Perez not shying away from QB1 talk
QB1 in New York? Yeah, that’s heady stuff. And it’s on the table.
Make no mistake, Luis Perez wants the gig. He’s not campaigning for it. He’s doing something more convincing than just lobbying for the job.
The New York Guardians are 2-0 with Perez starting a quarterback, giving the club a much-needed boost in the East standings and in the locker room. Confidence is up across the board for a club that was in a bad way through three games.
“We feel great,” Perez, who is PFF's highest-rated QB after Week 5 told XFL.com. “The game of football is all about momentum and I think right now we’re moving in the right direction. If we keep doing that we’re going to be just fine.”
New York, the DC Defenders and St. Louis BattleHawks are all 3-2 in the East at the regular season’s halfway point. The top two teams in each division make the playoffs. The Guardians return to MetLife Stadium for another big test against the West-leading and undefeated Houston Roughnecks (5-0) on Saturday (2 p.m. ET, ABC).
The Guardians were 1-2 following two consecutive dismal losses. To make matters worse, starter Matt McGloin suffered a rib injury in a 29-9 Week 3 setback to St. Louis. McGloin and New York’s offense had been sputtering before the quarterback was hurt.
Perez and fellow backup Marquise Williams shared mop-up duty in the second half against the BattleHawks. Guardians coach Kevin Gilbride tabbed Perez the starter against Los Angeles in crucial Week 4 clash.
Perez and his teammates did enough to avoid a third straight defeat. New York squeaked out a 17-14 win, with Perez completing 18-of-26 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t the prettiest performance, but he avoided mistakes and kept the chains moving.
“We know how good we can be,” Perez said. “We watch the tape and we see how many plays we left out there on the field, and it’s just about executing those plays. Three to five plays determine games.”
A 6-foot-2, Perez not only stands tall in the pocket, he also exudes an air of poise back there. Not much appears to faze him amid the chaos of the pass rush as he makes his progressions to find an open receiver or coolly throw it away if needed.
“Luis is a guy that the rest of the team, both offensively and defensively, look to him to as a calming force,” Gilbride said. “As a guy that is dependable and if things are not going exactly as we would hope, that’s alright. He’s not going to get rattled; he’s not going to get flustered or frustrated. He’ll continue to play, and he’ll continue to give our team a chance to win.”
The San Diego native took it to another level Saturday against the Dallas Renegades, especially in the second half. Perez came out firing in the third quarter as New York broke open a tied game on its way to a 30-12 rout.
He threw for 170 of his 229 yards after the break, including an 80-yard touchdown bomb to Colby Pearson (second-longest pass play in the XFL this season). Perez led the Guardians on three scoring drives in the second half.
“Luis is a great man, a great leader and I’m confident when he’s in there,” said running back Darius Victor, who’s run for 140 yards during the two-game winning streak. “I’m going to do whatever I can to help him out.”
Preparing the entire week going into the Dallas game paid off for Perez, who was traded to New York from Los Angeles during training camp.
“The biggest thing is more reps and getting comfortable with the offense,” he said. “This week I got all the reps with the ones and I was able to get more comfortable – timing with receivers, handoffs, making runs look pass, all these different things.”
He’s no stranger to winning. Perez led Texas A&M-Commerce to the NCAA Division II national championship in 2017 and took home the Harlon Hill Trophy recognizing the top D-II player. He threw for 46 touchdowns and more than 5000 yards as a senior that season.
He spent time on the Los Angeles Rams practice squad in 2019 before starting for Birmingham last year in the defunct AAF. Two short stints on the 90-man rosters of the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions followed before joining the XFL.
Perez was battling for the starting job with the Wildcats before being dealt. While he’s got a hold of it now in New York, Perez realizes nothing is guaranteed once McGloin is cleared to play.
Perez can stake his claim on QB1 by continuing to do what he’s done so far.
“I’m going to go out there and do whatever I can to help the team, and whatever coach decides to do moving forward it’s on him,” Perez said. “I’m going to keep preparing as a starter and hopefully it all works out.”