XFL Week 7 Special Teams Power Rankings; A Comprehensive Breakdown
Week 7 was an exciting week for special teams in the XFL, with many thrilling
moments and standout performances. From record-breaking field goals to kick return touchdowns, there were plenty of highlights to discuss and analyze. Let's discuss that;
Kickers attempted 16 field goals this week and completed 12 of them, resulting in a success rate of 75%. Although there were no game-winning kicks this week, a new longest-field goal was achieved! Let's discuss how each of the Kickers performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 7 XFL Kicker Power Rankings;
John Parker Romo (SA) will remain in the First Position despite not attempting any field goals this week. The fact that he is 7/7 on field goals over 40 yards is just too impressive to justify moving him from the top.
Dominik Eberle (SEA) is making his case for the top as he finished Week 7 going 3/3 on field goals. He successfully kicked from 33 yards and 43 yards, with a long of 44 yards. Dominik is now 12/13 on the year. I'm hoping we get to see Eberle attempt some more 40+ yard attempts because that is the only reason he is in the Second Position.
Taylor Russolino (ARL) was 1/1 on field goals this week from 36 yards out. Russolino is boosted into the Third Position as he has been extremely consistent for the Renegades having only missed 2 field goals this year, with one of them being over 50 yards. If we see Taylor get some more attempts over 40 yards, I think he has a real shot of climbing into the Top 2 by the end of the season.
Hunter Duplessis (HOU) has finally been given the chance to kick after his missed 50+ yard field goal back in Week 3. Hunter was good from 25 yards away this time. Although he has not been given as many opportunities as other kickers, he has made the most of the ones he has received. BREAKING - It looks like Hunter Duplessis has been added to the Reserve List by the Roughnecks. They will sign kicker Austin Jones to take his place.
Matthew McCrane (DC) will slide in the Power Rankings after having a tough week, going 0/2 on field goals this week. One miss came from 29 yards out, for which I couldn't find a good reason (i.e. lousy snap/hold). His second miss was unfortunately on a last-second 63-yard, potentially game-winning field goal. He was roughly 2 yards short of the goalposts but, it's impressive that 60+ yard attempts are even being made in the XFL
Donny Hageman (STL) was the Kicker of the Week after successfully making a field goal from 59 yards out! From the snap, to hold, to kick, this field goal was perfect and incredibly impressive. He is now 5/5 since Week 4 and continuously adds to his XFL resume. If Hageman can raise his field goal completion percentage, he will certainly rise in the Power Rankings.
José Borregales (ORL) did not attempt any field goals this week and will remain in seventh position due to a low number of field goal attempts. Although Borregales has demonstrated that he has the leg to make long field goals, he needs to complete more of them before rising in the Power Rankings.
Bailey Giffen (VGS) went 1/2 this week. He was successful from 39 yards out but unfortunately missed from 33 yards. He is now 6/13 on the year. The statistics do not tell the whole story, however, as Giffen has had to deal with poor field conditions, laces facing the wrong way, and block breakdowns all season. BREAKING - The Las Vegas Vipers have released Bailey Giffen and have signed Sam Sloman as their new kicker.
Punters struggled this week compared to earlier this season. They punted a combined 24 times for an average of 42.8 yards and a net average of 30 yards per punt. They only had 3 punts land inside the 20-yard line (12.5%) and 2 punts over 50 yards (8.3%). Not a fantastic week for every punter. Let's discuss how each of the Punters performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 7 XFL Punter Power Rankings;
Brad Wing (SA) will remain in the First Position this week after punting 4 times for an average of 53.5 yards and a net average of 34.3 yards per punt. None of his punts stayed within the 20-yard line but he did have 2 travel over 50 yards, including this 56-yarder. He did unfortunately have 2 punts that travelled into the endzone for a touchback, however, this one wasn't so bad. He has been extremely consistent, maintaining the highest average in the XFL over the highest number of punts. He is above average in terms of % of punts landing inside the 20-yard line and the number of punts over 50 yards.
Daniel Whelan (DC) will remain in the Second Position this week after punting 3 times for an average of 48 yards and 29.3 net yards per punt. One of his punts travelled an impressive 66 yards downfield. I have had some good discussions regarding why Whelan isn't in the First Position in the Power Rankings with how high his inside-the-20-yard line percentage is. While Whelan started the year off strong, pinning his opponents inside the 20-yard line 55% of the time during the first two weeks, he has since only managed to do so 25% of the time. While he has a high average of yards per punt, he also lacks the same volume that other punters have.
Race Porter (HOU) jumps into the Top 3 after a good week. He punted 4 times with an average of 36.8 yards and 24.5 net yards per punt. One of his punts resulted in a fair catch at the 16-yard line. Not only has he punted 32 times this year, which is third-most in the XFL, but he has also managed to lead the league in punts landing inside the 20-yard line (37%). This incredible ability and the fact that Porter is the least penalized punter is what is keeping him in the Third Position.
