From record-breaking field goals to impressive punt returns, XFL Week 4 was filled with special teams action. In this write-up, we'll dive into the top-performing specialists, with highlights, analysis and more! Let's discuss that;
Kickers in the XFL had their best week yet, with a completion percentage of 85.7%, making 12 of their 14 attempts. We saw a season-low 2 misses, and one skilled Kicker even set a new XFL Record for the Longest Field Goal (57 Yards)! Let's discuss how each of the Kickers performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 4 XFL Kicker Power Rankings;
John Parker Romo (SA) takes the top spot after a stellar 2-for-2 performance this week. His first field goal came from 38 yards out, but his second attempt was the one that really impressed me. Romo made this 57-yard field goal to break his own record for the Longest Field Goal in the XFL! This is an XFL record and the longest field goal made in Lumen Field history!
Matthew McCrane (DC) had the highest-scoring performance we've seen from any kicker in the XFL, making 4 field goals in a row after missing his first attempt from 47 yards out. After his miss, he came back and finished the night going 4-for-5, including a 20-yarder, a 23-yarder, a 26-yarder, and a 35-yarder which was his longest completion of the night.
Taylor Russolino (ARL) also impressed, jumping into the Top 3 after completing his only field goal attempt from 37 yards out!
Hunter Duplessis (HOU) did not attempt any field goals this week but remains in the Fourth Position with only one miss, from over 50 yards out.
Dominik Eberle (SEA) rounds out the Top 5 this week after making his only field goal attempt from 35 yards out.
José Borregales (ORL) climbs to the Sixth Position with yet another good week. His only field goal, from 33 yards out, is good! This raises his season completion percentage to 50%. He has a chance of surpassing a lot of people's initial assessment of him if he continues on this trajectory. He is also a confirmed Romo supporter!
Donny Hageman (STL) is only in the Seventh Position because of the competition heating up around him. He was 1-for-1 this week, making a field goal attempt from 28 yards out. This shorter field goal just didn't do as much to help his season stats. I want to see more 40+ yard field goals from him!
Bailey Giffen (VGS) showed improvement this week, and that's exactly what I wanted to see from him. He struggled early, missing from 33 yards out but he didn't let that get to him. On his next attempt from 37 yards, fans held their breath as the ball skipped off the iron, into the goalposts for a completion! Bailey kept on Giffen the Vipers an opportunity to gain momentum and his 33-yard field goal was kicked true to finish the night 2/3.
Punters in the XFL had their lowest number of punts this week, with only 28 punts throughout the games. They averaged 43.7 yards and 38.5 net yards per punt, and collectively pinned the opponent inside their own 20-yard line a season-high 35.7% of the time! Due to the low number of punts, there was not a ton of movement this week. Let's discuss how each of the Punters performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 4 XFL Punter Power Rankings;
Brad Wing (SA) continues to impress the XFL community with another outstanding week of punting. Wing punted 6 times for an average of 46.2 yards and 40.7 net yards per punt. He also managed to pin the Sea Dragons inside their own 20-yard line on 50% of his punts and forced 1 fair catch.
Daniel Whelan (DC) will remain in the Second Position after only punting once this week, tacking on 45 yards and 40 net yards to his totals.
Race Porter (HOU) had his best week of punting, kicking the ball 5 times for 228 yards (45.6 Avg.) and 215 net yards (43 Net Avg.). He excelled at pinning his opponents inside the 20-yard line, which accounts for 50% of his punts. The question now is how long will he be able to remain in the Top 5 with competitors like King and Brown chasing closely behind.
Marquette King (ARL) averaged 51 yards and 38.5 net yards on 2 punts this week. His first punt travelled 57 yards, and there is evidence of a punt that travelled 39 yards resulting in a fair catch inside the 20-yard line. However, this punt is not currently available on XFL.com, so I am waiting for a reply from King himself before adding it to his totals.
Mac Brown (ORL) had a breakout game in his second game of the year! He built upon his solid week adding another 5 punts for a total of 228 yards and 215 net yards (45.6 Avg. and 43 Net Avg.). He hit his first punt over 50 yards with a beautiful 58-yard punt that landed inside the Roughneck's 20-yard line! Mac also pinned Houston on their own 7-yard line with this 44-yard punt. However, his coverage team let a rusher get free immediately, which may have contributed to this issue. The Top 6 are all really close and arguments could be made all over the Power Rankings.
