XFL Week 3 Special Teams Power Rankings; A Comprehensive Breakdown
Another week is in the books and we finally have enough data on most specialists to evaluate them fairly. Let's discuss that;
Kickers had an outstanding performance in Week 3, making 8 of 11 field goal attempts and achieving a season-high completion rate of 72.7%. This will boost their season average to 64%. Let's discuss how each of the Kickers performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 3 XFL Kicker Power Rankings;
Matthew McCrane (DC) is officially the last kicker left at 100%. Despite a slow start to the season, McCrane made both of his field goals from 35 yards out and 41 yards out this week. This is enough to get him in the First Position in the Power Rankings.
John Parker Romo (SA) did not get a chance to kick any field goals this week but will remain in the Second Position.
Hunter Duplessis (HOU) missed his only field goal attempt from 53 yards out, causing him to fall out of the first position.
Taylor Russolino (ARL) knocked through his only attempt, a chip-shot 21-yard field goal that keeps him in the Fourth Position.
Dominik Eberle (SEA) played really well, making both his field goal attempts with a long of 34 yards! This performance will boost him into the Top 5 for Week 3.
Donny Hageman (STL) will fall 1 spot into the Sixth Position this week after missing a long, 53-yard field goal. It looks like he was trying to factor in the wind that was going right-to-left across the field, but overcorrected and his kick sailed wide right. He only slides because Eberle played so well.
José Borregales (ORL) had a bounce-back week after missing his 2 first field goal attempts. This week, Borregales was able to sink a 35-yard field goal for his first of the year! It was a powerful kick that was dead-center. Orlando, give him better opportunities!
Bailey Giffen (VGS) went 2/3 this week and his team put him in a much better position to succeed. All his holds had the laces facing the right way, and the field conditions seemed better than last week. His one miss was actually blocked and the broadcast didn't mention it. He made his field goal attempt from 39 yards and had a long of 47 yards.
This week, we saw 34 punts, which is right about average for the XFL so far. Punters accumulated a season-high 43.6-yard average and an impressive net yardage (+4 yards from last week). They doubled the number of punts landing inside the 20-yard line (from 7 to 12) and had 24% of their punts travel further than 50 yards, up 10% from last week. Let's discuss how each of the Punters performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 3 XFL Punter Power Rankings;
Brad Wing (SA) had a monster game, punting 6 times for an average of 49.5 yards and a net average of 47.7 net yards per punt. What impressed me the most was this 60-yard punt, and his ability to successfully pin his opponents inside their 20-yard line on 50% of his punts.
Daniel Whelan (DC) was the second punter to have multiple highlight-reel punts this week after he punted 4 times 214 yards (53.5 Avg.) and 169 net yards (42.3 Net Avg.). My favourite moment was watching the returner run backwards to the ball on this 61-yard punt and this 55-yard punt.
Sterling Hofrichter (STL) will also remain in the Top 3 after having a respectable week. He punted 4 times for an average of 37.3 yards and a net average of 36.8 net yards per punt. He managed to pin the Defenders inside their 20-yard line on 50% of his kicks, which explains his low average yards per punt.
Race Porter (HOU) is the best directional punter we've seen thus far in the XFL and it isn't even close. He finishes his night punting 4 times and having 3 of them land inside the 20-yard line (75%)! This means that he has had 53% of his punts land inside the opponent's 20-yard line since the start of the season. That's insane!
Marquette King (ARL) has redeemed himself in my eyes and will jump quite a few spots in the Power Rankings this week after punting 5 times for 263 yards (52.6 Avg.). In what was probably the slowest game of the week, King kept the highlights coming with 2 punts inside the 20-yard line and 3 punts over 50+ yards, including this incredible 70-yard punt. His clutch performance under pressure was what really set him apart, securing the Renegades' victory with this 58-yarder when they were down by a score with under 2 minutes to play.
Michael Carrizosa (VGS) faced some challenging windy conditions this week, punting 5 times for an average of 36 yards per punt. He managed to get a punt downed inside the opponent's 10-yard line but also saw 2 of his punts travel out of bounds due to the troublesome wind.