Mac Brown (ORL) continues to perform well in the absence of Johnny Townsend. This week he punted 3 times for an average of 38 yards and a net average of 29.7 yards per punt. He is also demonstrating this nack of pinning his opponent deep as another one of his punts resulted in a fair catch at the 12-yard line.
Marquette King (ARL) will slide this week after an average week. He punted 2 times for an average of 43.5 yards and 20 net yards per punt. The biggest issue that King is facing is the fact that he is leading the league in punts travelling out of bounds/into the endzone. For example, this 44-yard punt landed on the 1-yard line and resulted in a touchback for just 9 Net yards. Unfortunately, his coaching staff has been seen giving him a rough time about being too greedy. I wonder if we'll see King opt for punts with a big hang-time to induce more fair catches around the 10-yard line.
Sterling Hofrichter (STL) will slide into the Sixth Position after putting just 3 times for an average of 41 yards and a net average of 31.3 yards. His most impressive punt was this 48-yarder that had a net of 46 yards! We also saw an opportunity for a fake punt during this play, but Sterling ultimately decided to punt the ball for 48 yards.
Michael Carrizosa (VGS) might've had the best week yet by a punter, though the statistics may not show it. He punted 4 times for an average of 38.8 yards and a net average of 34.5 yards. One of his punts was a 33-yarder that resulted in a fair catch at the 10-yard line. The real highlight occurred here when Carrizosa punts the ball 43 yards and then runs downfield, strips the ball, and recovers his own punt!
Cameron Nizialek (SEA) only punted 1 time for 42 yards and 37 net yards. He had another that travelled out of bounds that looked like it may have been a 55-yarder if it had stayed in bounds.
There were 36 kickoffs this week, the most we've seen in a single week thus far. Specialists also averaged 63.1 yards per kickoff which is a season-high for the group. Let's discuss how each of the Kickoff Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 7 XFL Kickoff Power Rankings;
Donny Hageman (STL) had a very solid week, kicking off 4 times for an average of 63.5 yards. He is currently the only kicker in the XFL who has not had a "bad" kickoff, i.e. no Major Touchbacks or Penalties. He is also ranked 3rd in the number of kickoffs he's kept within the 25-yard line, indicating that his placement is above average.
Hunter Duplessis (HOU) struggled this week, but not enough to drop him out of the Second position. He kicked off 3 times for an average of 58.7 yards. He did, unfortunately, have one kickoff that didn't make it to the 20-yard line, which has only happened once before.
John Parker Romo (SA) continued his climb of the Power Rankings after kicking off 3 times for 194 yards. He kept 1 of those kickoffs inside the 25-yard line. He also saved a huge return from happening with this clutch tackle!
Dominik Eberle (SEA) will slide one position after kicking off 5 times for an average of 60.8 yards per attempt. He had 1 kickoff that resulted in a Major Touchback that brought the ball out to the 35-yard line.
José Borregales (ORL) had a stellar week, with multiple highlights, punting a total of 6 times for an average of 61 yards per attempt. He had 3 of those kickoffs remain inside the 25-yard line, including this perfectly placed kick that was fielded at the 1-yard line! On top of all of this, Borregales had a huge tackle on this kick-return!
Taylor Russolino (ARL) kicked off 4 times for an average of 62.8 yards per kickoff but unfortunately slides due to competition heating up around him.
Matthew McCrane (DC) will also slide this week after kicking off 4 times for a whopping average of 66.5 yards per kickoff. He did, however, have 1 kickoff resulting in a Major Touchback and another falling short of the 20-yard line (which wasn't really his fault).
Bailey Giffen (VGS) actually had his best week kicking off despite being replaced by the Vipers. He kicked off 5 times with an average of 64.8 yards per kickoff. He also had 3 of those kickoffs remain inside the 25-yard line.
Kickoff Return Specialists
We saw 34 kickoff returns this week which, all together, accounted for 781 yards! This is an average of 23 yards per kickoff and Returners showed out with a total of 5 returns over 30 yards, as well as the league's first kick return touchdown! Let's discuss how each of the Kickoff Return Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 7 XFL Kickoff Return Power Rankings;
Darrius Shepherd (STL) returned 3 kickoffs for a total of 45 yards (15-yard Avg.). Shepherd accumulated a total of 629 yards and only trails 1 returner (Travis Jonsen/SA) in terms of return average.
Fred Brown (SA) had an outstanding week, returning 4 kickoffs for a total of 123 yards. If that wasn't enough, Brown also recorded the first kick return touchdown in the XFL! Take a look at this interview with Fred Brown after he brought the ball back 96 yards for 6 points!
Dejoun Lee (HOU) returned 4 kickoffs for a total of 98 yards, averaging about 24.5 yards per return. Lee's 5 returns over 30 yards are super impressive by themselves, but he is also averaging 4 yards above the league average.
