Dejoun Lee (HOU) will take over return duties from teammate Will Likely, who fumbled 2 punts this week. Luckily his mistakes did not cost the Roughnecks the win, but the coaching staff has made it clear they will not tolerate those mistakes from their starting returner. Lee managed an impressive 12-yard average on 3 attempts and had a long of 21 yards.
Justin Rogers (ORL) will also take over punt return duties from Eli Rogers who, as previously mentioned, struggled last week. Justin proved he was the man for the job, racking up 34 yards on 3 punt returns. Justin will understandably be given more opportunities moving forward.
Joe Powell (ARL) did not return a punt this week.
Mathew Sexton (VGS) only returned 1 punt this week for a single yard but his strong performance from last week keeps him in the Top 5.
Jequez Ezzard (DC) returned 3 punts for 18 yards, bringing his average to just 7.4 yards for the season.
Austin Proehl (STL) only returned 1 punt, and unfortunately going backwards 2 yards. At least he is catching the ball.
Jahcour Pearson (SEA) returned 2 punts for 14 yards, but he also muffed a punt, allowing the Battlehawks to come back and win the game. That will land him in the Eighth Position this week.
Lots of movement for the Coverage Teams this week, as teams started to develop better chemistry with each other. Let's discuss how each of the Cover Teams performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 2 XFL Coverage Team Power Rankings;
Houston Roughnecks continued to impress, as they only allowed 69 yards on 4 kickoffs, averaging 17.3 yards allowed per return. They have not been outperformed enough to be dethroned at this time.
D.C. Defenders only allowed 1 yard on the only punt return they faced, and only 23 yards on 2 kickoff returns, which was enough to bump them up into second position.
St. Louis Battlehawks improved on their Week 1 performance, allowing just 14 yards on 2 punt returns (7 Avg.) and 63 yards on 4 kickoff returns (15.8 Avg.)
Seattle Sea Dragons played very well, forcing their opponent to a -2 yard return on a punt, and giving up an average of 18.3 yards over 4 kickoff returns.
Las Vegas Vipers allowed 18 yards on 3 punt returns (6 Avg.) and 8 yards on 1 kickoff return, which really helped their overall average.
San Antonio Brahmas will move up one spot this week, not because they played out-of-their mind or anything, giving up 34 yards on 3 punt returns (11.3 Avg.) and 121 yards on 6 kickoff returns (20.2 Avg.), but because they managed to get the XFL's first ever blocked punt!
Arlington Renegades will get out of Last Place this week as they were impressively able to force 2 fumbles and recoveries, although ultimately it did not help them win. What was less impressive was giving up 113 yards on 6 punts, and 48 yards on 2 kickoffs.
Orlando Guardians continue to struggle with kickoff return coverage, allowing 30 yards on the only kickoff return made this week. They also allowed 48 yards on 4 punts, which was about 3 yards above the league average.
As you come to the end of this article, I hope that you have found it informative and engaging.
Thank you for taking the time to read my work.