Cameron Nizialek (SEA) played well this week warranting a climb into the Seventh Position. He punted 4 times for an average of 42 yards and a net average of 37.5 yards. He had 1 punt land inside the 10-yard line and had another travel over 50 yards.
Michael Carrizosa (VGS) will slide into Eighth Position after punting just 1 time for 48 yards and 35 net yards.
As I mentioned last week, I have a new way to track Kickoffs in the XFL. The Major and Minor Touchbacks have been a huge part of the game and they will be tracked moving forward. I combed through 12 games worth of kickoffs to get the data you'll see below, so keep in mind this is a new development and it may take a week or two to get accurate readings on these guys. Let's discuss how each of the Kickoff Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 4 XFL Kickoff Power Rankings;
Hunter Duplessis (HOU) continues to be the best kickoff specialist in the XFL, with an average of 62.8 yards on 6 kickoffs. Duplessis has also landed the most kickoffs inside the 25-yard line, with an impressive total of 13 after adding another 4 this week. He also scored a Minor Touchback this week during the First Quarter.
Dominik Eberle (SEA) kicked off 4 times for an average of 65 yards per punt, with 2 staying inside the 25-yard line. His performance has been consistently excellent since Week 1 and he will remain in the Second Position.
Donny Hageman (STL) kicked off 5 times for an even more impressive 66.6 yards per kickoff. This means his kicks were landing at the 3-yard line, which is as close to perfect as you can get. 3 of his kickoffs staying inside the 25-yard line will boost him into the Top 3 this week!
Matthew McCrane (DC) seemingly won the kickoff competition after last week's strong performance. This week he kicked off 7 times for 419 yards (59.9 Avg.) and kept 2 inside the 25-yard line. However, he did have one kickoff that did not pass the 20-yard line, allowing his opponents to start on the D.C. 45-yard line. He did have a memorable moment of the week when he was tracked down to give his opinion on this missed tackle.
Bailey Giffen (VGS) is the first specialist to fall victim to our new Ranking system as he falls into the Fifth Position after he kicked off 4 times for an average of 57.5 yards per kickoff and only had 1 kickoff remain inside the 25-yard line.
Taylor Russolino (ARL) will drop to the Sixth Position after struggling in Week 3. While he did impress me this week with 3 kickoffs for an average of 61.3 yards per kickoff (1 kickoff inside the 25-yard line) it wasn't enough to outweigh his 2 Major Touchbacks and Penalty.
John Parker Romo (SA) only kicked off twice this week for an average of 64.5 yards per kickoff. This will help even his statistics out and boost his average on the season. If he can land a few more kickoffs inside the 25-yard line, he will begin to rise in the Power Rankings.
José Borregales (ORL) had an average game this week, kicking off 4 times for 246 yards (61.5 Avg.). Unfortunately, he had a Major Touchback that will not help his ranking.
Kickoff Return Specialists
This week in the XFL, there were 39 Kickoff Returns that accounted for 703 yards of field position. The league averaged 18 yards per kickoff, with 4 returns travelling over 30 yards. We also saw our first fumble on a kickoff return! Let's discuss how each of the Kickoff Return Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 4 XFL Kickoff Return Power Rankings;
Darrius Shepherd (STL) remains the best kickoff returner in the XFL, accumulating 63 yards on 3 returns this week (21-yard avg.) He displayed his knack for finding hidden yards on this return where he broke ~5 tackles for 23 yards. In addition, he caught 8 passes for 91 receiving yards and a touchdown, demonstrating his versatility.
Fred Brown (SA) returned 4 kickoffs for 90 yards, averaging 22.5 yards per return, keeping the Brahmas in the Second Position. San Antonio has two good returners in Brown and Jonsen.
Cinque Sweeting (VGS) was not the primary returner for the Vipers this week but still managed to return one for 44 yards before getting injured. For some reason, he was not credited with these 44 yards on the XFL website, but of course, you don't have to worry about inaccurate statistics here at Between The Goalposts. He also caught two touchdowns for the Vipers in an attempt to come back in their game. DeAndre Torrey returned 5 kickoffs for 91 yards (Long of 23 yards).
Adrian Killins (ARL) boosted the Renegades into the Fifth Position after returning a kickoff for 33 yards this week. We also saw Kenneth Foster return 4 kickoffs for 83 yards (Long of 23 yards).
Kelvin McKnight (SEA) climbed the Power Rankings to the Sixth Position this week after bringing 2 kickoffs back for 36 yards with a long of 21 yards.