Cinque Sweeting (VGS) returned 1 kickoff for 27 yards but continues to be the Viper's most efficient returner. We also saw Martavis Bryant return 2 kickoffs for an average of 19 yards per attempt.
Kelvin McKnight (SEA) Played very well, returning 4 kickoffs for an exact 100 yards. the longest return was also his first, as he opened the game with a 37-yard return. He also returned this kickoff for 30 yards to close out the night against the Renegades.
Deddrick Thomas (ORL) has to be "The Guy" returning kickoffs moving forward. He was absolutely lights out, returning 3 kickoffs for 102 yards (34 avg.). First, we saw an impressive 46-yard return that was then followed up with a 38-yard return. His returns were a huge part of Orlando's win this week.
Brandon Smith (DC) was filling some big shoes as Jaquez Ezzard, the usual starter, was dealing with an injury this week. He performed well, returning 4 kickoffs for a total of 82 yards. His best return of the night came late in the Third Quarter when he returned this kickoff for 28 yards.
Leddie Brown (ARL) was one of 3 returners to take to the field for the Renegades this week. He returned 2 kickoffs for 36 yards. We also saw Rannell Hall return 2 kickoffs for 35 yards and Victor Bolden returns 1 kickoff for 26 yards.
Punt Return Specialists
Punt return specialists had their best week yet, returning 28 punts for a total of 296 yards, or an average of over 10 yards per return! Let's discuss how each of the Punt Return Specialists performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 7 XFL Punt Return Power Rankings;
Will Likely (HOU) returned 2 punts for 14 yards this week. His average of 12.1 yards per return leads the XFL and will keep him in the First Position despite the issues he had with fumbles earlier this season.
Joe Powell (ARL) and the Renegades did not get an opportunity to return any punts this week. Mathew Sexton (VGS) continues to impress me with his ability to find yardage on almost every punt. He is at the top of the league in terms of average yards per return and returned 1 punt for 12 yards this week.
Kelvin McKnight (SEA) also returned 1 punt where he did what he does best and found a hole for 12 yards.
Terrell Bonds (SA) returned 4 punts for an average of 9.5 yards per punt. He managed to return one for 21 yards but the ball was unfortunately stripped by the punter. The Brahmas lost the ball. This will drop him in the Power Rankings.
Justin Rogers (ORL) will remain the team's best punt returner at this time but a newcomer may be making his way into the lineup for Week 8. We got a sneak peek of what Rambo could do for the Guardians during this trick play where Eli Rogers throws the ball across the field to Rambo, who gains an extra 20 yards on the play.
Josh Hammond (DC) filled in for an injured Jaquez Ezzard and played better than I expected. He returned 2 punts for 25 yards and had a long of 20 yards.
Austin Proehl (ARL) continues to struggle to gain much yardage on punt returns. This week he returned 3 punts for a total of just 26 yards (8.7 avg.).
We got quite a few good plays on coverage teams this week. Overall, the teams gave up a combined average of 9.3 yards per punt return and a combined average of 23.5 yards per kickoff. Overall, the coverage teams performed below average this week. Let's discuss how each of the Cover Teams performed with a look at my (un)Official Week 7 XFL Coverage Team Power Rankings;
The Las Vegas Vipers were a team that was as hot and cold as they come. They allowed 38 yards on 4 punt returns and an average of 28.6 yards per kickoff. They also allowed a 96-yard kick return touchdown. The Vipers also accumulated 3 more penalties this week. It was not all bad, however, as they did capitalize on mistakes like in this play.
The St. Louis Battlehawks allowed 14 yards on 2 punt returns (avg. of 7 yards). and 98 yards on 4 kickoff returns (avg. of 24.5 yards). They struggled a bit on kickoff returns, where they did receive 1 penalty, but were stellar on punt returns!
The Seattle Sea Dragons did not have any punt returns attempted on them and only gave up 97 yards on 5 kickoff returns (avg. of 19.4 yards). They got 1 penalty this week.
The San Antonio Brahmas gave up 12 yards on 1 punt return and 65 yards on 3 kickoff returns. They were guilty of 2 penalties this week.
The Houston Roughnecks played well, allowing an average of just 8.7 yards on 3 punt returns and 15 yards on kickoff returns. While they only received 1 penalty this week, they will need to work on becoming more disciplined as time goes by as they currently lead the league in penalties (12).
The D.C. Defenders had another stellar game regarding punt returns where they only allowed 7 yards on 2 punts and 119 yards on kickoff returns. They received just 1 penalty this week.
The Arlington Renegades had a decent week in terms of punt returns, where they only allowed 12 yards on 1 punt return. They did, however, allow an average of 25 yards per kickoff return. The Renegades played a clean game as well, not receiving any penalties, this is the first birthday
The Orlando Guardians continue to struggle in terms of discipline, as they will often have penalties called on them for dumb things. They allowed 25 yards on 2 kickoff returns (avg. of 12.5 yards) and 114 yards over 6 kickoff returns (avg. of 19 yards).
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.