3 takeaways from Vipers' Week 1 loss
The Tampa Bay Vipers were defeated by the New York Guardians, 23-3, in Week 1 of the 2020 XFL season.
Here are three takeaways from the season-opening road loss:
1. Offensive starts and stops
The Vipers' promising first drive came to a screeching halt after QB Aaron Murray threw the first of his two interceptions. A flurry of black jerseys swarmed around 6-foot-5 tight end Nick Truesdell when a solid play by linebacker D’Juan Hines tipped the ball into the waiting hands of safety Andrew Soroh.
That was, essentially, the trend of the game on offense for Tampa Bay. While the defense provided key stops that allowed the offense to get the ball back, the offense wasn't able to capitalize. More often than not, the fate of a football game is put on the shoulders of the quarterback.
Clearly, Murray could’ve had a better day. For the majority of the contest, he was indecisive and inaccurate. The times his receivers came up with big plays were overshadowed by costly mistakes, including a fumble by Truesdell that resulted in a defensive score.
Down by 17 points heading into the second half, the Vipers were compelled to change the gameplan. The Vipers came out playing more up-tempo, and quarterback/running back Quinton Flowers provided a much-needed spark at times. However, the team was never able to find the rhythm needed to put together a TD-scoring drive.
It’s only one game, but in a short season, the Vipers need to quickly find their identity, especially on offense.
2. In Defense
It’s hard to look at the final score of 23-3 and say the defense played well. However, they held New York quarterback Matt McGloin to a 52 percent completion rate (15-for-29) and 182 yards passing. New York’s running backs struggled to gain momentum on the ground with 42 total yards.
The defense also had several key three-and-outs that kept McGloin and company from doing further damage on the scoreboard.
One thing is certain: The Vipers defense played aggressively throughout the game. Jerry Glanville’s group is hard-hitting, and if it can eliminate harmful penalties going forward, it'll be a force to be reckoned with.
3. Seeing Stars
Even with a tough loss, Tampa Bay players stood out as stars of the game. Bright spots on offense came from receiver Daniel Williams and running back De’Veon Smith.
Williams, a 22-year-old out of Mississippi’s Jackson State University, is a big 6-foot-2 target who contributed 123 yards on six receptions.
Smith played briefly for the Miami Dolphins and was on the Washington Redskins practice squad, but most recently played for the Alliance of American Football’s Orlando Apollos. He added 79 yards rushing, averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
Defensively, defensive back Anthoula Kelly is one to watch. The former Fresno State star had three tackles and three passes defensed.