Justin Rogers (ORL) was the best of the 3 returners getting a shot this week. Rogers returned 2 kickoffs for 38 yards, Daniel Williams returned 2 for 28 yards, and Deddrick Thomas returned 2 for 39 yards. The Guardians will continue to look for a solution to their kick-return issues, but in the meantime, Justin is their best bet.
Jaquez Ezzard (DC) returned 3 kickoffs for an average of 12.3 yards per return. However, he did muff a kickoff, allowing the Vipers to recover the ball. Moving forward, we might see more of K.J. Sails, who returned 1 kickoff for 10 yards this week.
Punt Return Specialists
Punt returners were a standout feature in Week 4 of the XFL season, as they outperformed their kickoff counterparts with a total of 218 yards on 22 returns, averaging an impressive 9.9 yards per return. We saw 4 returns over 15 yards and there were no fumbles to be seen. Let's discuss how each of the Punt Return Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 4 XFL Punt Return Power Rankings;
Darece Roberson (SA) will remain in the First Position of our Power Rankings after returning 3 punts for 26 yards, displaying his big play ability with a 23-yard return.
Will Likely (HOU) continues to dominate most of the reps at punt return, returning 2 for 26 yards this week while Travell Harris gained 9 yards on his only return.
Justin Rogers (ORL) broke out this week and returned 5 punts for 64 yards! This was good for an impressive 12.8-yard average. Rogers had 1 return over 15 yards, a 24-yard punt return. This performance will let him climb into the Top 3!
Mathew Sexton (VGS) did not return any punts this week, but I think he is still the Viper's main returner. Cinque Sweeting made the Viper's only punt return for five yards.
Joe Powell (ARL) returned 2 punts for 17 yards this week, rounding out our Top 5.
Austin Proehl (STL) returned 2 punts for a total of 25 yards and really impressed me with this 1-handed catch where the ball travelled 45 yards through the air, bounced (unpredictably) and he still managed to gain 10 yards on the return!
Jaquez Ezzard (DC) moved up one position after his 13-yard return on a single punt.
Kelvin McKnight (SEA) returned 5 punts for just 33 yards this week, showing an improvement on his past play, but still at the bottom of the punt returners with regard to average yards per return.
During Week 4, Coverage Teams allowed 193 yards over 20 punt returns, which was good for an average of 9.7 yards per punt. They also allowed 703 yards on 35 kickoff returns, averaging roughly 20 yards a return. Unfortunately, the coverage teams were plagued by a league-high 17 penalties, making their job even more difficult. Let's discuss how each of the Cover Teams performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 4 XFL Coverage Team Power Rankings;
Las Vegas Vipers have consistently been at the top of the league and were one of the only teams this week that did not get absolutely overwhelmed on punt returns. Although they allowed 13 yards on their single punt return, they gave up an average of only 11.8 yards on 4 kickoff returns. They also join the Battlehawks and Roughnecks as one of three teams to force a fumble and recover it!
St. Louis Battlehawks gave up 17 yards on 2 punt returns (8.5 Avg.) but allowed an average of 23.2 yards per kickoff return, which hurt their Positioning this week, along with their single penalty.
Houston Roughnecks had a tough game and there's no denying that. While they only allowed 17 yards per kickoff return, they got gassed in the punt return game giving up an average of 12.8 yards per return. On top of this, they were penalized 4 times, causing them to drop into the third position
San Antonio Brahmas had their best week yet, with an average of just 6.6 yards over 5 punt returns and only 36 yards on 2 kickoffs. They did receive two penalties, however, their previous punt block helped them secure the Fourth Position
D.C. Defenders allowed only 5 yards on their only punt return but allowed 149 yards over 7 kickoff attempts. This, combined with the fact that D.C. gives up the most yards on kickoff returns, will force them into the Fifth Position.
Seattle Sea Dragons are sitting exactly at league average, allowing 9 yards per punt return and 20.6 yards per kickoff return. While their play was nothing to write home about, they were the only team not to get penalized this week, which is a positive.
Orlando Guardians continue to struggle with their coverage teams. They allowed 35 yards on 3 punts (11.7 Avg.) and 97 yards on 4 kickoffs (24.3 Avg.). They are also the most undisciplined coverage team in the XFL, racking up another 4 penalties this week.
Arlington Renegades started the year strong but have since faltered. This week they allowed 25 yards on 2 punt returns and 63 yards on 3 kickoff returns. They also received 3 penalties, which keeps them in the Last Position.
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.