Mac Brown (ORL) was the new kid on the block this week and he played rather well, despite having an idiot (that's me) tweeting out the wrong name for each of his highlights. He finished the night punting 3 times with an average of 40 yards per punt. His first punt in the XFL was this 43-yarder. He then followed it up with this dirty 48-yard punt that was perfectly placed at the opponent's 11-yard line!
Cameron Nizialek (SEA) will fall into Eighth Position after a week of punting 3 times for 123 yards (41 Avg.), but unfortunately, there were no standout highlights from him this week.
Kickoffs are getting more interesting as the specialists figure out the best way to limit the opponent's field position. We saw 32 kickoffs for a season-high average of 62.4 yards. We did see an increase in touchbacks this week. Starting in Week 4, I will be changing the way Kickoff Statistics are tracked. I will be condensing the Onside Attempt columns and instead expanding the Touchback section. Minor Touchbacks are a good thing (return team starting on their own 15-yard line) whereas a Major Touchback is a bad thing (return team starting on their own 35-yard line). Let's discuss how each of the Kickoff Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 3 XFL Kickoff Power Rankings;
Hunter Duplessis (HOU) continues to be the leader of the pack after kicking off 4 times for an impressive average of 64.8 yards per kickoff. He also added 2 to the number of kickoffs that remained inside the 25-yard line. He leads the league by a significant margin.
Dominik Eberle (SEA) kicked off 6 times for 375 yards (62.5-yard Avg.) and had 3 of his kicks stay inside the 25-yard line, proving to be a worthy opponent for Duplessis.
Bailey Giffen (VGS) also had a great week, kicking off 6 times for 378 yards (63-yard Avg.) and had 3 of his kicks stay inside the 25-yard line. This is what I want to see from Bailey week in and week out. We also got my favourite XFL moment ever when the Ball Spotter, Eddie Garcia, had to come out and hold the ball for the kickoff due to the wind! WE LOVE YOU EDDIE!
Donny Hageman (STL) impressed me this week and provided an excellent example of a "Good" Touchback, also known as a Minor Touchback, where the ball lands and then rolls into the endzone. This forces the return team to start on their own 15-yard line. He finished the night kicking 4 times for 61 yards per kickoff and had 2 remain inside the 25-yard line.
Taylor Russolino (ARL) struggled to kick off this week, kicking just 1 time for 65 yards. his other 2 kickoffs travelled into the endzone for what is considered a "Bad" Touchback, also known as a Major Touchback, which allowed the return team to start on their own 35-yard line. Not sure who we will see kicking off next week...
Matthew McCrane (DC) seemingly earned the kickoff specialist position this week after Whelan only attempted 1 kickoff that travelled into the endzone for a Major Touchback. McCrane did well, kicking off 6 times for an average of 61.8 yards per kickoff and had 1 stay inside the 25-yard line.
John Parker Romo (SA) struggled this week kicking off just 2 times for an average of 58.5 yards per attempt. He also had 1 kickoff that was short of the 20-yard line, which allowed the return team to start on the kicking team's 45-yard line! Ouch...
José Borregales (ORL) had a much better week than last week, kicking off 3 times for an average of 63 yards per attempt. He also had a Minor Touchback. If he continues to impress, he will climb the Rankings soon!
Kickoff Return Specialists
Wow, just wow. We got treated to some extremely good kickoff returns. 30 kickoffs were returned for a total of 689 yards. This is good for a remarkable average of roughly 23 yards per kickoff return, a 5-yard increase from last week. We also got more kickoffs returned over 30 yards this week (6) than we have had from the previous two weeks combined (5). Let's discuss how each of the Kickoff Return Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 3 XFL Kickoff Return Power Rankings;
Darrius Shepherd (STL) is an absolute star for the XFL. He returned 5 kickoffs for 190 yards (38-yard Avg.). He broke XFL records with this 72-yard kickoff return and followed it up later in the game with this 58-yard return! He also ended the game with 5 receptions for 55 yards!
Travis Jonsen (SA) was the next returner to make a name for himself after ripping off an insane 59-yard kickoff return to start the game for San Antonio. He ended the night with 4 returns for 120 impressive yards.
Cinque Sweeting (VGS) handled 3 of the 6 kickoff returns for the Vipers this week. He performed well, even though he was listed as limited in practice, and racked up 83 yards, including this 42-yard kickoff return!
Max Borghi (HOU) made his debut in the return game averaging 23 yards per return and securing the fourth position for the Roughnecks.
