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Looking Back at 2020: Biggest Surprise

New York QB Luis Perez (7) celebrates with TE Jake Powell after the Guardians' Week 4 win over Los Angeles. (Photo by Rob Tringali/XFL via Getty Images)

The XFL season ended early, but the league has pledged to return in 2021. 

With eyes on the past and future, XFL.com’s Art Garcia and Pat Yasinskas discussed various topics from the 2020 debut via email.

Rules Innovation | Biggest Surprise | Interview | Gameday

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Pat Yasinskas: The league was filled with surprises because virtually every player was new to fans. It would be too easy to call Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker as the biggest surprise. He wasn’t a surprise after Week 1, and he easily would have been the XFL’s Most Valuable Player if the season had been completed.

So I’m going to go with someone else as my biggest surprise. That’s New York Guardians quarterback Luis Perez. He started the season third on the depth chart after a trade from the Los Angeles Wildcats, and the Guardians were dismal.

Week 5: Guardians QB Luis Perez finds Colby Pearson, who slips away for an 80-yard TD

But Perez, a Texas A&M Commerce product, got to start the final two games and won both. He had the Guardians at 3-2 and tied for first in the East when the season ended.

What was your biggest surprise, Art?

Art Garcia: Luis is a good one. I remember talking to him in Houston during training camp about competing for the starting job in LA before getting traded to New York two days later. I also witnessed his best start of the season at Dallas and figured the best was yet to come.

But for my biggest surprise, I'm going with the lack of scoring, especially early. I came out of training camp thinking offenses were going to have a distinct advantage, especially receivers against defensive backs.

Part of that was based on talent, and another part on the speed of the game. Seasoned quarterbacks, talented receivers, and quicker snaps should equal more points.

We saw the opposite. Defenses seemed to enjoy the upper hand early, especially outside of Houston. Of the 20 games played through Week 5, nine were won with the winning team scoring 25 or fewer points.

(Now, I'll point out that four teams scored 30 or more points in Week 5, compared to only four teams reaching that threshold over the first four weeks, so perhaps things were getting turned around.)

Rules Innovation | Biggest Surprise | Interview | Gameday