Jaquez Ezzard (DC) played well enough to jump into the Top 5 with 3 kickoff returns for 47 yards, with a long of 21 yards.
Adrian Killins (ARL) falls into the Sixth Position after only accumulating 27 yards on his 2 kickoff returns.
Kelvin McKnight (SEA) had a great game returning kickoffs and will get Seattle into the Seventh Position. He had 6 returns for 102 yards, with a long of 31 yards.
Justin Rogers (ORL) struggled for the Orlando Guardians who have had issues blocking for their returners. Rogers returned 1 kickoff for 10 yards.
Punt Return Specialists
Punt Returners did not fair as well as the kickoff returners returning 17 punts for only 101 yards, an average of just 5.9 yards per punt (2 yards less than last week). Let's discuss how each of the Punt Return Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 3 XFL Punt Return Power Rankings;
Darece Roberson (SA) returned 1 punt for 7 yards, keeping him in the First Position for the time being.
Will Likely (HOU) is back returning punts after being benched last week. He finishes the night returning 3 punts for just 7 yards, but his previous play will keep him in the hunt.
Mathew Sexton (VGS) was a bright spot for returners this week after bringing his only punt return back 20 yards! He also played a key part in the Vipers Coverage Team during this punt where he downed it at the 9-yard line. He brings the Vipers into the Third Position.
Joe Powell (ARL) returned 1 punt for 14 yards and that is enough to keep him in the Fourth Position.
Justin Rogers (ORL) drops two positions after returning 1 punt for 5 yards and another for 14 yards.
Austin Proehl (STL) played well enough and jumps a position after returning 3 punts for 15 yards.
Jahcour Pearson (SEA) did not return any punts this week but is still the best of the Seattle return man. Blake Jackson returned 1 punt for 4 yards. Pearson did, however, have a great game receiving the ball! He finished the game with 7 receptions for 99 yards! Here are some highlights.
Jaquez Ezzard (DC) had a rough week. He returned 2 punts for 2 yards. He actually lost 2 yards on one of his punts as well. This will land him in Last Place this week.
I've really enjoyed covering the special teams thus far. It's providing us with a better look at which team is more fundamentally sound. This week, we saw teams give up just 6.7 yards per punt, which is the best they've done all season. Unfortunately, kickoffs were a challenge for some teams as they allowed an average of 17.6 yards per return (3 yards more than last week). Let's discuss how each of the Cover Teams performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 3 XFL Coverage Team Power Rankings;
St. Louis Battlehawks allowed 2 yards on 2 punts and just 47 yards on 3 kickoffs. While they did have 1 penalty against them, they helped Hofrichter get a lot of fair catches with their speed!
Houston Roughnecks slide into the Second Position after only allowing 7 yards on 1 punt and forcing plenty of fair catches for Porter. However, they did let up an astonishing 120 yards on 4 kickoffs. They also had 2 penalties count against them this week. On a more positive note, they were also able to down a few punts inside the 20-yard line.
Las Vegas Vipers jump into the Top 3 after figuring things out this week. They allowed just 4 yards on a single punt return and roughly 100 yards over 6 kickoff attempts. They did manage to get their first penalty this week though, which might hurt them later in the year.
D.C. Defenders drop 2 positions after a rough week of giving up an average of 5 yards on 3 punts but over 200 yards on 6 kickoffs. The only reason they didn't fall further is due to the fact that they are the only Coverage Team without a penalty.sick
San Antonio Brahmas jump into the Top 5 allowing just 7 yards on 3 punt returns and 46 yards on 2 kickoff returns.
Seattle Sea Dragons fall 3 Positions as they allowed way too many yards this week. 20 yards allowed on 1 punt return, 126 yards allowed on 6 kickoff returns (21-yard Avg.) and 4 penalties will be the reason they fall despite blocking a field goal.
Orlando Guardians jump 1 Position but it could be argued that they should be in Last. They gave up 14 yards off of 1 punt, as well as 27 yards off of 2 kickoffs, which wasn't horrible, but they also took an unnecessary roughness penalty on a fair catch.
Arlington Renegades did little to turn around the ship this week, allowing 32 yards off of 3 punts, 10 yards on 1 kickoff and a penalty. They will remain in the Last Position giving up the most yards per general return!
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.